The GSBA Blog

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

    by Seattle Office of Labor Standards
    | Sep 01, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Our Community Responds to Hurricane Harvey

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

    Dear GSBA Members & Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • New Rule Regarding Changes to Sex Designation on Birth Certificates

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing & Communications
    | Aug 23, 2017

    The Washington State Department of Health filed a Preproposal Statement of Inquiry to amend Chapter 246-490 WAC, Vital Statistics.

    The department will consider adopting a new rule to:

    Create a “Change of Gender Designation” request form similar to the one used by the Department of Licensing.

    Establish a list of medical and mental health providers who can attest to the gender change based on the scope of practice for each profession.

    Add an option for a “non-binary” sex designation.

    Because some people identify as neither male nor female, this rule making will consider changing sex designation to include male, female, and non-binary options when requesting a change to the sex designation listed on one’s birth certificates.

    Learn more here.


  • "Billion Dollar Roundtable” now includes LGBT, disability, and veteran-owned Businesses in Corporate Supply Chains

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing & Communications
    | Aug 17, 2017

    BDR_w_registeration_logoThe Billion Dollar Roundtable voted to expand their criteria of diverse businesses counted toward a corporation’s billion dollar supply chain spend on diverse-owned businesses to include: certified LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs), Disability-Owned Business Enterprises, Service-Disabled Veteran Disability-Owned Business Enterprises, and Veteran-Disability Owned Business Enterprises.
    “The inclusion of LGBT, disability, and veteran-owned businesses into the Billion Dollar Roundtable reflects the national best practice in supplier diversity of including all communities at the table of opportunity,” said NGLCC Co-Founder & President Justin Nelson. “In the United States, LGBT-owned businesses are creating tens of thousands of jobs and adding over $1.7 trillion to the economy, much of that due to inclusion in corporate supply chains. We’re proud to see our businesses included in the criteria that rewards corporate excellence in creating new opportunities for diverse-owned businesses to thrive."

    To date, the Billion Dollar Roundtable reports at least $72 billion in spend with diverse-owned businesses. That number is expected to continue climbing as corporations are encouraged and incentivized to work with LGBT, disability, and veteran owned firms.

    The Billion Dollar Roundtable was created in 2001 to recognize and celebrate corporations that achieved spending of at least $1 billion with diverse suppliers. The BDR promotes and shares best practices in supply chain diversity excellence through the production of white papers, thought leadership, and annual meetings. The group encourages corporate entities to continue growing their supplier diversity programs by increasing commitment and spending levels each year.

    Interested in getting your business LGBTBE certified? Become a GSBA member and we'll waive your certification fees! Click here to learn more!

  • Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide

    screen_shot_2017-08-14_at_4.01.52_pmpresidential candidate wins election after denigrating Muslims, Latinos, women and people with disabilities. A young white man opens fire and kills nine African Americans who welcomed him into Bible study at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, telling his victims, “I have to do it.” A Muslim woman is seated on a bench in front of a coffee shop in Washington, D.C., when a woman begins screaming anti-Muslim epithets. A swastika and other anti-Semitic graffiti appear at an elementary school in Stapleton, Colorado. A lone gunman carrying an assault rifle and a handgun storms a well-known gay club in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others.

    Bias is a human condition, and American history is rife with prejudice against groups and individuals because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or other characteristics. As a nation, we’ve made a lot of progress, but stereotyping and unequal treatment persist.

    When bias motivates an unlawful act, it is considered a hate crime. Most hate crimes are inspired by race and religion, but hate today wears many faces. Bias incidents (eruptions of hate where no crime is committed) also tear communities apart and can escalate into actual crimes.

    Since 2010, law enforcement agencies have reported an average of about 6,000 hate crime incidents per year to the FBI. But government studies show that the real number is far higher — an estimated 260,000 per year. Many hate crimes never get reported, in large part because the victims are reluctant to go to the police. In addition, many law enforcement agencies are not fully trained to recognize or investigate hate crimes, and many simply do not collect or report hate crime data to the FBI.

