Pride Month Interviews with LGBTQ+ Industry Leaders


In honor of #PrideMonth, we are spotlighting industry leaders in the LGBTQ+ community, we asked them five questions and here us what each of them said.

How do you celebrate PRIDE and what does it mean to you? 

Throughout the earlier years of my life, in business and otherwise, I was pained and plagued by an impending sense of doom of being “discovered”. I navigated life clutching helplessly to the idea that somehow  being “outed” would lead to my eventual demise and that the world as I knew it, stood to crumple around me.  It took me years to realize that I had absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, but instead a life to be PROUD of. Celebrating PRIDE is so much larger than a parade or a month, it is a continuous celebration of learning to embrace all of the beautiful pieces and facets that form the intricate tapestry that makes you YOU. Choosing to retire my shame and instead embrace my pride is one of my proudest accomplishments to date.

What do you think people can do this Pride Month to raise awareness?

Raising awareness during Pride Month should never be limited to just educating our straight allies. As a community it is absolutely vital that we focus on raising awareness for those in our community (specifically BIPOC) who are the ones truly struggling at the hands of our society. Practice the art of listening and take the time to uplift those around you. Continuously strive to be a better ally for all those in our LGBTQ+ family, by encouraging dialogue that shines a light on the many struggles plaguing our community.

Pride month isn’t just raising awareness, its true essence lies in also being good to each other. The increasing diversity we’re finding across the spectrum of what it means to be LGBTQ+, means we too must observe tolerance and acceptance and stand up for each other.

How can people make an impact this month to support their communities? What are some LGBTQ organizations they can support? 

Strive to educate others. Strive to educate yourself. Strive to have the important conversations that need to be had and learn to address and face the ways in which you yourself may benefit from privilege. True support comes from decentering yourself from issues that do not directly impact you and instead focus on uplifting the voices in our community who too often are burdened with the physical and emotional labor of being both teacher and advocates for the world at large. Most importantly, if you yourself are privileged in the resources readily available to you, take the initiative and make conscious efforts in spreading and providing those same resources to those truly in need.

There was a time, when I was a very young man (which granted was a long time ago) when people like me got thrown out of apartments. When gay people were kicked out of the military and organizations were formed, like Lambda Legal, to fight legally for the gay community. However, I believe what’s most important, now more than ever, is that we fight for the rights of the people who have not yet gained the full access to the table they deserve. When saying this I’m specifically thinking of the transgender community, who are still fighting the kind of fight for basic rights we fought for however long ago.

Now, this could mean supporting trans led organizations such as TWOCC (Trans Women of Color Collective) or TYEF (Trans Youth Equality) but can also mean directly donating to transgender individuals crowdfunding for basic healthcare, gender confirming surgeries or housing and in turn ensure that members of the transgender community are enjoying the same rights that we all have worked so hard to achieve.

Do you have advice for people that want to start their own company specifically in the LBGTQ community?

I think the most important place to start is with your passion. I used to say to my colleagues “I can’t believe they are paying us to do this!” In other words, whatever it is that you are starting a business for, is not only what you’re passionate about, but it is part of what I call your core. It is the essence of what makes you special and what you are good at.

For example, I was blessed with this emotional antenna. So therefore, it made the utmost sense that whatever company I started would be based upon emotional intelligence (which in turn led to the birth of E.I. Games). So, when you’re starting a business, my advice is to start with YOU and what YOU are great at! Because ultimately what a business is, is you sharing YOU with the world and sharing what makes you wonderful and presenting that in such a way that people will be willing to pay you for it!  Start with your authentic self and the rest will follow.

How can companies create inclusive environments for LGBTQ+ employees?

Ultimately, walking the walk is what is vital and important, and organizations have to do three very important things:

  • First, they have to state unequivocally that they have an inclusive environment for everyone, as well as LGBTQ+ employees.
  • Secondly, they must demonstrate in proof and in practice that this exists, including the presence of LGBTQ+ people in the firm as well as the presence of these people at higher levels of the company. That’s proof that when we say, “we are inclusive”, it is indeed true. Imagine saying “we have an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ employees” and there aren’t any in the company!
  • Thirdly, it is absolutely vital that companies provide an accountability system such that the treatment of LGBTQ+ employees are manifest and that there are people that are actively looking out for their employees and standing up for people in the firm to ensure that they have their rightful place. We often throw around the word “inclusion” when discussing such topics, when really, we should be using the word “belonging”. Because it is not enough to simply point and say “Hey! We have one of those! We’re inclusive here!”. What is truly important is ensuring that there is a sense of “I belong here” in the minds of your LGBTQ+ employees and that all comes down to the tone, language, and actions taken in your organization.

