The GSBA Blog


  • The Guide to GSBA

    by Ilona Lohrey, Interim President & CEO
    | Aug 04, 2022
     
    GuideCover2022GSBA is proud of its 41 years of service to the LGBTQ+ business community. As the interim President & CEO, I am committed to leading this organization that works tirelessly towards achieving economic and educational equity.

    In this year's Guide to GSBA you will find stories of some of our incredible members across Washington State, as well as the myriad ways GSBA helps support our community, grow small businesses, and fight for LGBTQ+ rights. There is a small print run of this publication that you may have seen over the last few months, but it is primarily a digital document, unlike the iconic GSBA Guide & Directory that you are familiar with from the last 40 years. We have included a listing of our members at the time of publication at the back of this Guide, and you can always find up-to-date listings at theGSBA.org.

    We hope that you will take a few moments to learn more about our members featured here, as well as the ways that GSBA can help to grow your business, improve your workplace, and connect you with the LGBTQ+ community. We have more programs directly supporting our workplaces than ever before, from our LGBTQ+ inclusion trainings to the new Business Academy to free one-on-one business consulting. We bring policymakers from every level - city, county, regional, state, and federal – directly to our members to understand your perspectives and needs. The GSBA Scholarship & Education Fund is stronger than ever, and we are establishing new ways to support the whole student in their educational path. Travel Out Seattle is spreading the word of our state’s magnificent attractions as tourism starts up again after a difficult few years. And while our membership is statewide, our special commitment to our home neighborhood of is deepening every day through the Capitol Hill Business Alliance.

    As we begin this period of recovery from the pandemic, we ask you to make a commitment to actively patronize GSBA members and cultivate our local LGBTQ+ economy and community.


  • Issaquah Welcomes GSBA

    by Joey Chapman, Director of Membership & Programs
    | Jul 28, 2022
     

    GSBA gathered with new and enthusiastic partners in Issaquah to connect the city with our statewide work. We were joined by Mayor Mary Lou Pauly, President of Issaquah Highlands Council and Arts Commissioner Kimberly Kapustein, economic and equity staff from the City of Issaquah, the Greater Issaquah Chamber of Commerce, Visit Issaquah, Village Theatre, Olympic Hot Tub, and Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria. Tutta Bella were the perfect hosts for these conversation.

    According to GSBA Member Christy Garrard, Director of Business Development for Visit Issaquah, "This continued journey will help to ensure Issaquah is an inclusive destination and place to do business for the LGBTQ+ community. Convening leadership from government, business, and the arts builds equity-centered relationships."

    IssaquahGSBA Interim President & CEO Ilona Lohrey adds "This gathering shows community in action to create a more inclusive environment and equity through business. We have the perfect opportunity to take cohesive action to a better future for business and community for all."

    In collaboration with our Visit Issaquah and local chambers and leaders, GSBA looks forward to holding a day of LGBTQ+ Workplace Inclusion Training and Networking in October of 2022 (date TBD) in Issaquah. We found great success during the spring in Kitsap County, welcoming the community together to engage in this type of greater learning. We know that our time in Issaquah will be well spent!

  • Scholar Spotlight: Maksym Dedushko

    by Maksym Deduschko, Past GSBA Scholar
    | Jul 19, 2022
     
    My name is Maksym Dedushko, and I am a past GSBA Scholar. I was born and raised in Chernihiv, Ukraine where my family has lived for generations. At the age of sixteen, I came to the U.S. to study as an exchange student. With the help of GSBA's scholarships and network, I successfully finished a B.S. degree in Chemistry and Molecular Biology and a Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Washington in Seattle.
     
    From the end of February to April, my hometown Chernihiv was under siege for more than five weeks. Being a regional center and located an hour away our capital, the Russian army attempted to occupy Chernihiv and to open a direct route to Kyiv. However, since the Ukrainian armed forces were able to halt Russian advances on every occasion and never let them in, the Russian forces resorted to bombing the city into the ground.
     
    MD - hotelMy hometown has suffered an unimaginable destruction from aerial bombardment and long-range missile strikes from Belarus. During the first two weeks of invasion, countless residential and private buildings - our historic cinema, a new mall, most police stations, gas stations, oil depots, the city’s football field, a central hotel, two marketplaces, schools, general hospitals and an oncology hospital, and my kindergarten - have been hit and destroyed by rocket attacks and plane bombs. The fourth floor of my sister’s apartment building was hit by four rockets in late March (shown in local video news here), blasting her front door inside her apartment and shattering all the windows. Rocket strike resulted in the entire upper floor burning and damaging the roof. Although the building is now officially condemned, my sister and her boyfriend, along with other residents, still live there. My sister mother-in-law’s house was hit by multiple rockets, with only a single wall now standing. My aunt’s apartment building was hit by a missile rocket as well.
     
    MD - FatherWeeks before the war and during the invasion, I have pleaded with my family to leave and offered assistance for them move to Western Ukraine, but everyone has refused. My parents told me that Chernihiv is their home, and they will fight for it. My dad joined a volunteer territorial defense battalion on the fourth day of invasion. My mom volunteered by donating blood, buying food, and helping prepare Molotov cocktails with our neighbors. My cousin’s husband and his dad also joined another volunteer battalion. On March 4th, he died under the rubble of a collapsed high school that was bombed by a Russian plane. My cousin is now a widow with two small children. Over the next two days, Ukrainian forces were able to shoot down all the Russian planes that were raiding Chernihiv. One of the planes fell into a house where grandparents of my sister’s boyfriend lived. While his grandmother made it out of the house, his grandfather burned alive in his house.  
     
    For the last two weeks of March, the Russian army has been focusing on blockading and suffocating the remaining population. About 130,000 people were left in the city out of the total of 285,000. During that time, no one in the city had electricity, water, heat, gas, internet, or cellphone connection. My family members would later tell me that they have spent most of the time hiding in the cellars, venturing into city on foot to find bread and water whenever it was possible. My mom and our neighbors cooked food on campfire in front of our home. My mom tells me that in one way, cooking together with neighbors while watching out for any sound of shelling has made them become closer to one another. 
     
    MD - SIL houseNevertheless, The Russian army has failed to take any major cities in the north of Ukraine and has left the Chernihiv, Kyiv, and Sumy regions at the beginning of April. I have never felt so much relief after more than a month of constant terror and fear for the lives of my family. Since then, my dad’s volunteer battalion has been absorbed into the regular Ukraine armed forces. He is now stationed somewhere by the Belarusian border where they dig trenches, fortify roads, and train daily. He has also received higher grade defensive gear and weapons supplied by the U.S. On top of that, my dad says they are regularly being visited by the Ukrainian armed forces who were trained by the US and NATO forces. They conduct NATO and the U.S. level training and drills such as urban warfare and urban tactical troop movement. In their free time they play soccer games to unwind and not dwell over the war constantly. Russia continues to shell our villages by its borders and launch rockets deep into our region. 
     
