Our Story & Partners
Plexus is a strategic partner in the economic development of Northeast Ohio and serves as a point of connection for corporations, supporters, LGBT businesses and professionals. As the only LGBTQ business and professional organization in the region, we are more than a chamber of commerce; Plexus is a unique and influential network.
Co-founded by Eric Lutzo and Dave Ream in 2006 Plexus made its debut at the Cleveland Pride as a Chamber of Commerce to serve the LGBT and allied professional and business communities. Built from the Cleveland Professional Network, forming as a Chamber of Commerce allowed for resources and structure to support small businesses, continue growing the LGBTQ and allied professional network, advance corporate diversity and inclusion goals, and advocate for LGTBQ equality in the region.
In December 2008 the Plexus Education Foundation was founded as a separate 501©3 organization with the aim to support educational programming through speakers series, Employee Resource Group development, workshops, and trainings. The mission of the Foundation is to improve the workplace environment for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender individuals through education, research and development resulting in enrichment of the entire community.
In 2009, Michelle Tomallo attended a Plexus event to present as an out LGBT business leader. She became a passionate ambassador of Plexus and joined the board in 2010, and has served as the Chamber Board President since 2014. Under her leadership the Chamber has exceeded 200 members, expanded programming into Akron (with support from the Gay Community Endowment Fund and Plexus Education Foundation President, John Garofalo), and continued to build opportunities for LGBT owned businesses.
Plexus hosted its first supplier diversity summit in 2009, acting as a leader on LGBT Supplier Diversity, which was then a relatively new concept.
In 2010 the Plexus Education Foundation hosted the first LGBTQIA Employee Resource Group Leadership Council professional development event. The ERG Council is comprised of more than 30 active corporate members and is convened quarterly to share best practices and provide professional development opportunities.
Our work to advance supplier diversity was recognized in 2011 when Plexus received the Rising Star Award from NGLCC.
In early 2014, Plexus led the effort to create a LGBT business owner registry for the City of Cleveland which opened municipal supply chains to LGBTBEs throughout a seven-county area.
A lead community partners of the 2014 Gay Games contributing to this global event’s success. Plexus was instrumental in getting the MOU signed with GG9 and NGLCC to raise awareness and garner commitment to a diverse supply chain—the first time in the 30-year history of the Games.
2018 reached 250 members of the Chamber of Commerce.
100th speaking engagement completed in 2018.
Hired first ever Executive Director, Amanda Cole, in March of 2019.