The GSBA Blog

  • Global Report on LGBT Tourism

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing & Communications
    | May 10, 2017

    CUBA_400x267The United Nations World Tourism Organization and the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association released their joint Second Global Report on LGBT Tourism on May 5, 2017. The report discusses the relationship between rights for LGBT people around the world and the increasing visibility of LGBT consumers. It also looks at the trends that will be crucial to the development of the LGBT travel market in the future, such as the attitudes of millennials, increased global support for marriage equality, and the willingness of new destinations to welcome LGBT visitors.

    Download your copy of the UNWTO IGLTA Second Global Report on LGBT Tourism.

    GSBA / Travel Gay Seattle is a proud member of IGLTA.

  • Rethinking the Workplace

    by Kim Burmester, Vice President
    | May 08, 2017

    atlas workbase blog 2017 600x337When looking at the concept of ‘‘the workplace” today it is radically different than even just a few years ago. Perhaps the only boundaries to how we may think about it now is when we consider the actual physical walls and space they occupy. What we mean by that is, the office-workplace is becoming much more than just the four walls, workstations, reception desk, kitchen and bathroom, all wonderfully and carefully set about we’re sure. Those are some of the things you might find there. 

    You probably wouldn’t be surprised then to know that coworking spaces actually do boost productivity and retention: studies such as G. Bacevice, P., & Garrett, L. (2015) and Why People Thrive in Coworking Spaces, Harvard Business Review, illustrate how most people actually thrive much better in coworking situations versus traditional work spaces, even if it’s only a portion of their work day/week. 

    But like mostly everything it comes down to economics. On average 55% of all desks in traditional work spaces are empty at any given point in the work day. That seems crazy—and it also means each desk costs its owner nearly twice what it’s worth, every day. 

    When looking at the total cost per desk per employee coworking then can be extremely cost-effective. This is particularly true if you can access a space that offers members some type of pay-for-usage-only, including single-day use passes, with flexible space options that meet short-term or long-term needs, where you pay only for time used each time onsite. 

    Those are just a couple of reasons why coworking has grown so rapidly, and you’ve probably noticed there are now many coworking spaces to choose from, with layout and formats to fit almost any business type. According to an industry report, as of May 2017 forty-one co-working centers are established in Seattle, putting it into the top five for coworking spaces along with New York, San Francisco, Austin and Los Angeles.  

    If you’re thinking about joining a coworking space start by thinking long and hard about the different work scenarios that you require to drive and enhance collaboration and productivity—for small and large teams, and individuals—before you start your facility evaluation process. Here are some basic tips to get started: 

    1. Find a coworking space with tiered pricing that clearly outlines basic pricing and services, as well as amenities such as food/kitchen/café, mail and shipping, etc. You may also want meeting rooms, private phone rooms, advanced teleconferencing systems, or secure and/or enclosed offices.  

    2. As a rule of thumb, always ask upfront about what, if any additional fees may be required—some coworking spaces can charge quite a bit for services like mail drop-off. Look for a space that offers members some type of pay-for-usage-only, including single-day use passes, with flexible space options that meet short-term or long-term needs, where you pay only for time used each time onsite. 

    3. Coworking spaces may look the same on the surface, but if you’ve bought a house or car you know when it comes to quality, the cheapest option is rarely the best choice. Make sure to closely inspect the quality of materials and ergonomics at workstations, as this is something that can be easily overlooked in the rush-rush of a busy site tour.  

    But ergonomics goes beyond chairs and desks. Lighting can have a huge effect on productivity. Find out what if any acoustical lighting has been incorporated to further enhance productivity and health. A study by the American Society of Interior Designers indicated that 68 percent of employees complain about the lighting in their offices. As such, make sure the facility lets members control and customize lighting within each workspace; also inquire about lighting in general. 

    4. One thing for sure, a workplace isn’t just a room full of desks—you need amenities to help you work and conduct business. Case in point, at ATLAS we partner with FedEx to give our members quick access to a wide range of high-quality, affordable business services. Is there a cafe? Coffee? 

    What about more complex things like arranging special AV and catering needs for a special event or meeting? Is there a dedicated IT team or Help Desk to keep you always on, always connected? Shared cars/parking? Laundry pick up? Pet sitting? And so on.  

    5. Finally, when evaluating a coworking site, your best bet is to check out the location in person. This lets you determine if it has services and amenities you need, that the layout and mood to fit your workstyle, and that it is properly equipped to make your work experience productive.

    By Kim Burmester, Vice President, ATLAS Workbase

  • Summer Travel

    by Dr. Ari Gilmore
    | May 05, 2017

    summer travel blog 2017 600x337With the days getting longer and warmer, exploring the outdoors is top of mind for many Northwesterners. Whether you’re packing your bags for a South Pacific adventure or are planning to hike the nearby Cascades, spring is a great time to refresh your knowledge on medical travel tips. From updating your immunization records to discerning safe water sources, Ari Gilmore, MD with the Pacific Medical Centers Travel Clinic walks us through some seasonal reminders.

    Travel safety tips aren’t just for those planning a trip abroad. When exploring our own Puget Sound backyard, Dr. Gilmore recommends proactively protecting against any existing conditions such as asthma and allergies to optimize your time outdoors.

    “Our city continues to be more active and adventurous, so it’s important to be mindful of outdoor safety when planning for hiking and camping trips,” says Dr. Gilmore. “For local exploration, it’s a great idea for people to set aside a condensed medical kit, light rain jacket, water filter and even a candle and matches to ensure your time outside won’t make you wish you stayed inside.”

    As for global travel, Dr. Gilmore advises visiting a doctor at least three weeks in advance of your trip to review required and recommended travel vaccines, such as a malaria or yellow fever shot. He recommends giving yourself at least three weeks prior to travel to get vaccines because some require several steps spread out over time, and because their medical benefits typically won’t activate until 15 days after you receive them. As for popular destinations, Dr. Gilmore is seeing many Seattle patients choosing to travel in Southeast Asia, such as Vietnam and Thailand, closely followed by Africa.

    “Every traveler should review their immunizations and vaccines as a part of their travel checklist. I also recommend that my patients visit the Centers for Disease Control at to check on country travel notices and vaccine requirements, as every region differs in requirements,” explains Dr. Gilmore.

    Dr. Gilmore also shares that, contrary to popular belief, it is typically safe to drink tap water in major tourist areas. For more remote regions, he suggests that it’s better to seek out bottled water or use a filter. As for food, Dr. Gilmore recommends using discretion with vendors and confirming that safe food-preparation processes are in place, such as handwashing and the use of separate cutting board areas.

    In addition to prioritizing vaccine health, it’s equally important to prioritize sexual health. “Even though you’re on vacation, and part of travelling is the adventure, it’s important not to throw aside all caution, especially when it comes to sexual health. Don’t forget to pack protection and use good judgement” says Dr. Gilmore.

    For more information about Pacific Medical Centers, visit or call 1.888.4PACMED.

  • LGBT Matchmaker Event

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing & Communications
    | May 01, 2017

    056A2875GSBA members and partners believe that Supplier Diversity is a business imperative in today’s economic climate. It helps companies and government entities identify and deliver high-quality products and services while spending with small businesses and driving economic development in their communities. 

    In April, GSBA and Starbucks partnered to create the first-ever LGBT Business Matchmaker event in the northwest. This event connected over 90 small business owners, corporations, and government entities in order to explore opportunities to do business together. 

