Guilford Green Foundation set for 17th annual gala and awards ceremony

by Kashif Stone

Twenty-one years ago a group of community members decided something needed to be done to provide assistance funding for the local AIDS service organization, Triad Health Project. The group consisted of Triad Health Project board members as well as volunteers. Under the direction of committee chair Keith Phillips, the inaugural Green Party was held at Club Babylon on March 16, 1996 and was an incredible success. The success of the Green Party led to the creation of Guilford Green Foundation. As the party evolved more and more over the years, it transitioned into the annual Guilford Green Foundation Gala. This year the Guilford Green Foundation will host its 17th annual GCF Gala with a night full of creativity, passion and opulence.

Various board members of Guilford Green Foundation, as well as volunteers from other organizations, collaborate to create the gala. Senior co-chair of this year’s GGF Gala, Jessica Mashburn, is the mastermind and driving creative force behind the 2016 event. Junior co-chairs Sarah Catherine Poole and Evelyn Day also play a huge role in the planning of this year’s event. The rest of the planning committee consists of GGF board chairs Jeff Smith and Melissa Greer, GGF staff members Glenda Miller and Leigh Anne Kincaid, GGF board member and Silent Auction Chair Aaron Tyler, GGF board member Lina Urmos, owner of QW restaurants and hotels Dennis Quaintance, director of catering for Proximity/ O’Henry hotels Martha Bryant, and community member Tony Doles.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan recently joined the Guildford Green Foundation team and has worked on administrative tasks for the event and building sponsor relations. “The Proximity Hotel is not only one of our biggest corporate sponsors, they are also underwriting the event by engaging key members of their hotel team, including Executive Chef Leigh Hesling and their Head of Engineering, Jeff Kennedy, to present a lavish ‘bespoke event’ that is a trade-mark of the QW Restaurants/ Hotel brand,” said Vaughn.

Since its beginnings, more than $800,000 has been raised by the Guilford Green Foundation to offer financial support to programs and nonprofit organizations across the Piedmont Triad that share similar values. The GGF gala is the organization’s biggest annual fundraiser event. It is devoted to raising funds to address the ongoing challenges facing the LGBT community. The GGF gala raised $58,000 last year for the organization’s grant fund. Local businesses and individuals donate through a silent auction. The auction features over 100 items, ranging from fine art, custom jewelry and luxurious travel packages. Last year’s silent auction expanded its reach by hosting the event on the mobile app “Handbid.” The app eliminates cumbersome “clip-board” bidding for those who aren’t able to attend the auction but want to participating. This year’s silent auction will be hosted again on the Handbid app and is set to go live on March 18.

The GGF gala includes a ceremony featuring three annual awards. The GGF Visionary Award is the most prestigious award granted by the organization given to those who champion the vision of a better society for the LGBT community. The Distinguished Service Award is awarded to an individual who provided years of outstanding service to the Piedmont Triad LGBT community. Lastly, the Distinguished Leadership Award is given to someone who demonstrates outstanding leadership for a specific event, project, or situation. Award recipients are nominated by community members and selected by the GGF gala committee.

The Guilford Green Foundation believes that those who support their work and mission of uniting the community deserve to be treated like movie stars. This belief is the force behind the Hollywood theme of this year’s GGF gala, “Everyone’s A Star!” Sponsors, ticket holders, and friendship fund drive donors can expect a completely new and intriguing experience compared to previous galas through this year’s décor, entertainment, and cuisine. !


The 17th annual Guilford Green Foundation Gala will be held at the Proximity Hotel on Saturday, March 19th at 7pm. Tickets can be purchased at