The GSBA Blog

  • Meet Monisha Harrell: GSBA Community Leader of the Year

    by GSBA
    | Feb 18, 2019

    Monisha Harrell never set out to be an activist. She registered to vote on her eighteenth birthday, fulfilling her own personal obligation for civic duty. But as Washington State’s fight for marriage equality drew to a close in 2012 with the success of Referendum 74, Monisha saw a unique need in the community – a need to maintain the fight for LGBTQ rights after a long and hard-fought battle for marriage was won.

    Schenker_Harrell_Monisha_Final“My interest wasn’t actually in the marriage campaign, it was what comes after marriage,” said Monisha, GSBA’s 2018 Community Leader of the Year. “There’s always something that we can do to improve the world we live in. That’s how I really got involved. It wasn’t a set mission, I just knew that there were places where I could support and I could help.”

    Since 2012, Monisha has served on the Board of Directors at Equal Rights Washington (ERW) and now serves as the organization’s Board Chair, spearheading advocacy work on issues like trans healthcare, anti-bullying programs in schools, and various campaigns tearing down anti-LGBTQ practices and replacing them with inclusive policies.

    “Post-marriage equality, a lot of people thought that Equal Rights Washington didn’t have any work left to do. But the reality of it is that marriage is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Monisha. “Marriage was the thing that got us to the table to be able to talk about the other issues that are really important. There’s a lot of work left to do… Every year, the board gets together and we talk about our priorities for that upcoming year. The list is always longer than the (amount of) resources we have to do them with, so we have to prioritize, and we know the most important thing for our community is to get ‘wins.’ We make sure that every single year we are advancing the rights of LGBTQ people across Washington State."

    During Washington State’s 2018 legislative session, Monisha’s work with ERW helped ban conversion therapy for minors and pass the Uniform Parentage Act. Both pieces of legislation were also supported by GSBA.

    Yet while Washington’s progressive momentum continues, the peeling-back of human rights protections by the current administration has made Monisha’s work even more critical.

    “The current federal administration has been a tremendous speed bump for LGBTQ rights across the country. But what we know for Washington State is that there are a number of LGBTQ people who moved here specifically for the rights that we have,” said Monisha. “So what we don’t want, is we don’t want the community to feel like they don’t have a home. Washington is our home. We will protect it with everything we have. So what that means is that first we play good defense, and second, we play really good offense.”

    In 2019, Equal Rights Washington’s offense is its work to ban legal gay and trans-panic defenses across Washington, a campaign also supported by GSBA. 

    “That should not be an affirmative defense for harming somebody and causing violence to our community,” said Monisha. “There’s so much work to do, and we’re not going to let this current administration stop us from doing it.”

    Join us in honoring Monisha during Justice For All: 38th Annual Business & Humanitarian Awards Dinner on Thursday, Feb 21 at the Seattle Waterfront Marriott:

  • Meet InterChange Media Art Productions: GSBA's Green/Sustainable Business of the Year

    by GSBA
    | Feb 14, 2019

    In 2010, Jenny Ting approached Michele Gomes with an idea to launch a video production company. Working fulltime at her corporate job, Michele was wary about investing so much time into the project.

    Schenker_Interchange Media_Final“I thought, if it’s not meaningful, it’s not worth it,” said Michele. “I’m not going to waste my time and my life working for anyone else or any other thing if it’s not meaningful and if it’s not helping other people.”

    With those guiding principles locked into place, Jenny and Michele then set out on building GSBA’s 2018 Green/Sustainable Business of the Year, a video production company built around highlighting critical environmental and social issues. But first, they had to come up with a name for their company.

    “Jenny used to be a transportation engineer. She is the only person I know when driving down a highway and passing exits, instead of saying, ‘Let’s get off at this exit,’ she’ll say, ‘Let’s get off at this interchange,’” said Michele. “I thought, ‘That has an interesting ring to it. That has a lot of energy, I like the sound of that. Well, let’s merge our paths.’ She was an engineer, and I had worked in the arts industry, so we called it InterChange Media Art Productions.”

    Over the past eight years, Jenny and Michele’s work has seen them travel across the country providing pre-production, production, and post-production editing services for everything from the National Geographic Channel, or the Liberian Medical Association USA, to the City of Tacoma, or the Pacific Science Center.

    “Our clients range from everyone from the nonprofit world, to television shows, to those in the legal field, and in construction as well,” said Jenny. “We’ve worked with the Brainerd Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, the Washington State Bar Association, the Legal Foundation of Washington, and the Greater Seattle Business Association. Our videos have helped raise over $4 million (for nonprofits) since 2011.”

    While Michele and Jenny’s involvement with GSBA dates back to InterChange’s first year in business, they’ve worked closely with the GSBA Scholarship Fund for the last five years, telling the stories of our scholars through feature videos. 056A8573

    “Just the other day we were walking down Broadway and we ran into one of the scholars,” said Michele. “We’re grateful to be able to witness the generosity in the community. It’s a model organization and we’re really very happy to be a part of it.”

    Through GSBA, InterChange became members of the NGLCC which has connected them with several of their largest clients.

    “Because the mission of our company is to focus on life-sustaining values, we have focused on working with organizations who are trying to do good,” said Jenny. “There’s a lot of divisiveness right now in the world we live in and in our country. But because of the work we’ve done, we realize there are people in our communities and country who are doing the best they can. They see a problem, and they bring their communities together and solve the problems of today. So we actually have a lot of hope for the future that things will get better.”

    An overarching theme across InterChange’s body of work is their focus on environmental topics and sustainability. Aside from their creative endeavors, Jenny and Michele’s offices are located in the Bullitt Center on Madison St., the greenest commercial building in the world.

    “We do what we can on our part to be as carbon-free as possible. We work with conservation organizations which focus on conserving land or endangered species… Coming from the east coast originally, moving to the Pacific Northwest was so amazing to see that ‘sustainability’ is an everyday word here,” said Michele. “In other places where we’ve travelled for film festivals and such, it’s not really the case. It’s very exciting that there’s so much initiative that’s being taken here.”

    Join us in honoring InterChange Media Art Productions during Justice for All: 38th Annual Business & Humanitarian Awards Dinner on Thursday, February 21 at Seattle Marriott Waterfront:
  • Meet Justice Bobbe Bridge & Her Lifetime of Achievements

    by GSBA
    | Feb 13, 2019

    Justice Bobbe Bridge (Ret.) has not only spent a career in and out of courtrooms advocating for children and youth, but she’s spent a lifetime listening and learning from young people.

    IMG_7024“I think what it comes down to, is just the sheer rage in me about the way we as a public and we as individuals treat children,” said Bridge. “They are probably one of the last vestiges of people being treated as property. They are not listened to and not respected. In family law, it comes out most clearly as an attitude that children are to be seen and not heard, and that they are to be bargained for in the context of a divorce. I think it’s outrageous.”  