    James Hing, Manager of Global Sourcing and Supplier Relations, Supplier Diversity, Starbucks Coffee Company, led a workshop designed for LGBT-, woman-, or minority-owned certified business enterprises. It focused on how to write a capability statement and how to do a successful pitch to a corporate or government entity, and included time for writing, sharing, and critiques of the capability statements. 

    “Participating in the LGBT Matchmaker event was critically valuable for us in having a direct line to key influencers in the procurement process. Hearing exactly what they need from vendors, what they look for in a partnership, and learning how to tailor a presentation to speak their language gave us an advantage we were able to immediately use in answering an RFP that came directly from that experience.” Jolene McKenzie, Starline Luxury Coaches 

    Following the workshop, attendees took part in a lunch discussion with LGBT certified businesses, OutSmart Office Solutions, Precision Garage Service, and Tomboy X, and corporate procurement officers James Hing and Fernando Hernandez, Supplier Diversity & Sustainability Director, Microsoft, about the opportunities certification provides to small businesses. 

    "This was a great for networking and learning. I went in feeling like a novice, and came out with some valuable knowledge and good contacts." —Art Stone, Honest Biscuits 

    Register now for the April 2018 LGBT Matchmaker event at

  • Five Ways to Participate in #SmallBusinessWeek

    by Ilona Lohrey, Membership, Outreach & Engagement Manager
    | Apr 27, 2017

    NSBW2017_400x267 Every day, small business owners and entrepreneurs across the Pacific Northwest work relentlessly to grow their businesses, create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase our competitiveness in the global economy.

    During National Small Business Week (Apr 30 - May 06), the U.S. Small Business Administration will recognize the contributions and impact of these entrepreneurs and small business owners.

    Here are four ways you can participate in next week's celebration:

    Engage on social media 
    Download the SBA social media guide and NSBW graphics; and, be sure to include the hashtag #SmallBusinessWeek in your posts. Use the same hashtag to join the official NSBW Twitter chat May 02 at 9:30am PST with @SCOREMentors.

    Watch live events online
    The SBA will broadcast several events throughout the week at Plus, SBA Administrator Linda McMahon will participate in a Facebook Live event May 02 at 8:30am with Facebook Vice President and Chief Privacy Officer for Policy Erin Egan about how to start and grow a business.

    Issue a proclamation or statement 

    Use this template proclamation to reach out to your city and local government offices.

    Participate in a webinar
    Register for the following six webinars the SBA is hosting with experts from various cosponsoring organizations:

    - The U.S. Economic Outlook and Its Impact on Small Businesses
    - 5 Fabulous Habits of Local Business Champions
    - Grow Your Business Online
    - The Future of Small Business Innovation
    - How to Write Your Email Content in 15 Minutes or Less
    - Find the Hidden Money in America

    Learn more about #SmallBusinessWeek here


  • A Message from Seattle's LGBTQ Executive Directors

    | Apr 21, 2017

    "Our community has had a painful and difficult week as it tries to sort out the ramifications of allegations made against Mayor Murray. Public accusations of sexual assault bring to the surface past and current fears and distress for community members who have lived under the long shadow of sexual abuse and rape. Given the current climate of threats against our hard fought civil rights protections, most especially against our transgender community, we may all be feeling especially vulnerable. 

    There is no one correct response to the recent news and, while we may feel external or internal pressures to take a “side,” we know that our community members are simultaneously at greater risk for both sexual assault and exploitation AND stigma and vilification. We know that both ‘sides’ of these harms are on the same coin of homophobia, transphobia, racism, and sexism.

    As a community, we stand in solidarity with all survivors of domestic and sexual violence including LGBTQ survivors, as we know they are incredibly marginalized, and often ridiculed and targeted for speaking out. We can simultaneously hold this truth alongside another truth that, independent of these specific allegations, the tactic to cast LGBTQ people as pedophiles and predators has been used against us for decades, as a means to garner fear and hatred that would justify limiting our rights. The timing of this situation reinforces this common refrain, raising doubts about our moral standards, making us further targets for violence, and forcing us back into the closet.

    This is not new to anyone who is LGBTQ, but we are a resilient community, proud of our achievements, determined to protect each other from harm, and united in our commitment to retain our hard fought civil rights laws.   

    As the Executive Directors of agencies serving the LGBTQ community, we encourage you to reach out to one of our agencies whether you are an adult or a youth, for services, support, and safety or to connect with your community. Our organizations support the arts, provide support for LGBTQ small business owners, fight for LGBTQ civil protections and human rights for all people, provide mental health and chemical dependency services, as well as offer information, advocacy and support for those who are dealing with HIV and AIDS, and provide LGBTQ survivors of sexual and domestic violence culturally-specific services and advocacy. 

    Seattle has one of the largest LGBTQ communities in the United States with a broad range of organizations that are proud to serve our community and are committed to continuing to build a vibrant LGBTQ community for our children, youth, adults and elders. We welcome you to reach out to us and get involved."

    Danni Askini, Executive Director
    Gender Justice League

    Karter Booher, Executive Director
    Ingersoll Gender Center

    Connie Burk, Executive Director
    The Northwest Network 

    Louise Chernin, Executive Director
    Greater Seattle Business Association

    Gary Davis, Executive Director

    Barbara Ebert, Executive Director
    Kris Hermanns, Executive Director
    Pride Foundation

    Rebecca Lane, Executive Director 
    Generations Aging With Pride

    Ann McGettigan, Executive Director
    Seattle Counseling Service

    Egan Orion, Executive Director

    Fred Swanson, Executive Director
    Gay City

    Joshua Wallace, Executive Director
    Seattle Area Support Groups

  • Are you financially fit?

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing & Communications
    | Apr 17, 2017

    Whether it is to deliver on a high increase in sales or to get through a challenging time, when a small business needs capital, it typically needs it as quickly as possible. This time crunch can make it stressful to begin the process to prepare for financing.

    The key to success: prepare to obtain financing when you don’t need it.

    The U.S. Small Business Association has compiled tips from local resource partners and lenders to increase your financial capacity and success in accessing capital:

    1.  Update your business plan

    Resources such as the SBA Business Plan Tool, local workshops, and SBA business counselors are free and easy ways to breathe life back into your business plan.

    2.  Review your financial statements
    Make yourself familiar with the three essential financial statements – the balance sheet, profit and loss statement, and cash flow statement. 

    3. Think like a lender
    When discussing a line of credit or a loan, prepare answers to the following Five C’s of Credit: Capacity, Cash Flow, Capital, Collateral, and Character,

    Learn more here.

  • Donor Profile: Sandy Peterson

    by Mark Rosén, VP of Development & Corporate Relations
    | Apr 13, 2017


    In 2016 Sandy Peterson, along with husband Glenn, sister Carolyn, and brother-in-law Steve, became the first ally to create a GSBA named Endowment Fund. The Theodore & Rosemarie Ockels Memorial Scholarship honors her parents and their dedication to education and social justice.

    Sandy says, “our parents taught us by example. Treating people of all backgrounds with compassion, empathy, encouragement, and fairness was a given in our household.   Opening our home to those who didn’t have one was a ritual that turned routine, ending up with countless individuals, regardless of their struggles, being embraced and accepted into the greater definition of family. 

    “It was this importance of inclusiveness and extended family in Ted and Rosie’s lives – and ours – that aligned so well with the mission statement of GSBA and its educational endowments. At some of GSBA’s events, we heard students talk about their families closing the door to them just because of sexual orientation, leaving them locked out without support networks, guidance toward adulthood or the sense of community that makes us all feel whole. If they (Theodore and Rosemarie) were alive today, they would advocate for the outreach and structure that GSBA provides these students as they grab the reins of their lives and forge their own paths. We hope that, with the help of this scholarship – and the love, support and guidance of the extended GSBA family – these students will use their education as their own driving force of social transformation and work toward a more just society.”

