Meet Dena Castricone, one of this year's Dorothy Awards honorees!Published Jan 25, 2010
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Q. What are CABO's origins?
A. When I learned about the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, I wanted to find a local chamber but no such chamber existed in Connecticut. I went to the NGLCC’s annual Out for Business conference in Montreal in 2006. I was so inspired by the work of the local chambers around the country that during a session at the conference, I announced that I planned to start a chamber in Connecticut. When I returned, I reached out to Michael Morand looking for connections to community leaders who may be interested in founding the organization with me. With Michael’s help, I found four amazing leaders to join me in my quest. Shortly over a year later, CABO held its inaugural event.
Q. What gaps in the business community does CABO fill?
A. While there are many great local and regional chambers of commerce throughout the state, CABO is the only LGBT chamber of commerce in the state and has a unique mission - to create, identify and enhance business opportunities for LGBT and LGBT-friendly organizations, thereby fostering a more inclusive and vibrant Connecticut economy.
Q. How specifically does CABO facilitate the creation of business opportunities for GLBT folks?
A. CABO creates business opportunities through its monthly Business OUTreach networking meetings, its online business directory providing access to business information about our LGBT-owned and LGBT-friendly business members, its newsletter and through our relationships with our corporate partners Aetna, Murtha Cullina LLP and Bearingstar Insurance.
Q. How many members belong to CABO?
A. Our current membership is a little more than 130 members, which includes our individual members, small business and non-profit members and many corporate level members like Comcast, Boehringer Ingelheim, The Miller Group, and the North Haven Holiday Inn.
Q. What has been your favorite CABO-sponsored event and why?
A. I have two favorite CABO events: our launch event in October 2007 where 120 people came out to help us celebrate the birth of CABO; and our recent 2nd Anniversary and business expo where our members put on an amazing expo organized by one of our members, Bernadette Walsh, of Contessa Insurance.
Q. What are your favorite things to do around New Haven?
A. Eat! I love the New Haven area restaurants.
Q. Who is your personal LGBT icon?
A. Anne Stanback. Anne made incredible strides in this state in a very short period of time. She is well respected by all and a true grass roots leader. We were very fortunate to have her head Love Makes a Family here in Connecticut.
Q. What has been the greatest opportunity you've had, that you wouldn't have been offered if it weren't for CABO?
A. I have had the incredible opportunity to be part of a national network of chambers and LGBT leaders seeking to create equality through economic power. For example, this fall, a fellow board member and two CABO members traveled with me to the NYSE to watch the NGLCC’s president ring the closing bell on the stock exchange floor. We then attended a reception on the floor of the stock exchange.
Q. Do you Facebook? Do you Twitter?
A. If you ask any of my fellow board members, they will tell you that I am technologically challenged. Despite my challenges, I have joined Facebook and while I do not use it that often, it has been a great way to reconnect with old friends. As for twitter, a fellow board member encouraged me to join but I must admit, I have no idea how to “tweet.” CABO is on Facebook and Twitter and people much more knowledgeable than me are in charge of those accounts.
Q. Where would you like to see CABO in five years?
A. In five years, I am hopeful that CABO will be well-known throughout the state. Specifically, it is my hope that CABO will have at least 3 full-time staff members, headquarters in New Haven with satellite offices in other areas of the state, 500 members, 10 corporate partners and a 20-member board of directors.