The GSBA Blog

  • Traveling while Transgender

    by Gunner Scott, Director of Programs, Pride Foundation
    | Oct 15, 2015
    Gunner Betty
    I love to travel. I have been able to visit 45 states and four European countries, and I now have the opportunity to travel across the Northwest for my job at the Pride Foundation.

    However, as a transgender traveler, I also encounter discrimination—especially with TSA. On multiple occasions since the Automated Target Recognition (ATR) body scanners were installed, TSA agents have demanded that I remove my dress shirt and expose my skin or else be denied access to my flight, a request that is against their own policies.

    Discrimination in travel happens too often. The 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that 53% of transgender respondents were verbally harassed in places like hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies; 15% were denied service and 3% were physically assaulted. Those percentages significantly increase for transgender travelers that are disabled and/or of color.

    While work is being done to educate agencies like TSA, for the time being it may take transgender travelers a little more planning to have the best experience possible. For example, the standards for changing your name or gender marker on your US passport have become much more accessible. If you not able to update your state ID, using your passport might be easier.

    TSA has a specific transgender traveler webpage explaining their policies and your rights. I would also recommend applying for TSA Pre-Check status. There is a fee, but it expedites screening and often allows you to go through metal detectors instead of the ATR scanners. If you should encounter discrimination, stay calm, ask to speak with a supervisor, and remember to file a civil rights complaint with TSA. 

    While not all transgender people identify with the LGB community, in general, hotels and tours that advertise to or are LGBTQ businesses are more likely to have nondiscrimination policies. Websites and organizations like GSBA, Tagapproved and Purple Roofs are great places to start.

    There are guides and vacation packages for lesbian and gay travelers, but few for transgender travelers. This is slowly changing; recently the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association began outreach to transgender-owned travel businesses to help promote them. The “World’s First Transgender Oceanic Cruise,” hosted by Transgender Vacations and Royal Caribbean, as well as the Kalani resort on Hawaii’s Big Island both specifically welcome transgender travelers with dedicated vacation packages.

    As Maya Angelou once said, “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” I hope you find many friends on your next travel adventure!

  • Saving an Entire Species: InterChange Media’s Campaign for Sea Turtles

    | Oct 09, 2015
    InterChange - Baby Turtle

    Michele Gomes and Jenny Ting were standing on a beach on Cape Cod on a wet and cold November day, looking for stranded sea turtles, with a looming nor’easter on the horizon. The coordinator had told them that it was unlikely they would find any that day—most volunteers never come across one. But fairly early into their shift, the pair found their first cold-stunned turtle. And then another. And another. By the end of the day, they had rescued 21 hypothermic turtles and even ran out of space in their car, with Jenny forced to carry two on her lap.

    This extraordinary day was the crux of why they spent several wintery weeks in coastal New England. As the duo behind InterChange Media Art Productions, Jenny and Michele were in the process of documenting an increasingly common phenomenon: juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtles (the smallest and most endangered sea turtles) getting trapped by the hook of Cape Cod in the early winter months. While an average of 90 turtles wash up each year, the rate has been swiftly accelerating, with 413 in 2013 and over 1,200 in 2014. The BP oil spill severely affected their breeding grounds, and climate change is causing dangerous shifts in their migratory patterns. 

    InterChange - Michele with TurtleWhat started as a short news story has turned into a passion project with vital significance to the survival of an entire species. With the turtles falling (or rather, placed carefully) right into their laps, it was a story that they just couldn’t walk away from. 

    So InterChange’s Emmy-winning crew is creating Saving Sea Turtles: Rescuing the Rare Kemp’s Ridley to highlight the critical threat to this species and how whole communities up and down the Atlantic Coast are working together to save them.

    But Jenny and Michele never thought that they would be making documentary about sea turtles. In fact, Jenny says that she only started making films as a joke. Her interest quickly turned serious when she found success with the award-winning Straight Into Gay America, which followed a straight pastor unicycling from Vermont to Washington, DC, in support of LGBT rights. She reached out to Michele, an established fine art dealer and curator of multimedia exhibits in downtown Seattle, and they decided to create a production company.

    “We wanted to put the eye of the camera on life-saving values,” says Michele. “It’s so important to align your business with your values.” Their clients have been primarily women-owned businesses, LGBT people, people of color and organizations such as Tabor 100, Fuel Coffee and Pinchot University. InterChange Media has also produced videos for GSBA’s gala events, beautifully conveying the scholars’ stories and helping raise over $200,000 for the GSBA Scholarship Fund.

    Their passion for environmental issues is an “essential core value” of their business. They have documented the Beacon Food Forest, and their series The Legend of Mick Dodge (about an ex-Marine living in the Hoh Rainforest) aired for three seasons on the National Geographic Channel. 