    Sandy and her family are a crucial part of the GSBA donor community who carry on the work of the Scholarship Fund and its mission to invest in future leaders who make the world more just and equitable for all. Their investment makes it possible to offer the GSBA Guarantee, which means that the Scholarship Fund will support a student for up to 4 years, until they walk across the stage with diploma in hand. It also is helping fund the new Lead Bold initiative and the Leadership Academy which goes beyond the tuition dollar to invest further in the success of our scholars by offering a leadership immersion weekend with expert educators sharing vital skills to insure the student’s persistence to graduation and success beyond. By creating a legacy, Sandy has thought about the lasting investment she is making for future generations and to that end she has also included the Scholarship Fund in her estate plan.

    If you would like to know more about how you can be part of the community of support and help make a difference now and in the future, please contact Mark Rosén, VP of Development & Corporate Relations.

  • Give OUT Day - 04.20.17

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing & Communications
    | Apr 12, 2017

    Give OUT Day, a national day of giving for the LGBTQ community, will once again coordinate a 24-hour online fundraising event that unites the LGBTQ community from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and D.C. Give OUT Day 2017 will take place on April 20, 2017 from 9:00am to 8:59pm PST. Last year, Give Out Day raised over $550,000.

    Throughout the day-long event, thousands of people make gifts to support a diverse array of LGBTQ nonprofits across the country, ranging from the arts to social services agencies, advocacy groups to sports leagues, community centers to health care nonprofits.

    Give OUT now.

    "This year, in a challenging political and cultural environment, where local services and advocacy are needed now more than ever, Give OUT Day will raise funds and visibility for hundreds of participating organizations," said Roger Doughty, President of Horizons Foundation.

    "Few would have predicted the dramatically different climate we now find ourselves in, after several years of rapid progress on LGBTQ equality and increased visibility and public education, continued Doughty. And yet Horizons Foundation’s research shows that only a small percentage of LGBT people give direct financial support to LGBTQ organizations. We can and must do better, especially as all of our organizations face unpredictable and significant obstacles. This year on Give OUT Day, we hope to reach thousands of LGBTQ individuals and our allies to engage in supporting the organizations," concluded Doughty.

    Give OUT Day has provided vital unrestricted operating funds to organizations since its inception in 2013. Over 23,000 individual donors have contributed more than $3 million and supported more than 500 different organizations in every part of the country.

    Give OUT Day is a project of Horizons Foundation. Founded as a community foundation of, by, and for LGBTQ people, Horizons has been supporting LGBTQ nonprofit organizations, leaders, and donors for more than 35 years.

    You can make a gift directly to the GSBA Scholarship here.

  • The 2017 NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing & Communications
    | Apr 11, 2017

    NGLCC2017Looking to jump start your business or build a stronger professional network? Interested in bringing more LGBT-owned businesses into your corporate supply chain? Aiming to strengthen your local LGBT chamber of commerce and network of B2B referrals?

    There is only one place to be: the 2017 NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference..

    The event will attract over 1,000 entrepreneurs, corporate decision-makers, affiliate chamber leaders, and government officials from across the country and around the world. The connections made at the conference can be the basis for contracting opportunities and strategic growth for years to come.

    This world-renowned, three-day educational conference delivers innovative leadership programming, networking and engagement opportunities for business leaders like you. Our cutting edge educational programs will include inspiring keynote speakers, the annual B2B Boot Camp for LGBT Business Enterprises, a chamber development track, marketplace expo, one-on-one matchmaker meetings, and much more.

    Learn more and register here.

  • 2017 LGBT Biz Pitch

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing & Communications
    | Apr 11, 2017

    NGLCC_BizPitch_300x250Hold on to Your Seats for an Entrepreneurial Competition Like No Other!

    The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) is excited to launch the seventh installment of LGBT Biz Pitch where contestants compete for a cash prize of $25,000 along with an additional $25,000 business consulting and prize package.

    As its own version of the ABC hit show Shark Tank, this competition features top LGBT business owners in a dynamic, fast-paced setting where only one emerges with game-changing cash, prizes, and coaching. This year the stakes are higher than ever as the audience plays a crucial role in selecting the top contenders and corporate mentors advise and hone the pitches leading up to the final stage presentation.

    LGBT Biz Pitch takes place at the 2017 NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference in Las Vegas on August 1-4.

    The Application Process:

    The application process is open to all LGBT entrepreneurs. All submitted applications will have the chance to be featured in conference marketing leading up to the big event. NGLCC retains the rights to feature all applicants in conference and general marketing before and following the event. NGLCC will launch a social media campaign to promote selected applicants leading up to the conference. Selected applicants will be coached throughout the process by corporate mentors in order to elevate their presentations on the main stage. Participants must attend the 2017 International Business & Leadership Conference.

    Selected participants for the LGBT Biz Pitch will present on the main stage in front of the conference plenary audience. Entrepreneurs from three finalist companies will be selected to give their best 7-minute presentation on their company, new or existing product, market, or other innovation followed by a Q&A session with the purpose of gaining valuable feedback from an expert panel of judges and angel investors. The winner of “LGBT Biz Pitch” will receive a cash prize of $25,000 along with an additional $25,000 business consulting package.

    If you are interested in participating as an LGBT Biz Pitch contestant, please complete the application form no later than Friday, May 5.

  • Featured Ambassador: Rob Macauley

    | Mar 23, 2017
    By Rob Macauley, loan officer at 1st Security Bank of Washington.

    RobMacauleyI am a resident mortgage lender. After entering the mortgage business 31 years ago I worked as an Internal Auditor as well as a Processor before becoming a Loan Office back in 1994.  I have found that working in varying capacities of the business has given me a well rounded knowledge of industry allowing me to better assist my clients with just the right solution to meet their goals. I've worked for 1st Security Bank for just about 3 years and have found it to be a great fit for both myself, my clients, and they are totally supportive of my community.

    I've been a member of The GSBA for about 10 years.  I enjoy being an Ambassador because I like greeting members, especially new members to events and working to get them connected to other business people that could be mutually beneficial.  I have also been on the scholarship interview teams for the last four years as well as being a member of the Easts Side Out Leads group.

    When I'm away from work, I love to travel.  I'm an avid Equestrian and DIY'er.  My horses and I compete at Barrel Racing and Western Gaming.  I also take them camping a great deal, enjoying the beauty of the Pacific North West.
  • Be Your Own Boss

    | Mar 23, 2017
    By Jennifer Jimenez, co-owner of Eastside Total Health & Lactation.

    womenshealthpic2Throughout my life, I always heard my mother's voice echoing: "Be your own boss." In the midst of the Cold War hysteria, my mother emigrated from the Philippines during a time when the fear of communism had virally taken over the American psyche, and coalesced into unconstitutional legislation that barred entry, and even the chance of citizenship to those seeking refuge in the "promised land."  Sound familiar? The irony is uncanny, but now more than ever, her words that once seemed like an inaudible lullaby have so much meaning.

