Our Mission: Tampa Bay Bears, Inc is an organization formed by gay men within the Bear community to foster relationships with other gay members in the community and to provide support to LGBT+ charities and other charitable organizations through social activities, fund raising, and volunteer work. The organization is organized exclusively for charitable purposes under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or corresponding section of any future federal tax code.
2024 Board of Directors
Matthew, a dynamic individual with roots in Kentucky, and upbringing that spans the Tampa Bay Area and Tennessee. Proficient in both urban and rural lifestyles, he seamlessly blends the hustle of city living with a deep understanding of farm life. As a dedicated realtor in the Tampa Bay area and surrounding counties, Matt is committed to bringing fresh ideas to the Tampa Bay Bears community, a journey he embarked on two years ago.
His initiation into the Tampa Bay Bears began humbly, attending events and offering assistance wherever needed. Matt’s genuine commitment to the community is reflected in his belief that “no greater reward is given than serving your community.” Serving the Bears, for him, is a way of giving back to the community, an extension of his passion for charity service. Now an integral part of the Bears, he cherishes the sense of camaraderie the group has brought into his life. Beyond his real estate pursuits, Matt is an avid traveler, always ready for a new adventure, whether it’s a leisurely day at the beach or an exciting cruise down to the Bahamas
Kelvin has lived in the Tampa Bay Area off and on since 2016. Has been married since 2018 to his husband Jarrod and moved back to the area from Atlanta in 2020.
Kelvin lived in Michigan for 20 years, and was one of the producers of the Mr. Michigan Leather contest in Saugatuck, MI which was a filter into the International Men of Leather (IML) contest in Chicago. He was also the President of the Grand Rapids Rivermen Leather/Levi Club in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They were a social leather club that held various bar nights all over the state, as well as Ohio and Illinois. They would hold an annual event every year, and the bar nights were fundraisers to support that event. They also worked security for an event for the Hellfire Club out of Chicago at the Dunes Resort in Saugatuck, Michigan and that would help to assist in subsidizing the annual leather run.
Kelvin is happy and proud to be part of the Tampa Bay Bears and look forward to meeting new people across the area!
Board Member at Large
My Name is Ben Birkner. I am a 58 year old single guy living the dream in Palm Harbor, Florida.
I was farm raised in Southern Illinois, St Louis Metro Area. I come from a large Catholic family and know the value of hard work and community.
I live in Palm Harbor with my Border Collie/Standard Poodle mix dog ""Boone"". I work in Dunedin as an Office Manager of an Insurance Agency.
I am a father of one daughter and grandfather of two. I'm always ready and willing to show pictures of my grandkids, yes, I’m a proud Papa Bear!
I have life long passion of volunteer work. I have done volunteer work for many great organizations.
Monroe County 4-H Federation Sponsor and the St. Louis Gay Man’s Rodeo are just a couple that I’m proud of.
I was also a Southern Illinois Youth Camp Counselor and part of the Southern Illinois Big Brother program for two young men. I love the feeling that I can make a difference in other peoples lives, it’s a great feeling for me and one that I’m proud of!
While being a member of the Gay Rodeo of St Louis Chapter, I volunteered at several different fund raising events sponsored by the Rodeo. I loved volunteering as Barn Manager at our St Louis Rodeo's. I always enjoyed meeting new people from around our great USA. I also competed in rough stock events at several Gay Rodeo's over the years and enjoyed that as well.
I had been involved in MCC (Metropolitan Community Church's) and volunteered on many levels. Winter Homeless Shelter and Artisan Craft Fairs as well as being a pastors spouse for several years.
I attend as many TBB Social Events that I possibly can. I have enjoyed getting to know many members, and hope to be a contributing Board Member At Large. I treat others the way I like to be treated. I’m very outgoing and friendly and know I’d be a great Board Member.
Board Member at Large
Bill wants to be able to give back to the community. He has great leadership and event planning skills. Bill defines himself as a people person that likes to bring people together. Bill also has previous experience with Pittsburgh Pride Events, St Pete Pride volunteer, Episcopal diocese board of trustees, and Ago Sarasota chapter.
Jim was born in East Tennessee and has lived in numerous areas of the country from NC, GA, TX and FL. Jim has lived in the Tampa Bay Area since 2015.
Professionally, Jim is a senior manager for a large retail organization and has extensive management experience from Operations, Loss Prevention and Human Resources.
Jim is a first year member of the Tampa Bay Bears but has numerous past volunteer posts from Rainbow Home in Atlanta, Gasparilla Annual Games Mixed Event (GAGME), St Jude’s, TN youth bowling tournaments.