    Right now Michele and Jenny are working on completing postproduction on Saving Sea Turtles, with the goal of releasing it in the first quarter of 2016. They are about to launch a Kickstarter campaign to help finish the animations, graphics, titling, narration, score and translations. 

    About the project, Michele says, “We don’t want to live in a world where the extinction of an entire species is seen as the norm. We want to take a stand.”

    Learn more about Jenny & Michele’s work at and how to support their documentary at
  • Building Businesses, Changing Lives

    | Oct 09, 2015

    Who can say that in 20 years they have launched over 2,000 small businesses? 

    Ventures LogoThere are many initiatives, groups and government agencies working on economic development, but one stands out for its mission and impact on the lives of its clients: Ventures (formerly known as Washington CASH), which serves people in the Puget Sound region for whom traditional business education and financing are out of reach. 

    Ventures is committed to empowering low-income individuals. Its clients are often considered “unbankable” and cannot get loans or other funding from traditional financial institutions. The average client supports a family of 2.6 on an income of just $24,124 per year. 

    “Imagine living in Seattle on that and trying to start a business,” remarks Resource Development Manager Anjali Englund. “Folks with the entrepreneurial spirit that we all celebrate can still be held back by so many barriers."

    Ventures - Business Lab 3Despite the significant structural hurdles faced by its clients, Ventures’ success rate is very high. 80% of Ventures clients are still in business after 18 months, significantly higher than the national average. Their clients are able to break the cycle of poverty, not only enjoying their success personally but also extending those benefits to their families and outward into their communities.

    “Success means a lot of things, not just having $1 million in sales,” says Executive Director Beto Yarce. “It means having entrepreneurs get on their feet, become sustainable.” For families experiencing generational poverty, establishing a stable business not only creates economic security but also dramatically improves educational attainment and health outcomes.

    Free “Get Ready for Business” workshops introduce potential clients to the organization and offer the opportunity for Ventures staff to review a business idea. From there, clients move into business development training, covering the basics of how to start and grow a small business. Then they complete a feasibility plan and begin to create a community of entrepreneurs alongside whom they can build both competence and confidence. They are then eligible for more advanced services, including financial trainings, a matched savings program and credit counseling.

    Moreover, clients are also given access to Ventures’ commercial enterprises. Its retail incubator shop in Pike Place Market allows entrepreneurs to sell their products on a commission basis in one of the busiest commercial centers in Seattle before branching out on their own. And because the food industry has a relatively low barrier to entry, Ventures offers food business incubator programs that build on the skills its clients learn in training, giving them access to a below-market-rate commercial kitchen and to markets. Most notably, they also have the option of renting Ventures’ Word of Mouth food truck for just $30 per four-hour shift.

    A Ventures client, Eli Allison of Repair Revolution (2013 GSBA New Business of the Year), attests to the help he received. “I was skeptical at first, but I realized very quickly that these guys were different. They were really in touch with what small business owners actually needed, and they had a very holistic approach with lots of offerings for small business owners. 

    “The thing that sticks out the most for me is having a community of business owners, mentors and small business advocates around me when I was taking the biggest risk of my life, cheering me on and giving me meaningful tools and connections to take on this journey. It is so refreshing to be a part of an organization that is so in touch with their client’s needs and an organization that truly walks their talk.”

    For 20 years Ventures has been building business and changing lives. The greatest part, according to Beto, is seeing former clients become donors and give back to the community that supported them. With startups, incubators and enterprise zones all the rage now, Ventures’ established record of creating prosperity speaks for itself.

    Visit the Ventures shop below the main arcade at Pike Place Market. Keep an eye out for the Word of Mouth food truck around Seattle. Personal donations help support clients’ education and training. Learn more about Ventures’ programs at
  • NGLCC Business Certification is Good for Business!

    by Elise Lindborg
    | Oct 09, 2015

    Red Carpet KissZippyDogs is a West Seattle–based promotional products distributor (and GSBA member) now celebrating 15 years in business. In 2010 we became a certified National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) Business Enterprise, and ever since then, only good things have come to ZippyDogs. Numerous far-reaching opportunities provided by the NGLCC have allowed us to grow our business, increase our professional expertise, expand our customer base and meet fellow LGBT business owners from all over the country. 