    Since early May, I have started a GoFundMe page to raise funds to support my family members as they try to rebuild their lives with the war still raging in the east and south. Now that the siege of Chernihiv is over, almost everyone in my family finds themselves without jobs or money to survive in a city that has been 70% damaged or destroyed. Moreover, this fund has already helped my cousin, her parents, and parents-in-law to retrieve the body of her cousin from a mass grave, where he was buried after the plane bombing, and give him a proper burial. Please feel free to share it with friends and family who might be able to help as well. I have been providing updates there as well, including the pictures of people who are receiving support and the kind of food this fund has allowed my parents to buy.
    Thank you for allowing me to share my family's story.

  • EQUALUX is right around the corner

    by Jeff Boyer, Sr. Development Officer
    | Jul 05, 2022
     
    Sitting here writing this right now, I absolutely cannot believe it’s already July—can you? That means EQUALUX is right around the corner, and we are beginning to plan. Can you help us out?
     
    If you’ve got a second home, timeshare, item from your business to promote, or any great idea—we want to talk! Here is the link to donate an item to the event.

    Last year we had an Olympic Hot Tub, Alaska Airlines tickets, international and domestic trips, fine wine, a Salvador Dali lithograph, a Holland America cruise, a trip on a 70’ racing sailboat, paella for eight at Terra Plata, an original Steve Jensen piece, Russell Wilson signed jersey, glasses from Cooper’s Optique, a Precision Garage Door opener, massage sessions, gift cards, and so much more!
     
    If you’d like to be a part of our planning committee this year, please shoot me an email at JeffB@theGSBA.org!
     
    Also please save the date for this year’s shindig, November 19, 2022 at the Westin Seattle. Details will soon follow, but we want you to have the date blocked off now! 

  • Rep. Adam Smith Visits GSBA Members

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | May 23, 2022
      
    Olympic Hot Tub Rep SmithEarlier this month, Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) visited GSBA member Olympic Hot Tub at their Auburn showroom. Rep. Smith shared his perspectives on the federal infrastructure bill, including focuses on needed apprenticeships, workforce investments, and supply chain challenges. He urged a path to citizenship for immigrants to fill needed jobs across the country.

    Participants shared how supply chain issues have been exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including resources like neon and aluminum, and how they have also been able to support local Ukrainian communities in Washington State. The Congressman also spoke to how the war will also impact food supplies in many regions of the world, potentially causing additional instability. 

    With income inequality across King County, Rep. Smith pointed out the significant need to grow the economy along with the job skills that go with it. This includes a pressing urgency to build more housing everywhere for all income levels, and for the infrastructure to tackle the crises of homelessness and public safety.

    Constituents in the 9th district can contact Rep. Smith's office via his website.

    A big thanks to the Olympic Hot Tub for hosting the meeting, and for proving a delicious lunch from Marination for everyone to enjoy!

  • Inaugural CHBA Hill Talk with Councilmember Mosqueda

    by Ahi Martin-McSweeney, CHBA Program Manager
    | Apr 28, 2022
     

    CHBA Mosqueda

    CHBA (the Capitol Hill Business Alliance, a program of GSBA) held our very first in-person Hill Talk event last Thursday! A big thank you to Steve Jensen Gallery for hosting us in their beautiful space. Hill Talk is a quarterly event that focuses on bringing civic engagement opportunities directly to Capitol Hill; connecting those who do business to decision makers and resources. We aim to empower our community to advocate for their top priorities and strengthen the collective voice of Capitol Hill.

    For our inaugural event, we welcomed Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda to speak to her priorities and answer some questions posed by CHBA members. As one of Seattle’s two at-large representatives, Councilmember Mosqueda has always showed an interest in Capitol Hill as one of the densest (and liveliest, if we do say so ourselves) parts of our city. She opened the evening by talking about her family’s small business – Tasty Tacos in Des Moines, Iowa - and how she experienced first–hand how entrepreneurship can lift a family’s economic situation and work with the community around them.  

    Around encampment sweeps and the Seattle's approach to the housing crisis, Councilmember Mosqueda reiterated that we need to get people inside, but that offers of shelter are hollow when there is only 1 bed for every 4 people who need it. She suggests that signs for encampment clearings not be put up until the City is sure that it has beds available for each and every person in the camp, and to make sure that the proper outreach happens prior to a clearing. She mentioned that there was funding for RV safe lots in last year’s budget, however they were never implemented. There has been some success with funding from both the Jump Start tax as well as federal ARPA dollars that has already acquired over 400 housing units so far with acquisition of former hotels and apartment blocks. Above all, she said, what the city needs is “housing, housing, housing!” 

    When asked to expound on the Jump Start program which she created, Councilmember Mosqueda shared her vision of how this revenue stream is intended to support small business. GSBA helped negotiate the small business supports within Jump Start, which dedicates 15% of its revenues specifically to economic resiliency. The Councilmember hopes to see this funding support activation of storefronts, support for cultural events, the arts, food vendors, and more. It can also be put towards immediate relief projects, like addressing vandalism.  

    Perhaps the biggest topic in neighborhoods across the country right now is public safety. As we hear from our CHBA members, there is a particularly nuanced way of approaching public safety concerns in Capitol Hill, recognizing both the need for safety as well as understanding that there are other ways beyond traditional policing that would be more effective. The Councilmember shared her ideas for complimenting a traditional safety model with new approaches, including moving certain work (such as addressing mental health crises) away from uniformed police to workers who are better trained to handle those circumstances. She mentioned investments in programs such as Choose 180 and Community Passageways, as well as funding restorative justice options, LEAD, and mobile service options for mental health treatment and for victims of domestic violence. She acknowledged that a lot of funding for some options is not yet deployed, and that the City needs to keep working to ensure that money is getting directly to the community faster. 

    Streetscapes have long been an area of passion for the Councilmember, and she has spoken for years about the possibilities for dense walkable neighborhoods like Capitol Hill. Above all else, she stated that the foundational question is what do residents and small businesses of a neighborhood want to see in their own space? Options like Barcelona-style superblocks would always need strong community feedback before implementation, and have never been envisioned to block off vehicles for delivery and local traffic.  

    CHBA is working hard to provide meaningful programming and connection opportunities to businesses in the neighborhood. Up next is Community Conversations on Thursday, May 19 at 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM. Community Conversations are virtual events in which we discuss current topics and events impacting the business community. May's event will center around the unique needs of businesses with daytime hours of operation, from foot traffic to street traffic, and creative marketing tactics folks can use to leverage residential neighbors as a strong customer base. If this is your business, we invite you to join us! If you’d like to understand how to support these businesses better, we invite you to join us too! 


  • Masterclass with Lewis Rudd of Ezell's Famous Chicken

    by Toraya Miller, GSBA Training & Consulting Manager
    | Apr 25, 2022
     
    For the second edition of GSBA's quarterly Masterclass program, a part of the GSBA Business Academy, we welcomed Lewis Rudd of Ezell's Famous Chicken to share his entrepreneurial journey.

    First and foremost, Lewis advised participants to follow their dreams and filter their love into their business. He shared about his upbringing in East Texas with ten brothers and sisters  and how having an intentional journey toward being the best guided him throughout his whole life.

