The GSBA Blog

  • Become GSBA Scholarship Volunteer!

    by Travis Mears, Director of Development & Scholarship Programs
    | Oct 18, 2017

    scholarship interview day 2017It is that time of year again! Students are busily applying for scholarships and we are preparing for interviews. Being a scholarship interviewer is a powerful experience, and we hope that you will be able to join us this year as we award over $350,000 to our future LGBTQ and allied leaders.

    This year, we are expecting to utilize approximately 100 volunteers to support the interview and selection process for some of tomorrow's leaders. We will also need Team Facilitators, who guide the interview teams through the selection-making process. If you are interested in interviewing or facilitating this year, please complete the 2018 GSBA Scholarship Volunteer Information Form and be sure to save the dates below on your calendar.

    The required dates to volunteer as an Interviewer for the 2018 scholarship interview cycle are:

    Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 5:30 PM-7:30 PM
    Facilitator Orientation (Facilitators Only)

    Thursday, February 1, 2018, 5:30 PM-8:00 PM
    Interviewer Orientation

    Saturday, March 3, 2018, 9:00 AM-1:00 PM
    Selection Day

    Saturday, April 7, 2018, 9:00 AM-4:00 PM
    Interview Day

    Although not required, please save the date for The GSBA Scholars Dinner at the Waterfront Marriott on Friday, May 18, 2018 at 5:30 PM.

    Since the application has not yet closed, it is hard to know just how many interviewers we will need. You will receive confirmation regarding your participation during the week of January 15th. Due to a very high volume of interested volunteers, all reviewers, interviewers, and selection team members will be chosen at the discretion of the GSBA Staff.

    Here's to another rewarding scholarship cycle!

  • More than $700K in scholarships for LGBTQ students

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing & Communications
    | Oct 13, 2017

    2017-GSBA-Scholars_600x337_blog-thumbnailThe GSBA Scholarship Fund and Pride Foundation announce that their scholarship application opened, October 11, on National Coming Out Day.

    Both organizations provide scholarships for LGBTQ and ally students of any age from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, or Washington. This support is for students pursuing any kind of post-secondary education -- including community college, public or private colleges and universities, trade schools and apprenticeships, or certificate programs.

    The GSBA Scholarship Fund awards educational scholarships to students who exhibit leadership potential, demonstrate strong academic abilities, and are actively involved in school and community organizations. GSBA Scholars represent a diverse group of students who have dreams of making our community and the world a better place, and each of them possesses the skills, talents, and dedication to make those dreams a reality.

    There are over fifty different types of scholarships, but  only one web-based application for students to complete here.

    Deadline for completion is Friday, January 12, 2018 at 5:00pm PST.

  • Face to Face with Port Commission Candidates

    by Anthony Derrick, Public Policy Task Force member
    | Oct 09, 2017

    F2F PS Hero

    [Part I of the series looking at Seattle City Council candidates can be found here]

    For the second race of the morning, candidates for Port Commissioner John Creighton and Ryan Calkins had a frank conversation with GSBA members about the challenges facing the port. As before, candidates started by laying out their previous support of the LGBTQ community [video]. During Creighton’s previous term as a commissioner, the Port began tracking LGBT business relationships for the first time, and extended employee health plans to cover domestic partnerships. Calkins, on the other hand, spoke about his personal relationships with LGBTQ leaders like Zach Silk and Brady Walkinshaw.

    The first question posed to them was by Elise: As the most important economic engine in our region, what is the biggest challenge facing the port, and what will we do about it [video]? Creighton argued that the biggest issue is the growth of the airport. As a major transportation hub and economic player, an expanding airport is a good sign for the region, but how does it remain a good neighbor to the community while growing within its space? For Calkins, the biggest issue facing the port is the consolidation of major shipping lines and production. Seattle is facing pressure from many other seaports along the west coast, and we need to make sure that the port’s 60,000+ jobs are preserved.

    The next two questions from Steven and Gunnar focused on inclusion at the port, both for POC and LGBTQ people [video]. Addressing what the port is doing now and could do better, Creighton emphasized existing initiatives present in the port like hiring goals, creating pipelines for youth and people of color, and pushing the port to do more business with LGBTQ organizations and small businesses.

    Calkins argued that the port needs a more welcoming public face, including advertising the port as a safe harbor for people who don’t “fit the mold.” As examples, he suggested making the port a sanctuary for immigrants and refugees, and making sure that there are gender-neutral bathrooms at the ports. In order to create a more inclusive environment, he said, it is important to recognize the systemic obstacles POC and LGBTQ people face.

    Gladys Gillis and Roger Nyhus asked about the Port's history with tracking LGBTQ and minority small business contracts and the resulting data collected [video]. Commissioner Creighton said that though the Port of Seattle has been tracking LGBTQ inclusion since about 2013, that the data shows that they can do better. He asserted that the Port is working on outreach, in part with GSBA, to better reach the small business community. He stated that 90% of businesses awarded contracts in the recent round of bids at Sea-Tac went to small businesses and that I-200 would not be a limitation for doing even more work with small minority businesses. Calkins advocated for a more streamlined process to lower barriers to entry for small businesses. He also wants to push for greater transparency at the Port of Seattle.


  • Face to Face with City Council Candidates

    by Anthony Derrick, Public Policy Task Force member
    | Oct 09, 2017
    F2F CC Hero

    [Part II of this series looking at Port of Seattle candidates can be found here]

    This past Friday, several candidates for public office in Seattle came face to face with GSBA members to discuss their positions and policies. Facilitated by Roger Nyhus, panelists Steven Sawyer (POCAAN), Gladys Gillis (Starline Luxury Coaches), Beto Yarce (Ventures), Gunner Scott (Pride Foundation), and Elise Lindborg (ZippyDogs) led the conversation with insightful questions about the candidates’ commitment to equality, opportunity and LGBT rights in Seattle.

