In the beginning...

With California being home to the world’s fifth largest economy, it is no surprise that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Economic Equality Movement started in the Golden State with the founding of the world’s first LGBT chamber of commerce in 1974 in San Francisco. Soon thereafter LGBT business organizations launched in Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, San Jose, Palm Springs and Long Beach.


California – the home of innovation and inclusion...

Fast-forward to 2013 when it was the $2.2 Billion California High Speed Rail’s Northern Terminus Project (known as the Transbay Transit Center) that became the first public agency in the United States to hold an outreach event specifically dedicated to inviting LGBT firms in construction services to be a part of the competitive bidding process. This was a watershed moment for those LGBT businesses who had chosen ‘hard hats over suits’ to create sustainable jobs, support their families and build our communities.


In 2014 two members of California’s LGBT business community (Rick Hobbs Seeley and Paul Pendergast) began the legislative process which lead to California Governor Jerry Brown signing Assembly Bill 1678 in September of 2015. This law, championed by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, along with six of California’s LGBT Chambers of Commerce, became the Nation’s first piece of legislation to require regulated California-based energy, water and telecommunications firms to annually  report their total procurement with LGBT businesses to the state legislature.


As a result of these significant milestone events public agencies across California have started intentionally including LGBT businesses in their contracting programs such as:  the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), the city of Los Angeles, and the California Department of General Services. California is also the epicenter for large national, and international, firms associated with construction services to actively engage in building relationships and teaming agreements with LGBT owned/certified firms.

LGBT Entrepreneurs thinking ‘outside the box’...

We are currently at a point in time where the ‘procurement pipeline’ needs more LGBT businesses who are qualified and can actively compete in the marketplace for these new-found opportunities.  Enter... BuildOUT California! 


Founded by LGBT entrepreneurs, and our allies, who have over 350 years of experience in building successful businesses and winning competitively bid contracts - BuildOUT California serves in three distinct areas:


  • Connecting LGBT owned/certified firms, and our allies, with key decision makers within the procurement pipeline who are building winning teams for contract pursuits and the appropriate entities who are issuing contracts for bidding.


  • Advocating for economic equality at the local, state and national levels as it relates to LGBT businesses, and our allies, in the construction services industries.


  • Providing relevant, customized, one-on-one technical assistance so that LGBT businesses, and our allies, can more effectively compete for contract opportunities (Pre-Award) and then ensure that once successful the firm has the support it needs (Post-Award) to successfully deliver the contract while building economic vitality, job creation and profitability!

Everything is better with YOU!

Join us as we continue to build the California Dream of entrepreneurial success!