In Jim’s free time he enjoys spending time with his husband Marco, Bowling, concerts, Sporting events, theme parks and the beach with friends.
Jimmy (he/him/his) is a native Floridian, originally from Fort Lauderdale but has lived in the Tampa Bay Area for the last 35 years. Professionally he is a Florida Licensed Real Estate Professional with extensive experience in residential sales and a specialization in property management for investors. He has been a member of the Tampa Bay Bears for the past few years and volunteered to join the board to offer his experience to the community. Jimmy is an Eagle Scout with many years of volunteer service covering multiple organizations. He contributes back to the LGBT community by donating is time to organizations like the Tampa Bay Bears and Gasparilla Annual Games Mixed Event
(GAGME) bowling organization. He enjoys most everything Florida, from the beaches, parks & camping to the movies and dining with friends.
Board Member at Large
Frank (he/his/him) was born in Boston, Massachusetts where he spent most of his life until 2014 when he, his husband, Roger, and dog Buster moved to Riverview. He has been part of Team Bear, Provincetown since the club formed 21 years ago. He is one of 8 members that organize Bear Week every year. Frank has worked as a federal agent for the Dept. Of Homeland Security since 9-11. He was also a first responder to the Orlando Pulse shooting and the Las Vegas shooting.
Frank enjoys spending time with the bear brotherhood as he relates to this community more than any other. He likes to travel and spend as much time outdoors as possible hiking and kayaking. His escape is hopping on my Harley Fat Boy and cruising to the beach.
Lexx/Alexis De La Mer
Board Member at Large
Lexx/Alexis De La Mer is originally from Queens, New York and has been living in St Petersburg for the past 15 years. She shares her Life with her Pup/Partner Bash and her two Maltipoo's Coco and Chanel. Alexis is a former Miss Sawmill Supreme, Miss Red Dress Fort Myers, Miss Come Out St Pete, and Central Florida Showgirl at Large. Lexx/Alexis has Raised Thousands of Dollars throughout her Fundraising Bingo's, you could find Alexis Every Monday Hosting Bingo at Cocktail in St Pete, every Tuesday at Quench in Largo every Wednesday at Mad Hatter's in St Pete and every Thursday at Jazzy Cat in Gulfport. Alexis Loves Disney, Sunsets on St Pete Beach, and Being a part of Bear Events... He will be Traveling to KY in February for NAB.
Tampa Bay Bears, Inc
ARTICLE I – MISSION
Tampa Bay Bears, Inc is an organization formed by gay men within the Bear community to foster relationships with other gay members in the community and to provide support to LGBT+ charities and other charitable organizations through social activities, fund raising, and volunteer work. The organization is organized exclusively for charitable purposes under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or corresponding section of any future federal tax code.
ARTICLE II - MEMBERSHIP
Section 1: QUALIFICATIONS: Membership is open to all men in the LGBT+ community who pay membership dues and agree to adhere to our governing mission. The Tampa Bay Bears shall accept adult members without regard to familial status, race, color, religion, creed, national origin, age, or disability.
Section 2: DUTIES: Members shall elect the Board of Directors, hereafter referred to as the Board, who will promote the purpose of the organization, set the policies and mission statement, create committees as appropriate, review the organization’s financial reports, establish, and collect dues.
Section 3: GOOD STANDING: Members in good standing support the purpose of the organization, seek opportunities to participate/volunteer in events and pay established annual dues.
Section 4: SUSPENSION OR EXPULSION: The Board may temporarily or permanently suspend or expel by two-thirds vote any member’s rights or privileges set forth in this manual or in the by-laws for behavior that is deemed inappropriate and not in line with the mission statement of the Organization. This includes but is not limited to the following: a. Voting privileges, b. Monthly meeting participation, c. Public representation of the Organization, d. Attendance to Organization Events. Once suspended, a two-thirds vote of the Board is required to reinstate any rights or privileges. Upon suspension by the board, the offending member may appeal to the Open Membership, but must obtain a 2/3 vote of the full open membership to avoid suspension or expulsion.
Section 5: VOTING: Each member in good standing is entitled to one vote on any issue brought before the membership requiring a vote.
Section 6: DUES: Upon the recommendation of the Board, a dues fee structure shall be established by the Board at a monthly Board meeting.
Section 7: DISSOLUTION: Upon the dissolution of this organization, assets shall be distributed for one or more exempt purposes within the meaning of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or corresponding section of any future federal tax code, or shall be distributed to the federal government, or to a state or local government, for a public purpose. Organizations shall be selected by the majority of the Board.