     "Be your own boss," catalyzed me to start my own healthcare practice in Kirkland, WA. Eastside Total Health & Lactation (formerly Eastside Women's Health Center) was born in the fall of 2015 after joining forces with my business partner, Kristina Chamberlain, CNM, ARNP, IBCLC. After 25 years in New York and nearly twenty years of being a Certified Nurse-Midwife, I took those years of experience and started something exquisitely my OWN. The experience of providing care to individuals and families and impacting lives was certainly my calling. I gained precious insight during those years; no matter where one is from: the Bronx or Manhattan, inner city or the suburbs, people want to be heard, and good care lasts a lifetime. Experience within communities and the humbling lessons from colleagues and clients is the experience upon which I built my practice. It took two decades to fortify my foundation, but I knew right away that the only way I could best impact lives was to "Be my own boss."
    It sounds crazy, but it was easier to manage a laboring woman in the back of an ambulance on "9/11" than start my own business. I was the Midwife on-call that night, and in the midst of all the chaos, I felt the enormous responsibility to guide this mother and her baby through this personally impactful moment amidst chaos and fear. I was the expert in that scenario; I felt confident, and had faith in my skills, knowledge and expertise. The spirit of my community was the intangible force that kept me focused and grounded. (And yes, a little girl named Jennifer was born that night.) The same tremendous fear of the unknown almost overwhelmed me when I moved to Washington State, 3,000 miles away from a place I called home. But just as I am the expert in my field, I knew I had to find a community of experts in business. Three days after my arrival in Washington, after a simple Google search, I was having lunch with one of the members of the GSBA. 
    As a proud member of the LGBTQ community and micro-business owner, I needed to find "my people”—and that is exactly what I found in the GSBA. I found an organization that not only represented who I am, but wanted to see me succeed. As a GSBA member, I had access to all the tools I needed to get started in business: training workshops, networking events, and my business even got certified as a LGBT Business Enterprise through the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) thanks to GSBA's help.  
    Little did I know that I found more than a business chamber—I joined the largest LGBT and allied chamber in the nation that truly embodies the four pillars of their work: business, community, advocacy and philanthropy.  
    Today, I am proud to say that my healthcare center is able to flourish and provide gynecological, family building, lactation, acupuncture, massage therapy, and nutrition services to diverse members of the Washington State community and beyond.  We have launched a new nationwide service that certifies companies to be breastfeeding friendly, as well as, created access to lactation support to employees at the work site.  Additionally, we started a series of training for healthcare providers across the country to aid in breastfeeding success.
    BE YOUR OWN BOSS can mean many different things to many different people.
    Now, as a single mother, woman of color, micro-business owner in healthcare, in yet another abhorrent chapter in American history, I am confident that those who came before me, like my mother, Rosalinda, can see that my business is also my voice.
  • Taiwan is a safe destination for LGBT travelers and full of wonderful surprises

    by Albert Rodriguez
    | Mar 17, 2017

    Lungshan Temple of MankaWhen I visited Taiwan for the first time in 2011, it was just for two days. But those two days were glorious, spent mostly exploring its capital city of Taipei, but also trekking to nearby villages and taking in some of its incredible sights. Blessed with the opportunity to go back last fall, this time for an entire week, I couldn't wait to get on the plane and return to the land of dumplings, steamed buns, bubble tea and Hello Kitty. Taiwan, like other Asian countries I've been to – Japan, South Korea and Thailand – has its unique qualities, from its history and customs to its architecture and people. But what I love most about it is the food. The food there is some of the best I've had anywhere.
    Something else to love about Taiwan, or the Republic of China as it's officially called, is its acceptance of all walks of life, including the LGBT community, which is supported by the government and embraced by pop culture. It may soon become the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage and it currently hosts the continent's largest Gay celebration, the annual Taiwan LGBT Pride, which drew more than 80,000 people in October.

    I began my journey, as part of an LGBT group tour, in Taipei and then traveled to Taichung, Tainan City and Kaohsiung. Trekking around Taiwan is simple and affordable by high-speed rail, or bus, so there's no need to rent a car during your visit. Uber service is available and popular in Taipei, and also very LGBT-friendly, sending a large team of cheery employees to the Pride festivities last fall.

    Definitely consider a trip to Taiwan in the near future, either for a weeklong stay, or a stopover while visiting another Asian destination.

    Taipei is a city of 4 million people, not including an additional 4 million that reside in the surrounding area, making it a large city indeed. But in comparison to Tokyo, which is massive, or Bangkok, which is overly congested and at times chaotic, Taiwan's capital city is a cinch to navigate and it's orderly; everything seems to run on time, everyone is civil and every piece of architecture, from high-rise office buildings to ancient temples, fits the landscape like a finished puzzle; there's no wasted space.

    We stayed two nights at The Landis Hotel, in the vibrant Zhongshan district. The hotel is both a business and leisure property with the usual guest room amenities included, such as flatscreen TV, work desk, floor-to-ceiling closets with slippers and robes, personal grooming and hygiene products and bathtub/shower, as well as complimentary WiFi. I had a view of the city streets below and I could peer into residential apartments across the way from my window. What I really enjoyed about the Landis Hotel, besides its centralized location, was its French-themed restaurant on the main floor that served wonderful breakfast buffets. Western and Asian favorites, from cold cereal and fried eggs with bacon to meat-stuffed dumplings and rice, plus miso soup, fresh fruit, pastries, fruit juices, coffee and tea, got my morning off to a great start.

    Taipei 101 is the city's top landmark, not only by recognition but also by height, standing tall at 1,671 feet off the ground. Although it's 101 stories high, making it the tallest skyscraper in the world up until 2004, visitors can only ascend to the 91st floor, which has an outdoor observatory, but most people take in the spectacular views from the enclosed observatory on the 89th floor. One floor below, on the 88th, is a 660-ton steel pendulum that acts as the structure's tuned mass damper, helping to balance the building during severe storms, or unexpected strong gusts of wind. Unlike the Space Needle here at home with elevators on the exterior, the 37-second ride from the 5th to 89th floors is entirely inside the building, a comforting fact for anybody scared of heights. Once you make your way down, explore the mall on the lower levels of Taipei 101 with lots of stores and eateries, including a Taiwanese favorite, Din Tai Fung. This internationally renowned restaurant, which now has a location in downtown Seattle and another in Bellevue, is known for its steamed buns and hand-forged dumplings made on the premises. Besides the dumplings, considered a national specialty, a variety of vegetables and steamed rice, plus chocolate dumplings for dessert, are available at Din Tai Fung.

    Another important landmark to explore while sightseeing is the Chiang Kai-shek, or CKS, Memorial Hall, constructed in memory of the Republic of China's former president, Chiang Kai-shek. Memorabilia and archives from the late leader and his family are exclusively on display in the expansive building, where a changing of the national guards happens hourly on the top level, overlooking the immense courtyard. Also worth checking out is the Song Shan Cultural Park, a redeveloped area with art exhibits and showrooms that feature a diverse collection of work, some by Taiwanese locals and young students. Lungshan Temple of Manka, in the Wanhua district, is also recommended, especially for travelers wanting a history lesson. The Buddhist temple was originally erected in 1738 and though it has been destroyed multiple times by fires, earthquakes and during war time, it has been rebuilt again and again as a beloved national treasure, where locals arrive daily to worship and find peace.

    You'll feel like royalty when you dine at the Yuan-Yuan Restaurant inside the immaculate Taipei Grand Hotel, which has hosted everyone from Hollywood's elite to global political dignitaries. The stunning dining room provides guests with impeccable views of the city from its floor-to-ceiling windows as they feast on authentic cuisine of the Jiangsu and Zhejiang regions. Fruitful Food is a vegetarian buffet restaurant with a terrific selection of freshly prepared items, including pizza, soup, salads, pasta, dumplings, tofu dishes, various forms of rice and sinful desserts. I'm not a vegetarian, but I very much enjoyed this ample and busy restaurant because of its abundant offerings and the quality of food. Go Bar is a popular hot pot restaurant, located in the basement level of a shopping area near the Gay district. Diners choose the broth for their hot pot and then circle two sides of a long counter stocked with meat, seafood, vegetables and noodles to add to their dish, cooked by themselves.

