Social Justice Game Changer: Kellie Parkin

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

Name: Kellie Parkin

Game Honored: Orlando Magic vs. Miami Heat (3/14/21)

Background: As the executive director at The Pride Chamber, formerly called MBA Orlando, Parkin’s mission is to support companies within the LGBTQ community and help them develop and grow.

A watershed moment for her and the vision she has to create more unity and inclusion occurred in April 2019 when Orlando became the first Florida city to recognize LGBTQ-certified businesses. Just a few months later, Orange County did the same.

Those historic announcements have made a substantial difference. Now, more LGBTQ organizations in the area have increased access to procurement contracts and educational resources.

Over the last two years since Orlando’s resolution, many other major cities across the U.S. have followed suit. In July 2019, Los Angeles formally included LGBTQ-owned businesses in their contract process. In January 2021, New York City became the largest municipality in the country to identify LGBTQ business owners as minorities, giving them access to billions in city contracts.

“It’s something that we are trying to do across the country with our fellow affiliate LGBTQ chambers,” Parkin said. “Just really making sure that LGBTQ-owned businesses who are part of a historically marginalized community are getting all of the opportunities possible to succeed.”

Since her arrival at The Pride Chamber in 2016, Parkin has made a positive impact on so many individuals and businesses, earning her and her organization several accolades. The Pride Chamber was honored by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) as the 2017 Chamber of the Year for outstanding growth, sustainability and leadership. In 2018, Parkin was recognized as one of Business Equality Network’s National Top 40 LGBTQ Leaders Under 40, and in 2017 she received the local honor as one of Watermark’s Most Remarkable People.

“What I love about it is that I finally found my home where I can use all of these broad collection of skills and experiences that I collected over the years with many different roles and positions and I can apply it all to this and really advocate for positive change,” Parkin said. “I feel really lucky in what I do.”

Making an Impact: It’s Parkin’s passion to help strengthen the community and help people overcome obstacles. She has seen firsthand through her years of experience the difference it makes when people lend a helping hand and show compassion for others.

“I love it. It’s why I do what I do,” she said. “Just recently I had actually someone else tell me, I heard from so-and-so business that you are the reason they are able to get their PPP loan. And I thought, wow, that is exactly why I do what I do. Not to hear the good job, I don’t need that. It’s the knowing I made a difference. It just feels so good because I’ve been there. I’ve been in the position where other people have helped me. I just feel like that’s what we are supposed to be doing in life. It is such a fulfilling experience.”

At the moment, Parkin is playing a major part in creating a coalition of LGBTQ chambers in Florida. The more voices and the more participation there is, the more likely it is that transformative results will happen.

When more people speak their minds and express their concerns, the greater the chance of changing the narrative, which is exactly what transpired in June 2020 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or transgender status.

“I feel like we still have so much work to do when it comes to LGBTQ protections, whether that’s in the workforce, whether it’s housing, in business and public accommodations,” Parkin said. “That’s where we really want to focus our advocacy efforts while continuing to help small businesses. We’re not a chamber that’s only for LGBTQ business. We’re for anyone who embraces equity, equality and inclusion. Any time I’m out talking about LGBTQ inclusion, I’m also really promoting other diverse businesses, whether they are minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, people with disabilities and so on. It’s why we are here as an organization.”

Appreciation of Magic’s Efforts: Grateful to be recognized by the Orlando Magic, Parkin believes it is huge when professional sports teams like the Magic and key figures such as Head Coach Steve Clifford step out into the community and provide assistance.

“It’s awesome to see that he is out there actively promoting equity, inclusion and social justice initiatives and I think that is really cool that he is actively being an ally,” she said. “The only way we will be where we want to be is when we have large companies like this promoting positive change. I’m just thrilled to see it.”

About the Program: As part of the Magic and Clifford’s continuing efforts toward social justice reform, he created the Social Justice Game Changer program to honor one local leader who has made a difference in the realm of social justice issues. A cause close to his heart, Clifford is extremely active in programs that support equality and justice for all people in the Central Florida community.

Through this program, Clifford looks to put the spotlight on those continuously doing the hard work, day in and day out, fighting for sustainable change. As part of his program, one person is selected and honored each game. The honorees are given tickets, provided by Clifford, to the game and featured in-arena on the Magic Vision screen at center court.

“The purpose is to honor and to celebrate so many of the people in the Orlando community who are fighting for change and who commit their lives to making Orlando a better place,” Clifford said. “It’s just a way to celebrate them, what they stand for, and what they do for our community.”