    Candidates for Seattle City Council positions 8 and 9 (Lorena González was unable to attend at the last minute) led off the morning with a question that would be asked of all candidates: What have you done to personally advance LGBT equality throughout your life? [Video] John Grant touted his time working on the Decline to sign campaign, and was sure to reinforce the importance of elected officials standing with the trans community. Teresa Mosqueda’s work in building broad coalitions around worker’s rights and healthcare – both of which have a disproportionate impact on LGBTQ people. For her part, Murakami said she has been “personally supportive of gay rights,” and served on the South Seattle Crime Prevention Unit, where she worked on the Danny Vega case and advocated for recognizing it as a bias crime.

    The first question from the panelists came from Steven Sawyer.  Seattle has reached a critical benchmark with the 90-90-90 strategy - that 90% of those living with HIV are diagnosed, 90% of those diagnosed are on antiretrovirals, and 90% of those on antiretrovirals will have viral suppression. While we have achieved that benchmark, the 10% remaining are predominantly men of color, particularly African American men. The CDC estimates that fully half of African American gay men and a quarter of Latino gay men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetimes. Sawyer as what each of the candidates would do as a Councilmember to best address this epidemic. [Video]

    Grant’s answer focused on collaboration – engaging and partnering with KCPH and other organizations that have trusted and tested relationships in this community, and supporting them with the funding and outreach they would need. Mosqueda brought up her background in public health, and her work creating a safety net in the Healthy Seattle Plan. Mosqueda also outlined her intention to work with schools to expand preventative education and broaden in-school health programs. Murakami’s answer focused on the necessary change in dynamic within POC communities – in particular calling out black churches for not accepting gay men in their congregations. In addition to expanding health services, she also argued that changing the culture would be necessary because people who feel shame about their condition are less likely to seek treatment.

    Next, Gladys Gillis asked about dealing with the growing disenfranchisement of business owners in Seattle, who increasingly don’t feel like they have a seat at the table. [Video]

    All three candidates mentioned the need for relieving the burdens on small businesses, including rent stabilization for commercial properties, and encouraging more communication between small businesses and the city. Grant expressed the need to enable small businesses to remain in their neighborhoods and continue serving as cultural anchors. He also suggested a portable benefit system for small business employees that the city would manage. Mosqueda highlighted her existing commitment to small businesses as an advocate for minimum wage and sick leave laws, but made sure to mention that those battles were won through collaboration with small businesses. She proposed giving small businesses additional capital to get through the first few years, and suggested we should review the way the city awards small business licenses. Murakami’s focus was on filling empty commercial spaces by pressuring landlords to lower rents to more sustainable levels. She also encouraged a focus on industrial jobs and outreach into South Seattle business districts.

    Beto Yarce posed a more existential question for the candidates: at what point does a small business become a big business, and therefore a “bad guy?” [Video]

    Grant one again reinforced the importance of small businesses as neighborhood anchors and destinations, but he struggled to answer the question directly. Without giving specifics, Grant nevertheless maintained that there is a tipping point between big and small business, and that if a business is large enough that they put a strain on Seattle’s infrastructure, it may be time to look at charging them higher B&O taxes.

    Seizing on her opponent’s lack of specifics, Mosqueda took the opportunity to call out Grant’s lack of a concrete plan. She emphasized that big and small businesses in Seattle must work together to create a city that works for everyone, and to do so we need to hold larger businesses accountable to paying their fair share.

    The only one to directly answer the question with a number, Murakami said that business with more than 500 employees are considered big business. Even still, she noted that at about 150 employees, there is a shift - but that it doesn’t necessarily make them the bad guy. “It’s more about the flow of money,” she said. Is it staying at the top, or does it go back into the business to pay for employee growth and opportunity?

    The last question from Gunner Scott posed to the city council candidates asked about the formation of paid positions in city hall to specifically address the concerns of LGBTQ people in Seattle. [Video]

    Both Murakami and Mosqueda answered yes unequivocally, while Grant pivoted to housing. He did say he would be a strong proponent of creating an office for LGBTQ affairs, but was more focused on enforcing existing laws and working with offices already in place. While Mosqueda did say that she supports an office of LGBTQ affairs, we need to make sure that we’re working within existing offices to be responsive to the community and make sure LGBTQ people are represented in all parts of government. Murakami brought up a friend of hers who is a senior living with HIV, and insisted that the city’s office of Civil Rights needs to listen to people like him to make sure that they are following through on issues that are impacting these communities.


  • Featured Scholar: Maksym Dedushko

    by Maksym Dedushko, 2016 RHR Foundation Scholar, 2014 Future Ribbons Scholar, 2012 Scholar
    | Sep 28, 2017

    maksym dedushko 300width scholarI WAS BORN AND RAISED IN CHERNIHIV, a northern city in Ukraine. Growing up poor, my parents place the utmost importance on studying hard as they see getting an education as the only way out of the situation in which they are living – getting by without enough money for basic necessities for a family of four. Studying did pay off as I was able to enter (and win) a competition for a U.S.-sponsored cultural exchange program that provides Ukrainian students an opportunity to study in a U.S. high school and to live with an American host family for one academic year. While attending high school in the U.S., I realized that I wanted to continue to pursue my education here. I was also fearful of going back to Ukraine, where mandatory conscription was awaiting me in a country that is hostile to LGBTQ people. With the help of my family, my host family and friends, a pro bono attorney, and organizations like Seattle Education Access and GSBA, I was able to stay and to begin the long immigration process while pursuing my education here.

