By Charlotte Libov
When Steve Adkins got involved with the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the organization had only about 30 members. Now, about a dozen years later, that membership stands at 700.
Thanks to his work, the MDGLCC is now on par with all the other business chambers in Miami-Dade County, and provides a way for the LGBT community to make their influence known in all of South Florida.
For his achievements, Adkins will be honored with the prestigious Pa’Lante Award on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 by Gay8 Festival, a free Latino art, music and food street festival that celebrates Miami’s diverse communities. The festival takes place on Sunday, Jan. 15 in Miami’s Historic Little Havana.
“I feel very honored to be given this award. Gay8 is a young organization but they’ve created these awards to look back over the history of the LGBT community here and reward those who have been working over the years. I’m very proud to be part of this group,” says Adkins.
A San Diego, Calif., native, Adkins was born into a banking family. Following his family’s footsteps, he succeeded, holding several positions in the banking world. In the mid-to-late 90s, he served as vice president of international trade and finance manager for the Union Bank of California, Southern California; handling such major accounts as Aldila, Inc.; Cubic Corporation, Titan, Inc., ASI Aerospace Group; and Jenny Craig.
But he made a huge pivot in 1999, moving to Miami Beach to realize his dream of running a bed and breakfast. He operated Jefferson House, which has been South Beach’s only licensed B&B for years, until he decided it was time for another change.
He needed a bigger arena, and he realized that there was a way to combine his new identity as an openly gay man while taking advantage of his business acumen.
“I had transitioned from a long banking career in California. During that time, I had been pretty closeted, so this was my first foray into being an openly gay business person,” says Adkins.
“I didn’t want to go back into the closet, so I decided to look at what I could do to help my community and at the same time make a living.”
These days, Adkins is busy overseeing all aspects of the MDGLCC, which has grown into a major and influential business organization, but he still finds time to reach out to the community, and make sure that everyone finds their place in this fold.
“My goal was to raise the bar, so our Chamber would be on equal footing with all of the other chambers in Miami-Dade County. And now, whenever there is a discussion on business, tourism, travel, or any other topic that affects our life here, our voice is heard as a legitimate member of the community,” he says.