    Before she built Center for Children & Youth Justice (CCYJ), Justice Bridge worked in as an attorney at a private practice for fourteen years before entering public service. She served as King County Juvenile Court’s Chief Judge from 1994 to 1997 and eventually was appointed to the Washington State Supreme Court in 1999 by Governor Gary Locke, where she served before resigning her judgeship in 2007. Throughout Justice Bridge’s long and storied career in law, she’s consistently volunteered her time to youth welfare and justice programs.

    “My father-in-law really summed it all up the most,” reflected Bridge. “He’s been one of my strongest mentors and he holds a blessed memory, he just died last year. He referred to public service, community service, and volunteer activity as the rent we pay for the space that we occupy on earth. I really believe that.”

    In 2006, Bridge founded the Center for Children & Youth Justice, a one-of-a-kind agency which advocates for greater systems reform to benefit young people across Washington State by working directly between children and youth, the juvenile justice system, and child welfare programs.

    “In our work at CCYJ, in every project that we do, we listen to the voices of children and youth,” said Bridge. “Granted that we believe that sometimes that voice might need guidance… We know that from adolescent brain development, they tend to be impetuous and impulsive. But that doesn’t mean they need to be ignored. We need to respect those voices and learn from them.”

    CCYJ takes a pioneering approach to pilot new projects which analyze research on childhood development, canvas feedback from young people in those systems, and then develop collaborative solutions.

    “We spend billions of tax-payer dollars every year and loads of private money from foundations and individuals in order to provide good service for these kids who come to these systems because they have been abused, neglected, or otherwise gone astray. But mostly, they come to these places because they have been failed by the adults in their lives in one sense or form,” said Bridge. “They need assistance and (our government) has erected systems in order to do that. But they’re failing miserably. We bring people together in a collaborative and respectful form. Together, we can make a more powerful impact in a young person’s life.”

    It’s through these collaborative projects and work with at-risk youth, that CCYJ observed the gross over-representation of LGBTQ-identified youth within these systems and homeless populations. With this information, CCYJ launched the eQuality Project in 2013, the first statewide effort to address these disparities. The multi-phase project is designed to provide professionals who work with LGBTQ youth the knowledge and tools to address their unique needs and implement lasting change across government systems, forging pathways to a healthy adulthood.

    “We started out by listening to the voices of LGBTQ youth who had experiences in one or both of the systems, and most of them had some experience of being homeless too” said Bridge. “We’ve launched data collections and trainings in both Spokane and King County. We’re trying to bring it to three other counties, hopefully, within this next coming year.”

    As her career and personal impact now spans decades, Justice Bridge has come out of retirement twice to continue her work fighting for children and youth. She is now retiring for the third time and thinks, “The third time’s the charm.”

    GSBA solutes Justice Bridge for her tireless commitment to Washington State’s at-risk youth and being a champion for young LBGTQ people.

    Join us in honoring Justice Bridge’s lifetime of achievements during Justice for All: 38th Annual Business & Humanitarian Awards Dinner on Thursday, February 21 at Seattle Marriott Waterfront:

  • Meet Kate Beck: GSBA's Business Leader of the Year

    by GSBA
    | Feb 08, 2019

    Even before she relocated from the Midwest to Seattle in 2003, Kate Beck decided to become a member of GSBA.

    Schenker_Beck_Kate 012Final“A friend of mine in Kansas City was like, ‘If you’re moving to Seattle, the first thing you need to do is join GSBA.’ So I took her word for it, immediately joined, and became a volunteer,” said Kate.

    “I picked my real estate agent, my home insurance, my healthcare - I picked everybody out of the (GSBA) guide. I was so excited to be in a gay community, moving from the Midwest where there wasn’t that kind of community available with professionals who were out.”

    Fifteen years later, Kate has become not only a familiar face at GSBA functions across the city, but a pillar of her community as GSBA’s 2018 Business Leader of the Year. While she served on the GSBA Board of Directors from 2004 to 2008, Kate expanded her network as a home mortgage consultant through connections she built with other chamber members. Now at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in Northgate, Kate leads a team of loan processors and underwriters, and a full-time assistant as they guide future home-owners through the many intricacies of buying a house.

    “I make myself available evenings and weekends because that’s when real estate happens,” said Beck. “I follow my clients all the way through to the finish line and make sure they know what’s going on, because buying a house is such a stressful time in a person’s life, and they need someone there to shepherd them, and be warm and available throughout the process. Even after closing, it’s nice to have someone to follow up with as well.”

    IMG_6998Besides her work with GSBA, Kate also volunteers across King and Snohomish Counties with Mary’s Place, Cacoon House, Ronald Commons, and the YMCA. It’s through these organizations where she not only finds fulfilment in helping communities thrive, but meets people where she can help secure their own homes.

    “The more people I meet, the more people I’m able to help. So I’m able to combine my philanthropy as a way to network,” she said. “I’m a true believer in ‘win-win.’ I truly want the best for my clients, their (real estate) agents, and the company that I work for. I will work so hard to advocate for people. I’m a problem solver. I want the end result to be the best for everybody.”

    As a longtime member of GSBA, Kate finds herself emotional when she contemplates the impact of being honored at Justice for All: 38th Annual Business & Humanitarian Awards Dinner.

    “I grew up in the Midwest and my formative years were during the seventies and early eighties. I was very much in the closet,” she said. “Being able to be in a big city and be honored by my peers is just so impactful. It’s so healing (considering) all I went through in my childhood and teens. It’s a little overwhelming, in a good way.”

    Join us in honoring Kate during Justice For All: 38th Annual Business & Humanitarian Awards Dinner on Thursday, Feb 21 at Seattle Marriott Waterfront:

  • Meet Aluel Cellars: GSBA's New Business of the Year

    by GSBA
    | Feb 06, 2019

    Nearly ten years ago, Alex Oh arrived at Golden Gardens Park with a bottle Entre-deux-Mers to see that his future life and business partner Samuel Hilbert had also brought a bottle of rare wine to their first date. 

    IMG_6584“We really bonded over wine,” said Alex. “Ever since then, wine has been in our lives. It’s a joint passion for both of us. It’s something that we love deeply and want to share with the rest of the world.”

    In 2012, Alex and Samuel forged their names together to lay the groundwork for GSBA’s 2018 New Business of the Year, Aluel Cellars, with “Al” standing for Alex and “-uel” for Samuel. That same year, they produced their first vintage and began the process of creating their signature line of wines. Four years later, the couple opened their tasting room nestled on Thomas St. in the bustling core of Capitol Hill, and began selling bottles to the public.

    While Samuel and Alex pour and sell in one of the most modern neighborhoods in the city, Aluel’s wines thrive on an old-world approach to winemaking, incorporating fruits made from some of the finest vineyards in the state.