    Since my arrival in this country, I graduated from Garfield High School, got an Associate of Arts degree from Seattle Central College, and a Bachelors of Science in Molecular Biology and Chemistry with Honors and a Master of Science in Chemistry from the University of Washington.

    Right now I am entering my fourth (out of five) year of the Ph.D. program in Biological and Inorganic Chemistry at U.W.

    I made my second trip to Ukraine on July 5th of this year, a few days after I passed my Ph.D. candidacy examination. I made this trip as a naturalized U.S. citizen and without fear of being conscripted into military. I wanted to see my family and my homeland, especially after the huge changes that Ukraine has undergone from the pro-Western Maidan Revolution of 2014 to the annexation of Crimea and the Russia-backed military conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

    I am still not out to my family back in Ukraine because of society’s intolerant views of LGBTQ people. So when I was back in Ukraine I had to turn my “straight face” back on. I find it regrettable that I cannot share a big part of my life experience in Seattle, like who I date, what kinds of volunteering I do or the community involvement that my close friends and I are engaged in to make life for LGBTQ people in Seattle better and more prosperous. My parents know that GSBA awarded me with scholarships that have allowed me to graduate from a prestigious U.S. school (UW) and are amazed and grateful for the organization that has helped me turn my life around, but they still don’t know that part of the GSBA mission is to empower local LGBTQ youth to be successful leaders. I still sometimes feel torn between two realities of my life in that sense.

    Going back to Ukraine made me more aware of the fortune and privilege I’ve been given by the Seattle LGBTQ community in contrast to gay people in Ukraine that, for the most part, hide their identity and significant others from society, friends, and family. It’s always an overwhelming experience of enormous gratitude and enormous sadness. I do hope that Ukraine will turn a tide towards a more accepting society which will respect and celebrate everyone’s differences and work towards uplifting each other.
    Now that I am back in Seattle, I am focused on finishing my Doctorate in the next two years. I’m already thinking about my long term plans, as I will be trying to make connections to find a full time position as a researcher in Seattle. I want to spend my life in Seattle, which I consider to be my home, and finding a fulfilling career in Seattle is my dream and the next big step.

  • NGLCC Certifies 1,000th LGBTBE

    by Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell
    | Sep 27, 2017

    We've done it! After 15 years of NGLCC advocating for LGBT business owners and guiding the largest companies in the world towards more inclusive supplier diversity, we've hit one of our biggest milestones yet: 1000 certified LGBT Business Enterprises® (LGBTBEs).

    When we started on this journey, we hoped to make a difference in the LGBT business community and to stand up for the often overlooked LGBT business owner. With over 1000 LGBT businesses certified as LGBTBEs, we have incontrovertible proof that we are not the only ones committed to this vision. Our businesses are essential to the economic health of this country - adding over $1.7 trillion dollars to the the U.S. economy and creating tens of thousands of new jobs. We are thriving in every sector and in every corner of the nation because of your commitment, innovation, and pride in our business community.

    NGLCC's success could not have been achieved without the incredible support from our corporate partners, affiliate chambers, friends, allies, and our 1000+ certified LGBTBE owners. For your unyielding support, we thank you.

    Even with this incredible milestone under our belts, our work is far from over. With our recent inclusion in the Billon Dollar Roundtable and the standalone requirement in the HRC Corporate Equality Index to utilize LGBT businesses in corporate supply chain, we know there is exponential growth still ahead for our LGBTBE certification numbers and for the number of contracting opportunities for our businesses to thrive. We encourage each one of you to talk with a friend or colleague about getting certified and helping us move a little closer to our goal of getting 2000 certified LGBTBEs by 2020.

    With excitement for the next fifteen years of LGBT business success,

    Justin Nelson
    NGLCC President and Co-Founder

    Chance Mitchell
    NGLCC CEO and Co-Founder

    Did you know? If you are a GSBA member, your NGLCC LGBT Business Enterprise® (LGBTBE) certification fees are waived! Click here to become LGBTBE certified today.

  • GSBA supports birth certificate gender change rule making

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy & Communications Manager
    | Sep 26, 2017

    Washington State Department of Health,

    The Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) is writing in support of Washington State's Birth Certificate Gender Change Rule Making Regulatory change. GSBA is the largest LGBT and allied chamber of commerce in North America, with over 1,300 business and nonprofit members across Western Washington. Sex designations and gender identity are an issue of freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and should not be limited to “male” and “female” when those designations do not accurately represent 35% of all transgender people according to the 2015 US Transgender Survey.

    People should be allowed to attest to their own gender identity without confirmation from third parties. Many people do not have access to an understanding health care provider or notary public. DOH must ensure that everyone has the same access to accurate identification and the ability to elect a not specified or non-binary gender designation. The unique needs of incarcerated persons and foster youth should be taken into consideration. Self-attestation is the most accurate method of ensuring that the sex designation on a birth certificate matches the individual.

    This regulatory change represents a critical need for many non-binary and intersex people: as of right now, Washington birth certificates do not recognize the existence of people whose gender does not fit the traditional definitions of “male” and “female.” Thank you for recognizing that need and proposing this regulatory change. GSBA strongly supports the adoption of a regulatory change to provide for a gender marker other than “male” or “female.”


    Email your support to
    Re: I SUPPORT Birth Certificate Gender Change Rule Making

    (credit to Gender Justice League for much of this language)


  • Featured Ambassador: Michelle House

    by Michelle House, Featured Ambassador
    | Sep 20, 2017

    michelle house featured ambassador 300widthBefore I joined GSBA, everyone thought I was a straight white dude. Yes, you see I am a transgender woman, they just didn’t know. I had come out publicly only two months prior, and, while my employer was generally accepting, it didn’t go over well with my realtors or with some of my co-workers.