    The Ximending neighborhood, within the Wanhua district, is Taipei's Gay stomping grounds, where a cluster of bars with outdoor patios, dance clubs and restaurants allow you to socialize with the local LGBT community and a significant number of international visitors. Sol Bistro, CaSa Bar, K House, Cafe Dalida and Mudan are a few of the spots I'd recommend checking out in Ximending, a centralized part of the city that is safe and quite active.

    If you love traveling on trains, I suggest a ride on the Taiwan High Speed Rail. Much like the Shinkansen, or "Bullet Train," in Japan, the THSR, as it's more commonly called, will get you to mostly anywhere around the country in a matter of minutes or hours. We ventured out to Taichung from Taipei's Main Station, a one-hour trip that afforded us glimpses of Taiwan's bright green countryside and smaller cities along the way. The train cars were probably the cleanest and quietest I've ever ridden on, and passengers can choose to travel by 1st or 2nd class; the only differences between them are more legroom and a 2-2 seat configuration in 1st class vs. less legroom and 2-3 seat configuration in 2nd. Attendants come through all cars during the journey to sell coffee and snacks; although every station appeared to have a Starbucks, I brought my own coffee on board instead.

    Arriving late morning in Taichung allowed us plenty of time to scope out the contemporary, eclectic art collection at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, a multi-story architectural beauty with exhibits inside and outside, including some that are interactive. Taichung is the third most populated city in Taiwan and slower-paced, less expensive and less crowded than Taipei with a modern flair of its own. The Millennium Hotel Taichung, where we stayed, was a perfect example of this modernity, a luxurious property with grand lobby, trendy rooftop bar that overlooked the city and elegantly furnished guest rooms that provided everything from wall-mounted HD LED flatscreen TVs to glass-door showers and separate bathtubs to personal brewing systems with premium coffee and teas. In many ways, it felt like staying at a Four Seasons stateside. The breakfast buffet was abundant and the service throughout the hotel was top notch.
    You'll stumble into half a dozen bubble tea shops in Seattle's International District, but did you know that this beloved beverage originated in Taichung? Indeed, this is the birthplace of these love em' or hate em' milky drinks, known for their tiny tapioca balls that sink to the bottom of the cup. Also worth noting is that you can become a certified bubble tea maker, similar to a barista, by taking a 30-minute class at the Chun Shui Tang Cultural House. On the third level of the shop, doubling as a cafe with food and beverages, you'll learn the exact ingredients and measurements, plus visual instruction from an expert, on how to make bubble tea, and then you'll earn your certificate by putting the learned skills to task by creating a drink yourself.

    Taichung is south of Taipei and further south is Tainan City, the oldest city and former capitol of Taiwan. What I recall most about Tainan City aren't the sights and sounds, but the food. Our first meal was at Du Hsiao Yueh, a highly rated casual restaurant serving excellent slack season danzai noodles, a specialty dish in these parts that looks very much like spaghetti with marinara sauce, but here the noodles are made by hand and the pork-based ragout is slowly-cooked for an amazing flavorful taste. Also try another local specialty, milk fish, and the sauteed greens at Du Hsiao Yueh. Suggested for a nice sit-down dinner is the Premier Restaurant, a traditional Chinese eatery with an expansive dining room decorated with bright red carpet and wooden partitions with rice paper screens. You haven't eaten fried rice until you've tried the real thing, and this place served some of the very best I've ever eaten, in addition to fried frog legs, braised beef with ginger and steamed vegetables. The third of three meals we had in our 24-hour visit to Tainan City was breakfast at our hotel, which was slightly minimal to the buffets we had at the other hotels we stayed at. The property itself, Silks Place, was a contemporary hotel with wooden floors, window side padded benches with fluffy pillows to capture the urban sprawl views and a lovely assortment of hand lotions and hair essentials. The Glass House lounge is an indoor bar that has an outside open-air terrace with astro turf flooring and cozy couches to mingle with fellow guests and sip cocktails.

    For sightseeing, the Taiwan Confucian Temple dating back to 1665 during the Koxinga dynasty is now a much-visited tourist attraction and site where ancient Confucian ceremonies are still preserved. Chihkan Tower, formerly Fort Provintia, dates back further to 1653 during the Dutch colonization of Taiwan, originally used as an outpost and now standing as an historical landmark of Tainan City and the whole country. 

    The final city we visited was Kaohsiung, my favorite from this trip following Taipei. Kaohsiung is even further South than Tainan City, along the coast by the South China Sea. Lotus Pond is famous for its Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, twin seven-story towers that can be climbed by stairs to the top with amazing vistas from above. The newly developed Pier-2 Art Center is a small complex of food, art galleries and shopping posts in a former industrial space; definitely wander into the Eslite bookstore and pick up a keepsake, or book, to take home with you and grab a coffee at its adorable cafe. Xiziwan, also referred to as Sizihwan, is a small hillside community in the Gushan District of the city that overlooks the bay on the Taiwan Strait. This is a must go-to place for photographers, as the views of the skyline are incredible. 

    If you want to rub shoulders with the locals and experience the city's public transportation, I recommend hopping on the simple-to-use Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit, or KMRT, the underground light rail system. The magnificent Formosa Boulevard station includes various retail shops and snack counters in a beautifully illuminated underground plaza that also features daily artists playing piano, or other musical instruments, with a dedicated seating area to hear them perform; it's certainly the fanciest train station I've been in.

    Should you wish to discover the local street food scene, take a 5-minute ferry ride from the Kaohsiung Harbor to the Quijing District and peruse the many carts and pop-up stands lining the streets, selling everything from noodles and meat dishes to refreshments and snacks.

  • Seattle hosts first LGBT economic summit

    by Alex Rozier
    | Mar 16, 2017

    On Thursday, the Greater Seattle Business Association is hosting its first ever LGBT economic summit, bringing together LGBT business leaders and allies from five different states and Canada too.

    Twelve different LGBT chapters will be represented from California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Hawaii.

    “We decided we need to come together and invite outside businesses, and actually start talking about and exploring the power that comes when all of us work together,” GSBA President Louise Chernin said. “When you see that there are thousands and thousands of LGBT business owners and allied business owners and that together, we can affect laws, we can work on issues of equality, and we can support our community and non-profits, it will empower us.”

    “We are now made up of not only lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender, but allied businesses too,” Chernin added. “There are many businesses now that say they want to be a part of a chamber that is values driven. We are about business, but we are about community.”

    Karyn Schwartz is the owner of Sugarpill and a member of the LGBT community. She is a big believer in this economic summit and hopes to build business and relationships for all.

    “When I was coming out, there wasn’t a lot of visible, queer businesses. I think you need to be able to see yourself reflected out in the world, I think no matter where you come from you need examples of who you could become, and still be you,” Schwartz said. “Having a variety of people in all different kinds of business who are part of the LGBTQ community, I think is really inspiring to those of us who are already working, but also to younger people, those who are coming up behind us who might think, ‘Well, what can I do? Can I do what I want to do? Can I be who I want to be and be visible in the community?'”

    “I think it’s really important that people understand that none of us are going away. We didn’t fight this hard to be visible and successful just to lay down when people decided that it wasn’t ok for us to be here anymore. So I think being in a room with a lot of people who have been successful and are influential in their communities, I think that’s really important,” Schwartz added. “We have worked really hard to be a force to be reckoned with and we have a lot to share in places that maybe don’t have the resources, or the resilience, or the safety that we have here. And we have a huge responsibility to lift other people up.”