Kevin Allen , Co-Founder & President at E.I.Games Incorporated

About EI Games

E.I. Games is an award-winning, game-based learning company, providing business skills training based on the principles of Emotional Intelligence. E.I. Games’ content, delivered across multiple media,  is in use at over 50 colleges and universities including Arizona State University and Harvard School of Design as well as global companies such as Oracle, Expedia, and Google. E.I. Games is a company that values Emotional Intelligence and its practical application in all aspects of life as well as fostering business educational environments that promote diversity, inclusion, and equity.


How do you celebrate PRIDE and what does it mean to you?

For the last six months I have been involved in efforts that will increase annual procurement spending on products and services provided by LGBT-certified businesses, so I celebrate Pride this year by devoting my energy to this cause. We are living in a time where LGBTQIA equality has been diminished. For me Pride means fighting for causes that help our community now and in the future.

What do you think people can do this Pride Month to raise awareness?

Continue to approach your local and state representatives. Keep an eye on equal rights so that the rights that we already enjoy are not further cut back. Unfortunately, under the last administration, sexual orientation was removed from guidelines regarding workplace discrimination. We should all have confidence that our representatives are working to protect—not undermine—the rights of the LGBT community.

How can people make an impact this month to support their communities? What are some LGBTQ organizations they can support?

PRP is actively involved in supporting and raising awareness. I’m asking my fellow entrepreneurs to also join in support of important social organizations including the Trevor Project, Mama’s Kitchen, The Center, Dignity of San Diego, and San Diego Black LGBTQ Coalition.

Do you have advice for people that want to start their own company specifically in the LBGTQ community

If you are a new LGBT business owner, seek out a mentor who can help you navigate certification requirements in California and the City of San Diego and who can help you get in touch with local organizations to propel your business, such as the San Diego Equality business Association (SDEBA).

How can companies create inclusive environments for LGBTQ+ employees?

We at Pride Resource Partners pride ourselves for standing for diversity and equality in the workplace. We make sure during our interview process that potential employees will embrace our diverse workforce that includes not only LGBTQIA people, but people of all backgrounds. We hope that our example of leadership inspires others.

Joe Maak

Joe Maak, CEO at Pride Resource Partners 

About Pride Resource Partners

Pride Resource Partners LLC is an LGBT Owned Business Enterprise, in conformance under the California Public Utilities Commission’s General Order 156 and a Small Business Enterprise under the Department of General Services in California. The Company provides services in Project Portfolio Management, Construction Management, Facilities Management, Technical Staffing Resources, and other highly technical consulting services.

Pride Resource Partners (PRP) is a high-performance management consulting firm. PRP works to transform strategy into an executable plan with personalized approaches by providing organizations with skilled professionals, teams of project leaders, and subject-matter experts for managing and implementing business-critical initiatives.

Pride Resource Partners is recognized for delivering quality and value by providing unparalleled, targeted consulting expertise. The company received the 2016 Pioneer Award for Excellence from San Diego Gas & Electric, a division of Sempra Energy. The award recognizes the highest standard of excellence in service in the electric utility sector. For more information please call 858.430.6630 or visit


How do you celebrate PRIDE and what does it mean to you?

Now that I’m a dad, my husband, daughter, and I visit the Pride Parade and Festival each year.  We talk with her about our experiences being gay and why Pride is important.  It’s important for us to pass on to her and her generation the notion that it is ok to be who they are.

What do you think people can do this Pride Month to raise awareness?

Let members of the LGBTQ+ community celebrate their month.  We always appreciate allies, but the less “in your face” ways are more impactful.  Make a donation to a charity that supports trans youth.

How can people make an impact this month to support their communities? What are some LGBTQ organizations they can support?

Most urban areas have a LGBT Center that is a great community resource, and is a great place to volunteer or donate to.  They can also connect to other locally focused charities that will provide the greatest impact with your time and money.

Do you have advice for people that want to start their own company specifically in the LBGTQ community?

Yes, get your new company involved with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC).  They are a great resource for information, networking, and visibility.  They are also the prime organization to certify as LGBTQ-owned and operated.

How can companies create inclusive environments for LGBTQ+ employees?

The three biggest things a company can do are 1) ensure policies are inclusive of benefits and protections; 2) create an Employee Resource Group (ERG) for LGBTQ+ community members; and 3) have your business leaders embrace and advocate for a culture of inclusivity and equity.


Scott Ortes, Sr. Director, Operations at Suna Solutions

About Suna Solutions

Headquartered in San Diego with office locations throughout the U.S., Suna Solutions is a leading provider of human capital management that specializes in creating customized offerings for Direct Hire, Temporary Staffing, Payroll Service and Workforce Management Solutions. Suna Solutions is a member of Evergent Group which consists of a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and a Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Business (SDVOB). For more information please call 888.223.4788 or visit