    Ezell's first location was opened on February 3, 1984 as a family-owned business. Now they have 325 employees across 18 locations, including their first international store in Dubai! Especially relevant in 2022, what has always kept Lewis awake at night is labor challenges and supply chains. He has navigated economic ups and downs by "always carrying a bag of solutions" and relying on having great partners and lasting relationships. Lewis urges other entrepreneurs to be proactive. Prior to the pandemic, 85% of Ezell's orders were already to-go orders, and he understood that he needed to partner with third-party delivery apps such as Doordash to sustain his business. He has even managed to open three new locations during the pandemic, always asking that his team provide food that is "fresh, good, and fast."

    While Ezell's is a Seattle icon now, it was not so easy to get started. Lewis shared how funders were not open to lending to Black-owned businesses or not willing to support the business plans from Black entrepreneurs. Building critical relationships and mentors, as well as having plans in place to overcome these challenges, was vital to building up Ezell's into the model that it is today.

    To give back to the community and offer resources that he was never able to take advantage of when he was just starting, Lewis and his siblings started the Raising Up Black Business (R.U.B.B.) initiative, to celebrate and lift up Black-owned establishments. This grant program was named, in part, in memory of his grandmother rubbing medicine on his skin when he was sick to help him feel better. In partnership with Doordash, Rudd’s R.U.B.B. will offer no-strings-attached business grants to 20 Black-owned businesses and organizations in the Pacific Northwest to help fund sustainability, operations, growth, and success.
  • 2022 Legislative Recap

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Mar 21, 2022

     The Washington State Legislature has finished on time, passing 303 bills and three budgets (supplemental operating, capital, and transportation). While only 60 days long, by many accounts this was one of the toughest sessions in memory. 303 out of 1049 bills were enacted this year, meaning just 29% of bills introduced were passed.  GSBA's legislative agenda was a bit of a mixed bag this year - we had a number of endorsed bills that did not make it through the process, but several more that did.

    Small Business
    With economic recovery still at the top of our mind, GSBA is pleased to see the success of bills to delay the Washington Cares Act (HB 1732), create the Equitable Access to Credit Act (HB 1015) to fund community development financial institutions, and add clarification to the Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave Act (SB 5649).

    One bill that showed up very late in the session was SB 5980, which exempts small businesses with revenues under $125,000 from the state business and occupation (B&O) tax starting January 1, 2023. This bill also raises the monthly B&O credit amount from $35 to $55 for non-service businesses, and from $70 to $160 for service businesses.

    LGBTQ+ Issues
    Unlike in many other states this year, the few anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in Washington made no progress and did not receive any hearings. Instead, we saw the passage of legislation that exempts the sensitive details of transgender people (and others) in the prison system from public disclosure (HB1956) as well as a bill that automatically waives fees for low-income people seeking a name change (HB 1961). We are disappointed that a bill mandating coverage for infertility treatments, including those often used by LGBTQ+ families, did not pass this year.

    In the budget, funding was authorized for the LGBTQ senior housing project going up on Capitol Hill (managed by GenPride), and a study on including fertility treatments in insurance coverage (separate from the bill that would have authorized it outright). While the bill to mandate Medicaid coverage of and exempt from pre-authorization all FDA-approved medications for HIV/AIDS did not pass, the funding was successfully added to the budget and so the desired outcome was still met. 

    For more information about LGBTQ+ legislation this year, join our Civic Engagement Series on Monday, April 18 at 5:30pm.

    Safety & Policing
    There were several major achievements in gun control legislation this year, include a ban on high capacity magazines (SB 5078) and closing the so-called ghost gun loophole (HB 1075). Additionally, HB 1630 prohibits armed intimidation by banning open carry at public local government meetings, school board meetings, and elections-related offices.

    Additionally, HB 1735 clarifies the use of force standards regulations passed last year for police officers across Washington. It clarifies when police can use force, and reiterates that they are required to help transport people to mental health treatment. This bill was supported by police and community advocates alike.

    You can find more details about any of these bills at leg.wa.gov.

  • Future Nurse Midwife Dawson Dang fights for reproductive justice

    by GSBA Staff
    | Mar 10, 2022


    thumbnail_IMG_9093Second Year GSBA Scholar Dawson Dang (he/they)
     grew up in Longview, WA, and is now living in Seattle where they attend the University of Washington and will soon graduate with his Bachelor's of Science degree in nursing. A recipient of the Kenny Olson & John Reed Scholarship, Dawson was recently accepted to University of Washington's graduate nursing program and will soon begin pursuing their Doctorate of Nursing Practice, focusing in Nurse Midwifery. After graduating, Dawson hopes to become a family nurse practitioner/midwife and open a clinic that directly serves LGBTQ+ patients wishing to start families. As someone passionate about reproductive justice and LGBTQ+ healthcare, we caught up with Dawson before their graduation and asked them where this passion began and what drives them in this work. 

    GSBA: How did you become involved with reproductive justice?

    Dawson: I first became aware and interested in reproductive justice when I was 16 and in high school. This was around the time that I had started coming out. I started researching and educating myself on the issues that queer and transgender people go through while experiencing sexual and reproductive health. This stemmed from my interest as a QTBIPOC person in becoming a parent one day!

    GSBA: Why is reproductive justice important to you? What drives you to do this work/research?

    Dawson: I'm currently a part of a majority queer and transgender research team at the University of Washington in Seattle. We are researching and collecting the experiences of queer and transgender people going though pregnancy and their family building experiences. This encompasses all parts of pregnancy and all intersections of LGBTQ+ community members. My drive to participate in this work comes from my desire to work as a Nurse Midwife, and helping the QTBIPOC communities throughout their sexual and reproductive processes. I want to create a space where queerness is celebrated, and our needs, stories, and strengths are centered. As a member of the QTBIPOC community, a goal that's very close to my heart is to become a parent one day. As a Nurse Midwife, I hope to help others within the community along their sexual and reproductive healthcare journeys to their desired destinations. 

    GSBA: How long have you been involved in reproductive justice and in what ways?

    Dawson: Formally, I've been involved in reproductive justice work since September ofLogo w purple 2021, working as a member of the research team throughout the Birth Includes Us study. I've been studying to be a nurse since September of 2018 in hopes to work directly with community members in the clinical setting regarding their sexual and reproductive health. I have been educating myself on the issues members of the QTBIPOC community face in regards to their sexual and reproductive health since 2016.

    African American, Indigenous, Latinx, and other communities of color along with LGBTQ+ communities, have long face discrimination within reproductive healthcare leading to poor health outcomes. Risk for poor health outcomes compounds when looking at members of these communities with intersecting identities. As an aspiring Nurse Midwife, I hope to help heal generations of trauma and combat these poor health outcomes for members of the QTBIPOC community. I hope to collaborate with my communities in order to create sustainable change for us in the present and for future generations.

    You'll get to meet Dawson and celebrate their graduation along with their fellow GSBA Scholars during the GSBA Scholars Celebration on Saturday, May 14.



