Meet the Board
Chad has over 15 years of experience assisting businesses and professionals with their human resource and organizational develop needs. He is designated as a Senior Professional in Human Resources by the HRCI. Over the past eight years he has focused on training and advising small business owners, corporations and individuals in the areas of LGBT workplace issues, diversity, inclusion and policy development. In addition to his career, Chad has been active within the community and continues to volunteer for various organizations.
Previously, Chad served as President of the Charlotte Business Guild and overseen the transition to the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce. He continued to broaden the network of business owners and professionals by fostering a continued relationship with the Charlotte Chamber and gaining affiliation with the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Under his leadership the CLGBTCC experienced unprecedented growth and received the 2016 Organization of the Year Award from the Human rights Campaign.
In addition to moving the CLGBTCC forward under their mission, he believes that all organizations should reflect the communities they serve. Every business owner, professional, college student and retiree that identifies as LGBTQ or supports equality for all should have more than just a seat at the table, they should be given a voice.
vice president of internal affairs
Ciara Lilly is the president and founder of Higher Ground Consulting Group, a results-driven business consulting firm committed to helping businesses achieve sustainable growth through the application of tailored coaching, consulting and training services.
With a passion for helping businesses, specifically certified diverse and small businesses, access opportunities to maximize their growth potential, and a successful track record of growing a certified diverse business by over $13 million dollars over a six-year time span, Lilly launched Higher Ground Consulting Group as a vehicle to expand her reach and impact in the business community. With her background and passion, Lilly provides her clients with a well-rounded perspective that lends itself well to solving a broad range of operational and business growth challenges.
Lilly holds her Executive MBA from the Jack Welch Management Institute and her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In 2015, she was selected and sponsored by Dominion Energy to attend the Minority Business Enterprise Executive Management Program at the University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business.
Aside from her business endeavors, Lilly is a fervent proponent of community outreach and education. In 2016, she established a scholarship in honor of her late grandmother at her alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. This scholarship is designed to help students that need additional support to fund their college education.
Vice president of External affairs
Jennifer Carbuto is a Art Director for Intrigue, a New York Company that she has been with for 25 years. Originally from Long Island I moved to Charlotte 7 years ago. I joined the Business Guild in 2013 helping them brand themselves with a new logo & new marketing. I feel its very important to give back to the community where I can. I was proud to win "Ally of the Year" Award this past December at out Gala. When I'm not helping on the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce board, I am a room mom for my children's classes. I have 3 children and husband. I love traveling, reading & checking out new microbreweries.
DIRECTOR OF FINANCE - Treasurer
Having spent most of my career in the financial services industry, currently a mortgage manager; I believe there is a general need in the community for professionals to donate time to improve the community we live in.
Having relocated to Charlotte in May, I am looking for ways to get actively involved and would like to commit to activities that I believe in. Being able to support the LGBT community is important to me, and I would like the opportunity to assist where possible. I am fully able to commit to the 1-20 hours a month of volunteer service, thanks to both a supportive partner and a Company that encourages community activity.
In September, I joined the Gay Men's Chorus of Charlotte and believe this along with the Chamber can be two good areas to support the community.
Prior to board positions have included the United Way as a general board member, the American Heart Association as the Silicon Valley Walk Chairperson for 2 years, Board member and President for my Church in Silicon Valley, Work to Future board member for over 11 years with being the Chair/Vice Chair of the Youth Committee and Board Member/Member Chairmen for the SIlicon Valley LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS, ADVOCACY & POLICY
Erin Barbee is a native of Charlotte who recently returned home after living the last 5 years in Atlanta, Georgia. Erin received her degree in Sociology and Gerontology from UNC Charlotte in 2006. For the last 11 years Erin has been an Executive Director for different entities within the senior living field that ranged from free standing memory care communities to independent living facilities. In September 2017, Erin accepted her most rewarding position as the Director of Mission Advancement with Aldersgate Retirement Community. Her goal is to work with community partners to help bring more services and unique offerings to both the Elders that live at Aldersgate but, also patrons of East Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
Since her return Erin has become very involved in her city. She is the Co-chair of the Charlotte LGBT Elders Group, Board Member of CharlotteEAST, a volunteer Ombudsman and she serves on the leadership team of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Aging Council. In her spare time, Erin enjoys going to sporting events with her partner and spending time with her family.
DIRECTOR OF EVENTS
Nattiel Turner is a native of Maryland, but moved to Charlotte three days after his high school graduation to pursue his degree in culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University. During his tenure at Johnson & Wales he managed various restaurants and completed internships with the Nutrition & Diet Department at Carolina’s Medical Center focusing on meal plans and nutrition regimens. In addition to his academics and work schedule, Nattiel was also involved in the planning and opening of Georges Brassier in South Park. Nattiel had the distinct honor to study under Chef Carrie Hegnauer, Chef Fred Teiss and Chef Shane Pearson and attributes his skills to their dedication and mentoring while at Johnson & Wales . Although his passion for cooking began at an early age with his mother, Chef Rebecca Padgett guiding him, he began career development under Chef Tony Hilligoss at Parkside High School in the culinary arts program.