    Over the past five years, ZippyDogs has participated in four national conferences. We have listened to Ivy League professors and learned business tips from million- and billion-dollar business owners, such as Marcus Lemonis, Barbara Corcoran, Shaun T and many others. At each conference we have had the opportunity to sit down with several Fortune 500 companies (Kellogg’s, Target, IBM, AT&T, Sodexo, and Office Depot, to name a few) and learn about potential business opportunities. ZippyDogs is proud to say that because of the NGLCC, we have done business with Southern California Edison, Bristol-Meyers Squibb and even Cracker Barrel (which has come a long way toward LGBT equality). All three of these companies are committed to LGBT supplier diversity. 

    In 2013, I applied for and received an NGLCC scholarship to attend the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and just last year I applied for and was assigned a business mentor from the Chevron Corporation to help ZippyDogs build on our already successful business. Even more notable is that ZippyDogs was named the 2013-2014 NGLCC Supplier of the Year!

    Because of the amazing work of the NGLCC, hundreds of their corporate partners have made a steadfast commitment specifically to support LGBT business owners and have set aside millions of dollars to spend with certified LGBT businesses. The only way they can meet their diversity and spending goals is to procure goods and services from a certified LGBT Business Enterprise. 

    So the time is now for LGBT-owned businesses to become certified! Doing so has opened many doors for ZippyDogs, as described. New business doesn’t just come with certification, though. As with any new endeavor, newly certified businesses need to participate in NGLCC events (such as the National Business Conference) and learn how to work within the Fortune 500 procurement system. 

    Not only has the NGLCC helped ZippyDogs find a business family, it has proven to be fun and refreshing to attend events specifically for LGBT business owners. This allows ZippyDogs to bring our authentic selves to the business table.

    A special thank-you goes to George Pieper of OutSmart Office Solutions, who approached these skeptical dogs to become a certified LGBT business five years ago. It has been one of the best business decisions we have ever made! 

    Get certified and grow your business! The time is now! WOOF!

  • Speaking of Women's Rights: Inextricable from LGBT Rights

    | Oct 09, 2015

    By David Ward, Legal & Legislative Council with Legal Voice and Chair of the GSBA Public Policy Task Force.


    I’m a gay man who works for Legal Voice, a non-profit organization in Seattle that advances women’s rights in the Northwest.  The issues I focus on include gender-based violence, family law, and LGBT rights.  Sometimes, I’m asked why a women’s rights organization would make LGBT rights a core part of its mission, which Legal Voice has done since the 1980s.  And the answers show how closely intersected the women’s rights and LGBT rights movements are – or should be. 

    First, both movements challenge gender stereotypes.  The women’s rights movement fights the idea that women and men should act in certain ways based on their gender and that their roles in society should be defined (and limited) by their gender.  The LGBT rights movement challenges the same gender stereotypes – like the idea that a marriage should only be between a man and a woman, or that men should be “masculine” and women should be “feminine.”  Because such gender stereotypes often find their origins in religious doctrine, both movements must fight against allowing religion to be used as a license to discriminate under the law.

    Both movements also must focus on ending gender-based violence and harassment.  Violence against woman and violence against LGBT people are both the result of a culture that permits violence against “others” to be normalized.  When a trans woman is murdered or a gay man is attacked on the street, it is often because the attacker feels a privilege over a person who is marginalized in our society. The same is often true when women are harassed on the street, sexually assaulted, or victimized by domestic violence.

    The two movements are also linked in our efforts to protect bodily autonomy – the right to control your own body.  In the women’s rights movement, this includes the right to decide whether to have an abortion.  In the LGBT rights movement, bodily autonomy includes the right to decide how to express oneself sexually, as well as the right to have a body that matches your gender identity.  To achieve bodily autonomy, the women’s rights movement must fight for insurance coverage for abortion care, while the LGBT rights movement must fight for insurance coverage for transition-related care for transgender community members.

    These are just some of the reasons why the women’s rights and LGBT rights movements are so closely linked – and why both movements should support each other and work closely together in our common fight for equality.

  • CB 118455 – All-Gender Restrooms Ordinance

    | Oct 09, 2015

    This letter was submitted to the Seattle City Council on August 10. The bill passed unanimously.

    Dear Councilmembers:

    On behalf of the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA), we are writing to express our strong support for CB 118455.  This important legislation will help ensure that transgender and gender nonconforming people have safe and equal access to restroom facilities in City buildings and other places of public accommodation in Seattle.

    CB 118455 will advance this goal in a cost-effective manner by:

    • Providing that single-occupant restrooms in City buildings and places of public accommodation may not be restricted to a specific sex or gender identity, and must use appropriate signage to indicate that such facilities are designated for use by any person.
    • Explicitly specifying that when places of public accommodation have gender-specific restrooms or other gender-specific facilities, individuals have the right to use the facilities that are consistent with their gender identity or expression
    • Updating and clarifying the definition of the term “gender identity” in the Seattle Municipal Code.