    “When a lot of people think about winetasting, they think about going out to wine country,” said Samuel. “But we wanted to bring our wines to one of the most urban, hip locations in the city where it’s very accessible to the everyday person.”

    Even before opening their tasting room in December of 2016, Samuel and Alex became GSBA members and have been heavily involved with the community since, partnering with GSBA to provide wine at events such as EQUALUX: Taste of GSBA.

    “GSBA represents to us a community of like-minded individuals who believe in equality and diversity, and that (those things) are good for business,” said Alex. “Equality is really important to Aluel because it means that we can bring our whole, authentic selves into everything that we do." 

    Samuel points towards a lack of diversity within the wine industry as an opportunity for Aluel to champion representation not only as an LGBTQ-owned business, but as one co-owned by one of the Pacific Northwest’s only Asian-American winemakers. 

    “As a minority-owned winery, we really think it’s important for us to be out in front and to pave the way for the many other LGBTQ winemakers that come after us. We want to share that with our community,” said Alex.

    Join us in honoring Aluel Cellars during Justice For All: 38th Annual Business & Humanitarian Awards Dinner on Thursday, Feb 21 at Seattle Marriott Waterfront:

  • How to Prepare in Case of Another Government Shutdown

    by by Caron Beesley,
    | Jan 31, 2019

    With the federal government having reopened on Jan 25 following the longest government shutdown in US history, yet another government shutdown still looms for mid-February if Congress and the Trump Administration fail to reach an agreement about border security. Whether you're a federal employee or a small business, there are ways you can prepare for how another shutdown might impact you.

    Originally published on, an online small business loan and finance company.

    When the federal government shuts down, even far outside Washington, D.C., small business suffers. Government contractors lose money (nearly 25% of whom are small businesses), the SBA stops processing loans, tourism takes a hit (national parks and monuments close), and more.

    Unlike federal employees who receive back pay when they return to work, America’s small business owners are on their own when it comes to recovering costs, accessing much-needed financing, and in many cases, re-building their businesses.

    In this article, the second in a two-part series on government shutdowns and their effect on small business (catch up on part one here), we take a look at how business owners can prepare for a potential shutdown and mitigate the impact.

    Here’s what you need to know to prepare for and mitigate the impact of government shutdowns on your business.

    If You’re a Government Contractor

    Contractors who depend on federal government business are perhaps the hardest hit by shutdowns. But there are some steps they can take to prepare and recover once Uncle Sam gets back to work. Below are a few questions to ask and best practices to pursue:

    • Can you continue to work on a contract?
      If you’re working on a government contract, find out how any imminent shutdown may affect the job. Will a “stop work” order be issued by the agency? If so, all work must cease. Whatever happens, do not stop working until you receive an explicit notification to stop work from the agency.
    • Get organized, fast
      Even if a stop work order isn’t issued, contractors face another challenge – access to resources. A shutdown means that agency personnel are furloughed, facilities are closed, and access to data is denied, making any continuation of work impossible. Try to prepare for this eventuality by getting as much information about the project as you can before government employees are furloughed. This is also the time to chase and resolve any unpaid bills.
    • Request a contract extension
      In the event of a shutdown, you may be entitled to an excusable delay which extends the contract until the work is performed, if one isn’t forthcoming, press for one.
    • Getting paid
      The next big question is whether you’ll get paid. There’s no clear answer here. It all depends on the type of contract (fixed price or cost reimbursement), what type of work is being performed, and where the money’s coming from. If you’ve received a stop work order, refer to your contract. Is there an option to recover any lost costs for fixed-price contracts or those that have already been funded? Get in touch with your procurement contracting officer to find out what’s involved. If you struggle financially during a shutdown, consider invoice financing. Fundbox lets you draw funds based on your outstanding accounts receivables, register in seconds and get access to cash as early as the next business day.
    • Consult with a lawyer
      Since the threat of shutdowns seems to have become a part of contracting life, it’s a good idea to consult with legal counsel who specializes in federal procurement law to understand your rights.
    • Keep a paper trail
      Whatever happens, keep stringent records of costs incurred because of the shutdown and document all communications you’ve had with the government so you can support any case you make to recover costs.

    If You’re Applying for an SBA Loan

    The SBA closes its doors completely during a shutdown, delaying the processing of hundreds if not thousands of SBA loan applications. Shutdowns are unpredictable: they may last days or weeks.

    You might not have that long to wait. If you need financing faster, consider alternative options like Fundbox. We offer financing without the lengthy wait, paperwork, and look beyond your credit score to help you get funding decisions. Check outFundbox Credit™, and see for yourself.

    If You’re in the Tourism Business

    Shutdowns can have a devastating effect on tourism, particularly for small businesses located in or near national parks and monuments.

    If you own a business that relies on tourist, what are your options during a shutdown?

    Before a shutdown, think about how you can appeal to customers to keep their travel plans. Hotels and B&Bs can offer “shutdown specials” during a closure and “back in business” incentives post-shutdown. Others may be able to diversify or suggest other sightseeing alternatives that don’t involve affected parks.

    Make a point of communicating regularly with your customers. Let them know how, and if, the shutdown will affect your business, what you’re offering instead, and give them a reason to come back when it’s all over.

    Keep an eye on yourcash flow forecast, and be prepared to mitigate any potential impacts.

    If Military Personnel are Your Customers

    Is your business close to a military base or located within a base? If DoD employees are furloughed, this could have a knock-on effect on the money they spend with your business. Show that you are with them, offer promotions or other incentives to drive foot traffic. Many bases don’t let you advertise on-site, so you need to rely on word-of-mouth.

    Depending on your business, and if it makes financial sense, you might also consider offering services for free or at a discount during the shutdown, then recoup it later when retroactive pay kicks in.

    If You’re Hiring

    E-Verify, the federal government’s employment eligibility verification system stops working during a shutdown. Even if the system is down, employers must still complete Form I-9 for all new hires. However, you won’t be able to create a case in the E-Verify system (which you’re required to do within three days of the employee starting work).

    During recent shutdowns, USCIS suspended this three-day rule, but employers are required to submit I-9s once the system comes back online.

    Keep good records of new hires made during a shutdown and find out what the time frame is to enter and create cases in the system once the shutdown ends.

  • GSBA lobbies for statewide LGBTQ Commission

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy Manager
    | Jan 30, 2019
    After five years of advocacy, GSBA’s work on creating Washington State’s first LGBTQ Commission may soon become a reality. Working with newly elected Senator Claire Wilson (District 30, Federal Way) and GSBA Lobbyist Susie Tracy, Washington is poised to establish a LGBTQ commission this year. 

    Closely modeled after the Washington State Women’s Commission established in 2018, the LGBTQ Commission would consist of 15 members appointed by the Governor for 3-year terms. Importantly it would have a paid executive director to help administer and coordinate the commission.