    The GSBA Scholarship & Education Fund is the oldest and one of the largest LGBTQ+ scholarship programs in the country. Since its founding in 1990, the GSBA Scholarship & Education Fund has invested over $5 million in LGBTQ+ students who exemplify leadership potential, strong academic ability, and community involvement and dedication. The scholarship program works to empower students with marginalized intersectional identities within the LGBTQ+ community and provides not only financial support for LGBTQ+ students, but a network of support, skills-based workshops, and leadership training. Learn more and support our scholars.

  • 2022 Legislative Update: On to the Next House

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Feb 21, 2022
     
    Now that the cutoff for bills in their house of origin has passed, GSBA's list of active bills is much shorter. Here is what's left:

    HB 1015 - WA Equitable Access to Credit Act
    Awards grants to Community Development Lending Institutions (CDFIs) to provide access to credit for underserved small businesses. 75% of grants are reserved for rural communities. Read more from sponsor Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber and the Washington State Wire.

    HB 1630 - Prohibiting weapons at municipal meetings
    Prohibits open carry at city council and county council meetings, and both open and concealed carry at school board meetings and ballot counting centers. Bill sponsor Rep. Tana Senn has more.

    HB 1659 - Bridge grants for WCG students
    Much like the GSBA Beeks Open Arms Fund, this would allow recipients of the Washington College Grants to apply for grants for needs beyond just tuition. For more information, listen to Rep. Vandana Slatter explain her bill.

    HB 1735 - Use of force by police
    This legislation provides clarity to the use of force changes passed in last year's HB 1310 (which GSBA endorsed). Some law enforcement agencies had stopped responding to certain calls due to confusion around the new language. This bill provides legal certainty that law enforcement must assist crisis responders, EMTs, and firefighters when responding to those in need of involuntary treatment. For more information: Rep. Jesse Johnson

    HB 1956 - Exempting sensitive records from public disclosure
    This bill would exempt certain personal information of incarcerated people from public disclosure, including disability status, history of sexual assault, transgender status, sexual orientation, body scanner images of incarcerated women, and behavioral and mental health information that is outside of a medical record. This legislation is necessary because of actions by recent actions of anti-trans organizations and individuals to acquire this information in order to do harm to transgender people. Disability Rights Washington has more information.

    HB 1961 - Name change fee waivers
    Automatically waives recording fees for those applying for a name change who qualify as low-income under existing court rules and are unable to pay.

    SB 5078 - Banning high capacity magazines
    Prohibits the sales of ammunition magazines that carry more than 10 rounds. For more information see the Alliance for Gun Responsibility

    SB 5553 - Early STEM metrics
    Supports the ongoing creation and usage of reports to provide an in-depth look at early learning and childcare systems. Learn more from Washington STEM.

    SB 5597 - Updating the WA Voting Rights Act
    This update to the 2018 Washington Voting Rights Act (GSBA-endorsed) requires jurisdictions making changes to voting practices to get pre-clearance to ensure compliance with state law, makes it easier to bring a claim, and establishes a database at UW. Sponsor Sen. Rebecca Saldaña has more information.

    SB 5694 - Modifying the WA paid family and medical leave act 

    This update to the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (GSBA-endorsed) makes several clarifications to the existing law, including allowing people to apply for leave up to 45 days in advance of expected leave, extending certain family caregiving leave, and allowing people to take medical leave during first 6 weeks after giving birth without needing additional certification. For more information check out the Economic Opportunity Institute.

  • Power in intersectionality: James McAndie talks about Black LGBTQ+ representation

    by GSBA Staff
    | Feb 16, 2022


    In recognition of Black History Month, GSBA is working to amplify Black voices and histories by celebrating the undeniable impact Black LGBTQ+ activists have had on the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement, shed light on the specific intersection of Black and LGBTQ+ identities, and continue the crucial conversation about systemic racial injustice in Washington and around the globe. As a part of this work, several GSBA Scholars who identify as Black and LGBTQ+ have generously shared their stories, thoughts about intersectionality, what Black History means to them, and about what actions make for strong allyship.

    James McAndieSecond-Year GSBA Scholar James McAndie (he/him) grew up in rural Carson, WA and attended school both there and in Vancouver, WA. He recently moved to New York City where he is majoring in math and economics as an undergraduate at Columbia University. He is pursuing a career in economics and mathematics where he hopes to establish an LGBTQ+ presence in a field lacking such diversity. Once there, he aspires to be a role model for others in the LGBTQ+ community who want to follow a similar career path who may not have a leader to see themselves in.

    “My favorite part of being Black and LGBTQ+ is the opportunity to be a positive role model for various groups of young individuals. I live with the knowledge that every barrier I cross represents an achievement for the LGBTQ+ community, the Black community, and the intersection of the two. Both the Black and LGBTQ+ communities are rich in culture and are some of the most expressive and talented people I have ever met. It pains me to see these fabulous people believe that the world doesn’t support them in their endeavors and dreams. I admit, I also have moments where I think the system is rigged against me, especially with the lack of role models that I can relate to. As someone studying economics, Black and LGBTQ+ people can be hard to come by in my projected career field. For that reason, I decided to do my best to become a role model for the next generation. I will always take the time out of my day to encourage anyone with shared experiences as me to be a pioneer in their community or career field and to be an inspiration to the younger version of themselves.” 



    February is Black History Month, and we encourage all GSBA community members to celebrate Black lives, culture, and history not only this month - but all year long.

    Community members can also take action by investing in regional organizations who work to address institutionalized racism, empower Black communities, and ensure that Black histories are never forgotten. Please consider investing and getting involved in regional Black-led organizations like POCAAN, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, Lavender Rights Project, Black Lives Matter Seattle - King County, NW African American Museum, NAACP Snohomish County, and NAACP Seattle King County.

    You can also dine and shop intentionally by supporting the Black-owned small businesses in our community. Check out this guide by GSBA member Intentionalist of Black-owned businesses throughout the Puget Sound, including several GSBA members.

    Additionally, you can diversify your intake of news and information by following GSBA member Converge Media, a Black-led news media organization that centers and amplifies stories of Black community in the Pacific Northwest and around the country.
  • A deeper understanding: GSBA Scholar Casey Williams on intentional learning of Black history

    by GSBA Staff
    | Feb 15, 2022

    In recognition of Black History Month, GSBA is working to amplify Black voices and histories by celebrating the undeniable impact Black LGBTQ+ activists have had on the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement, shed light on the specific intersection of Black and LGBTQ+ identities, and continue the crucial conversation about systemic racial injustice in Washington and around the globe. As a part of this work, several GSBA Scholars who identify as Black and LGBTQ+ have generously shared their stories, thoughts about intersectionality, what Black History means to them, and about what actions make for strong allyship. 

    casey williams thumbnail_12nd Year GSBA Scholar Casey Williams (he/him) grew up in Missouri and Washington and is currently living in Chicago, Illinois. He's attending the University of Illinois at Chicago is majoring in Political Science, with a focus on U.S. educational policy and the 14th Amendment. He plans to attend law school upon graduation to pursue a career in civil rights litigation and legal research. Viewing the rights of the LGBTQ+ community as intertwined with those of all marginalized people, Casey hopes to promote an expansive and intersectional conception of civil rights in the legal field through his work.