    As the nation’s largest LGBT and allied chamber of commerce, GSBA strongly supports this effort to protect the civil rights of transgender and gender nonconforming individuals.  These protections are also good for Seattle businesses.  They will help ensure that transgender and gender nonconforming people – a large and growing community in the Seattle area – will be able to patronize Seattle businesses without fear that they will be denied access to appropriate restroom facilities.  As a result, we would expect this ordinance will promote increased patronage of Seattle businesses by transgender and gender nonconforming customers.

    Thank you for your consideration of our views and for the Council’s leadership on this important issue.


    Jay Petterson, Public Policy Chair, GSBA Board of Directors
    David Ward, Chair, Public Policy Task Force

  • The most successful GSBA Scholarship Dinner ever!

    | Oct 06, 2015

    Celebrating 25 years
    Two million dollars in scholarships awarded since 1990
    $350,000 presented to 48 outstanding students
    Raising a record $200,000

    It all made for a truly amazing evening!  We heard stories from our  scholarship Founders and early champions in a moving video created by InterChange Media. We brought this visionary group on stage for Michael Auch to present the Richard C. Rolfs Scholarship and Bob Dlugosh & Don McKee to present the Founders' scholarships. Mayor Ed Murray welcomed our guests and touchingly reminded us of other early scholarship champions who have passed. During the evening, we were saddened to hear of the continuing challenges of poverty, violence, and lack of family support which so many of our scholars face. Our keynote address, given by GSBA's first four-year Scholar, Laramie Smith, was incredible. Laramie shared the story of her journey, from being disowned by her family as a teenager, leaving her with no hope of being able to attend college, to the difference that four years of scholarship support from GSBA meant to her, knowing she had the backing of an entire community. Today Laramie has a PhD and just last week was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. There was not a dry eye in the room when Scholarship Chair Stephanie Dallas came on stage with an impassioned plea that opened our hearts and compelled us to give generously.

    Thank you to all of our table captains who brought wonderful guests to fill the room at the Waterfront Marriott. Chaired by Allan Aquila and Scholarship Dinner volunteers Ryan Digges and Steve Gunn and our Scholarship Fund staff led by Mark Rosén and Jessica Wootten, we were able to create an evening that powerfully connected our past to our future. Other highlights of the evening included two announcements from Board Chair Martha Davis: the first about the launching a new Leadership Matching Fund, and the exciting news that GSBA has committed to fund every returning undergraduate scholar. With your continued support, both of these commitments will make a huge difference in the lives of LGBTQ and allied students.

    How wonderful it was to hear about the scholars who received our named scholarships this year. Bob Rhodehamel & Dana Snyder presented a Future Ribbons Scholarship to Kelly Hill who is pursuing her graduate degree in AIDS Research; Glenn Johnson & Michael Melancon presented the Bright Horizon Scholarship to Jazmine Perez; and Linda Barzalai spoke eloquently and poignantly about the "still small voice" inside all of us and how this voice honors the memory of her son David. The connection between past and future was everywhere; with past scholars seated around the room, including past Chester Podlodowski Scholars at Tina's table. A wonderful video with four past scholars -- Ryan, Arianna, Morgan, and Linda -- talked about the impact receiving a scholarship had on their lives, which made us all reach for the tissues. Kent and Shay Thoelke shared connections they have made with their new scholars demonstrating the joy and fulfillment their family has gotten by establishing a scholarship in memory of their father and husband, Rich Thoelke.

    A very special thank you to PwC, our Title Sponsor, and RBC Wealth Management, our presenting sponsor, as well as our evening's sponsors: Alaska Airlines, Carter Subaru, Microsoft and Seattle Goodwill. Thank you also to Team Photogenic for capturing the evening through photographs, Girlie Press for all the print collateral, and to FunFrames Photo for adding a bit more fun. Big thanks also to the Marriott Waterfront for all the support they gave to this event and to Janiece Haug for her donation of wine.

    Demonstrating their continued support of the GSBA Scholarship Fund, our annual sponsors were well represented, including our Jewels, the businesses which invest in both the Chamber and the Scholarship Fund. Our Diamond Jewel Sponsor: Microsoft; Emerald Jewels: 1st Security Bank and Alaska Airlines; Ruby Jewels: PwC and RBC Wealth Management. And our Annual Sponsors: Platinum: US Bank;  Gold sponsors: American Family Insurance, Outerwall, Pacific Medical Centers and Wells Fargo; Silver sponsors: Boeing, Carter Subaru, Safeco, Liberty Mutual, Seattle Goodwill, Starbucks and UW Medicine; and, our Bronze sponsors: Argosy Cruises, Carpet Liquidators, CenturyLink, DML Insurance, Google, Group Health, Irons Brothers Construction, Mona Smith, Attorney at Law, Overlake Reproductive Health, Verity Credit Union, Vulcan and Whitepages. We are so grateful for all their support.