    Like the minority and women’s commissions, the LGBTQ commission would be charged with several roles around state governance:

    • Monitor legislation affecting LGBTQ people
    • Work with state agencies to assess programs and policies affecting LGBTQ people, and consult with them on the effectiveness of policies and rules on the particular issues facing LGBTQ people
    • Review best practices for anti-discrimination and harassment policies and training, and provide recommendation to state agencies
    • Work to eliminate barriers for LGBTQ people in all areas of state governance
    • Hold public hearings to gather input from the community

    Additionally, the bill establishing the commission would also formally recognize June as LGBTQ Pride Month, with the fourth week of the month (the traditional time for most Pride celebrations across the country) being especially designated “a time for people of this state to celebrate the contributions to the state by LGBTQ people in the arts, sciences, commerce, and education”.

    GSBA, working together with community partners, is excited that the LGBTQ community, with passage of SB 5356, will finally be provided similar opportunities and benefits enjoyed by other protected classes, all of which have statewide commissions. Without a statewide commission, the LGBTQ community has been excluded from many economic opportunities offered to other protected classes, including the most basic benefit of ensuring our community is identified and counted in disparity studies, which is absolutely essential for receiving state funding. When you are not counted, you are invisible and often excluded from having a seat at the table. For example, without a LGBTQ Commission, our community does not have a seat on the Minority Business Roundtable nor is LGBTBE certification recognized, resulting in fewer opportunities for our small businesses to be able to compete for government contracts. A Commission does not fix everything, but it is important if we are to break down the economic barriers still faced by our community, most especially our trans and LGBTQ communities of color.

    We urge you to contact your legislators and ask them to support SB 5356 and the creation of a Washington State LGBTQ Commssion.

  • Meet Northwest Immigrant Rights Project: GSBA's Nonprofit of the Year

    by GSBA
    | Jan 28, 2019

    In the midst of a turbulent political climate where immigration rights have become a divisive hot-button issue, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project Executive Director Jorge Barón chooses to take the high road.

    Schenker_Baron_Jorge 008Final“We try to focus on the things we can change, like getting people released from detention and helping people who are navigating this crazy system,” said Barón. “Then we try to focus on those victories, because we could go nuts otherwise.”

    GSBA’s Nonprofit of the Year, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), provides immigration legal services to low-income people across Washington State. Barón and his team work out of their bustling Pioneer Square office, providing direct legal services to individuals navigating naturalization, asylum, deportation, or other aspects of the US immigration system.

    “We also do a lot of work with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes. Other aspects of our work involves systemic advocacy, (such as) impact litigation where we’re challenging unjust policies that are affecting immigrants and refugees,” said Barón. “We also engage in community education, which involves trying to inform both immigrant community members, as well as the broader community about the realities of immigration law.”

    Barón first found himself with NWIRP in 2006 as a staff attorney. Two years later, he became the organization’s executive director, and has steered the organization ever since. At 13, Barón emigrated from Colombia, and it was his experiences as an immigrant which sparked his commitment to human rights.

    “While I had a much easier path in the immigration system because I came with more resources than most of our clients have, I still remember starting eighth grade and I didn’t speak English,” said Barón.  “It was the first time that I felt a sense of being ‘the other.’ Over the years I’ve started to recognize how painful that rejection and treatment was. That inspired me to work on human rights issues, and immigrant rights is just a part of that.”

    NWIRP sees many cases which share intersectionalities within the LGBTQ community, and often involve LGBTQ individuals who’ve experience persecution seeking asylum in the US, said Barón.

    “We had a client who fled Pakistan because of attacks he suffered just because he happened to be gay. He had to leave his country because he didn’t feel safe there and he had actually been severely beaten because of his identity,” said Barón. “He came to the United States and tried to seek asylum… and he just so happened to be transferred to the Northwest Detention Center where he was going to have to make his claim before an immigration judge. But there’s no right to an appointed attorney for someone who doesn’t have the resources. So he was going to have to present his case on his own with no English experience while trying to navigate our complex system, in particular, the asylum statutes. So thanks to the community support here locally, we were able to take on his case and represent him. I’m pleased to say that he was released from detention and ultimately granted asylum.”

    Barón said the man, who happens to be an artist, is now living and working in Seattle, having been welcomed into the local arts and LGBTQ communities. When it comes to how the current political climate impacts his work however, Barón said that while policy changes have made this more difficult, an increase in community engagement has helped NWIRP gain momentum.

    “I think the past two years have been pretty interesting. Because on the one hand, we’re having to deal with these really negative situations where a lot of our clients are very afraid of what’s coming and the uncertainty of what’s going to happen to them,” said Baron. “But on the flip side of that, there’s also been a tremendous positive reaction from the community. I think the moment we saw that crystallize was with the ‘Muslim ban’ right at the beginning of the administration when people went to the airport (to protest). Despite the fear and the rhetoric of the administration, and their own personal risk, people have spoken out against this and been incredibly brave in fighting against the administration’s policies. So that gives me hope.”

    Join us in honoring Northwest Immigrant Rights Project during Justice For All: 38th Annual Business & Humanitarian Awards Dinner on Thursday, Feb 21 at Seattle Marriott Waterfront:

    Photo by Meryl Schenker

  • Meet TomboyX: GSBA's 2018 Business of the Year

    by GSBA
    | Jan 23, 2019

    IMG_6624GSBA’s Business of the Year, TomboyX, is far more than just a company that makes underwear. Now surpassing its sixth year as a business, the fashion innovators make “the most comfortable gender-neutral underwear, swimwear, loungewear, and activewear on the market,” according to Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer Naomi Gonzalez. Gonzalez and her wife, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Fran Dunaway, first launched TomboyX after Dunaway struggled to find a masculine-styled shirt fit for a feminine physique.

    “I wanted a beautiful button-up shirt like a Robert Graham or a Ben Sherman, but made for a woman’s body,” said Dunaway. “We chose the name TomboyX because we just thought it was a cute name. But about a week into our Kickstarter campaign, we realized the name was resonating in a such a big way that we had an instant brand. We started doing some research to try to start building a brand, and we needed a ‘hero’ product. So Naomi said, ‘Hey, there’s a lot of customers looking for boxer-briefs. So off we went.”

    IMG_6622-2As the company’s growth has ballooned over the past six years, taking in $5.4 million of revenue in 2017, its tenants of body-positivity and empowerment have remained steady. This philosophy and annual revenue have landed TomboyX on the Puget Sound Business Journal list of Largest LGBTQ-Owned Companies, since 2015, coming in at number 10 in 2018.

    “We stepped into a wide space that no one in the fashion industry has been addressing. We have a very loud and vocal community that we feel personally responsible to and for. As members of the LGBTQ community, we know what it’s like to have been outsiders or have not been in the mainstream... So when we say we have a human agenda, that’s about being unapologetically ‘you’ all day, every day, and feeling comfortable in your own skin,” said Dunaway.

