Mark Morales: In the Room Where It Happens

Mark Morales wears many, many hats. In a long history of service and as a supporter of the NGLCC, Mark serves the LGBT business community in a wide variety of ways. This includes roles as the Vice President of SBA Lending at City National Bank, the President Emeritus of the Los Angeles LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce (LAGLCC), and the co-owner of Certified LGBTBE® Charles Jacobsen, Inc. Most recently, Morales was welcomed as the Chair of the Insurance Diversity Task Force at the California Department of Insurance – and is the first LGBTQ+ individual to serve in the role.
“I have an immense sense of pride in being the first LGBT person to represent our community in many of these rooms,” he said. “The surprising thing is that I’m the first!”
When he first joined the Task Force in 2015, Morales brought with him a host of valuable experience from his work across the business community. As a result, he provided significant aid to the Department of Insurance in pioneering data collection, event operations, and outreach.
“When I came into these organizations and sat at their meetings, I was able to come up with things that were pretty common sense that no one had ever thought of before,” he explained. “This is the value of having people in the room with diverse backgrounds.”
Morales also pushed for LGBT inclusion in California legislation in which the Department of Insurance was involved. LGBT data collection was originally included in official surveys but not in legislation because it was thought of, by some, as too controversial. He sought to change this, and ended up overcoming objections from other members to ensure LGBT inclusion in state law.
“I needed to make sure I said this in every meeting so it would be recorded on how important it was to include LGBTBEs in the legislation,” he explained. “Being able to make that impact and to be listened to is amazing; to take my suggestions and to make them into policy.”
As the new Chair of the Insurance Diversity Task Force, Morales says that their biggest – and most exciting – challenge will be to engage insurance companies and their supplier diversity departments to connect them with diverse suppliers in the state, particularly LGBT suppliers. Per a statewide diversity initiative, insurance companies in California must report how much they spend across different categories and diverse communities. Over the last decade, diverse spend has increased by 105% as a direct result of these reports. Morales seeks to continue increasing this number, as well as ensuring that the growing amount of California LGBTBEs are included in the City of Los Angeles’ new regional supplier diversity matchmaking portal.
“The key to what I’ve been doing with the multiple hats that I wear is always about making this world more equal,” he said.
This philosophy aligns closely with that of NGLCC’s, and it’s appropriate that Morales himself is a Certified LGBTBE® owner. As co-owner of Charles Jacobsen, Inc., an importer of antique furniture and accessories from Asia, he is a distinguished member of the NGLCC community. In 2013, he and his husband purchased the business, joined their local chamber, the LAGLCC, and got certified over the course of 2 months.
“Certification is a really amazing opportunity, not only for trying to get more business, but for how it introduced me to community work,” said Morales. “The connection with the local chamber had a huge impact in that it gave me an avenue to do community work that used my unique skillset.”
In a matter of a few years, Morales became an LAGLCC board member, then its treasurer, Vice President, President and now President Emeritus. During his tenure on the board, the Chamber tripled in size.
“By volunteering at a business chamber with an extensive business background, I was able to make extreme change in a short amount of time,” he explained, crediting LAGLCC Executive Director Marquita Thomas as a mentor, partner and guide for this work.
Now, Morales looks ahead at the future of supplier diversity, where he wants to focus his energy. Above all else, he credits the formula of inclusion, representation, and engagement coming together to create results.
Mark Morales is a Vice President of SBA Lending at City National Bank. Mark has over 20 years of business banking experience and specializes in SBA financing and loan programs for diverse owned businesses. Mark is the SBA Los Angeles District Office – 2016 Financial Services Champion of the Year and the California Department of Insurance – 2018 Insurance Diversity Trailblazer. He currently serves as the LGBT/LGBTBE representative to the Leadership Council for the Los Angeles Business Council, Small Business Employer Advisory Committee for the California Employment Development Department (EDD),Consumer Advisory Panel for Southern California Edison and serves on the Board of Advisors for Equality California. Mark is also Co-owner of Charles Jacobsen, Inc., an importer of antique furniture and accessories from Asia, which is a Certified LGBT Business Enterprise.
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