    The good news is, all over the country people are fighting hate, standing up to promote tolerance and inclusion. More often than not, when hate flares up, good people rise up against it — often in greater numbers and with stronger voices.

    Download the Community Response Guide.

  • Your Investment is Growing: A Special Message from Louise

    by Louise Chernin, President & CEO
    | Aug 15, 2017

    islandwood leadership academy 2017 300 widthOn August 11, forty LGBTQ and allied Scholars hopped on a ferry to Bainbridge Island to attend an intensive three-day leadership immersion weekend. Did we ever think, back at the founding of our Scholarship Fund twenty-six years ago, that we would have grown so much in size and breadth of programming to support the GSBA Guarantee and the Leadership Academy?

    To what do we owe these incredible accomplishments?

    Certainly, we must start with our members. Thank you! You have been generous and GSBA is proud to be one of the only chambers in our region that invests in the next generation of leaders. What started as a fund supported just by members now has huge support from the broader community. I also want to give a shout out, because we can’t do it enough, to our many founders, long term members, and champions of the GSBA Scholarship Fund such as Mary Ann Bailey, Linda Bakken, Mike Schemm, Rita Smith, Bob Dlugosh, Neil McDevitt, Tim Bradbury, Lonnie Lusardo, Don Barr, Jim Vandermeer, Gary Collins, Tim Allen, Dean Sargent, Dave Brown, Lorelle Farber, Kirsten Weiss, and Josie Gardner, just to name some of those early visionary leaders.

    As Mike often says, “all we wanted to do was help our kids who were thrown out of their homes and had no one to support them. We never dreamed our Scholarship Fund would be one of the largest and most effective LGBT scholarship funds in the country.” Of course, dreams remain just that unless they are backed by vision and strengthened by a strong infrastructure. For that, we have to thank our Board, most especially our past Board Chair, Kevin Gaspari; past Scholarship Chair, Stephanie Dallas; and current Chair, Carrie Carson, whose passion and commitment led to creating our first-ever Leadership Matching Fund, which gets 100% Board support. Add to the mix our dynamic Scholarship Steering Committee and scholarship team of Travis Mears, our Director of Development and Scholarship Programs, and Mark Rosén, our VP of Development and External Relations, and you have the recipe for unbeatable success.

    There is nothing that will fill your heart more than knowing you played a part in shaping a better future for the LGBT community. If you have not yet made a personal investment in the GSBA Scholarship Fund, I encourage you to do so today. It is also not too soon start getting your table together for our community’s largest LGBT philanthropic event, EQUALUX: The TASTE of GSBA on November 18.

    For equality,

    Louise Chernin
    President & CEO

  • About the GSBA Leadership Academy

    | Aug 15, 2017

    ferry leadership academy scholars weekend 2017 600x337The GSBA Leadership Academy productively connects scholars, fosters new levels of peer support, and helps the formation of lifelong relationships while encouraging scholars to discover and collaboratively address shared interests in social and political issues. The Academy assists scholars in acquiring the necessary skills, knowledge, and attributes to persist year-to-year through completion of their postsecondary education and provides leadership training and support that is immediately applicable to scholar needs.

    The Academy’s Learning Outcomes include:

    Academic Excellence. Students will obtain the skills necessary to connect, develop, and understand a wide range of knowledge, ideas, and experiences impacting their educational endeavors. By participating in the GSBA Leadership Academy scholars will develop skills in the following areas: • Critical & Reflective Thinking • Effective Reasoning • Creativity & Innovation

    Community Engagement. Scholars will explore their personal identities, strengths, and unique characteristics developing the skills necessary to be self-advocates. By participating in the GSBA Leadership Academy scholars will develop skills in the following areas: • Values Clarification • Effective Communication • Leadership • Social Responsibility