    GSBA: What is your favorite thing about being Black and LGBTQ+?

    Casey: This might be silly, but I’m most appreciative of how my experiences made the concept of intersectionality an intuitive one. Trying - and failing - to categorize myself from a young age gave me a framework for thinking expansively about the systems that frame our lives.

    GSBA: In what ways would you like to see people honor Black lives, histories, and experiences throughout the year, and not just in February?

    Casey: I’ve found that there’s a lack of common knowledge surrounding what occurred between the height of the Civil Rights era and today. I would like to see a greater push to attain a deeper understanding of how we got from the de jure segregation of the 20th century to the de facto segregation we see today.

    I’d also like to see an active effort to read more works by Black authors, particularly by Black women across different genres. Authors like Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, bell hooks, and Zora Neale Hurston have such robust bodies of work and I would be heartened to see greater interest in them. Integrate your bookshelf!

    GSBA: Representation matters. Who are some of your Black and/or Black LGBTQ+ heroes and why?

    Casey: Pauli Murray! Pauli is best known for being the architect of the NAACP’s argument in Brown v. Board, but she was so much more. It’s difficult to sort a jurist, poet, and Episcopal priest into one box, and I think that’s what I admire most about her: that capacity to be and to do so many things, to express an innate complexity without apology.

    I also have a deep well of admiration for James Baldwin. His writing is as pithy on the first read as it is on the fiftieth, and his dedication to nuance is unparalleled. Baldwin’s works never rest on an easy answer. I respect that immensely.

    GSBA: Black and LGBTQ+ experiences often tend to get glossed over in history books. Have you done any self-education about Black LGBTQ+ history? If so, what has this looked like for you?

    Casey: For me, it entailed learning about what shaped those very labels. There’s a history behind our categories, and it’s more recent than many people know. I was deeply impacted by learning about how sexual, social, and racial boundaries were delineated in post-WWII America.

    GSBA: As a LGBTQ+ Person of Color, what are some of the behaviors and principles of a good ally which you appreciate and would like to see people do more of?

    Casey: An active commitment to integrating one’s life across lines of race and class is an invaluable expression of allyship. It’s easy to fall into insular habits and lose touch with the lived experiences of people different from us, and it takes work to resist that. Volunteering regularly isn’t the only way, but it can be remarkably effective in broadening how we think about ourselves and our communities.


    February is Black History Month, and we encourage all GSBA community members to celebrate Black lives, culture, and history not only this month - but all year long.

    Community members can also take action by investing in regional organizations who work to address institutionalized racism, empower Black communities, and ensure that Black histories are never forgotten. Please consider investing and getting involved in regional Black-led organizations like POCAANUrban League of Metropolitan SeattleLavender Rights ProjectBlack Lives Matter Seattle - King CountyNW African American MuseumNAACP Snohomish County, and NAACP Seattle King County.
    You can also dine and shop intentionally by supporting the Black-owned small businesses in our community. Check out this guide by GSBA member Intentionalist of Black-owned businesses throughout the Puget Sound, including several GSBA members.

    Additionally, you can diversify your intake of news and information by following GSBA member Converge Media, a Black-led news media organization that centers and amplifies stories of Black community in the Pacific Northwest and around the country.


  • 2022 Labor Laws and You

    by River Teslar, Business Training Specialist
    | Feb 14, 2022
     
    2022 has arrived and with it comes the annual changes to labor laws and regulations! If you're an employer, there's no time like the present to make sure you're ready to take on whatever challenges 2022 has in store. There are some updates that are relevant to all Washington State businesses, and some that are particular to only those in Seattle proper. 

    Washington State 
    There are changes to some alcohol to-go ordinances. The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) announced liquor licensees will need to apply for new endorsements to continue to-go alcohol sales after January 1. 

    The Legislature passed E2SHB 1480 last session which allows alcohol to-go sales through June 30, 2023! However the additional permanent rules filed by the LCB mean that restaurant licensees for spirits, beer and wine will need to apply for three separate endorsements to continue selling the products allowed for sale. 

    Licensees will need to apply for a Factory Sealed Containers endorsement, Cocktail Kits/Premixed Drinks/Wine To-Go endorsement and a Growlers endorsement. 

    City of Seattle 
    The Seattle Office of Labor Standards announced that the minimum wage for workers in the city of Seattle in 2022 is $17.27/hour, marking a 58-cent increase from the previous year. For small employers with 500 or fewer employees that pay medical benefits or where tips exceed $1.52/hour, the new minimum wage is $15.75/hour. 

    If you’re a delivery lover, you may have noticed this next change already: restaurants in Seattle will no longer be able to provide single-use service ware by default. If you’re a collector of plastic forks, you'll have to start specifically requesting them.  

    2022 also brings with it an updated workplace poster employers are required to display. You can find that here. You can access all available workplace posters here. This poster must be 11x17, displayed in a noticeable area at the workplace, and in English and any other languages your employees speak. If you don’t have access to a printer you can contact me directly via email, I’d be happy to bring one by! 

    What Now? 
    If any of this feels daunting or a tough to parse, GSBA is here to help! We provide complimentary labor law consults and a whole host of other complimentary services for business owners listed here. Feel free to email me at rivert@thegsba.org if you have any questions or schedule an appointment with me

  • 2022 Legislative Update: Nearly Halfway There!

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Feb 14, 2022
     
    Tuesday (tomorrow) is the last day for bills in Olympia to pass out of their chamber of origin (the House or the Senate). After that, they have until March 4 to pass the opposite chamber. Some bills have already passed both chambers and have been signed by the Governor. While GSBA has a number of endorsed bills continuing to wind through the legislative process, there are also a few that are now officially dead.

    What has already been signed?
    Certain high-priority legislation has already been signed into law by Governor Inslee. This includes the delay to the Washington Cares Act and final redistricting maps.

    What is still moving?
    For bills related to the LBGTQ+ community, GSBA continues to support the progress of HB 1956 (exempting sensitive records from public disclosure) and HN 1961 (waiving fees for name changes for low-income Washingtonians).  

    The Equitable Access to Credit Act (HB 1015) passed the House a few weeks ago, and we hope to see it enacted to help provide grants to CDFIs for investing in entrepreneurs from historically underserved communities. Updates to the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (SB 5649) are also on track, clarifying several conditions of the leave allowed.

    Several important bills around public safety and policing are advancing. Notably this includes a ban on high-capacity magazines (SB 5078) passing a Legislative chamber for the first time. HB 1735, which clarifies last year's law on use of force by police, is moving quickly with support from the WA Coalition for Police Accountability, the ACLU, police organizations, and the WA Council for Behavioral Health. Additionally, attempts to ban weapons at municipal meetings (HB 1630), minimizing the use of solitary confinement (HB 1756), and creating new rules around police hiring (HB 5089) are moving forward.

    Other bills that GSBA has endorsed that are making progress include HB 1782 to legalize multiunit homes near major transit stops, SB 5597 to update the WA Voting Rights Act, HB 1659 to create bridge grants for Washington College Grant students, and SB 5553 relating to STEM metrics in early learning.