    Steve is the Managing Director of Seligman Western Enterprises, Ltd. which owns and operates a large portfolio of commercial, industrial, residential and retail properties throughout California and the United States including the Watergate Office Building in Washington, D.C. Steve is the Past President of the San Francisco Small Business Commission where he was appointed by Mayor London Breed and the late Mayor Edwin Lee.
    The Allen Group, LLC is one of California’s leading project and construction management firms overseeing numerous mega-construction projects for Federal, State and Local Government Agencies. Founded in 1989 Schatzie Allen-Jefferson serves as President of The Allen Group. Ms. Allen-Jefferson continues the legacy established by her mother, LaVerda Allen, who was awarded a lifetime achievement award by Equality California in 2018 for her tireless work in civil rights.
    Elena is the Northern California Community & Citizenship Senior Director for Turner Construction, the largest commercial builder in the U.S. where she leads supplier diversity initiatives and workforce development programs. She manages Turner’s efforts to deliver their subcontractor educational training programs and oversees their Employee Resource Groups.
    Tom is President and CEO of The Baker Group Family of Companies and has over 40 years of experience in public and private sector business development activities. He is a subject matter expert in Proposal Writing, Teaming Agreements, Compliance, and Key Performance Metrics.
    Dr. Joel A. Brown is the Chief Visionary Officer of Pneumos LLC, a management consulting/coaching company based in San Francisco specializing in cultural intelligence, leadership, and change management. Joel works with leaders to cultivate innovative and adaptive environments where the cultural genius of everyone can be harnessed and leveraged successfully.
    Raewyn is the Executive Vice President of Ghirardelli Associates, a full-service construction management firm, serving public agencies throughout California. Raewyn was critical in establishing the Caltrans Mentor-Protégé (Calmentor) in Fresno/Central Valley, San Luis Obispo/Central Coast and the Bay Area. 20 years ago, Ghirardelli Associates was launched by Alice Ghirardelli, who was one of the first women Resident Engineers in California’s transportation industry.
    Lonnie is the CEO of ARC which is a construction management firm based in San Jose. With many large infrastructure projects on her resume, her current headline project includes the BART to San Jose Project which is valued at more than $1 Billion.
    Sandra is the CEO of Laner Electric and has been repeatedly listed as one of the top 100 Women Businesses in the Bay Area. Sandra sits on the Caltrans, BART, Department of General Services and University of California SBE Councils.
    Charissa is President/Co-Owner of FMG Architects. With over 25 years of A/E/C experience, her focus is in transportation, aviation and civic markets. During her tenure as President for the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS), San Francisco Bay Area Chapter they launched the pilot leadership program with experienced trainers from the Stanford Business School.
    Debi Hertz, DBIA, CCM is a Senior Project Manager with Gilbane Building Company and brings 28 years of leadership experience in both construction management and general contracting in California. Her breadth of project experience includes major civic, healthcare, education, commercial and retail markets. Debi was one of the driving forces in establishing Gilbane’s PRIDE Employee Resource Group and serves as the Western Chapter Lead for the group.
    Chris is the COVID-19 Disaster Relief Specialist and Chair of the Loan Default Prevention Collaborative at Nor-Cal FDC. The Nor-Cal FDC is licensed and chartered by the State of California for the operation, delivery and servicing of the State of California Small Business Loan Guaranty Program (SBLGP).
    Rick is the Co-Founder of AB1678 which opened up the procurement pipelines for LGBT firms with California-based utilities. He retired from Southern California Gas Company in 2016 as the Director of Procurement and Supplier Diversity. In this capacity, he managed over 150 employees and the utility’s annual spend of over $1 billion annually. He is a consultant based in Palm Springs.
    Gwen is the CEO of Ace Mailing, a third-generation business based in San Francisco which specializes in working with General Contractors involved in infrastructure projects, data acquisition and software program development. Gwen has been named California’s Small Business of the Year by the CSBA.
    Vigor (he/him) is a construction management professional at Kitchell CEM based in San Francisco, CA, currently providing program and construction management services for a several-year $845M bond program at City College of San Francisco. He is a former student affairs practitioner with experience in equity/inclusion and student development initiatives on university campuses.
    Angel founded Motive Power in 2005 and has since applied her expertise in raising three successful private firms without external investment. Specializing in public utilities across the United States, Angel brings over 20 years of experience with major utility companies such as PG&E, SDG&E, SoCal Gas, SCE, Xcel Energy, and Seattle City Light.
    Joe is the Founder and CEO of Pride Resource Partners, a San Diego based firm specializing in project management, construction management, staff augmentation, and other highly technical consulting services. Originally from Germany, Joe founded the company after AB1678 passed in 2015. The company has grown over 400% in the past 3 years and employs 60+ specialized consultants.
    Paul is a Co-Founder of AB1678 and the CEO of PCG, a nationally recognized/award winning Public Affairs Firm which specializes in managing economic development programs for mega-construction projects throughout California. He is a member of the California Small Business Roundtable and PCG’s operations are based on Treasure Island in San Francisco.
    David is founder/CEO of David Perry & Associates, Inc., with offices in San Francisco and Palm Springs and a leader in the fields of communications, promotion, social media and crisis management. DP&A, Inc.'s clients include George Lucas/Skywalker Properties, Kilroy Realty, Hathaway-Dinwiddie, The America’s Cup and the Super Bowl 50 to name a few. David managed communication efforts for the $1Billion+ Lucas Museum currently under construction in Los Angeles.
    Luis is the CEO of AerialZeus which is an Engineering Consulting Company headquartered in Sacramento that provides engineering solutions via Remote Sensing Technology from Drones, Manned Aircraft and Satellites. AerialZeus’ solutions have been deployed within the Construction, Environmental & Power industries for the inspection and monitoring of infrastructure for nearly ten years.
    Daniel is an urban and water resources planner at Jacobs in San Francisco, CA. He balances long-term client engagements with membership on Prism's global leadership team (Jacobs' internal LGBT+ employee network group). A California native, Daniel received his Bachelor's in Urban Planning at University of California, San Diego.
    Andrew is the Business Operations Manager at Pride Resource Partners which is a professional project management consulting firm which provides Facility Planning & Management, Construction Project Planning & Management, and other highly technical consulting and engineering services. Pride Resource Partners has grown over 400% as a company in just the past 3 years.
    Oscar is the President of the Montez Group and has over 20 years of professional quality management experience working on a variety of projects in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Well versed with bid-build, CM/GC, and Design-Build delivery methods Oscar has a strong background in Heavy Civil, Aviation, Rail, and Train Control Systems - Signal and Communications.