    Practical Competence. Scholars will acquire the necessary skills to live a life of economic security and self-sufficiency. By participating in the GSBA Leadership Academy scholars will develop skills in the following areas: • Financial Literacy • Goal Attainment • Career Development • Professionalism


    On August 11, 2017, 39 GSBA Scholars flew in from across the country for the leadership Academy’s first immersion weekend on Bainbridge Island’s IslandWood campus. Over the course of three days, scholars attended workshops such as “Owning Your Leadership Footprint,” “Navigating Diversity & Inclusion,” and “Crafting
    Resiliency;” heard from Scholar alums sharing stories of their early struggles and current achievements; had a moving discussion with Justice Mary Yu; and spent time building bonds with their peers.

  • GSBA Launches the Lead Bold Initiative

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

    leader acadermy weekend scholars 2017 lead bold 600x3372017 was the start of several exciting, new ventures at GSBA focusing on developing skills for both small business owners and GSBA scholars, including the Business Literacy Series and the Leadership Academy. With these new programs off to an exciting start, GSBA is unifying them under the Lead Bold Initiative, providing an opportunity for both sides of GSBA to work concertedly under a common strategy.

    The Lead Bold Initiative fulfills strategic goals for the organization, including being a driver and powerful influencer for business, prosperity, and equality; investing in tomorrow’s leaders; and growing a sustainable chamber. It also sits atop our four foundational pillars of business, community, advocacy, and philanthropy. While workshops aimed at building small business skills have long been a part of GSBA programming, these efforts were formalized as the Business Literacy Series in 2017 in part thanks to a grant from Wells Fargo and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. This economic development grant was meant to increase the number of certified LGBT business enterprises as well as provide those businesses with skills to thrive in a competitive environment, such as financial literacy. With the continuation of this grant into 2018, GSBA is able to further expand its offerings to reflect the full business lifecycle and wide variety of GSBA member businesses and organizations.

    Last year the Scholarship Fund instituted the GSBA Guarantee, a commitment to support scholars financially for up to four years of undergraduate education and to support them in building the necessary resiliency to graduate in a timely manner. Building off that idea, the Scholarship Steering Committee is now launching the GSBA Leadership Academy to provide Scholars with experiences helping them discern who they are as leaders in their own communities and how they can make a difference beyond the classroom. The inaugural Leadership Academy brought 40 GSBA scholars together at Islandwood on Bainbridge Island in August of 2017.

    Both of these efforts are designed to have serious long-term impact. Data collection and feedback from participants is critical to the evolution of Lead Bold as it supports growing leaders in the LGBT and business communities. GSBA encourages all its members to learn more about Lead Bold, how they can benefit from the initiative, and how we can build a successful and sustainable program for all our benefit.

    “GSBA has reimagined the traditional scholarship model to one that focuses on student success both during and after their formal studies. The GSBA Leadership Academy is a ground-breaking program that brings scholars together to build supporting relationships and develop leadership skills uniquely tailored to our communities’ and scholars’ needs. While a number of institutions offer leadership training, GSBA is among the first to provide a program tailored specifically to the LGBT and business communities. Once again GSBA has demonstrated what true business and civic leadership looks like.”
    -Steve Crandall, GSBA Business Man of the Year 2005, Antioch University Board of Governors, CEO ProMotion Holdings

    “We’ve identified the need and have taken steps to meet it. As a business chamber dedicated to social justice, with our finger on the pulse of one of the fastest growing economies in the country, we have taken a stand on improving the landscape of higher education for our scholars. The students will spend time bonding as a cohort establishing lifelong relationships while at the same time grappling through content presented by experts specifically geared toward their growth as our future leaders. It is clear that our country is starved for quality leadership – rather than sitting idly by, GSBA is taking a stand to fill this void – while at the same time giving the scholars the skills necessary to persist through their higher education careers.” -Travis Mears, GSBA Director of Development & Scholarship Programs

  • Back-to-School Anxiety: Signs to Look for and How to Beat It

    by Rene D. Czerwinski, LMHC, NNC
    | Aug 14, 2017

    With back-to-school season just around the corner, children are watching the final days of summer vacation slip away as the first day of school looms ahead. This naturally calls for a mix of excitement, nervousness and—in most cases—anxiety.