    I had heard of the GSBA, so I decided to check the organization out. I learned more about the OutLeads group and joined right away, which became a huge help in replacing some of the business I had lost. I also found a great group of accepting people who now have become my friends. Within a year, GSBA had voted me in as the President of the Wallingford OutLeads Group, and our leads to members have been growing ever since.

    At the same time that I was serving as OutLeads President, I decided to join the GSBA Ambassadors team. Since I was already going to at least one networking event a month anyway, it just made sense! I love connecting with and being a connector of people. I have a passion for helping others, which includes helping them with business or getting into their dream home—whether it's their first home or just a move.

    I got into the real estate business in 1997 as a realtor in the Phoenix/Scottsdale Area. Being involved with listing and selling homes, investment real estate, investment seminars, setting up REIT’s, and property development gave me an outlet for my creative streak. I even spent some time working as a loan officer before moving back to Washington in 2009.

    In 2010, I returned to mortgage lending as a loan officer because I had a big passion for helping people with one of their biggest financial transactions—their homes! I joined Bank 34 Mortgage Center, because they have been a community bank for almost a century and because they focus on providing clients with excellent, personalized service. I have, to date, been able to help people with home mortgages in 49 out of 50 states, and I have been so impressed that customers have recruited me knowing full well that I am a transwoman. Being a rarity in the financial sector, I tend to push perception everywhere, as I am often the first transwoman that people in the business have met. I work with an excellent team, including Chhoeun Chhean, my loan partner who provides great customer service, and Bethany Borger, our processor who is a star at moving loans forward quickly. With the additional help of our Area Manager, Michael Ronchetti, I feel that I am supported 100%!

    Lastly, a little about me. I am an animal lover. I love to hike, fish, and also spend time at the beach. I love the diversity of our outdoors here in the PNW. If you would like to learn more, please feel free to reach out to me. Let’s get coffee, or, if you see me at an event, say hi... I would love to meet you!

  • Featured Member: The Logical Alternative

    by Melissa and Evelyn Dickinson, Owners
    | Sep 20, 2017

    member feature logical alternative 600x337The Logical Alternative is a small technology consulting company, founded in 1992 and headed by Evelyn Dickinson and her wife Melissa. The company’s philosophy is that professional IT solutions and website design aren’t just for big business. Evelyn is a transwoman, and she and Melissa are involved with several Seattle-area nonprofit trans organizations, including Gender Diversity/Gender Odyssey and the Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violence. They recently designed and implemented the website for the King County Trans Resource & Referral Guide. 

    Evelyn heads the IT practice, which provides comprehensive IT services to non-profits as well as small, medium, and large companies. She gets to know your business and your challenges, documents your needs, sorts out the technical details, and converts them into a detailed list, identifies and recommends the best fit using the most appropriate technologies, then makes it all happen.

    Alongside Evelyn's technical know-how, Melissa provides the conceptual and visual services that help businesses stand out. She comes from a graphic design and creative writing background, but she also knows that mobile compatibility, search engine optimization, and marketing integration are key to a website's success, and can offer support and advice on these technologies, as well as including them in all website development projects. 

    In many cases, the Dickinsons find that their client relationships evolve, and they become a full-service, turn-key, outsourced technology and/or marketing department. Their clients say this provides them the freedom focus on what they're good at. Melissa says, “It’s always an honor to be trusted and empowered to act in our clients' best interests for the long term. And when we say long term, we mean it. We've been operating in this capacity with some of our clients for over 20 years.” 

    The Logical Alternative has particular experience with:

    • Responsive, mobile-compatible CMS Website solutions—especially DotNetNuke/Evoq and WordPress
    • Executive-level IT analysis and outsourced CIO consulting
    • Website integration with CRM and Marketing Automation solutions (such as Infusionsoft, Hubspot, Pardot, Salesforce, etc.)
    • Custom programming in many environments including LAMP, .Net, and Java
    • SEO competitive analysis and consulting, as well as integrated, comprehensive online marketing advice and strategies
    • Professional graphic design services
    • Custom integrated technical solutions to unique challenges

    Evelyn says, “Our philosophy of business is simple: we listen carefully to our clients to determine their exact needs, and then design and develop comprehensive solutions that exceed expectations. We enjoy a good challenge and frequently are called upon to solve problems that others can't.”

    As Evelyn and Melissa have steadily increased their business and personal focus on the LGBT and non-profit communities in Seattle, involvement in the GSBA is an obvious natural development for Logical Alternative. They look forward to connecting with other chamber members and helping to support the GSBA’s advocacy and philanthropy missions for many years to come.


  • GSBA Members Get Schooled in Excel

    by Ilona Lohrey, Director of Membership, Outreach & Engagement
    | Sep 18, 2017

    biz lit series excel microsoft 600x337Last week, our friends at the Bellevue Microsoft Store hosted one of GSBA's Business Literacy Series workshops as part of our ongoing efforts to provide business development tools to our members. The workshop, led by Tammy Eubank, was focused on Microsoft Excel 2016 for small business. Tammy walked us through some of the advanced features and provided helpful tips to help small businesses get the most out of the software.

    Workshop attendees were able to bring their own laptops or borrow a Microsoft Surface to create Excel spreadsheets, learn about graph imports, and to analyze data in many different ways. We were so happy to have such an amazing instructor and were delighted that our members were able to get their questions pertaining to their business needs answered.

    Learn more about the Business Literacy Series.