    What is dead?
    Two of our biggest disappointments this year are the failure of HB 1730 (infertility treatment coverage) and SB 5551 (Medicaid coverage for HIV drugs) to advance out of their respective committees. These were both priorities for many LGBTQ+ organizations and advocates, and we will continue to push for these important changes next year.

    Bills to create independent investigations of police (HB 1507), prohibiting weapons at elections offices (HB 1618), and a ban on assault weapons (SB 5217) are all unfortunately not advancing this year. 

    What's next?
    For all the bills that are still active, your legislators need to hear from you! You can find your three Legislators here and easily contact them to share your opinion.

  • GSBA Scholar Lash O'Cain talks unapologetic realness, self-wisdom, and active allyship

    by GSBA Staff
    | Feb 02, 2022

    In recognition of Black History Month, GSBA is working to amplify Black voices and histories by celebrating the undeniable impact Black LGBTQ+ activists have had on the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement, shed light on the specific intersection of Black and LGBTQ+ identities, and continue the crucial conversation about systemic racial injustice in Washington and around the globe. As a part of this work, several GSBA Scholars who identify as Black and LGBTQ+ have generously shared their stories, thoughts about intersectionality, what Black History means to them, and about what actions make for strong allyship. 

    Lash O'Cain, 3Three-Year GSBA Scholar Lashaunycee O'Cain (she/her) was raised in Seattle, WA and is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Cinema with a focus in Screenwriting at Columbia College Hollywood. Here, she plans to enlighten masses and any listening audience to spiritual wisdom and the importance of individual vision as well as the coming of age process through sexuality, beliefs and morals.

    GSBA: Can share with us some thoughts about intersectionality and what this has looked like for you?

    Lash: I'm in a constant process of learning to intersect every part of my being that I've had to separate in order to be/feel palatable to folks, and in that process I've rediscovered my silliness and how important it is to identify with my child-like qualities. I've always been a very serious young woman and along with that, a guarded one as well. In that reality where I “wasn't Black enough” or to some acquaintances “too Black” and “too masculine” as a woman, I didn't realize that I was labeling myself, and because it was easier to label me before others could, I wasn't sure how to identify outside of the trauma that doing this caused. 

    Now, I feel very comfortable with being anything and everything all at once so that I can appreciate meeting new folks, and be grateful for even having simple conversations. Living in an era where everyone wants to be a part of something and therefore conforms to whatever is trending by the day, it gets hard to remember that genuine relationships [starting with ourselves] are more valuable than strangers who like that you made them laugh on their endless social media scroll. 

    GSBA: In what ways would you like to see people honoring Black lives, histories, and experiences throughout the year, and not just in February?

    Lash: I would love to see others choose to bring awareness to our existence all the time and not only when our existence is being threatened. I’d ask that folks shadow us daily with their academic findings, their allyship, their business opportunities; offer the remembrance of our presence when we're in the room not by asking for our input as folks of colors or as queer folk, but simply as people. 

    We have separate experiences as individuals and while being Black and queer often has a chain of events we all encounter at one point or another, wisdom comes from anyone. That wisdom often comes from a deeper place and sticks when it's not always applied to the facets of our identity that the world oppresses us for. No Black queer person wants to spend their time explaining to folks that they’re Black and queer, trying to pluck heart strings. We want our presence to be treated just as naturally as any other occurrence rather than as a token for discussion. 

    GSBA: As a Black LGBTQ+ person, what does Pride embody for you? What doesLash O'Cain, 1 this look like in your daily life?

    Lash:
    Lately, Pride has been embodied for me with my showing of skin. I'm not often dressed promiscuously or even just in tighter clothing but I've been releasing my shame by allowing my stretch marks to slip out of my crop top because I'm proud of my weight loss and the way it looks on my skin. I'm learning how not to hate the shades of my skin that darken more than the lighter shades. It's a reality that as long as I've avoided it, this has kept me far away from understanding how I wish to express myself as a Black woman, how sexy I feel, and what pride means to me. 

    If I'm not one with my body, not much else will work for me and that's been learnt by repeated experience. For a long while I was hyper aware of my weight and body shape; being a full-figured Black girl in middle and high school left me in limbo about how I wanted to express myself versus how I thought societal norms wanted to view me. It wasn't until I resolved that no one lives in this body but me that I took responsibility for how I present myself. Whatever way I choose to be must make me happy and proud to be breathing at any given moment.

    GSBA: Representation matters. Who are some of your Black and/or Black LGBTQ+ heroes and why?

    Lash: Each day I feel I'm becoming more familiar with how other folks are accepting that the past can only offer us so much for the way we present ourselves now, and I've had to come to terms with realizing I've been my biggest hero for a while. Whenever I wanted to admit this, I felt arrogant rather than grateful, because I didn't realize there aren't many folks able to help themselves in order to help others. 

    Our world needs to be better filled with folks who are willing to learn to be self-sufficient emotionally and mentally rather than just economically; when becoming more aware of ourselves and our needs and expectations we find it easier to connect outside of ourselves, even if those connections may not come quickly. 

    Through those solid connections we make in spirit, we create an energy around our life forces that free us from this toxic independence that has festered in Black lineages. Independence is necessary, but never required. When we know who we are we know what we need and there's nothing wrong with needing to be alone to realize we don't have to be alone. We must advocate for the generations coming after us by making the most of our current moments. There's all this pressure to be astute and in constant movement, but getting caught up in it leaves little time for us to develop our own mottos on life. 

    That said, I believe in Lena Waithe and Janelle Monae who have taken Hollywood by the ears with their unapologetic expressions of Black queerness and pure talent.


    February is Black History Month, and we encourage all GSBA community members to celebrate Black lives, culture, and history not only this month - but all year long.
     
    Community members can also take action by investing in regional organizations who work to address institutionalized racism, empower Black communities, and ensure that Black histories are never forgotten. Please consider investing and getting involved in regional Black-led organizations like POCAANUrban League of Metropolitan Seattle, Lavender Rights ProjectBlack Lives Matter Seattle - King County, NW African American Museum, NAACP Snohomish County, and NAACP Seattle King County.

    You can also dine and shop intentionally by supporting the Black-owned small businesses in our community. Check out this guide by GSBA member Intentionalist of Black-owned businesses throughout the Puget Sound, including several GSBA members.

    Additionally, you can diversify your intake of news and information by following GSBA member Converge Media, a Black-led news media organization that centers and amplifies stories of Black community in the Pacific Northwest and around the country.

  • WA Cares Payroll Tax Delayed

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Jan 28, 2022
     
    After a speedy passage in the Legislature, Governor Inslee signed House Bills 1732 and 1733 into law, thereby delaying implementation of the WA Cares Fund, also know as the Long Term Care Act. Addressing concerns about this program were some of the most debated in the run-up to the legislative session.