    Nestled into their new headquarters above Krispy Kreme in SODO, Dunaway and Gonzalez built out an open-office workspace for their 25 employees, including quality assurance staff, customer service representatives, a marketing team, and more. Dunaway and Gonzalez expect to grow the team by at least ten more staff-members in 2019.

    “GSBA has been a great supporter of TomboyX from the beginning,” said Dunaway. “(Through GSBA) we’ve not only found people to be vendors for us and help with our bookkeeping, but we’ve also done a lot of networking. GSBA has been a great home for us.”

    Join us in honoring TomboyX during Justice For All: 38th Annual Business & Humanitarian Awards Dinner on Thursday, Feb 21 at Seattle Marriott Waterfront:

  • GSBA Condemns Reinstatement of Transgender Military Ban

    by GSBA
    | Jan 22, 2019
    Discrimination, bias, harassment and hate against people for who they are is wrong. Today, the US Supreme Court was wrong in continuing to block the participation in our military by transgender Americans. This harms not only our transgender and gender-diverse community, but makes America complicit in perpetuating hate and fear as a result of this decision. When we marginalize and deny full equality under the law to anyone, we all lose. The principles which guide our judicial decision-making are clearly broken, and the result is to not only demoralize one group of people, but it moves to silence the talent and perspectives of transgender and gender-diverse Americans in spaces where they have every right to be.
    GSBA, Washington State’s LGBTQ chamber of commerce will not sit silently by and accept a decision that goes against our most fundamental belief in justice for all. Today, GSBA affirms our ongoing commitment to fight for the equality and inclusion of our trans and gender-diverse community, as well as any marginalized community whose rights are being denied, threatened, and revoked. Our heartfelt gratitude is with the estimated 15,000 transgender and gender-diverse active-duty service-members currently serving and protecting our country.
    We encourage our GSBA members to support the local and national organizations working to elevate and advocate for the rights of trans and gender-diverse people. Read more about this case here.
    In solidarity,
  • Small Business Impact of the Government Shutdown

    by Caron Beesley, as published on
    | Jan 18, 2019
    For many small business owners, the last thing you may plan for is "what happens if the government shuts down?" As we have seen increasingly over the last several administrations, the Federal Government can, and does shut down from time to time. That means some lifeline services to small business owners may be unavailable, unreliable, or in worst case scenarios, canceled altogether.

    There isn't a lot of information out there right now about what to do now that we're in a shutdown. There is a void of information about what services and resources are out there currently to help small business owners who cannot receive information, loans, and services from the government at this time. We came across one article (copied below) with some objective analysis on this topic, and are sharing that information with you. 

    By Caron Beesley January 9, 2019
    Originally published on, an online small business loan and finance company.

    Government shutdowns, or the threat of them, have become a way of life in today’s political climate. The 16-day government shutdown of 2013 resulted in $24 billion in lost economic output and there’s seemingly no end in sight for the current one as each side battles over funding priorities.

    In this article, the first in a two-part series on government shutdowns, we’re looking at how the fallout affects the small business community.

    Here are five scenarios when government shutdowns can hurt small business.

    1.  When Your Customer is the Federal Government or a Contractor

    The federal government is the largest single purchaser of goods and services in the world, awarding $500 billion in contracts every year. Everything from paper clips to missiles, computer software to marketing communication services, the government buys it all. And it’s not just from large contractors.

    The Small Business Administration (SBA) works with federal agencies to award nearly one quarter of prime government contracting dollars to small businesses in accordance with statutory goals. These “set-asides”, as they’re known, generate millions of dollars in payments and support a broad ecosystem of prime and sub-contractors.

    The Impact:

    When the government closes, not only do federal contracts stop paying out, but the opportunity to bid for new business also dries up, since everyone (except critical government employees) is furloughed. Even during the brief January 2018 shutdown, contractors received “stop work” orders from agencies. This equates to tense times for small business and can cost employees and subcontractors their jobs, at least temporarily.

    2.  If You’re Looking for an SBA Loan

    When the government shuts down, the SBA stops processing loan applications submitted by financial institutions on behalf of their clients (SBA doesn’t provide the funds, rather they guarantee the loan giving the lender a lifeline should the business owner default). In fact, it’s against the law for federal employees to do any work, even check email, when they’re furloughed.

    If your small business is looking for cash to grow or expand, you won’t get an answer on whether the loan is approved until the government returns to work. The exception is SBA disaster loans that help small business and home-owners recover from declared disasters.

    The Impact:

    During the prolonged 2013 shutdown (16 days), 700 loan applications piled up in a queue while the agency was closed. The Washington Post cited several examples of small business owners left in limbo when the SBA held up their loans. For example, Chris Leh, president of TL Technologies in Lancaster, PA., told a congressional hearing that he had to cancel a $600,000 equipment order and rescind two job offers to highly trained machinists because his SBA loan application was not approved before the 2013 shutdown.

    Then-acting SBA Administrator, Jeanne Hulit, wrote, “During the shutdown, I heard stories from small business owners about contracts cancelled or put on hold, workers they had to furlough, and the potential for shift and staff reductions…many small businesses are still struggling with how to take care of their employees as they see projects postponed.”

    3.  If your livelihood depends on tourism

    One of the most indelible images of all government  shutdowns is the closure signs posted outside national parks and landmarks. While some parks remain open during the current shutdown, albeit with a reduced level of service, many smaller sites are shuttered. If your business is located in the vicinity of a park, any closure can have devastating consequences.

    The Impact:

    Cancellations and reductions in traffic threatens small business livelihoods. National Park shutdown costs are already at $5 million and rising and our nation’s parks face years of damage as a result.

    4.  If you’re planning to hire

    One overlooked aspect of the government shutdown is the government’s E-Verify website used to verify the eligibility of individuals to work in the U.S. During any shutdown, per the Department of Homeland Security and USCIS, employers will not be able to access their online accounts.

    The Impact:

    While it shouldn’t delay your hiring plans (USCIS usually approves a workaround), the E-Verify shutdown puts businesses at risk of non-compliance if they skip this important step to ensuring a legal workforce.

    5.  If military personnel are your big customers

    Without an exemption, military personnel can be furloughed and lose pay during a shutdown.

    The Impact:

    If your business is located near a military base or is positioned in a military installation, lack of disposable income could hit your business hard during a shutdown.

    The bottom line

    Brief or prolonged, a federal government shutdown can throw a wrench in the works of business operations and plans. Shutdowns are a serious blow to small businesses and affect their ability to serve customers, access finance, invest, and ultimately, grow.

    According to Small Business Majority, every time the government closes shop it diminishes consumer confidence and creates a huge amount of uncertainty.

    Stay tuned for part two in this series, where we’ll discuss ways small business can plan for and mitigate the effect of government shutdowns if and when they happen.


    by GSBA Staff
    | Jan 18, 2019

    We caught up with Darrell Wagner of Gig Roster to hear all about his company's origins and what "Equality is Good Business" means for him. 