  • Matthew Polzin: Investing with a Passion

    by Mark Rosén, VP of Development & External Relations
    | Sep 14, 2017

    polzin matt 2017 300px widthWhen you meet Matthew Polzin, you immediately learn that he is passionately involved in investing in his community. He creates and runs successful community fundraising events, supports a variety of nonprofits, and when the cause is one he truly believes in, not only writes a check, but also rolls up his sleeves to help get the job done. As Manager of Amazon's Global Merchant Tax Services Team, Matthew travels frequently, manages a large team, and is constantly on the go. Yet, somehow, he manages to be involved in a number of causes and to spend a lot of time with his younger brothers and sister, mentoring and exposing them to the richness of our region’s culture.

    When Matthew attended his first GSBA Scholars Dinner in 2016, his passion was once again ignited to support our future LGBTQ leaders. He’s become a true ambassador for the GSBA Scholarship Fund and is on a mission to bring more friends to events so that they too can join in support. Matthew is especially motivated to bring in as many allied supporters as possible, because he realizes that the Scholarship Fund mission is important to everyone. He’s planning on hosting multiple tables with new allies at the next GSBA Scholarship Dinner and has recently joined the Emerald Jewel club which honors our most generous donors. When Matthew attended the annual Jewels of GSBA Luncheon in June, he heard from another donor how they planned on leaving a legacy gift in their will for the Scholarship Fund. He emailed the next day, and told us that he was adding the Scholarship Fund to his estate plan. Make no doubt about it, this man is on fire and the GSBA Scholarship Fund has a wonderful new champion.

    Thank you, Matthew!

  • Featured Scholar: Anne Bryson-Doyle

    by Travis Mears, Director of Development & Scholarship Programs
    | Sep 14, 2017

    This month we are proud to highlight one of our amazing 2017 GSBA Scholars, Anne Bryson-Doyle! In addition to being a third-year returning GSBA Scholar, she is also the recipient of GSBA's Joan Huber Scholarship.

    Anne is currently majoring in Interdisciplinary Visual Arts with a focus on exploring gender expressions at the University of Washington. As the mother of eight children, she is an advocate for meeting the needs of and providing stability for children in crisis, winning the Stella Mae Carmichael Award in 2008 and joining the board of directors for Amara in 2011. Anne’s goal is to complete her master's degree in social work and strive to change the foster care system to achieve permanence for every child.

    anne bryson doyle video 300widthClick the image (left) to view a video of Anne sharing with us her incredible story at this year's Jewels Luncheon! We are so honored to have Anne as one of our GSBA Scholars and wish her all of the best in her studies and future endeavors.

    GSBA supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and allied students who have the vision and the ability to truly make a difference in the world. With a GSBA scholarship, students are able to focus more wholly on their academic pursuits. With the financial burden lightened, they are able to work one less job, avoid going into student loan debt, and involve themselves in community activities. This is a community effort. We are giving these students the gift of education, and they are giving us a future full of hope and equality. We encourage you to join us in supporting tomorrow’s leaders today!

  • GSBA Stands with Dreamers

    by Louise Chernin, President & CEO
    | Sep 06, 2017

    Dear GSBA Members & Friends

    One irrational, thoughtless assault against our common humanity after another. Throughout the last few months we have watched our country unravel the principles and values that we strive to live by. I understand that we have deceived ourselves, since those values were never truly enjoyed by all, but we held on to hope as civil rights movement after civil rights movement fought to ensure equality under the law for all. Yesterday, hearing that over 800,000 people in the U.S. who are workers, students, neighbors, friends and family, could be deported and forced to leave the country that they have known as home for most of their lives, has left us all feeling sick and ashamed. How does a country built on immigrant labor, a country whose only "true Americans" are our those of us who are Native American, suddenly talk about rescinding the right to live, work and go to school in the home where they were raised? And, yet, the Trump administration's overturning of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, will do just that.
    For those of us in GSBA, we know that many of our members will be directly affected by this. As a Jew, I have to say, the thought of forcing people to leave their homes, gives me chills. Whether as small business owners, employees or students, many of our members are from families who migrated to the United States to flee persecution or to find a better life for their families. For the LGBT community, Washington State stands out as a safe haven for those in countries where the laws do not recognize their right to exist. Even before this announcement, GSBA was speaking out, contacting our Congressional delegation and joining with other elected officials and business leaders, condemning any overturn of DACA.  

    But, for us, our greatest concern is our scholars, who as you know, think of GSBA as family. Over the last two days we have reached out to our Scholars offering them support and resources. As Travis Mears, our Director of Development and Scholarship Programs, stated to our scholars: 

    "We understand that you now may have new questions and grave concerns about whether this decision jeopardizes your safety, funding and, more seriously, you or your family's immigration status. Unfortunately, we don't have the answers but we do know we will do all we can to have your back. Your GSBA funding is secure and we are more committed than ever before to continue our work for equality and inclusion, including the rights of our immigrant or undocumented students. We encourage each of you to take time to care for yourselves and your families during this difficult time." 
    There is no doubt that we are all better off because of the contributions that our scholars and our business members give to our community. Fortunately in Washington State we have a governor, attorney general, county executive, mayors and other elected officials who have the courage of their convictions and have vowed to fight this ruling with every tool at their disposal. Yes, elections do matter! We are also proud to have corporate members, such as Microsoft, Starbucks, and Amazon who defend to any of their employees threatened with deportation under the repeal of DACA. We know many of our other corporate partners are also ready to stand their ground to support their employees. The economy of Washington is very dependent on the talent and labor of our DACA workforce and would be devastated by suddenly losing those employees. We all benefit from the richness of a multicultural student body and workforce, and the loss of over 18,000 talented and engaged residents will profoundly affect us all. But, of course, the greatest cost will be the human one, if we are forced to tear families and friends apart. This simply cannot happen. Once again, we call on our GSBA family to do what we do best: speak up, reach out, contact your Congressperson and ask that they make the passage of a permanent DACA law a top priority.
    For those that will be directly affected by DACA, below are some resources that are prepared to provide you help and support.