    The two bills do the following:
    • Delay the start date for premium assessments to July 1, 2023
    • Delay the start date for benefits to July 1, 2026
    • Allow people born before Jan. 1, 1968 to receive partial benefits
    • Require refund of premiums collected before July 1, 2023
    • Establish exemptions from premiums for certain veterans, spouses of military service members, non-immigrant temporary workers, and employees who work in Washington but live out-of-state.
    What does this mean for the payroll deductions collected by businesses?
    The primary concern of many businesses was over the collection of a payroll deduction for a program whose viability was being questioned last year and what to do in the event of a delay after the implementation deadline (as has happened).

    The original law, signed in 2019, designated a 0.58% premium on employees' wages (approximately $290 per year for someone earning $50,000), to be collected by their employer through payroll deductions and then remitted to the Employment Security Department. The collection of this premium was set to begin on January 1 of this year. Now with the delay enacted, collection has been paused until July 2023.

    The Employment Security Office has the following recommendations for employers:
    • Stop withholding WA Cares Fund premiums from employee earnings
    • Reimburse employees for WA Cares premiums within 120 days of the date premiums were collected
    • Continue to maintain copies of exemption approval letters for workers who have provided them

    What has not changed?
    Self-employed people, sole proprietors, independent contractors, partners or joint venturers may still elect to participate in the program. Once they elect coverage, they may not withdraw from coverage.

    At this time it does not appear that the window for an exemption by purchasing private long term care insurance was extended. Therefore, if an opt-out was not secured by the original deadline of October 31, 2021, there is no more opportunity to get one unless the legislature takes further action. As a reminder, employers are responsible for keeping track of any employees who were successful in opting-out of the program.

    What's next?

    GSBA will continue to monitor the implementation of the WA Cares Fund and how it impacts our members. The Legislature may address other concerns about funding and implementation in the coming year and a half. You can learn more about WA Cares Fund, program changes, and implementation on their website.


  • What to expect in the 2022 Legislative Session

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Jan 18, 2022

     
    The 2022 Legislative Session is just 60 days, but there is a lot on the schedule. Some of the major topic areas and specific bills that GSBA's Policy Council is monitoring are as follows:

    LGBTQ+ Issues
    GSBA has already endorsed bills that would mandate insurance coverage of infertility treatments, including for LGBTQ+ families (HB 1730), mandating Medicaid coverage for all HIV medications approved by the federal FDA (SB 5551), and protecting sensitive information of incarcerated transgender and gender-diverse people from public disclosure (HB 1956). There is also an effort to give courts the authority to waives fees for name changes (HB 1961). In the budget, there are requests for funding of LGBTQ+ senior housing and a study on the decriminalization of sex work. We are keeping an eye on additional anti-transgender bills, though we do not expect them to proceed very far this year due to the pro-LGBTQ+ majority in current leadership.

    Small Business Issues
    Economic support for struggling small businesses remains at the forefront of our advocacy priorities this year. We are working to ensure that federal assistance dollars are allocated to the communities that need them the most, and that those dollars actually reach their intended targets. Additionally we are monitoring the delay of the Long Term Care Act and its mandatory employer deductions and implementation (HB 1732), and programs to develop broadband networks. 

    Education Issues
    As with the GSBA Scholarship & Education Fund, there is a proposal in the Legislature to create bridge grants for students receiving the Washington College Grant scholarships to help with expenses beyond tuition (HB 1659), as well as efforts to increase outreach around the availability of the Washington College Grant program (HB 1835). There are additional efforts to clarify and strengthen the Fair Start for Kids bill that we endorsed last year, including SB 5553's efforts to strengthen the definition of "quality child care." GSBA is additionally looking into efforts to support apprenticeships and career/college pathways.

    Policing & Safety Issues
    Much of the work accomplished last year was just the starting point. There are a few bills introduced last year which continue to be considered by the Legislature, including independent prosecutions of police criminal conduct (HB 1507) and rules around the hiring and certification of police officers (SB 5089). Additionally, there are important gun control measures such as a ban on high-capacity magazines (SB 5078), prohibiting guns at local government meetings and elections offices (HB 1630 and HB 1618)

    GSBA's Policy Council meets weekly to discuss potential positions on legislation. Other areas that we are investigating include voting rights, housing affordability, and transportation.

    GSBA's 2022 legislative agenda and bill tracker are always available on our Advocacy page. You can learn more about any legislation by searching by bill number here.

    You may be interested in some of the work of our partner organizations:
    - Business for America (voting rights)
    Legal Voice (gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights)
    - Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (racial equity)
    - Ventures (equity in entrepreneurship)
    Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility (gun control)
    Washington LGBTQ Commission (LGBTQ+ issues)
    Washington STEM (equity in education)
     


  • EQUALUX - TASTE of GSBA makes a triumphant return, raising over $610,000 for the GSBA Scholarship Fund

    by Mark Rosén, GSBA Acting President & CEO
    | Nov 22, 2021
    To each and every guest who brought their vaccination cards and diligently masked-up throughout the night and to every donor who tuned-in online from home, thank you, thank you, thank you!
     
    With your help, we raised over $610,000 Saturday night to benefit the GSBA Scholarship Fund!
     
    equalux_03Many coinciding factors made this year's hybrid EQUALUX a celebration unlike any we've had before, with both an in person and a virtual option. The pandemic hasn't made it easy to have a night like Saturday night, surrounded by friends old and new, chosen families, and other loved ones, coming together as one to support the future of LGBTQ+ students. We are so thankful to have such generous, dedicated, and thoughtful community members who, time after time, show up for GSBA Scholars - whether that was in person or virtually.
     
    If you missed the event, there's still time to donate and show your support for our scholars. Click here to invest in our future LGBTQ+ leaders. 

    Royalty led us into the ballroom, as the Imperial Sovereign Court of Seattle proudly paraded to the stage where they were joined by viral sensation, Mila Jam, singing the most apropos version of dance classic “It’s Raining Them,” celebrating the richness of our diverse LGBTQ+ community. The evening was led by our two fabulous emcees Ellen Meny and Gaysha Starr who brought wit, humor, and - most of all - heart.
     
    This year's event took place on an important day for our community: Transgender Day of Remembrance. Gaysha and GSBA Scholar Ro Boyce shared their personal experiences and visions for a better future, including asking the audience to actively stand up for the transgender and gender-diverse community every day. Ro led our Scholars in a remembrance of community members who've been murdered because of their identity. You can learn more about combatting anti-trans violence, the intersections of racism and transphobia, and active allyship here.
     
    Planning a gala during a global pandemic is no small task and that’s what makes theequalux_18 contributions of everyone who helped make this year’s EQUALUX possible so enormous. We could not have had such a successful event without our Title Sponsor Car Pros Kia, and our Scholar Cohort Champion Salesforce, Presenting Sponsor Premera, Student Empowerment Sponsor Symetra, and Event Sponsors Alaska Airlines, Amazon, DML Insurance, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley, The Westin Seattle; and Science & Innovation Virtual Sponsor Fred Hutch.
     
