As a small business owner, Morgen Hunt has worked hard for herself and her company Horizon Paramedical throughout her career. After opening many doors for herself through hard work, both personally and professionally, she attended an event and began volunteering with The Equality Chamber of Commerce DC Metro Area (ECCDC).
As she became more involved and connected with LGBTQ+ professionals in a new way, she eventually became vice president and now serves as president of ECCDC. Throughout her tenure as an active member of ECCDC, diversity has been at the forefront of Hunt’s mission. She’s been committed to opening doorways for other LGBTQ+ professionals — especially people of color — to network, connect and thrive in the District.
According to their website, ECCDC is a “nonprofit organization of hundreds of LGBTQ+ and ally members, with a network of several thousand LGBT professionals, allies and business leaders in D.C. and the surrounding region.” From connecting members with one another to running huge networking campaigns to supporting their Equality Chamber Foundation, Hunt is leading the charge to truly make all feel welcome through the nonprofit’s programs.
“We create a safe space for networking,” Hunt says. “If you aren’t redirecting business to people, even in your own community, you’re not really uplifting them. That’s why we changed our name to the Equality Chamber: to open up doors to allow everybody to come in and network.”
In 2019, which also happened to be the 50th anniversary of the historic Stonewall uprising that set forth Pride celebrations worldwide for years to come, ECCDC adopted its current name. As the organization evolved from the Potomac Executive Network to the Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, equality for its members and inclusivity in the larger local business community is always at the forefront.
“That first layer of who we are doesn’t always exist in the heterosexual cisgender world,” Hunt explains. “I could be mistaken, but I think gay folks often think prejudice will come first. You wait for the prejudice, and then can [finally] be you.”
As the first woman to serve as president of the ECCDC, she’s hyperaware of her intersecting identities — especially in regard to setting the stage for those who identify as Black, trans or female to lead by example, both within the chamber and out in their everyday lives.
“What I think is amazing is first, being a woman and second, being of color,” she says of her role as president of the chamber. “I think running an organization and being a trans woman came in a different place in my life. After I became comfortable with who I was, that was when I was comfortable enough to network, start my own business and become something more than scared.”
Throughout her tenure, championing representation for herself and others has been paramount to her mission, and that of ECCDC.
She continues, “When people look at the chamber page and see this whole demographic of different people that is a support system, you don’t have to think, ‘Oh, it’s a good old boy club or I have to be blond and blue-eyed to do that.’ We’re all different, and I think we definitely show it.”
Hunt has worked hard for those with intersecting identities to be able to find a place within ECCDC and focus on their businesses while leveraging the resources provided by the chamber. She recalls that many people have noted this change and felt empowered by her efforts.
“I had more people of color come to me in the last year and say, ‘Wow, this is so different. I was scared to come because I thought I was not going to fit in.’ You have to beat those barriers down. I always have in my life. I think that now, people of color see they can come in, just do their thing and almost have a forcefield of people here. It really is about business.”
When it comes to tangibly supporting marginalized voices in business or otherwise, whether or not you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community or just want to be a better ally, Hunt emphasizes that actions will always speak louder than words.
“Put your money where your mouth is,” she says. “We really get polarized with things like people blacking out an Instagram post last year. But when it comes down to it, do you even wave to a neighbor of color? Do you donate toward certain things that [support] these causes you’re promoting? I really think it’s about doing what you say you’re going to do.”
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