    In solidarity,

    Louise Chernin, President & CEO

    NORTHWEST IMMIGRATION RIGHTS PROJECT. Offering statewide community forums, resources, and information. [Learn more

    UNITED WE DREAM. The largest immigrant youth-led organization in the country. [Learn more

    WASHINGTON DREAM COALITION. Local immigrant youth-led organization in Washington. [Learn more

    ONEAMERICA. Advances the fundamental principles of democracy and justice at the local, state and national levels by building power within immigrant communities in collaboration with key allies. [Learn more

    ENTRE HERMANOS. 27 years of serving the Latino LGBTQ community. [Learn more

    SOMOS SEATTLE. Sociopolitical organization for LGBTQ Latinx folks. [Learn more

    SEATTLE COUNSELING SERVICE. Promoting accessible health and wellness for the LGBTQ community since 1969. [Learn more]

  • September is "National Preparedness Month"

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing & Communications, GSBA
    | Sep 04, 2017

    National Preparedness MonthPreparing your business for a disaster is much more than mapping out a fire escape route. There are many considerations to meet the unique challenges of natural disasters, epidemics, and acts of violence. The US Small Business Administration can walk you through the steps of planning, implementing, and improving your disaster preparedness plan so that you can keep your focus on the day-to-day needs of your business. Learn more here.

  • EQUALUX: Meet our Auctioneer and Emcee

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing & Communications
    | Sep 02, 2017

    EQUALUX_MichalekFundraising Auctioneer Laura Michalek still relies on the endurance and discipline she possessed when at the age of 15, she was the first female winner of the Chicago Marathon. While Ms. Michalek has hardly missed a day of running since then, it’s this intention to excel at what she loves that is most evident.

    “To me Auctioneering is about giving a lot of yourself, before and during the event, in a way that most folks wouldn’t expect.” Her style, fundraising insight, and commitment to her clients, and their mission, not only sets her apart, but has created a career beyond Ms. Michalek’s wildest dreams. “I’ve always been deeply interested in how non-profits I care about are going to sustain themselves, so it is nothing less than a thrill to know I can personally and professionally be part of that.”

    As the youngest winner in the history of the Chicago Marathon, it has not been lost on Ms. Michalek that this experience informed her whole life. “When I start Auctioneering, it’s like being in the starting block all over again, and I still set out to win, however this time it’s for the organization I’m representing.”

    To hear what folks are saying about Ms. Michalek, visit her website, send an email, or give her a call at (206) 464-0850.

    John FisherJohn Fisher has been on the radio airwaves of Seattle since 1992, when he moved to the Northwest to begin a 20-year run on the legendary, late great eclectic music station 103.7 The Mountain. During that time he interviewed scores of musicians, from David Bowie to Paul Simon to Sting. These days you can hear him regularly on Warm 106.9, and he’s a voice actor on commercials and corporate multimedia productions. This year he got serious about abstract painting, so if you have a blank space on one of your walls, let him know – he can fix that. John lives in West Seattle with his wife Melinda, their six-year-old son (that’s right, John was a little late to the parenthood game!) and their two dogs Hazel and Gizmo.

    Learn more about EQUALUX: The TASTE of GSBA

  • Letter in Support of Our Dreamers

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy & Communications Manager, GSBA
    | Sep 01, 2017

    GSBA has signed the following letter along with hundreds of civic leaders across the country. GSBA counts many Dreamers and undocumented people among our members, scholars, colleagues, and families.


    We, the undersigned governors, statewide constitutional officers, mayors, state legislators, local elected officials, law enforcement professionals, and faith and civic leaders are united in declaring that we are with Dreamers and DACA recipients. We recognize their enormous role in our communities and families and their contributions to our schools, workplaces, and shared prosperity as a nation.

    Since June 2012, nearly 800,000 of these young people who came to the United States as children have come forward, passed background checks, and received permission to live and work in America. With DACA, they have advanced their education, started small businesses, and more fully established themselves as integral members of our society.

    Ending DACA means all of these young people would be at risk of deportation and separation from their families and our communities; this would be senselessly cruel.

    Ending DACA and removing hundreds of thousands of young men and women from our workforce also would cost the country an estimated $460.3 billion in lost Gross Domestic Product over a decade and tens of billions more in lost contributions to Medicare and Social Security, and force businesses to incur $3.4 billion in turnover costs.

    In late June, attorneys general from ten states threatened to sue the Trump Administration if it does not end DACA; twice that number wrote to encourage the administration to maintain and defend the initiative. We urge President Trump to sustain his commitment and preserve DACA. We also encourage President Trump and Republicans and Democrats in Congress to enact legislation that replaces fear and uncertainty with permanent protection for Dreamers. The recently introduced stand-alone Dream Act of 2017 would do that and we support it.

    As the leaders of communities across the country—individuals and institutions that have seen these young people grow up in our communities—we recognize how they have enriched and strengthened our cities, states, schools, businesses, congregations, and families. We believe it is a moral imperative that the administration and the country know we are with them. We also join together to send our assurances to Dreamers: we see you, we value you, and we are ready to defend you.

    You can read more here.

  • EQUALUX: Take a Tour of the Wine District!