He received his Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University in 2008. Upon graduation, he continued to manage restaurants and hospitality along with offering private chef services in the Charlotte metro area. In 2012, he opened Your Custom Catering & Events, a full-service catering and events firm. His idea was to offer catering and event management to those who were priced out of the big-name competitors within the industry. The company is considered a preferred and exclusive caterer for more than fifteen venues in and around the Queen City. He has been named one of “Charlotte’s Best Caterers” for two years consecutively. His company has consistently received the Spectrum Customer Service Award for three years as well. Nattiel prides himself in a client centered approach to catering and event management and maintains an “A+ Rating” and is an Accredited Business with the Better Business Bureau and is listed as an accredited business in the North Carolina.
In addition to his culinary prowess, he is also very involved in his community. Nattiel is an active member of the St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church. He has served on the boards of Charlotte Black Gay Pride and the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce. His memberships have included the LGBT Chamber and Charlotte Chamber. Each year he gets involved in local elections and volunteers with various campaigns. This past year he was invited by faculty as a guest speaker at Johnson & Wales University, offering guidance and insight to future culinary and business students who want to open their own company. His philanthropic endeavors include the Charlotte Men’s Shelter, Time Out Youth, Urban Ministry, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the Relatives. In 2017, Nate was honored as one of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Chamber of Commerce’s 30 Under 30 for his entrepreneurial success and what he has given to the Charlotte community through his business, activism and volunteerism.
Most recently, he received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Columbia Southern University with honors.
DIRECTOR OF Membership Experience
Jason is a native North Carolinian, having spent most of his life living in Jacksonville, NC, before moving to the Charlotte area in the summer of 2014. He is a 2010 graduate of East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, where he received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education. Jason’s careers and life can be summed up in one word: service. For five years, he helped middle and high school students reach their highest potential on their instrument of choice in the marching and concert band setting. Now, he is helping members of the Charlotte and Lake Norman community to navigate the home buying and home selling process with success as a REALTOR® with Keller Williams Realty. Jason is also a real estate coach who helps encourage other to REALTORS® to reach their goals and fund the perfect life. Jason was recognized as the Keller Williams Realty - Lake Norman - Cornelius "2016 Rookie of the Year" and was also awarded the Five Star Professional 2017 Rising Star Award for the Charlotte area (see www.fivestarprofessional.com to learn more). Outside of his career, Jason serves as a member of the Charlotte Regional Realtors Association Communications Committee and is a Musical Minds of Huntersville Board Member. He currently lives in Charlotte with his partner, Matt, and enjoys trying out new restaurants, traveling, and spending time with friends.
LGBTbE® Certification & Supplier Diversity
Natasha Tutt is originally from Amityville, NY. She obtained her BA in Economics at Spelman College and her MBA at NC State. She currently is a demand management consultant for Wells Fargo and a solider in the North Carolina National Guard.
LGBTbE® CERTIFICATION & SUPPLIER DIVERSITY
Jeff DeNio is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota but grew up in rural Minnesota. He lived in Brazil and Jordan before majoring in Linguistics and International Relations at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. After undergraduate work, he completed his law degree at Vanderbilt University Law School in Nashville.
Jeff moved to Charlotte twenty years ago and currently works as a quality control attorney for Consilio Services in eDiscovery litigation services. He recently worked in vendor contract risk management in the financial industry.
He is excited to be giving back to the LGBT community. Working with the Chamber’s LGBT Certification and Supplier Diversity program, he will be assisting business owners in their pursuit of certification and expanded business opportunities.
Jeff’s interests include traveling, wine, languages, technology, dogs, cultural events, and cooking with friends.
DIRECTOR Of DEVELOPMENT
Emily C. Plauché MSc, CPA was born and raised in Louisiana, where Creole and crawfish are synonymous with culture and “the Big Easy” is a way of life. After obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Louisiana State University, Emily left for London where she acquired a Master of Science degree in International Security with an emphasis on reconciliation between ethnic groups after civil conflict. She loves being an accountant yet also maintains an incredible passion for people in her community and the world beyond. From London, Emily backpacked solo through India and Southeast Asia building on previous humanitarian work in countries throughout Africa and Asia. After returning to the United States, she moved to Charlotte, NC where she obtained her CPA license and worked as an auditor in the Banking and Capital Markets industry for PwC. In 2015, she transitioned to the nonprofit industry to serve as the Director of Accounting and Subsidiary Controller at Girls on the Run International. Since being in Charlotte, Emily has served on a variety of local campaigns and nonprofit and political and Boards of Directors, most recently serving as the Treasurer for Former Mayor Jennifer Roberts.