    Also, how exciting to see so many guests ready to sign up as table captains for our over-the-top Scholarship fundraising gala, the TASTE of GSBA on November 21, 2015. Given, this event has sold out for the past four years, it is a good reminder to reserve your TASTE table now.

    If you were unable to attend this powerfully moving 25th Anniversary Scholarship Dinner celebration, it's not too late to join the celebration and invest in the next generation of leaders by making a donation online today. If you are already a donor, we hope you'll consider giving another 25% this year, in recognition of our 25 years of supporting the education of our students.

    For the future,

    Louise Chernin
    President & CEO

  • Your Investment at Work: Dr. Laramie Smith

    | Oct 06, 2015
    In 1999, Laramie Smith had lost her determination to go to college. She wondered what college would look like, how she would get there, how she could pay for it and what doors it could open. “They were mysteries I couldn't even begin to comprehend. I just knew I could do better with my life,” remembers the Lacey native. As she was looking into her options, Laramie applied for and received a GSBA scholarship. “I found myself without parents who could embody unconditional love and support, but I was suddenly and unexpectedly embraced by the LGBTQ community.”

    Fast-forward 15 years: Laramie R. Smith, PhD, is a behavioral health scientist whose research is devoted to the prevention and treatment needs of HIV-affected and medically underserved communities. 

    Laramie received her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in American cultural studies from Western Washington University. She worked on the Centers for Disease Control’s National HIV/AIDS Behavioral Surveillance study in conjunction with the Seattle–King County Department of Public Health’s HIV/AIDS Program, examining the intersection of substance use and housing vulnerabilities among adolescent and adult populations at the University of Washington.

    She earned her doctorate in social psychology from the University of Connecticut. During her doctoral training, she received a National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Health to develop and evaluate a theory-based approach to retention in HIV care in the Bronx. Through a complementary line of research, Laramie continues to investigate mechanisms through which HIV, drug use and methadone maintenance-related stigmas disrupt individuals’ prevention and treatment behaviors. 

    She worked at the Center for Health, Intervention, and Prevention (CHIP) on a large project in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. As an extension of this trial, she integrated her work in HIV care with her investigation and support of the needs of newly diagnosed patients who were not yet eligible for antiretroviral therapy. 

    Dissertaiton DefenseLaramie is currently a postdoctoral fellow at University of California San Diego School of Medicine’s Division of Global Public Health. Her research interests include infectious disease prevention, treatment and care; health disparities; medically vulnerable and underserved populations; LGBTQ health; health behavior theory; intervention development and evaluation; and structural equation modeling. 

    As the first GSBA scholar to receive four years of consecutive funding, Laramie gained just as much, if not more, from the knowledge that an entire community believed in her ability to thrive and provide leadership in the face of adversity. “This personal connection gave me strength and resolve to attain my education and invest my efforts back into in the health of the LGBTQ and other marginalized communities,” she says. “This support is more than I could have ever expected when I opened my first scholarship award letter in 1999. It has laid a solid foundation from which I continue to approach life's challenges and value my successes.”

  • Your Investment At Work: Anthony Yun

    | Oct 06, 2015
    As driven as they come, three-time GSBA Scholarship awardee Anthony Yun has already accomplished some lofty goals. Having been directly admitted to University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, he will complete his degree this June—in just three years—with concentrations in Information Systems and Operations Supply Chain Management. “The GSBA has provided a close-knit community that has supported me in college,” he says.

    Anthony has made the most of his short time in college. Each year he has been selected to attend the Out for Undergrad Conference, a national program dedicated to helping high-achieving LGBT undergraduates reach their full career potential. No stranger to leadership, Anthony has also served as the chapter president of Phi Beta Lambda and Washington State vice president of the Future Business Leaders of America, placing first in several categories of its state competition. Not to mention, he has received countless awards from major corporations such as Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, KPMG and Ernst & Young.

    Not only has Anthony proven himself a strategic thinker and future business leader though volunteer activities, he has also held several jobs and internships, including at Habitat for Humanity, Boeing and the Associated Students of the University of Washington. 

    Currently a data analyst at PanAm (a travel management, aircraft and risk solutions company for state and federal government and universities), he is responsible for building reporting tools to help universities and government organizations track their travel purchases, identify trends and highlight cost-saving opportunities. “It’s exciting to know that publicly funded organizations will be using these tools to be more transparent and make better travel purchases,” says Anthony.