    GSBA: Tell us about your business. How and when did you get started? Why did you decide to build your business?

    Professional_Entertainments_GigRoster_SEA-LiveBandDarrell Wagner: It started in 1983.  I was still in college and was always helping churches find musicians for various productions. So I started a little company called Musicians Unlimited and assumed I would make lots of money hiring violin players at church shows - I didn't. But along the way, people started asking me to find them a band for weddings or entertainment at a corporate parties. So I thought, “Sure, why not?”

    Over the years, this venture grew and evolved into what is now Gig Roster. Gig Roster is a talent-buying agency which services clients of all kinds across the US when they are looking for talent for any kind of event.

    GSBA: What makes Gig Roster Special?

    DW: We are in a happy business. Almost every event we are associated with is a celebration of some sort. Whether it’s a wedding, party, or a corporate event. We simply like bringing the “wow” to anything we’re associated with by providing good guidance and excellent talent, so our clients have an experience they'll always remember.

    GSBA: What does “Equality is Good Business” mean to you?

    At this point in my career, and also being in the entertainment business, we work with probably the most diverse set suppliers and artists possible. Every one of them comes at it from a different perspective, but the one thing that’s universal is they want to share their art with others. Equality, acceptance, and diversity is simply baked into our business model. It makes this sort of career easy to enjoy and easy to fully embrace, both as an artist and business professional.

    GSBA: Why did you decide to become a GSBA member?

    Professional_Entertainments_GigRoster_SEA-BandDW: Originally, it was because it was the easiest way to get NGLCC Certification. In retrospect, I should have done it many years ago. I love the vibrant community and number of ways to get involved with the most engaged and nurturing community I can imagine. I guess I should have known the LGBTQ community would be welcoming and at the front of the line in providing great things for each member to prosper! I’m thrilled to be working with the caliber of people I've encountered.

    GSBA: How can GSBA members become involved with Gig Roster?

    DW: Call us or take a look at the amazing artists we represent at If you know someone who is looking for entertainment for any kind of event, mention that you heard of us through GSBA. We’re always happy to talk to people who’ve heard of us through the GSBA community. Performing artists who’d like to be involved can simply register for free. We have all the tools you need to promote to a wider audience.

  • GSBA Partners with Springboard Cuba for Cultural Exchange

    by GSBA Staff
    | Jan 14, 2019
    When it comes to what she’s most excited to experience during this spring’s trade mission to Cuba from May 12 - 18, GSBA member Jen O’Ryan of Double Tall Consulting can’t wait to see it all.

    “I’m most excited to learn more about the people, culture, and LGBTQ+ community,” Jen said. “Being able to visit the LGBTQ+ community centers on the second day will be an amazing opportunity. I’m also excited about exploring the sites - experiencing new things is always a bonus - and of course, the Pride festivities at the end.”

    Partnering with GSBA, Springboard Cuba, a Cuba-focused consulting company, is leading the seven-day cultural expedition to look into the state of LGBTQ+ awareness on the island, culminating in the vibrant Havana Pride celebrations, which are expected to have record attendance this year.

    Spanning from the capital city of Havana to Viñales, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the excursion features film showings, cigar tastings and a visit to tobacco fields, museum strolls, and a night on the town to experience the electric Havana nightlife.

    “Cuba is one of the liveliest and most vibrant countries I've had the opportunity to visit,” said Chandler Martin, Director of Springboard Cuba. “We're honored to be able to share our knowledge of Cuba - and love for it - with the GSBA community.” cuba2

    While the trip attendees will be able to sample Cuban tourist activities such as a drive in a classic convertible along the famous seawall, this experience will take a more nuanced look at the local LGBTQ+ culture and history. For Marcos Cu-Sarmiento, this was the main attraction which led him to join the trip. 

    “I'm very interested in learning more about Cuba's approach to STI-prevention by visiting the STI-HIV/AIDs Prevention Center in Havana,” Cu-Sarmiento said. “This is very relevant to the work I do in Seattle. It's important to me to learn from other countries and apply that knowledge to our services here in the U.S., based on similar services and needs.”

    For Mattie Mooney, they’re most excited to witness the unique landscape of LGBTQ+ culture on the island.

    cuba1“What made me join the trip was the opportunity to experience learning about LGBTQ life outside of my own. Those narratives and experiences are not only important and unique but, at times overlaps with mine as a black trans queer person,” Mattie said. 

    Since some travel restrictions for U.S. citizens are still in place, travelers are encouraged to register several months before the trip, by January 23. All who are interested can read the trip itinerary or sign-up for an info-session on January 18.  

  • GSBA Joins Transgender Economic Empowerment Coalition to Tackle Disparities

    by Eli Coffin
    | Dec 17, 2018

    GSBA is always impressed by, and proud of our members who are active and ready to take the next step in gender inclusion and inclusivity. We recognize the importance of investing in diverse future leaders and are ready to work collaboratively to exchange ideas and increase visibility for the most marginalized of our community. We not only serve as a resource to help businesses become more inclusive, but also as a starting point for trans entrepreneurs that are looking to start their business in a supported way.

    teecAbout the Coalition

    Earlier this year GSBA joined forces with other local LGBTQ organizations to form the Transgender Economic Empowerment Coalition (TEEC). TEEC is made up of a group of community-based organizations which are committed to addressing economic inequities faced by transgender and gender diverse, and/or non-binary youth, adults, and families. Coalition members include GSBA, UTOPIA Seattle, Ingersoll Gender Center, Seattle Counseling Services, Gay CityPOCAAN, Gender Diversity Seattle, and TRANSform Washington and are able to tackle these intersectional issues thanks to a two-year, $550,000 Communities of Opportunity grant awarded by King County. This is the first grant of its kind in the region and is a historic investment to our transgender and gender diverse community members. Our collective goal is to identify barriers and gaps in economic resources so we can develop policy solutions, new resources, and improve access to move these communities out of poverty.

    We know working in a coalition led by the LGBTQ community - specifically transgender-led and LGBTQ People of Color-led organizations with an intersectional focus - that the coalition is perfectly suited to find solutions to address long standing and systemic iniquities. The coalition's success will be derived from centering in on the leadership, expertise, and lived experiences of low-income transgender and gender diverse, LGBTQ POC individuals with a combination of experiences including: those with disabilities, in sex work/street economy, institutionalized, experienced reparative therapy, and/or those who have been incarcerated.

    As a community, GSBA and the other coalition partners have known each other for a long time.  For many of us, this is our first time working together in an official and coordinated capacity. Being part of such a diverse coalition has allowed us to examine our own policies and improve both our internal and external commitments to inclusiveness. Participating in a group of all-trans leaders is a first for many of us, and it’s also empowering to see the people who are affected by these issues in the position to shape the future of this landscape.           