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

    Our Wine District features some of the finest Washington State wineries including:

    Adrice Wines
    Patience and passion, fruits sourced from Washington and California, paired with wine-making duo Pam and Julie … the perfect blend at the heart of Adrice Wines... more

    Aluel Cellars

    After years of helping others in the wine industry, as well as tasting (and spitting) lots of wine, Alex and Samuel decided that it was time to turn their expertise and passion into something more.  As a result, Aluel Cellars was born with a passion to bring amazing Washington wines to their own neighborhood of Capitol Hill... more

    Barrage Cellars
    Barrage receives fruit from some of the finest vineyards and regions of Washington combined with some of the finest barrels from France. The winemaker is not against blending grapes of different varietals but prefers to showcase the elegance and nuances of single varietals from Washington State... more

    Bartholomew Winery
    "Wine lifestyle has very deep meanings. Not only is it my profession, but it is also my social life, my education, a sense of place, and a way to connect with my community."... more

    Browne Family Vineyards
    Browne Family is a winery within a winery. Its state-of-the-art production facilities in Walla Walla assure hands-on tending every step of the way. From hand-sorting, two ton open-top fermenters to small lot basket press, they take a careful commitment for uncompromised quality, ensuring cellar-worthy vintages that stand the test of time... more

    Caprio Cellars
    "A love for wine has been in my family long before I was born. My ancestors viewed wine simply; as an essential part of daily life. Now, with Caprio Cellars, I hope to honor the century old tradition my family has had with quality wine."... more

    Damsel Cellars
    Mari Womack began her love affair with wine while working in Seattle restaurants. She caught the wine bug early when food and wine pairings captured her heart and her imagination... more

    Elsom Cellars
    "It is commonly held in the wine industry that wine makers are by nature, a little eccentric. And truly, who would argue with that? Wine making is tough stuff; it requires patience, intuition, diligence, trust and most of all passion. You don’t start a career, have children and then decide that what you’d really like to do with all of the spare time on your hands is to start a winery."... more

    Fidelitas Wines
    "Team Fidelitas is all in. We're a group of roll-up our sleeves, help each other out, do-it-all individuals. We pour wine, throw parties, pack boxes, track packages, schlepp cases from here to there and back, make hotel reservations, make dinner reservations, make tasting appointments, mop floors, polish glasses, go to events, host events, and much, much more. Above all else, we work hard to provide relentless customer service to every Fidelitas Fan out there." ... more

    Gorman Winery
    Chris Gorman descended into the wine business after graduating from university in 1991. Apparently too affected to climb out, he made the best of it. Cutting his teeth on world class Barolo and Barbaresco, he spent 3 years working for a small Italian importer and never looked back... more

    Goose Ridge Vineyards & Estate
    “Working with a small percentage of select rows from diverse blocks, our wines are blended to showcase the character and quality of the site.”... more

    Gruet Winery specializes in Methode Champenoise sparkling wines. Family driven, the New Mexico-based winery produces Pinot Noir and Chardonnay-based sparkling wines and a small collection of still wines, with roots originating from Gilbert Gruet’s Champagne house in Bethon, France... more

    Guardian Cellars
    Guardian Cellars is focused on making stellar wines from Washington's finest vineyards and so much more. A boutique winery and tasting room, a husband-and wife-team, a cop and a reporter... more

    Kerloo Cellars
    "Kerloo was our calling to leave behind ordinary lives, our calling to explore life’s journey with family and friends, our calling to pursue our passion for winemaking in Washington State. With each passing year, our passion for winemaking continues to evolve, a continual pursuit to push winemaking and our lives to new levels." ... more

    Laurelhurst Cellars
    "From the start our vision was to create wines that would stand alone, showcasing their personality as a result of unique soil, climate and vineyard management. With a commitment to quality, we are producing wines from some of the most prized vineyards in Washington State." ... more

    Mark Ryan Winery
    Founded in 1999, Mark Ryan Winery has grown in size, earned acclaim from wine-lovers and critics alike, and garnered respect from the state's elite producers. The goal, however, remains the same. Make delicious wines that represent the vineyard from which they come, making every vintage better than the last… more

    Nota Bene Cellars
    In four decades of winemaking, Master vintner Tim Narby has perfected the practice of blending the under appreciated and sophisticated Washington grape varieties... more

    Rotie Cellars
    "The whole point of Rotie Cellars is to make traditional Rhone Blends with Washington State fruit. So what do traditional Rhone blends mean to me? To start with, they mean lower alcohol, less ripe, less oak, balanced, finesse driven, mouth coating wines." ... more

    Structure Cellars
    "Brian was actually a vodka guy when when we met. He had no idea what magic I was sharing with him on his birthday 2003, when I opened my coveted bottle of 1997 DeLille D2." ... more

    Tranche Cellars
    "We cultivate a diverse collection of some of the world’s most interesting grape varietals, with more being planted as we learn and explore. We practice only sustainable viticulture, hand-farming each block, in order to harvest very low yields of intensely-flavored fruit." ... more

    Va Piano Vineyards
    A fourth generation Walla Wallan, Justin Wylie became fascinated with the blossoming wine industry literally sprouting up in his backyard, inspired, he started making wine in his garage, learning from local winemakers, growers and afficianados. Before long, Justin found his palate and his hobby turned into a passion: with the encouragement from friends and family, Justin began his first commercial crush in the fall of 2003, and Va Piano was born... more

    Learn more about EQUALUX: The TASTE of GSBA.

  • Seattle's Paid Sick Leave and Safe Time Ordinance Turns Five

    by Seattle Office of Labor Standards
    | Sep 01, 2017

    Over Labor Day weekend, the City of Seattle commemorated and reflected upon the contributions of labor and workers across this country, from the past to the present day. "It is also an opportunity to for us celebrate Seattle’s leadership on wage, labor and workforce practices that promote equity, health, and prosperity for workers." 