    Anthony is also currently volunteering as a GSBA Scholarship interviewer: “I wanted to give back to the scholarship program that has helped pave the way for my education and career.” After graduation, Anthony will make the move to San Francisco to start his new position with KPMG in its procurement advisory division. In the future he hopes to work in fields where he can use technology to build sustainable access to healthcare.

    Anthony sums it up best: “The experiences GSBA donors have given me are a strong foundation for whatever I want to do in the future. I know this will include giving back to our communities.”

    In His Own Words
    Being a GSBA scholar allowed me to maximize my opportunities on campus. This included volunteering on consulting projects for local small and minority-owned businesses. I wanted to spread opportunities like this to other students, so I got to work on the Outreach Committee for Out for Undergrad, an organization that connects LGBTQ students to networking opportunities interested in technology, business and engineering. I am also currently a peer ambassador for the Foster School, which lets me share my experiences in and out of the classroom to help prospective students evaluate whether business school is right for them. This includes giving a couple tours, where I like to tell parents that “I walk backwards to help their students move forward in their education.”

  • Scholarship Supporter: Tom Yetman

    | Oct 06, 2015
    TJY Photo 012012Dr. Thomas Yetman delivered babies in Michigan before moving to Seattle in 2006 to work for PacMed. Currently the CEO for Providence Medical Group NW Washington, Tom is passionate about education and supporting LGBTQ students.

    When and why did you start donating to the GSBA Scholarship Fund?
    PacMed was a Gold Sponsor of GSBA, and I was asked to host a table at the 2007 Taste of GSBA. I was struck by the mission of the Scholarship Fund and moved by the scholars’ stories, and began giving immediately. Education has been such a large part of my life and so essential to my career success. I believe that our community will succeed by helping all of our members to achieve their maximum potential. Helping our youth to complete their education is essential to this work.

    Are there any particular scholar stories you found inspirational?
    I am totally entranced by the stories of transgender people who I have met and in the media. As hard as it is to be gay or lesbian, I can only imagine the strength required to face the adversity that so many transgender people confront every day. I have so much admiration for those members of our community who have been able to be true to who they are and come out in this way. We have so much to learn from our transgender brothers and sisters.

    Do you think LGBTQ students face more challenges to success in school/life than their heterosexual counterparts?
    I do think that LGBTQ students face more challenges, because we have to deal with the world’s opinion of who we are and how we love. Being judged by a large portion of society has to affect one’s ability to learn and focus. Some parts of society are so ugly that it feels personal and that has to hurt at times. That is why it is so important to constantly send messages of love and support to our LGBTQ youth. They need to know that their family has their back and will always be there for them.

    What would you say to someone is the most compelling reason to give to the GSBA Scholarship Fund?
    Because the need is so great. And perhaps we have the chance to supporting the next Maya Angelou, the next Albert Einstein, the future Barack Obama when we support the GSBA Scholarship Fund. Who knows the wonderful things that society has been robbed of by not supporting some students in their educational aspirations?  Shame on us if we allow even one person with potential to wither and wilt for lack of education and opportunity.

    Why do you continue to donate?
    Because the need continues to be there. I will do what I can as long as there is even one LGBTQ student who needs to complete their education.

    Your story is one of coming out later in life. You've seen a lot of scholars in their teens and early 20s come out as LGBTQ. What message do you have for them? 
    Be true to yourself. You are supported by a large crowd of LGBTQ family members who love and support you. Never be afraid of owning your truth. There is great power in your truth. Your honesty and integrity will be a beacon to the world that LGBTQ is only one aspect of who you are. Your success in your career and your relationships will be the sign to the rest of the world that we are to be taken seriously and that our contributions are just as important and valued as any other member of society. When our culture sees people as people and not in terms of “gay” or “straight” we will have arrived at the society that we are meant to have. You are making that day closer by your proud and honest lives.

    As a donor and philanthropist, what would you like your legacy to be?
    He gave when the need was there. He supported for his family and community by loving and caring for them. He worked hard to be true to who he was and his life enriched those around him. In every way he endeavored to be honest and embraced his truth with vigor and enthusiasm. He made a difference.

  • CWU and GSBA Partnership Invests in the Education of LGBTQ and Allied Students

    | Oct 05, 2015
    CWUMarch 17, 2015

    ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Central Washington University and the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) have established a new waiver match agreement that invests in the education of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied students.

    Under the new partnership, every GSBA Scholarship Fund recipient who enrolls at CWU will receive a tuition waiver match up to $2,500 from the university. The tuition waiver is renewable each year a student attends CWU and continues to receive scholarship support from GSBA.