  • Labor Standards Outreach & Education

    | Mar 10, 2017

    Late last year GSBA received a significant grant from the City of Seattle’s Office of Labor Standards (OLS) to conduct outreach and education for our small businesses. We are part of a coalition with the Ethnic Chambers of Commerce Coalition, Business Impact Northwest, Cascadia Consulting, the Eritrean Community of Greater Seattle, and OneAmerica. Together with OLS and our partners we have created a curriculum to walk business owners through the current Seattle labor laws: wage theft, minimum wage, paid sick and safe time, fair chance employment, and secure scheduling.

    GSBA and our partners will be offering trainings throughout 2017. All are free and open to any business owner. One-on-one advice is also available for any business owner who has questions that go beyond the workshop. Here are some basic reminders:

    All places of employment must have THIS POSTER displayed in a conspicuous and accessible location at job sites in English and in the language(s) spoken by employees.


    Minimum Wage

    For 2017 the Seattle minimum wage is between $11 and $15, depending on the size of your business and benefits offered. Large employers (501+ employees) must pay $15 or $13.50 if they offer medical benefits. For small employers (>500 employees), the rate is $13/hour unless at least $2/hour is contributed toward medical benefits and/or the employee earns at least $2 in tips.


    Wage Theft

    Employers must pay all compensation owed on a regular pay day and give employees written information about their job and pay. The important details of this regulation that businesses should pay extra attention are the requirements around record keeping and what constitutes hours worked. Remember – work “off the clock” must still be paid!


    Fair Chance Employment

    Job ads cannot categorically exclude applicants with conviction or arrest records. Questions about conviction or arrest history can be asked, but only after screening for the job’s minimum qualifications. Applicants must have the opportunity to explain or correct their record. An employer must have a legitimate business reason that employing the applicant will harm the business or impact the employee’s ability to perform the job.


    Paid Sick and Safe Time

    Employers must provide employees with paid leave to care for themselves or a family member. As with minimum wage, there is a tiered accrual and use structure based on business size.

     PSST chart

    All employers must comply with the applicable laws. Retaliation is illegal in all cases.

    For more information about how to comply with Seattle's labor standards laws, please visit or contact the GSBA office about upcoming workshops and other educational opportunities.

    Workshops offered as part of our grant include:
    Tues May 23  |  1-3 PM  |  Seattle Public Library - Capitol Hill
    Thurs June 15  |  11:30 AM-1:30 PM  |  Business Impact NW
    Tues July 11  |  10-noon  |  Seattle Public Library - Queen Anne
    Thurs July 20  |  8-10 AM  |  GSBA Office
    Tues Aug 8  |  1-3 PM  |  Seattle Public Library - Greenwood
    Thurs Sep 21  |  11:30 AM - 1:30 PM  |  Business Impact NW

  • LGBT Economic Summit: Meet the Panelists

    | Mar 02, 2017

    Working Together for Shared Prosperity
    , the first-ever LGBT economic summit, will explore topics such as: leveraging the power of LGBT businesses; Blue State tourism; maintaining Left Coast politics in the post-election era; working together to promote diverse supply chains; and unlocking the power of bringing marginalized communities together.

    Through keynote presentations and panel discussions, attendees will share information, provide critical input to regional challenges, and build relationships with other LGBT and allied business leaders from Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, and British Columbia.

    Meet our distinguished panelists:

    Adamson, Bryan_145x135
    Bryan Adamson, Seattle University School of Law

    Bryan is an Associate Professor of Law at Seattle University. He has published numerous articles that demonstrate a diverse and interdisciplinary approach to scholarship on topics ranging from civil rights through the lens of the judicial procedures and how media institutions rationalize and reinforce racial hierarchies. He currently teaches a Consumer Protection Clinic and Mass Media Law and Policy and is a member of the GSBA Board of Directors.

    Clark_145x135Sally Clark, University of Washington

    Sally is the Director of Regional and Community Relations at UW. Her duties include working with the City-University Community Advisory Committee, the University District Partnership, Urban@UW, and the Arboretum Botanical Garden Committee all in service to helping the University accomplish its mission – the preservation, advancement and dissemination of knowledge – while being a great regional neighbor and collaborator. Prior to working at UW, Sally served more than nine years on the Seattle City Council, including as Council President 2012-2013.

    Edison_145x135Roz Edison, Marination

    Roz Edison is the COO and co-founder of Marination. Often the called the Director of Many Things, Roz makes sure that the operations of Marination run smoothly across all locations. She's known for making a spreadsheet for just about everything. Roz grew up in Athens, Greece with an undergraduate degree in French, and a Masters degrees in both business and education. Prior to Marination, she served in Peace Corps Romania, worked in public education in Boston, and advised at the University of Washington. Roz loves data, street food and gadgets.

    Fugere_145x135Joe Fugere, Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria

    Joe is the founder of Tutta Bella, the Pacific Northwest’s first certified, authentic Neapolitan pizzeria. In 2004, Joe opened his first restaurant and currently has five locations in the greater Seattle area. His restaurant group holdings expanded in 2016 to include operating The Hollywood Tavern in Woodinville, WA. Joe believes that there is a direct correlation between business success and creating shared values with employees, customers, peers, and community members. He regularly leads socially-responsible, small business initiatives in environments ranging from the White House to local neighborhood councils. In 2015, Joe testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions on behalf of Washington business owners and also met with Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez, as part of his "Lead on Leave Tour." Joe is currently actively involved with One America, which is a leading force for immigrant, civil and human rights. By nurturing a meaningful business that also reaps economic and social benefits, Joe hopes to encourage other local businesses to make investments in staff and community.

    Gardner_145x135Jaebadiah Gardner, Onpoint Real Estate

    Jaebadiah Gardner is the Founder & CEO of GardnerGlobal, Inc. and the Managing Partner for Onpoint Real Estate Services, LLC, a full-­service real estate brokerage firm in Seattle. He oversees the property management & development divisions, which include residential, multi-­family, condo buildings, and private and nonprofit clients. Jaebadiah is the driving force behind business development, real estate development and acquisition opportunities. Since its founding, GardnerGlobal, Inc. has grown from a team of one to nine, currently owns two companies and is heavily involved in the community fabric of Seattle. In addition, Jaebadiah is developing a 115-­unit affordable housing building and a 70-unit apartment building in Seattle. Jaebadiah's focus is building business through investments, partnerships and community.

    GILLIS_143x135Gladys Gillis, Starline Luxury Coaches

    Gladys founded Starline Luxury Coaches with a vision and a limited fleet of three shuttle buses. Over the years, she has become a respected leader in the transportation industry. Gladys has served on the board of World Affairs Council since 2010 and just recently finished her term as Chairman of the Board in February, 2015. She remains an active voice for the transportation industry at the national level. Since 2012 she has expanded her operations in Pullman, WA with Wheatland Express and in June acquired A & A Motorcoach with yards in Yakima, Wenatchee and Pasco. She currently serves on the GSBA Board of Directors and the GSBA Corporate Advisory Board and is recognized as the CEO of the largest, women-owned fleet in the Pacific Northwest.

    Herrera_145x135Michael Herrera, SoCal Gas

    Michael Herrera is the LGBTBE advisor for Southern California Gas Company in the Supply Management and Supplier Diversity departments. Michael has been an integral part of the supplier diversity group meeting and exceeding SoCalGas' supplier diversity goals for the past couple of years.

