Tammi Wallace was born in Memphis, Tennessee and raised in Southaven, Mississippi, “which is actually a suburb of Memphis” she explains. She is the consummate activist. She founded her own strategic planning and consulting firm. And she works fervently for LGBT equality in a number of arenas.
Wallace, in fact, has an incredible reputation for her work in public service. In her own words, she explains:
I have been active in the community for more years than I can remember! I “cut my teeth” on grassroots activism work on behalf of the LGBT community including political campaigns, voter identification and advocacy. Around 2003, I started a voter identification project locally called “Equality Knocks.” The goal of the project was to identify voters who would vote against a potential anti-gay state constitutional amendment banning gay and lesbians for marrying in the State of Texas. We knocked on thousands of doors, participated in events across the city, made thousands of phone calls to identify voters…The Equality Knocks project was the pre-cursor to the Houston Equal Rights Alliance (HERA), which I co-founded along with my fellow activists, April Ayers and Jeff Reid. We did amazing work through HERA continuing the crucial voter identification work and educating the public about the lives and stories of the LGBT community. Ultimately, we built a database of thousands of supportive voters, who have helped to elect pro-equality candidates like Annise Parker, Ellen Cohen to name a few. My grassroots activism work led me to much of the community work that I am currently involved in some of which includes serving as a member of the Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Board, Co-Founder of the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Victory Fund Campaign Board, Co-Chair of the 2015 & 2016 Houston Victory Fund Brunches, and Board Chair of the Hollyfield Foundation. I also serve on the Board of the Montrose Management District.
When she does round up a little time for herself, travel and photography – and her wife Mercedes – are her true loves. “Mercedes loves to travel and she has really helped me to appreciate that there are so many amazing places in this world to experience. Plus – I get to capture beautiful memories through my photography!”
Wallace and her wife have been together for more than seven years. “We were thrilled when we were able to finally get married in Texas! We live in Montrose with our ‘crew’ of fur babies – kitties and puppers. We really enjoy living in Montrose. But when we need to getaway, we head to our beach house in Matagorda on the Gulf. Our Matagorda trips give me plenty of photo opportunities and much needed downtime.”
Also a very serious football fan, Wallace says, “On any given Sunday during football season, you will find me glued to the TV watching the Texans and the stellar J.J. Watt!”
There is no question that she is perfect for this month’s Vocal Local.
How long have you lived in Houston?
I move to HTown when I was 17. Very few people know that I moved to Houston to go to Bible College! In fact, I just celebrated 30 years of living in Houston this past August. When I shared this milestone on Facebook, a childhood friend from my hometown and now living in Houston summed it up pretty well….Southaven has my roots but Houston is my home…and I would also say that it has my heart. I love this town – it has been a beautiful gift and journey so far.
What do you do?
I am the Founder & Principal Consultant of EnFocus Strategies, which I started in 2012. EnFocus Strategies works with organizations on high-quality strategic training and consulting services focused on public affairs, business development and diversity & inclusion training and consulting. Through my company, I’ve had a wonderful opportunity to utilize my background from various sectors including corporate, education, non-profit and political. My varied background means I am very fortunate to have a very large network of what I call “colleagues, collaborators and connectors.”
What’s your favorite thing about Houston?
I love how Houston catches people by surprise. You hear the story time and time again…I moved to Houston for (insert work, love, college) and fell in love with the city. HTown is the best kept secret in the country.
What never ceases to surprise you about Houston?
Two things never cease to surprise me about Houston – generosity & resiliency.
We are one of the most philanthropic cities in the country. Houston is a truly giving city from foundations, to large donors to corporations and people giving back in terms of hours and hours of their time to help others.
Houston is Resilient with a capital R. One of the first things I recall hearing about Houston…if you are willing to come here, roll up your sleeves, work hard, do your part…you will be successful. We are a city that has an entrepreneurial spirit running through our blood. Houstonians are innovative, creative and we know how to get things done. Does it get any better?
Where is your favorite place to eat in Houston?
We live in Montrose and so this is an impossible question to pick ONE restaurant. But if I must choose…one of my all-time favs is Hugo’s.
What is your favorite thing to do in Houston?
I love the Rothko Chapel. It’s a sacred space that brings me to a calm and quiet place in the middle of a vibrant and thriving city.
How would you describe the queer community in Houston?
Diverse! Diverse! Diverse! There are so many different groups within the queer community in Houston. I think our unique diversity is what makes our community both interesting and dynamic. We have so much that we can learn from each other within our own community while educating others.
What is your favorite queer event in Houston?
The Victory Fund Brunch is my absolute favorite event. I am a bit biased having served as Co-Chair of the event, along with Ryan Lindsay, for the past two years. The Victory Fund has one top priority – to elected LGBT candidates. Houston raises crucial funds for the Victory Fund at the brunch and everyone has a great time, while learning about the important work across the country to make sure our LGBTQ community is represented at every level of government. I am proud that we broke fundraising records for both brunches – again showing the generosity of our city and community when there is a compelling cause to support work that makes a difference.
What is the one piece of advice you’d give to a queer person coming to visit H-Town?
Come hungry! Seriously…beyond our amazing restaurants, arts and community…come learn more about HTown. Forget the stereotypes – cowboys and horses roaming the streets (well maybe during the Rodeo!) and let Houston surprise and amaze you. I promise you will not be disappointed.