    “The partnership between CWU and GSBA is an important step in closing the opportunity gap in higher education for LGBTQ and allied students—a group who are all too often underserved by traditional support systems,” said Louise Chernin, GSBA President and CEO. “GSBA applauds CWU for taking a leadership role in breaking down barriers for LGBT and allied students to be able to attend college.”

    CWU is among the top 50 LGBT-friendly universities in the nation as recognized by Campus Pride, a leading nonprofit that encourages safe campuses for LGBT students. And in 2014 CWU was a recipient of the INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award. The HEED Award recognizes colleges that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. Only 83 institutions were honored nationwide, and CWU is the only four-year university in Washington to receive the award.

    GSBA scholarships support a diverse group of students who have the capacity and vision to be the next generation of leaders and create a better world. Over the past 24 years, the GSBA Scholarship Fund has awarded $1.9 million to more than 300 LGBTQ and allied students from Washington. The fund is poised to award its two millionth dollar and celebrate its 25th anniversary when it presents $350,000 to 44 students at its annual awards dinner in May.

    GSBA scholarship applications are online in October and are due in January. A team of business and nonprofit leaders, former scholars and community members choose the award recipients.
    GSBA is the largest business chamber of its kind in the United States. With more than 1,100 members, it has been advocating for equality in business for nearly 34 years.
  • GSBA Takes NGLCC Conference by Storm!

    | Oct 03, 2015

    GSBA Checkby Rachael Brister, VP of Marketing & Tourism

    From August 11-14, over 800 LGBT and allied entrepreneurs, business owners, corporate representatives and LGBT chamber leaders from across the country and around the globe descended upon Ft. Lauderdale Florida for the NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference.

    Attendees take part in three days of symposia, panel discussions, development seminars and special events designed to generate business opportunities and build strong relationships with corporate champions and one another. 

    I was fortunate enough to be one of those attendees along with GSBA President & CEO Louise Chernin and GSBA Board members Drew Ness and Jenny Harding. GSBA is a founding member of the NGLCC and we have sent representatives to this conference almost every year and even hosted it in Seattle in 2009. 

    We were not the only GSBA representatives at the conference. Some of our small business members are very active with NGLCC including George Pieper of OutSmart Office Solutions and Elise Lindborg of ZippyDogs, both of whom are certified LGBT businesses. Both have been named Supplier of the Year by NGLCC, in 2012 and 2013, respectively. It was great to see them around the conference and watch them in action as they presented in breakout sessions, were matched with corporate procurement officers to discuss potential business or exhibiting in the marketplace.

    IMG_8896 - TomboyX

    Another GSBA member took center stage….literally. TomboyX was a contestant in the LGBT Biz Pitch, a fast-paced competition among three LGBT entrepreneurs selected to give their best 10-minute presentations on their company. They gain valuable feedback from an expert panel of angel investors, venture capitalists, and other business experts. Participants have the potential to continue their dialogue with the judges, and one lucky winner is awarded a $10,000 cash prize as well as a brand positioning package valued at $20,000. Co-Founder and CEO of TomboyX, Fran Dunaway, delivered a fantastic presentation complete with models showing of their top selling product, the boxer brief. Her knowledge, enthusiasm and overall great line of products paid off because TomboyX won the competition! Congratulations to Fran and her team for a great pitch.

    Throughout the conference the breakout sessions are categorized for the different types of attendees. One of these tracts is for LGBT chamber leaders from across the country. Earlier this year, I submitted a proposal, along with the Co-Founders of Travel Gay Canada, to present one of these sessions on Tourism. Our proposal was accepted and along the way we added an additional presenter: the President & Co-Founder of the Argentina Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

    Driving Economic Growth Through Tourism

    Tourism plays an important economic driver for many communities and LGBTBEs. This session will highlight the importance LGBT tourism can have on a community, and how local and international LGBT Chambers of Commerce can work with their members, their tourism industry, and their destination marketing organizations to create value through increased visitation and tourism receipts. From the session, participants will receive concrete takeaways that they can use to grow business for their own Chambers, LGBTBEs, and communities.

    I focused on what GSBA has been able to accomplish in the LGBT Tourism realm, how we promote our members in this industry and the successes and challenges of a Chamber-based Tourism initiative.  I was proud to highlight the diverse and generous support we receive from our Tourism sponsors and I emphasized the importance of creating strong partnerships with sponsors -- that our Tourism sponsors offer so much more than just a signed check.



    And speaking of checks, a major highlight of the week was the $10,000 grant GSBA received from NGLCC and Wells Fargo. GSBA was awarded a grant to increase our efforts around LGBTBE certification. Read more about that here.