Section 8: COMPENSATION: No part of the net earnings of the corporation shall inure to the benefit of, or be distributable to its members, trustees, officers, or other private persons, except that the corporation shall be authorized and empowered to pay reasonable compensation for services rendered and to make payments and distributions in furtherance of the purposes described in section 501(c)(3). No substantial part of the activities of the corporation shall be the carrying on of propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, and the corporation shall not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distribution of statements) any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. Notwithstanding any other provision of these articles, the corporation shall not carry on any other activities not permitted to be carried on (a) by a corporation exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code, or (b) by a corporation, contributions to which are deductible under section 170(c)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code.
Section 9: MEMBERSHIP AGE: At no time shall a member under the age of 18 be admitted to the organization.
ARTICLE III – MEETINGS
Section 1: MEMBERSHIP MEETINGS: These meetings will occur as needed at a date, time and location as determined by the Board.
Section 2: NOTICE OF MEETINGS: The exact place, date and time of the membership meetings shall be published at least fourteen (14) days in advance via email, the website and/or social media outlets.
Section 3: SPECIAL MEMBERSHIP MEETINGS: These meetings may be called by a majority of the Board. The purpose of the special membership meetings, its place, date and time shall be announced at least seven (7) days in advance.
Section 4: BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETINGS: The Board shall meet monthly and report to the membership. Board meetings may be closed to non-Directors at the request of a majority of the Board present. A majority of the Board must be present to conduct business. A special Board meeting may be called at the request of a majority of the Board and with at least seventy-two (72) hours’ notice of the purpose, time, and place of such meeting. In a regularly scheduled monthly Board meeting, the Board will set annual dues for the next year.
ARTICLE IV - BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Section 1: RESPONSIBILITIES: The Board is responsible to the membership and shall act to oversee and administer the activities and affairs of the Organization.
Section 2: MEMBERSHIP: The Board shall be composed of up to eleven (11) members in good standing. If an adequate number of candidates are not available at the time of the election, then the available candidates will be elected to the new Board with the remaining positions to be filled at a later time (see Section 5: VACANCIES). Board elections shall be publicized at least thirty (30) days in advance via email, the website and/or social media outlets. Board members' terms run for two (2) years. The board members must have staggered terms. The initial board will have six (6) directors with terms ending in December 2022 and (5) directors with terms ending in December 2021.
Section 3: NOMINATIONS: Nominations for consenting candidates shall be accepted from the members in good standing starting thirty days before the annual meeting until the Board defined cutoff date. In all cases, nominees shall be members in good standing at the time of their nomination.
Section 4: ELECTIONS: The Board shall elect at the Annual Meeting the Executive Committee positions of President, Vice-president, Secretary, and Treasurer. The President must have been a Board member for at least one year before being elected. The Board shall ensure that positions of President and Treasurer are held by separate individuals. Board positions may not be held by more than one member from a domestic partnership, marriage, other relationship that may be deemed as a conflict of interest.
Except as noted above for President and Treasurer, Board members may hold multiple officer positions.
Officer duties, as described in this document, may be delegated to other Board members or general Organization members, but shall be the responsibility of the assigned Board officer.
Section 5: VACANCIES: Any vacancy occurring on the Board other than during the end of a term may be filled from the general membership by the affirmative vote of the majority of the remaining Directors. A Director elected or appointed to fill a vacancy shall be elected or appointed for the remainder of the term of the seat being vacated. A vacancy that will occur at a specific later date may be filled before the vacancy occurs; however, the new Director may not take office until the vacancy occurs.
In the event of a vacancy in the office of President, the Board shall elect a new President who meets the requirements for the office (see Section 4: Elections).
Section 6: REMOVAL FROM OFFICE: A member of the Board can be removed from the Board by a vote, held by ballot, of two-thirds (2/3) of the Board members not including the Board member being removed. If the removal motion is successful, the action will be effective immediately. The vote to remove a Board member may not be completed by secret ballot and must be open to the general membership.
Section 7: FINANCIAL AUTHORIZATION: The President and Treasurer shall be authorized and require to establish and maintain a bank account for the benefit of the Tampa Bay Bears, Inc.
Section 8: ATTENDANCE: Board meeting attendance is required of all board members to assure good governance. Any absences should be communicated in advance. Any board member who misses three board meetings in a calendar year may be considered to have resigned from the board.
ARTICLE V – COMMITTEES
Section 1: STANDING COMMITTEES: Committees shall be established by the board.