    What Comes Next

    TEEC partners are currently drafting a community survey for all transgender and gender diverse people who live, work, or study in King County. One particular challenge in doing this kind of work within our community is that we have no real data on how many people identify as transgender or gender diverse in King County. The coalition’s goal is to get a sense of not only the size of this community, but also its needs, gaps in resources, and what solutions need to be prioritized. 

    We know from research conducted by the US Trans Survey that nearly  a third of respondents were living in poverty as compared to 12% of the US population. This disparity is amplified when referring to trans people of color. This is highly attributed to the 15% unemployment rate among the trans community, which is three times higher than the national average, with trans people of color being affected four times as much at 20%.

    What You Can Do Right Now

    At a time like this, it can be hard to know where to start or how to help. There are some simple and easy things we can do to help right now. We can begin by supporting trans-owned businesses with our own dollars. As allies, we can also step up by learning how we to best support our trans friends and neighbors in community.

    Being a better ally means recognizing that need  that everyone will always be learning and that there will be no end to diversity and inclusion work. Rather, diversity and inclusion is a continuous commitment to prioritize the needs of those who’ve been continuously marginalized and left out of business and economic prosperity.

    To continue this work GSBA will be launching employer tools in 2019 to help guide corporations and small businesses as they shape more inclusive and accepting workplaces for all employees. To find out more, and to stay up to date on our progress in the TEEC, email, or subscribe to our email list. 

  • Highlights from CMI's 19th Annual LGBTQ Tourism Forum

    by Meridian Mayer
    | Dec 13, 2018
    Earlier this month, our Senior Membership Services Manager Meridian Mayer jetted across the country to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where they attended Community Marketing & Insights' 19th Annual LGBTQ Tourism Forum on the behalf of GSBA and Travel Out Seattle.

    During the forum, Meridian had the opportunity to speak with LGBTQ travel representatives from across the country and learn about the economic potential of leveraging LGBTQ businesses in tourism. 

    Obligatory beach photo
    Meridian shared some of their favorite moments from the conference, which took place from Dec. 2 - 4th at the W Fort Lauderdale hotel, conveniently located right on the Atlantic waterfront. Here's Meridian's take:

    Sessions started with an informative, deep dive into tourism statistics, led by CMI’s own David Paisley and Thomas Roth. A key, actionable takeaway was to focus on what our destinations do really well and promote those with intentionality to your target audience. They provided “10 steps” to set up a successful LGBTQ marketing strategy. My favorite was to create two lists – one of our destinations top 10 LGBTQ-specific tourism assets and one of top 10 non-LGBTQ specific assets. The goal is to identify your top assets and figure out how to leverage them with emphasis to attract the LGBTQ traveler.

    Diversity Fort Lauderdale

    Riese Bernard, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of took the stage next, and I was blown away! She made several incredibly eye-opening points about engaging Gen. X and Millennial (specifically queer women) travelers. A key takeaway was a finding she discovered in her survey, “we travel to find community we can’t access at home.” This helped me understand the why of queer travel, which is strikingly different from other communities’ reason for travel. I also learned that successfully marketing to this community requires highlighting ways to live like a local on their trip, being visibly inclusive of the trans community, promoting local experiences like museums and independent bookstores, and truly listing establishments like bars and restaurants that are for lesbians and queer people – not just gay bars for cisgender men.

    The "Fort Lauderdale: Welcoming the Entire LGBT+ Community" session was led by Richard Gray, VP, LGBT+ of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. During the presentation, we heard and saw Greater Fort Lauderdale’s diversity initiative #GreaterTogether. It was a rainbow-printed fingerprint with the words “We are all one, we are all welcome, we are all greater together”, which I loved! It was inspiring to see a city own diversity and inclusivity as a movement.

    NYC PrideNYC debuted its Pride logo, which was a creative tribute to Stonewall. Donna Keren, SVP, Head of Research Unity for NYC and Company made remarks to honor the historic events and its upcoming anniversary in 2019. It’s amazing to think back and look how far we have come, and how far we have yet to go.

    Paul Gauger, SVP, Americas & Global Leader for VisitBritain presented the “Love is Great” and “Travel For ___) campaign, which was moving! It was a beautiful depiction of welcoming LGBTQ travel in Europe. I particularly liked the “Travel for Love” portion.

    I explored the city during downtime, and zipped around on Bird scooters – fun! They were easy to use and cheap, too. Plus, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to feel the wind in my super-short hair. At night, the scooters lit up, which made them even easier to find. Fun way to explore any city!

  • World AIDS Day: A Message to Our Community

    by GSBA Staff
    | Dec 01, 2018

    Today is the 30th annual observation of World AIDS Day. Thirty years of remembering those we have lost, celebrating those who are still with us, recognizing those who did and still do the work of care and research, and renewing our community pledge to work for a cure in our lifetimes.


    GSBA was a fledgling business association in the 80’s when we started to see the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our community. We too felt the pain and loss of losing members, leadership, friends and neighbors, and even some of our first GSBA Presidents. In a time when HIV/AIDS was devastating LGBTQ communities, before the disease even had a name, we saw our friends and neighbors rise up and offer help anywhere they could. Let’s take a moment to remember our friends and family who were lost.

    From a common enemy came new partnerships and quickly growing organizations. Northwest AIDS Foundation (now Lifelong AIDS Alliance), Chicken Soup Brigade, Seattle AIDS Support Group (now Seattle Area Support Group), Gay City, POCAAN, Entre Hermanos, ACT UP, Queer Nation, Seattle Counseling Services (open since 1969), and many more took up the mantle of caring for those who could no longer care for themselves. Alongside the almost daily sting of loss, we also saw the power and hope displayed in the simplest act of holding a hand, feeding the sick soup, or changing a bedsheet. We think about the work of Bailey Boushay House, the first skilled nursing facility in the country dedicated to meeting the needs of those with HIV/AIDS.

    Nurturing grew to activism, which formed into organization. Organization led to advocacy, and advocacy began to lead to change. Today we live in the birthplace of HIV/AIDS research progress where labs just miles from downtown Seattle are developing and testing the first HIV vaccines. King County was the first region in the nation to reach a worldwide milestone of record breaking HIV testing, awareness, and treatment. These are incredible feats to be celebrated, and is a testament to the hard work and dedication of those who have put in countless hours, days, and years to get us this far.

    There is still much work to be done, as HIV/AIDS resources are not equitable in testing and treatment. We know that communities of color and immigrant communities are among the highest reported numbers of new infections. We know that access to testing and treatment is more difficult for the undocumented community. That is why GSBA is proud to support our members, many of whom are mentioned above, who do this work day in, day out, working to provide and expand access to services for all.

    We encourage you to get tested, know your status, and do your part in the fight for a cure. Learn more about World AIDS Day and the countless opportunities for you get involved. Contact any of the groups linked above to find where they need your support. And find out how you can be involved with the AIDS Memorial Pathway, a community-driven place of remembrance and reflection at Cal Anderson Park. 