    Michael is also an alumni of SoCalGas' Volunteer Local Diversity & Inclusion Council and Employee Diversity Council and leads the corporate sponsorships between SoCalGas and the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, The Desert Business Association, The Golden Gate Business Association, The Long Beach Chamber of Commerce and The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

    Jimenez, Jen_145x135Jennifer Jimenez, Eastside Total Health & Lactation

    Jennifer Jimenez has been a Certified Nurse Midwife for over 20 years who earned multiple degrees from Columbia University. But when asked, she would say that her most valuable lessons were those taught to her by the Latino and Caribbean communities in the South Bronx, Washington Heights, and Harlem. She moved to Washington State from New York in 2015 and co-owns Eastside Total Health & Lactation (ETHL) in Kirkland. ETHL is a certified LGBT Business Enterprise that offers a gynecology, family building and lactation services with special attention for the LGBTQ and the single parent by choice communities.

    LEE_145x135Martha Lee, Chinese Chamber and the Ethnic Coalition of Chambers of Commerce

    Martha is the current president of ECCC for the Greater Seattle Area. She also serves on the board of the Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce and was the President for 2014 to 2015. Martha is a 2016 recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the White House. She has over 35 years of financial and management experience in various Senior Vice President and CFO positions with Royal Philips Electronic Corp.

    McClure_145x135Sam McClure, National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC)

    Sam serves as Senior Vice President at the NGLCC. In this role, Sam oversees the Affiliate Relations, External Affairs, and Supplier Diversity departments and is a member of the executive leadership team. In 2014, Sam led NGLCC’s legislative campaign to pass California Assembly Bill 1678, the first law of its kind in the nation which added certified LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs) to the Supplier Diversity program of the California Public Utilities Commission. In 2015, she lead the team that achieved the first statewide Executive Order to add not only LGBTBEs, but also Disability Owned & Veteran Owned Business Enterprises (DOBEs & VBEs) to the small business development opportunities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She is a leading voice on organizational development strategies and LGBT business inclusion. Driven by entrepreneurial spirit and an appetite for community and economic development, she is a passionate advocate for the LGBT community and a champion of Business Equality.

    McDermott_145x135Joe McDermott, King County Council

    Joe McDermott is currently serving his 7th year as a member, and 2nd consecutive year as Chair, of the King County Council. Holding a Master of Public Administration from the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs, he served a decade in the state legislature prior to joining the Council. Joe is a passionate advocate for vibrant and safe communities, reliable transit and transportation options, our environment, and civil rights. He currently resides in West Seattle with his husband Michael.

    Montes_145x135Frank Montes, California Hispanic Chamber

    Frank Montes uses his skills as a professional advocate to impact change at State and National levels in order to create a wide range of opportunities that will generate growth, education and prosperity for families, businesses and communities. In his work as a business owner, he uses his personal experience as an entrepreneur to identify with and understand his clients' needs and challenges. Mr. Montes has worked on local, regional and state legislative issues for the last six California state legislative assemblies and is fostering a professional history of representing individuals with elected and appointed boards. Additionally, he has lead efforts with volunteers, private consultants, and representatives of governmental agencies. As a proficient supporter, Mr. Montes has specific knowledge to address public policy issues that affect small business including lending, taxes, health care and shortage of skilled workers.

    Mirabella_145x135Joe Mirabella, Seattle Office of Economic Development

    Joe is the Communications Director for the Office of Economic Development. Previously, he served as Mayor Ed Murray's Social Media Manager. Joe is a former GSBA Board Member and has a passion for the intersection of equality and business.

    Morales_145x135Mark Morales, State of CA, Dept. of Insurance, Diversity Task Force

    Mark Morales has over 20 years of business banking experience and specializes in SBA financing and loan programs for diverse owned businesses. Mark was recognized by the SBA as the first lender nationwide to fund an SBA loan for an LGBT business in 2015. In March 2015 Mark was appointed to the California Department of Insurance's Insurance Diversity Task Force whose mission is to encourage increased procurement from California’s diverse suppliers and diversity amongst insurer governing boards. He is the first LGBT Business Enterprise advocate/representative since the task force inception in 2011. Mark is the President of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (LAGLCC) Board of Directors.

    Murray_145x135Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle

    Edward B. Murray became Mayor of Seattle in 2014 after 18 years in the Washington State Legislature, where he was a champion for LGBT rights. Within the first six months as Mayor, he convened a committee comprised of business, labor, and non-profit stakeholders to work out the terms of a deal that would benefit all involved and set the highest minimum wage in the nation. For this work, he was named one of Politico Magazine's "50 thinkers, doers and dreamers who really matter in this age of gridlock and dysfunction." Recently he has made headlines as one of the most prominent voices for sanctuary cities. Read more of his official bio here.

    Nelson_145x135Dean Nelson, and Whistler Pride and Ski Festival

    Dean has 11 years experience in LGBT travel and tourism as the producer of world class events including the annual Whistler Pride and Ski Festival; founder and executive producer of the 2010 Pride House at the Olympic Winter Games; and contributor and mentor for the 2012 Olympic Summer Games (London) Pride House, 2014 Olympic Winter Games (Sochi) virtual Pride House campaign, and the 2014 FIFA Women's World Cup Pride House. In 2016, Dean was awarded the Distinguished Alumni: International Human Rights Leadership Award from Thompson Rivers University for a decade of campaigning LGBT visibility in Travel and Tourism. He is a past board member of Travel Gay Canada and Vancouver Pride Society.

    Norwalk_145x135Tom Norwalk, Visit Seattle

    Tom Norwalk is President & CEO of Visit Seattle, the private, nonprofit marketing organization that promotes Seattle as a destination for international and domestic leisure travel, meetings and conventions. Norwalk oversees more than 60 employees in the organization’s main Seattle office as well as sales offices in Washington, D.C. and Chicago. He is responsible for all of the bureau’s operations, sales and marketing, finance and budget management and business development.

    Nyhus_145x135Roger Nyhus, Nyhus Communications

    Roger has advised numerous business and government leaders around the world since founding his firm in 1994. He excels at strategic public relations, public affairs and advocacy for innovative organizations and their leaders.
    In 2010, Roger was named Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Seattle Business Association, and Nyhus Communications earned the Seattle Mayor’s Small Business Award in 2009.

    Olson_145x135Karen Olson, Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass

    Karen Olson is the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass. Karen has the honor of working with some of the region’s top destinations to connect visitors with the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. She leads an amazing team of marketing, sales, and guest service specialists to turn guests into fans and moments into memories.

    Robinson_145x135Tim Robinson, Visit Spokane

    Tim Robinson is the Senior Director of Marketing & Communications at Visit Spokane, the official destination marketing organization for Spokane County, Washington. Tim joined Visit Spokane in 2013 as Director of Public Relations & Communications. Prior to working in the travel industry, Tim was a TV reporter and anchorman in Seattle (KING 5), Sacramento and Reno.

    Thornhill_145x135Curtis Thornhill, Apt Marketing Solutions

    Curtis Thornhill is the CEO of Apt Marketing Solutions, a firm that brings enterprise marketing practices to businesses of all sizes. Apt Marketing was named to the 2016 Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies and was profiled in Adweek magazine. Curtis frequently speaks and writes about improving the impact of technology, data, and processes in marketing.

    Trimiew_145x135Jason Trimiew, Facebook

    For nearly two decades, Jason has worked at the intersection of the marketplace and social impact in international microfinance, venture philanthropy, and community and economic development. In 2016, Jason joined Facebook to launch the company's first supplier diversity program and create more opportunity for diverse-owned firms do business with Facebook and the people and communities that Facebook connects. Prior to joining Facebook, he designed and led the community impact initiatives for Super Bowl 50, resulting in more than $20 million in grants for Bay Area nonprofits and contracts for local businesses. Jason was formerly a Managing Director at REDF and is the founder of Trimiew Strategy Group, a consultancy that helps clients develop, implement, measure, and scale products and programs that produce results for good.