    EQUALUX has become renowned for featuring top-tier LGBTQ+ performing artists, thanks to the creative vision of EQUALUX producers, Jared Michael Brown and Paul Flanagan. We owe a huge thanks to our dedicated EQUALUX Co-Chairs Masoud Torabi and Eve Hwang who brought visionary leadership and passion. Thank you to the wineries of SODO Urbanworks, who provided the world class wines to accompany our dinner: Structure Cellars, Rotie Cellars, Latta Wines, Kerloo Cellars, Sleight of Hand Cellars, Old World Tasting Room, Nine Hats Wines, and Patterson Cellars.
     
    Special thank you to GSBA Programs Manager Carlos Chavez and GSBA Sr. Development Officer Jeff Boyer who worked tirelessly on planning the GSBA Scholarship Fund’s biggest night as a hybrid event, redesigning every element. Our hats are off to the wonderful staff of The Westin Seattle, who walked with us step-by-step through the planning process and made sure that our guests felt safe and welcome throughout the night.
     
    If you missed the event, you can watch an abbreviated version here! (Some performances have not been included).

    Thank you to the Beeks Family Foundation for the creation of a new endowed fund with a $100K gift. The generosity of several donors inspired others to dig deep. Special mention to Jay Petterson and Michael Mattmiller, Carrie Carson, Puget Sound Energy, Kurt Kruckeberg, Roz Edison, Kevin Spratt, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, Carolyn Ockels, Steve King, Roz Edison, and Lori Dugdale, who gave so generously.
     
    The success of the GSBA Scholarship Fund wouldn't be possible without our outstanding Board of Directors, led by Board Chair Jay Petterson, and their contributions to the Annual Leadership Matching Fund. A special thank you goes to Masoud Torabi for his magnificent leadership as Scholarship Fund Chair.
     
    equalux_16We'd also like to thank our Supporting Sponsors Boeing, Google, Liberty Mutual Insurance and Safeco Insurance, Pacific Medical Centers, and Precision Garage Door Service; Voice of Scholarship InterChange Media Arts Productions; our wine district wineries Aluel Cellars, Elsom Cellars, Goose Ridge Estate Winery, and Nota Bene Cellars; and our caterers Taylor Shellfish, Mamnoon, and D Squared. We’d also like to thank our Event Photographers Nate Gowdy and Malcom Smith, Design Partner Enjoli Izidor, Print Sponsor Girlie Press, DJ Seattle Parties, and Floral Sponsor Sal Floral Design.
     
    Most importantly, from the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank you - our guests - for helping make this year's EQUALUX such an outpouring of community love and hope.
     
    If you were not able to join us Saturday night, there's still time to show your support by making a year-end gift to the GSBA Scholarship Fund. If there was ever a time we needed community and support for small businesses and access to education, it is now. If you haven't done so, please renew your GSBA membership for 2022. If you are not yet a member, we invite your to join us in 2022. Together, we all thrive.
     
    For equality,
     
    Mark Rosén (he/him)
    GSBA Acting President & CEO
  • Get to know Kamryn Kurtzner, GSBA's Scholarship & Education Program Manager!

    by GSBA Staff
    | Nov 12, 2021

    IMG_3109After working in higher education for the past five years, Kamryn Kurtzner (she/they) is delighted to join the GSBA team as the Scholarship & Education Fund Program Manager.

    Kamryn was raised in a small town in Northern Michigan and completed her undergraduate degree from Alma College in Music Composition and Creative Writing. As an undergraduate she was heavily involved on campus with Alpha Gamma Delta International Fraternity and served as her chapter’s first openly lesbian president. After graduation, she quickly began her student affairs journey with the University of North Texas as a sorority house director and, at the same time, she founded the first LGBTQIA+ affinity group for sorority members to find support, resources, and to serve as a collective voice for members in regards to policy and programming. This affinity group is now the oldest and largest LGBTQIA+ affinity group for an individual organization with over 500 members and informs policy change for the international organization.

    After Texas, Kamryn moved to California to work alongside the second female Dean of Engineering at Stanford University. While working at Stanford, she continued her involvement with Alpha Gamma Delta International Fraternity and became a founding member of the international Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee for the fraternity. This involvement led her to pursue her Master’s in Education, with a focus in higher education and social justice, from Boston University.

    At the end of 2019, Kamryn moved to Seattle and briefly worked in marketing at the University of Washington before transitioning to her most recent role as an academic advisor for the College of Arts & Sciences. While working for the University of Washington, Kamryn was appointed as the Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee for Alpha Gamma Delta and co-founded an educational consulting team that focuses on anti-oppression curriculum and implementing strategic disruption for sorority and fraternity organizations.

    Kamryn was introduced to the GSBA through her involvement as a scholarship interview volunteer two years ago and has been smitten with the GSBA Scholarship & Education Fund's mission and vision ever since. She feels that her position as Scholarship & Education Program Manager combines her life’s work as a volunteer, advocate, and activist with her professional work as an educator, advisor, and program manager in a way she didn’t know possible. Throughout her life she’s held the belief that education equals opportunity and Kamryn feels honored to serve the LGBTQIA+ community through this role, understanding that our community has long been underserved in regards to education. She is particularly excited about creating more opportunities for leadership and storytelling skills-building, shaping the scholar alumni network, and increasing non-traditional education/career pathway visibility to the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole.

    Outside of work, Kamryn volunteers as a kitchen lead at Teen Feed, a Seattle-based food service provider for unsheltered youth, and hosts a meal team bi-monthly with her wife. She enjoys writing and is a published poet with work featured in The Lavender Review and Rat’s Ass Review. When not working or volunteering you can find Kamryn at the theatre enjoying a performance or at home trying a new recipe. If you'd like to connect with Kamryn and share ideas to benefit GSBA Scholars, contact her here!


  • Welcome River Teslar, GSBA's new Business Training Specialist!

    by GSBA Staff
    | Nov 04, 2021

    MicrosoftTeams-imageRiver (she/her) is thrilled to join GSBA as a new Business Training Specialist. She has already so enjoyed getting to meet GSBA members and is excited to work with such a variety of businesses! 

    River is a spirited advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, and is looking forward to bringing her warmth and encouraging nature to business education and growth. She believes in giving people the tools they need to thrive, and creating spaces where community can blossom. She grew up in Richland, Texas (a town of just two hundred people!) and went to music school as a vocal major in nearby Corsicana, Texas. During River's college years, she won a singer-songwriter competition, sang in several choirs, and began playing regular local shows with her band. She also became involved in community work, and is proud to have helped organize two successful annual fundraisers for the International Justice Mission to combat human-trafficking.

    Regardless of the field, River has always loved working directly with people – in many customer service roles, four years as a pharmacy technician, and most recently as a catering server for FareStart. She was excited about getting more involved in the background of nonprofit work, and when the pandemic halted catering, River appreciated learning about operations, and was delighted by the community connections she made working in the emergency meals program.

    River moved to Seattle in 2017 to transition, and found an amazing community of friends and chosen family. A consummate food enthusiast, she spends her free time finding new restaurants and cooking with her partner, as well as performing at open mics, hopping between her favorite local haunts, and enjoying walking around the beautiful East Capitol Hill neighborhood. River hopes to become a small business owner herself someday, and host community events and organizing.

    Say hi to River by emailing her here and learn about the many business consulting services GSBA offers here.