    With gratitude and hope for a better future for all, 



    by GSBA Staff
    | Nov 28, 2018
    Tell us a bit about your business.

    I'm a licensed real estate broker with Keller Williams Realty Greater Seattle, and I have a passion for working with the LGBTQ+ community. My wife and I purchased our home in South Seattle nearly tree years ago. This wonderful experience, coupled with my negative experience during the housing crisis in 2008, led me to consider a career in real estate to help people navigate these waters. I finally took the leap last year and resigned from my fifteen-year career in medical administration, achieved my real estate license, and am now assisting clients with the purchase and sale of homes in the Greater Seattle area.

    rainbowrealtor - Jeanie KendallWhat is something your business does to benefit the LGBTQ community?

    I try to approach all of my professional interactions with the intent to assist and empower whenever possible. One of the reasons I decided to change careers, was so I could commit more time to give back to the LGBTQ+ community. Last summer, I volunteered as a cabin counselor with Camp Ten Trees and it was a life changing experience. It had such a strong impact on me that I joined the organization's board of directors,plan to volunteer every year going forward, and am donating a percentage of every real estate commission I earn to Camp Ten Trees.

    What made you decide to become a GSBA member?

    I have been referencing the GSBA Guide & Directory for years, and I always look forward to receiving a copy at the Pride parade each June. After attending several GSBA networking events, it was clear to me that the GSBA membership benefits extend far beyond inclusion in the guide. When I compared these events to others I've been to in the past, I felt like I could truly be myself around the GSBA community. I felt so empowered when I attended my first Women On Top event and free to discuss the issues that are important to me. I've met many amazing community members and business owners through already through the GSBA. So as a member, I'm very excited to become more involved with these programs, events, and explore philanthropy.
  • OUTLeads Feature: Michelle Beckman

    by GSBA Staff
    | Nov 20, 2018
    OUTLeads is a members-only program where participants come together to share qualified leads or tips to other members of the group. We only allow one member per business sector, so there is no conflict of interest. OUTLeads is an effective way for GSBA members to increase their business; as you are selling and promoting your business, you stay aware of opportunities for other members in your group.
    This week, we spoke with local realtor Michelle Beckman about how her experience with OUTLeads has helped her network with other small business owners and generate leads.

    Michelle Beckman

    Which OUTLeads group are you part of?
    I attend the morning meeting in Wallingford.
    How long have you been a member of OUTLeads?
    I've been a member for about ten months.
    Tell us about referrals. Which business industries do the members you’ve done business with represent?
    Some meetings I've had multiple leads to provide, and during others, I didn’t have any leads to bring to the table. But by allowing me to send referrals as I incur them, clients are getting responses faster from my OUTLeads partners. If I were part of a different organization, I might have to worry about spacing out the frequency of my leads. I enjoy referring to my group while I build my real estate.
    Who have you referred to?
    As a real estate agent, I've referred to a window washer, architect, accountant, lender, and financial planner.
    What do you enjoy about the OUTLeads meetings?
    I'm glad the group meets early, because usually small business owners work day and night, so I'm able to fit it into my schedule easily. I'm also thankful for the attendance policy which helps motivate everyone to continue to participate.
    OUTLeads is incredible for building my small business because I typically get invited to many “business networking” events that are closer to a social cocktail event, instead of one where I can truly learn about other business, share my own work, and see the leads turn into revenue. Another reason I selected the GBSA’s OUTLeads program (besides our LBGTQ community), is that other organizations have high fees and strict rules about a minimum of leads each person is required to provide. By OUTLeads not having a minimum, it allows the quality of the referrals to be more organic and high quality.
  • GSBA-endorsed initiatives win at the ballot

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy Manager
    | Nov 20, 2018

    All three initiatives endorsed by GSBA were successful at the ballot this month! We are excited that majorities across the state agreed with our positions on these important issues.

    Initiative 940: De-escalate Washington
    After a complicated history in the legislative session, I-940 was resoundingly approved by 60% of voters. Law enforcement personnel will be given training on violence de-escalation, mental health, and first aid practices. The Initiative reforms our laws around the use of deadly force, and requires independent investigations when there is injury or death. A big congratulations to the De-Escalate Washington coalition on this hard-fought victory!

    Initiative 1639: Safe Schools, Safe Communities
    The latest gun control measure from the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, and the only one on the ballot anywhere in the USA in November, I-1639 requires increased background checks, training, age limitations, and waiting periods for sales or delivery of semiautomatic assault rifles. It also criminalizes non-compliant storage upon unauthorized use. GSBA has been proud to support each of these gun control initiatives as an issue of importance to both the LGBTQ and small business communities. As with Initiatives 594 and 1491, I-1639 passed with a strong majority of the people's vote.

    Seattle Prop 1: Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise Levy
    A supermajority of Seattle voters approved of the Proposition 1, which renews the existing Families & Education Levy and Seattle Preschool Levy, and adds the Seattle Promise program. About half of the $600 million levy will fund the expansion of Seattle's preschool program, $255 million will fund K-12 programs and resources, and $40 million will finance free community college for Seattle Public School graduates. GSBA has long advocated for increased investment in education at all levels, especially at the community and technical college levels. As the founders of the first LGBTQ scholarship fund in the country, we know the value of these educational programs for the next generation of leaders and small business owners.

  • GSBA Honors Transgender Day of Remembrance

    by The GSBA
    | Nov 20, 2018

    Transgender Day of Remembrance

    Today, the GSBA joins thousands across the globe as we honor the lives lost to anti-trans violence. Transgender Day of Remembrance is a crucial day for all trans and non-binary identified people and allies, in which we not only memorialize these lives, but renew our stand in the fight to eliminate such acts and the rhetoric which enables it.

    Human Rights Campaign report this week stated 22 transgender people were murdered in the US, in 2018 alone. The report also sites that 82 percent of those killed this year were transgender women of color, and that 64 percent were under the age of 35. Last year, this number reached its all-time high with 29 fatalities.

    We ask our members and extended community to take a moment today to reflect on these lives our world lost all too soon, and to take up the mantle by committing themselves to learning and understanding what it means to be an ally to trans and non-binary people. We encourage all of our cisgender members to learn about trans and non-binary identity, anti-trans rhetoric and micro-aggressions, and to seek out new ways to implement trans-inclusive practices in not only their workplace, but in their own lives.

    Ingersoll Gender Center provides excellent training for those who would like to dive deeper into trans-allyship and welcome a trans-inclusive training for their workplace. We recommend our members take advantage of these wonderful resources.

    Today, Ingersoll Gender Center and UTOPIA Seattle are hosting their annual Transgender Day of Remembrance event at Trinity Community Church in Kent from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. All who would like to pay their respects to those lost are welcome to attend.