Section 2: SELECT /AD HOC COMMITTEES: Each Select Role or Ad Hoc Committee shall be chaired by the elected Board member or selected Organization member as applicable. All committee chairs shall regularly call meetings and are responsible for the work of their committees. The committees are administrative and implementary in nature, with only those powers that are specifically delegated by the Board. The President may create ad hoc committees as deemed necessary.
Section 3: COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIP: Committees shall be composed of elected Board members or selected current Organization members as applicable. Committee composition should reflect the mix of professional knowledge and experience that would be optimal.
Section 4: REVIEW: The Board shall regularly review the work of all committees. Several times each year the Board shall review, in depth, the work of each committee in order that the Board may determine the committee’s effectiveness and recommend changes deemed necessary to improve its performance. Any activity seeking official sanction or endorsement by the Organization requires Board approval.
ARTICLE VI – AMENDMENTS
After at least fourteen (14) days notice has been given of the consideration of a change to the bylaws, these bylaws may be amended by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the members in good standing who are present at any membership meeting. Any prepared amendment must be presented in written format to the membership. Any motion to accept the amendment will be for the document as a whole and not be cast seriatim (by paragraph). Voting rights are not transferable and members must be present at the time a vote is taken to cast their vote.
ARTICLE VII - PARLIAMENTARY AUTHORITY
The rules contained in the current edition of ROBERT’S RULES OF ORDER, NEWLY REVISED, shall govern in all cases in which they are applicable, except where they are inconsistent with these bylaws.
Tampa Bay Bears, Inc
As Adopted by the Board of Directors
Last updated: 10/13/2022
(MB-1) Age: Members must be no younger than 18 years of age
(MB-2) Private Parties: All private parties (non-bartender managed alcohol) are 21 and up only. This will be advertised in the invite.
(MB-3) Join Acknowledgement: Members will be required to accept club bylaws and policies prior to joining.
(SM-1) Committee: The Board shall appoint a Social Media Committee Chair. That chair shall appoint committee members. The Chair shall have Administrative Access to Social Media Accounts. The Chair shall delegate user access to committee members as needed for them to fulfill their duties. The Chair shall work with the IT Committee chair, or if an IT Committee Chair is no appointed, the Executive Committee to ensure password procedure is followed.
(SM-2) Rule: The Social Media Committee shall have the ability to create rules about and manage posts in all social media outlets. Rules must follow the guidelines of the Board Policy, however, can be clarified or created by the committee to ensure proper social media activity on the organizations accounts.
(SM-3) Be Kind and Courteous: We're all in this together to create a welcoming environment. Let's treat everyone with respect. Healthy debates are natural, but kindness is required.
(SM-4) No Hate Speech or Bullying: Make sure everyone feels safe. Bullying of any kind isn't allowed, and degrading comments about things like race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, gender, or identity will not be tolerated.
(SM-5) Respect Everyone’s Privacy: Being part of this group requires mutual trust. Authentic, expressive discussions make groups great, but may also be sensitive and private. What's shared in the group should stay in the group.
(SM-6) Advertising: Bear and community events are allowed and encouraged. Crowdfunding self-promotions (i.e. GoFundMe), spam, and irrelevant links are not allowed and will be removed. Only bars / venues with established relationships with Tampa Bay Bears may advertise upcoming, bear-related events. To become a Tampa Bay Bears partner, email email@example.com
(SM-5) No Sexual Solicitation: This is not a hook-up group. Posts with thirst trap selfies lacking any meaningful post text about bears, bear community events, etc. will be considered shameless self promotion. Such posts will be removed. Repeatedly Posting such content will lead to member moderation, up to and including removal from the group.
(SM- 6) Unallowed Topics: At no time will political or religious posts be allowed on our social media groups or accounts.
(FI-1) Payment Acceptance: When possible, the organization shall invoice and receive payment via electronic methods.
(FI-2) Agreements: The organization should maintain a written record of all venue agreements. Even the if the agreement is informal, the organization should have documentation of the terms of the agreement.
(FI-3) Charge Backs\Disputes: Any charge back for credit cards transactions needs to be reviewed by the treasurer and another executive committee member.
(IT-1) Password Access: Executive Committee will have access to all site Passwords including financial software but excluding Bank Account.
(IT-2) Password Reset: Passwords will be changed no less than annually after the appointment of new board members.
(IT-3) IT Committee Chair: In the event an IT committee is established, the IT Committee Chair shall have access to the same passwords as the Executive Committee.