    And on a personal note, in addition to thoroughly enjoying my experience presenting at the conference, I was a giggly fangirl for the keynote plenary on the 1st day of the conference. The one and only Suze Orman told her story of being an out lesbian in the world of finance and her rise to become one of the world’s leading authorities on the subject. She also spent time answering questions from the audience, often with no-hold-barred answers. Before she spoke, she took the time to pose for selfies. This fangirl, unfortunately, did not make it to the front of the ballroom fast enough. But it was such a thrill to hear her speak, I can overlook the fact that I did not get to post a #SuzeSelfie.

  • New Board Member: John Sternlicht

    | Oct 03, 2015

    John SternlichtJohn Sternlicht was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) at the August meeting.

    John is the Executive Director of the Economic Development Association of Skagit County (EDASC), a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting and enhancing the economic vitality of Skagit County. He also currently serves on the international Economic Development Council's Board of Directors. He previously served as Economic Development Advisor to King County Executive Dow Constantine, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for the Commonwealth of Virginia and as the first General Counsel and Policy and Legislative Director of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

    John spent his childhood in Rhode Island and North Carolina, and has a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, focusing on Western Europe and Latin America, and studied journalism and communications at the Université de Fribourg before earning a law degree from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He practiced law in North Carolina and Virginia and earned his certification in economic development from the International Economic Development Council in 2001.

    Sternlicht has been married to James Finley, Seattle University’s head volleyball coach, since 2010. Together they have three grown sons.
  • GSBA Scholarship Founders Breakfast

    | Oct 01, 2015
    Founders Toast
    Recently we had the opportunity to gather a few of the visionary early members responsible for establishing the GSBA Scholarship Fund 25 years ago. The creators and benefactors of our Founders’ Scholarship, Bob Dlugosh and Don McKee, opened their lovely home for us on a Saturday morning. We heard stories of the first scholarships and talked about the vision and hopes for the future of the Fund. We heard from Rita Smith, who continues to volunteer as a scholarship interviewer, about the need for the scholarship at a time when it was highly risky for a young person to come out in high school. There were no available LGBT options for assistance in attending college and many of our early scholars faced the challenges of having zero support from family or community. Recognizing that need was the impetus to create the Scholarship Fund.

    We heard how that continues to be a need today and the importance of the Fund in helping fill that need.  Michael Auch shared the significance of the first large bequest to the Fund from the estate of Richard C Rolfs. This was the first major gift of its kind locally and as such it “represented the LGBT community taking pride in itself in a way that had not happened before and therefore opened the door for more giving.”

    Everyone spoke of their pride in having helped create something that they did not imagine could grow to give out its two-millionth dollar and to help support so many future leaders in such a significant way. Perhaps the most wonderful moment came when founder Dave Brown encouraged us all to “think about a time in the future when the Fund is $100 million.” Visionary then, and visionary now!

  • So much Pride

    | Jun 17, 2014
    There are many ways to celebrate pride in the Pacific Northwest. Check out our comprehensive calendar, grab your rainbows and get your Pride on!

    Friday, June 27
    Trans* Pride
    Cal Anderson Park
    1635 11th Ave
    Seattle, WA 98122

    Saturday, June 28
    Capitol Hill Pride
    Broadway (between E. Olive & E. Roy)

    PrideFest Capitol Hill
    Cal Anderson Park

    Sunday, June 29
    Seattle Pride Parade
    4th Avenue, Downtown Seattle

    Seattle PrideFest
    Seattle Center
    305 Harrison St
    Seattle, WA 98109

    Saturday, July 12
    Out in the Park - Tacoma
    Pierce Transit Park
    between 9th & 11th on Broadway (Main entrance is 9th & Broadway)
    901 Broadway
    Tacoma, WA 98402
  • Amtrak - Ride with Pride

    | Jun 17, 2014
    As a proud partner and sponsor of the Greater Seattle Business Association, Amtrak invites you to travel for 15% off an adult full fare and enjoy the journey. Book now through December 16, 2014 and save on travel to Vancouver, BC, Seattle, WA, or Portland, OR.

    Valid for Sale Through December 16, 2014
    Valid for Travel Through March 31, 2015

    This promotion is valid on the following trains:
    Coast Starlight
    Take the train from Seattle to Portland, riding high on a Superliner with views of the Puget Sound and much more. One trip departing daily.
    Empire Builder
    From Seattle to Chicago, this train will take you through the North Dakota plains and into the Big Sky Country in Montana. Glacier National Park is an amazing part of our country's natural beauty and should not be missed.
    Amtrak Cascades
    Take the train from Vancouver, Seattle or Portland and experience the unique Talgo train. With beautiful views and multiple trips daily, the Amtrak Cascades connects passengers from all over the Pacific Northwest.