    The weekend marked the 5-year anniversary of Seattle’s first labor standard, Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST). As of September 1st, 2012, tens of thousands of Seattleites working in local businesses began earning paid leave under PSST. Five years later, the ordinance has played a pivotal role in the lives of employees and their families.

    PSST requires employers to provide paid sick and safe time for employees. It can be used for an employee's absence from work due to illness, medical appointments, or critical safety issue, including domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

    The ordinance applies to all employers with more than four full-time equivalent employees. All employees are eligible for the new benefit, including full time, part-time and temporary workers.
    Employees can use their accrued PSST as paid time off:

    • To deal with their own illness, injury or health condition.
    • To take care of a family member who has an illness, injury or medical appointment.
    • When their place of business has been closed by order of a public official for health reasons.
    • For reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
    For more information, you can visit our PSST webpage or call 206-256-5297.

    Reminder: Office of Labor Standards invites public comments on revisions to rules allowing subminimum wages for people with disabilities

    The Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) is proposing a revision to an administrative rule for the Minimum Wage Ordinance (SHRR Chapter 90). The revision will prevent employers from paying any worker with a disability less than Seattle’s minimum wage, a practice that is currently allowed under an ordinance provision that mirrors state law.

    The Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities voted unanimously at its June meeting to end exemptions that permit employers to pay subminimum wages for workers with a disability, and the Mayor, City Council, and OLS supported this change.
    Members of the public have until September 6, 2017 at 5:00pm PST to comment on the proposed rule. The full text of the rule is available at:

    Please send comments by email to or by regular mail to:
            Seattle Office of Labor Standards
            810 Third Ave., Suite 375
            Seattle, WA  98104-1627
            Attn:  Karina Bull, OLS Policy Manager

    You can also comment by calling 206-256-5297.

  • Our Community Responds to Hurricane Harvey

    by Louise Chernin, President & CEO
    | Aug 29, 2017

    Dear GSBA Members & Friends,

    Frightening images, feelings of powerlessness and a host of emotions are raised when we look at the photos of thousands and thousands of people who have lost everything, including the possibility of losing their lives.

    We are not in Texas, but every one of our communities could easily become the next target of a natural disaster. Some of us have the skill and resources to go in person to provide disaster relief; but, for most of us who simply want to reach out and do something, we can send our thoughts and fervent wishes for the rain to stop and the floods to recede and we can go online and make as generous a donation as possible.

    Below is a list of some nonprofits that are collecting urgently needed donations. Thank you for taking a moment to reach out to our Texas community and donate what you are able.

    In solidarity with our Texas community,
    Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO

    HURRICANE HARVEY RELIEF FUND. Officially established by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Greater Houston Community Foundation, this fund is committed to delivering flood relief to victims both immediately and in the long term. [Donate Now]

    MONTROSE LGBTQ CENTER. Help LGBTQ individuals and families in Houston. The Center is dedicated to increasing their resources and outreach after this disaster. [Donate Now]

    THE TRANSADVOCATE. The Transgender Foundation of America created this disaster relief fund because trans, intersex, and genderqueer individuals have historically experienced significant difficulties in natural disaster situations. The fund will be used to help our underserved community recover from this catastrophic event. [Donate Now]

    TEXAS PRIDE IMPACT FUNDS. In response to the historic impact of Hurricane Harvey to the LGBTQ community of Houston, a Texas Pride Impact Funds matching grant program has been established. [Donate Now]

    HOUSTON FOOD BANK. Help get meals to those in need across the Houston area. They are working tirelessly to serve displaced families but demand continues to surpass supply during this urgent time. [Donate Now]

  • Leadership Weekend: Realising the Vision of the GSBA Scholarship Fund

    scholars leadership weekend 2017 600x275In 2016, the Scholarship Fund officially launched the GSBA Guarantee, not only committing financial support to its scholars for four years of undergraduate education, but also to their growth as future leaders—truly realizing the mission of the Fund. Working toward this goal, leaders from small businesses, corporations, and institutions of higher education were convened over six months to develop a leadership immersion curriculum that would take our students’ professional development to the next level. 

    On August 11th, 2017, forty of our forty-five GSBA Scholars boarded a ferry to Bainbridge Island to participate in our first-ever Leadership Immersion Weekend, where we proudly unveiled the new leadership curriculum.  Scholars participated in sessions ranging from “Owning Your Leadership Footprint” and “Navigating Diversity and Inclusion” to “Leading”, with the three-day program concluding with an interactive session on “Cultivating Resilience” with Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu. The students left IslandWood with a renewed sense of energy and excitement for the academic year ahead along with a new identity as part of the 2017 GSBA Scholar Cohort. 

    Students shared with us many of the lessons they learned from the program, including how they felt valued, that that they no longer felt alone in the insecurities they struggle with, and that they feel emboldened to persevere knowing that they have the love and support of others. Some their favorite moments included: 

    “Being able to be open and honest with other students like myself, listening to the stories of others, and connecting on a deeper level.” 

    “Sharing our stories and supporting each other. I shared the story of the importance of artifacts of resistance and supported a scholar through a very rough time. They now have a very powerful sacred artifact of resistance to lean on and depend on during times of struggle.” 

    Most importantly, the weekend provided GSBA Scholars with the opportunity to meet others from various backgrounds who have had diverse experiences. Sharing and hearing about each other’s lives was fascinating, exciting, and, at times, difficult and even painful— especially concerning stories of hardship, discrimination, and awareness of privilege. We are so proud to have been able to provide our scholars with this wonderful opportunity for growth and greatly look forward to continuing the Leadership Academy program for many years to come!