The GSBA Blog

The most successful GSBA Scholarship Dinner ever!

| Oct 06, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the future,

Louise Chernin
President & CEO