The seventh annual ONE Gala took place on November 16, 2017 with 200 members and guests in attendance. What once started off as an anniversary meeting celebrating the founding of ONE has grown into an elegant gala event and fundraiser for the group. Attendees were welcomed at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View, the host hotel and presenting sponsor.
The evening kicked off with an opening reception, where attendees viewed and bid on over 40 hotel and merchandise packages available for ONE's first-ever silent auction. Guests then entered the ballroom to a dazzling banquet setting for the main program, with peacock inspired table linens and the event's theme, Can't Stop the Feeling, on display for an energizing vibe. First-time Chairperson, Brad Benton, provided opening remarks kicking off the program before the keynote speaker, Maryland senator Rich Madaleno, provided an inspiring and often amusing address. Sen. Madaleno is currently running for Governor of Maryland and got the crowd chuckling as he told the story of how he confused many people when he announced earlier that evening he was leaving Annapolis and was headed for Northern Virginia to give a speech.
Throughout the night, announcements were made of raffle winners from ticket sales available weeks before the Gala. Ten amazing hotel packages were up for grabs, including a 5-night package at the exotic JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa in Vietnam. Toward the end of the program, three special awards were announced. The first two were the annual announcement of the winners of the ONE Award for the Member of the Year and Chapter of the Year.
2017 Chapter of the Year: Miami 2017 Member of the Year: Andris Antons (Chicago)
Attendees were treated to a 3-course meal that kicked off with a special story from ONE Council Secretary, Christian Mullins. Mullins explained that all guests would be treated to a very special dessert at the conclusion of dinner. The dessert provided was a special bread pudding that was a secret recipe and favorite for Marriott Executive Chairman, Bill Marriott, and his family. The chef from the JW Marriott Washington DC made this dessert exclusively for the family for years, and was brought in especially for this event at the Renaissance to make this secret bread pudding for the ONE Gala attendees. It was apparent there was much excitement about the anticipated dessert, and it did not disappoint the crowd.
The final award given out of the night was a special award to founding member, Ken Kuhn, who has served as Council treasurer for the last seven years. A special achievement award was presented to Ken by former and founding chairperson, Bruce Rohr, who delighted the crowd with amusing stories and images of years of working with Ken.
A silent auction concluded that evening with over 40 unique hotel and merchandise packages available for bidding. The money raised from the raffle and auction will be used to fund engagement activities across each chapter in 2018. This is the first time ONE raise enough money to help support chapter awareness efforts.
As the program concluded, attendees were invited to the ONE afterparty where DJ Alex Love was spinning tunes and guests to network and connect with one another on the dance floor or on the terrance overlooking the Potomac river.
A date for the 2018 ONE Gala has not been set.
ONE is the official lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, and straight ally associate network of Marriott International, Inc. comprised of Marriott associates and franchise employees. Since its inception in November 2010 by 15 founding members, the group has cultivated a focus to serve as a voice for LGBTQ associates and their allies, as well as to create a supportive network for a community that had no formal representation before within the company.
With over 2,200 volunteer members in 20+ chapters around the world, ONE continues to move forward in seeking new ways to:
Develop community among members
Increase the diversity mindset to include LGBTQ issues, and
Assist in unleashing revenue opportunities with concentrated marketing and sales efforts within the LGBTQ community
ONE embodies Marriott’s long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion within its own membership. Over 56 percent of ONE’s membership is made up of straight allies. Sixty percent are women and close to 10% of members live outside of the United States.
Associate Networks within Marriott International are ongoing, associate-initiated teams that form around a broad range of common interests. These networks provide the opportunity to informally connect with other associates in order to grow both personally and professionally. These teams are self-directed and funded by their members.
For more information on ONE, please go to our website at www.onemarriott.com and engage with us on Twitter and Instagram @onemarriott Statements or articles posted by ONE are not official positions or opinions of Marriott International.
ONE - Chairperson
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