    YarceBeto Yarce, Ventures

    Beto Yarce is an immigrant from Guadalajara, Mexico who moved to Seattle 14 years ago. He is the Executive Director for Ventures, a nonprofit organization that empowers individuals with limited resources and unlimited potential to improve their lives through small business ownership. Beto is passionate and inspired by the mission and for the opportunity to support other entrepreneurs with their dreams and helping them create their vision in a business.

    Yaeger_145x135Ken Yeager, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors

    Ken Yeager has been a pioneer for LGBTQ rights in Santa Clara County for nearly four decades. In 1984, he co-founded a four-county LGBTQ political action group called the Bay Area Municipal Elections Committee after coming out in the OpEd pages of the San Jose Mercury News. Shortly thereafter, he was appointed as the first chairperson of Santa Clara County's AIDS Prevention Task Force. Upon his election to the San Jose Community College District in 1992, he became the first openly gay elected official in the County. Ken then served six years as a San Jose City Councilmember and has served on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors since 2006. In 2008, Ken became a Deputy Commissioner for Civil Marriage and has since solemnized over 100 same gender unions. In 2015, he created the Santa Clara County Office of LGBTQ Affairs, the first county-level office dedicated to serving the unique needs of LGBTQ residents.

    Learn more about the LGBT Economic Summit here.



  • Paid Family Leave is coming to WA

    | Mar 01, 2017

    Paid family leave is coming to Washington!

    What precisely that will look like is still under negotiation. There were multiple proposals in the Legislature this year, although none of them made it out whole. The final product will be the result of negotiations between the caucuses in Olympia. There is also discussion from Seattle Councilmember Lorena González about establishing a Seattle-specific policy should the statewide policy not succeed.

    The United States is one of only eight countries in the world without a national paid family leave policy. Only 14% of the US workforce is covered by a paid family leave plan. The Family and Medical Leave Act provides 12 weeks of job protection - but not pay - for some employees of companies with more than 50 employees.

    What is paid family leave (PFL) in Washington?
    While policies vary greatly across the United States, there have been several constants across all the proposals in Washington this year. They have included paid leave for qualifying circumstances such as: a new child, the serious illness of a family member, and exigency for military leave.

    How is PFL funded?
    Proposals in Washington all have the program funded as a payroll tax administered by the Washington Employment Security Department. Proposals differed in whether the tax would be payed by the employees themselves or by a joint 50-50 contribution from both employees and employers. This tax would be pooled together for all workers in the state to access

    What are the proposed benefit levels of PFL?
    Proposals in Washington have varied in the amount of leave provided from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. Other jurisdictions have offered 4 weeks (Rhode Island), 6 weeks (California, New Jersey, San Francisco), 8 weeks (DC), and 12 weeks (New York State). The percentage of pay recieved while on leave varies across the country from 45% to 70%, while proposals in Washington range from 67% to 90% of average weekly wages, with additional provisions for those employees with incomes below statewide average weekly income.

    Are the jobs of employees on leave protected?
    All Washington proposals include provisions for protecting the jobs of those employees whose paid family leave. Some proposals included exemptions for businesses with 8 or fewer employees.

    More Information
    Economic Opportunity Institute
    National Conference of State Legislatures - Reports on Paid Family Leave
    Spokane Public Radio: Family leave proposals get hearing in Washington Senate
    Q13 FOX - New bill fights for 6 months of paid leave
    Trish Stroman: Paid Family Leave Doesn't Just Benefit Employees

  • Amy Woidtke: Making Space For You

    | Feb 24, 2017
    Amy-Woidtke-Logo-V002Amy is the Seattle time-saving, clutter busting organizer & assistant fiercely committed to guiding busy, growth-oriented LGBTQ and Allied professionals, who are serious about delegating and getting organized, to achieve transformation in their mental, emotional and physical space through Home and Office Organizing, Move Management and Lifestyle Maintenance. Clients experience increased freedom of time and energy so they can focus on broadcasting their brilliance and have more fun!
    This year, Amy has launched into public speaking and writing a book on making space for you.

    Her services combine that which she loves most: Making a difference in the quality of the lives of others, empowering change through intentional action and organizing spaces to create functional, feel-good launching pads.

    In this time of increased pace and demand on every day life, it's become even more crucial - and challenging - to make space for ourselves through self-care, decreasing overwhelm and streamlining our energies so we can live our best lives. Amy's services give clients that much needed “fresh air” in their mental, emotional and physical spaces. Clients literally call her their lifesaver.

    AW website 2.2016When she's not kicking butt for clients, Amy loves to spend time with family, including her partner Sebastian, their daughter, granddaughter and adorable handicapped kitty Merkat, whom they call their own personal superhero...she doesn't let two goofy back legs keep her down! Amy also loves movies, crafting, dancing, doing yoga and being in community. 

    Amy feels GSBA membership is important because it helps us to be easily found and in service to our LGBTQ and Allied community in the greatest ways possible. The GSBA offers an established platform for building connections and business, deepening relationships and giving back in a fun, friendly, feel-good environment which keeps on giving - just like the Energizer Bunny! She had the time of her life at the Taste being a walking greeter and dishing out compliments to all the fabulous attendees.

    Amy is friendly, resourceful and well-networked. She loves to give a super connection as much as she loves to receive one. If you see her out and about, don't be shy about introducing yourself! To learn more, visit
  • Winter Policy Update

    | Feb 15, 2017
    GSBA has been very active this winter, serving as your voice on LGBT civil rights and small business issues across our region.

    We have hosted small business round tables with Seattle City Councilmembers Tim Burgess and Kshama Sawant, in partnership with the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce. Dozens of our members were present at these events and were able to speak one-on-one with their elected representatives about the realities and challenges facing small business owners in Seattle.

    Continuing our work with the Office of Labor Standards, GSBA held its first workshop for small business owners on understanding the City of Seattle's six labor laws. We will continue to offer these events throughout the year along with our partners on the outreach and education grant. We worked hard to get the voice of our members to City Council when the head tax was proposed -- and defeated -- in January. On February 15 GSBA testified to City Council in support of the proposal to provide a dedicated funding source for the Office of Labor Standards through existing B&O tax revenue. This solution was drafted by Councilmember Burgess in consultation with both business and labor representatives.

    In Olympia we have greatly increased our presence on the ground by hiring a contract lobbyist. GSBA is actively involved in fighting to repeal Initiative 200, add a small business perspective to negotiations around paid family leave, ban assault weapons, support a statewide tourism marketing agency, and ban conversion therapy.

    We are actively working with our federal delegation - both Democrats and Republicans - to express our concerns relating to the change in administrations. We remain extremely worried about the status of LGBT anti-discrimination orders, about the safety of our undocumented students, attacks on women and minorities, and the general threats to our economy that could be severe with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. At the end of the month we will be convening a meeting with Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and leaders of the LGBT community to talk about ways in which we can work together.

    Most pressingly, we are actively working to relaunch the Washington Won't Discriminate campaign. While I-1515 failed to gather enough signatures last summer, our opponents are back with an even harsher effort to rollback our anti-discrimination laws and specifically target the transgender community with Initiative 1552. GSBA continues to lead the business community in fighting back to preserve our civil rights for the LGBT community.

    If you would like to get involved in GSBA's advocacy work, contact Public Policy Manager Matt Landers.