Is BuildOUT California a chamber of commerce or an industry association?


Chambers of Commerce traditionally have memberships that are comprised of a wide variety of businesses including financial, insurance and professional services, retail, hospitality, restaurants, etc. BuildOUT California is an industry association with a focus on five specific industry categories which are: Architecture, Engineering, Construction Services, Real Estate Development and related industries that are used by those sectors such as construction material supplies, professional services associated with the entitlement process, public engagement and outreach, collateral materials production, graphic design, etc.


Does BuildOUT California certify LGBT businesses?


BuildOUT California does not certify LGBT businesses. We will assist in connecting you with the proper individuals at the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), one of the 7 LGBT Chambers of Commerce in California or the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) Supplier Clearinghouse.


Does BuildOUT California encourage LGBT businesses to meet the criteria to become LGBT certified? 


Absolutely YES! Founders of BuildOUT California have been strong advocates for becoming LGBT certified for many years. The NGLCC’s LGBT Certification is modeled after the certifications by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and is available to for profit businesses at least 51% owned and operated by LGBT persons. The application process has four distinct steps which the NGLCC and/or the 7 LGBT chambers of commerce in California will assist you with completing. The CPUC’s LGBT certification is mirrored after the NGLCC’s certification program and criteria.


Does BuildOUT California assist LGBT owned/certified businesses with the Federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and California Small Business Enterprise (SBE) certification application process?


Yes! BuildOUT California can assist firms with the DBE and SBE Certification application(s) and processes. Both the DBE and SBE Certification Programs have different criteria so you will need to ensure you satisfy their respective requirements. In addition, BuildOUT California works in collaboration with the Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAC) and the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) throughout California for additional technical assistance to support your efforts.


Is BuildOUT California competing with the 7 LGBT chambers of commerce in California?


Absolutely not and, in fact, quite the opposite. BuildOUT California’s Founders have, or currently are, serving on the volunteer boards of directors for several of California’s LGBT chambers which are located in San Diego, Palm Springs, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Silicon Valley and San Francisco. We encourage all LGBT businesses across California to join, participate and engage with these outstanding business organizations. We will eagerly refer you to key representatives of each of these chambers so that you can engage at the level which is best suited for your business.


Does BuildOUT California have events?


BuildOUT California will have selected high-impact/signature events during the calendar year once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but our emphasis is not on creating events that are usually expensive to produce and can have limited value for participants. Instead – BuildOUT California is about ‘connecting’ our members to key decision makers, and to create relationships with team-leaders and purchasers in their respective environments. For example, if you are in the construction management industry – join us as we participate in various regional Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) events. If you are an architect – join us as we participate in the American Institute of Architects events. If you are a firm that deals with transportation, we look forward to going with you to the annual Focus on the Future Conference where you can meet dozens of people looking to gain a competitive edge in their team building activities. We are fortunate to be doing business in California because there are so many robust and exciting industry groups that need to know that LGBT businesses mean business!


How do I become a ‘Member’ of BuildOUT California?


BuildOUT California advocates strongly for all LGBT firms, and our allies, in our core industry categories and beyond. As we launch this historic initiative, we are not charging LGBT businesses and our allies that fall into the classification of ‘small businesses’ for the programs and services we offer. We want you to be successful in building your business. When BuildOUT California adds monetary value to your business through the connections we have made for you, through our advocacy efforts, and the relevant technical assistance activities we provide - you may want to become a Sponsor of the organization and ‘give back’ in a way that is appropriate for your business.


How do I become a ‘Sponsor’ of BuildOUT California?


If you would like to become a sponsor of BuildOUT California, we will be happy to collaborate with you at the appropriate time in our organization’s lifecycle to build a customized program that meets the needs of our collective stakeholders.


What if I am a public agency and want to participate with BuildOUT.


We welcome any/all public agencies at the local, state, and federal levels to join us in this unique and very timely economic vitality opportunity! If you are a public agency that wishes to engage in programming with BuildOUT that meets the needs of our collective core audiences we would be delighted to collaborate with you to develop an innovative approach that not only taps into the over 350 years of experience generated by our organizational leadership but we will also work with you to identify key performance indicators that can be measured, tested and reported to ensure your investment in California’s diverse LGBT business community meets the highest standards of ‘good government.’


Additional Questions?


We welcome you to email us at:



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350 Townsend Street, Suite 862, San Francisco, CA 94107

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