    Students of all ages often struggle with anxiety when preparing for the school year ahead as fears of the unknown flood their mind. Who will be their teacher? Will they have friends in their classes? Will they get picked on? As a parent, friend or loved one, you can take several proactive steps to combat back-to-school anxiety and give children the confidence they need to excel in school.

    Rene Czerwinski, Licensed Mental Health Counselor with Pacific Medical Centers, provides insight on how to identify signs of anxiety in children, along with some tools to equip them for success throughout the school year. Czerwinski says the typical reasons for anxiety vary by age but can stem from a variety of concerns such as the quantity of homework, if the teacher will be strict or mean, if the student will fit in or make friends, and the overwhelming stress of school sports tryouts. Thankfully, parents can help alleviate these concerns prior to the school year through consistent emotional and mental support. “Patience is first—and it’s much easier to be patient with consistent patterns,” explains Czerwinski. “This includes helping your child set up a bedtime routine at least two weeks before school starts and having consistent, one-on-one conversations about your child’s day. It’s important to provide your undivided attention during this time and eliminate television, cell phones or any other distractions. Validate your child’s concerns and let them know they have your support and can come to you with any issues.”

    Once school starts and children fall into a new routine, monitor your child’s anxiety levels and behavior to determine if it improves or declines. Bullying at school is a common source of anxiety for children, and being able to identify signs of bullying during the initial stages is key to protecting your child from long-term effects. Czerwinski shares signs parents should watch out for, such as unexplained injuries, lost or damaged clothing, missing books or electronics, frequent headaches, stomach aches or “fake” illnesses to stay home from school. Victims of bullying experience severe anxiety and will also struggle with nightmares, depression, weight loss or weight gain, and inconsistent mood swings.

    If you think your child or loved one is a victim of bullying, you can provide support by educating them on the need to set boundaries, what disrespectful and dangerous behavior looks like, and how to respond appropriately. To defuse the situation, for example, you can teach them to walk away from a threatening situation and to not retaliate with foul language or name calling. If your child witnesses bullying at school, remind them to speak up for others and report these incidences to an adult or faculty member immediately.

    If bullying becomes a recurring issue for your child and you start to notice the impact on their personal well-being, it’s crucial for you to get involved and address the issue directly with the school. “One of the most important points when working directly with the school administration is to remain respectful while expressing your concern,” Czerwinski says. “The administration is on your side and will appreciate your honest feedback. Plan to come to the meeting with specific examples and determine a plan of action together before leaving to ensure there is a strategy in place for resolving the issue.” While identifying and addressing bullying is imperative to your child’s well-being, teaching and empowering your child to stick up for others and not bully is equally as important. Educate your child on how to set boundaries and lead by example, while encouraging an attitude of respect and acceptance for others and their differences. By following these tips, we can inspire a younger generation to develop healthier and safer communities, both inside and outside of the classroom.

    For more information about PacMed, visit or call 1.888.4PACMED. Rene D. Czerwinski, LMHC, NCC, is a psychotherapist at the Pacific Medical Center Beacon Hill clinic.

  • GSBA honored for national leadership in civil rights and economic development

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

    NGLCCThe National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) presented the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) with a $10,000 Chamber Development Grant and its Excellence in Communication award at its 2017 International Business & Leadership Conference in Las Vegas on August 3, 2017.

    The Chamber Development Grant recognizes GSBA’s impactful programming that fosters the development, growth, and sustainability of certified LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBE). The grant is funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and administered by the NGLCC.

    “The LGBTBE Certification Expansion & Education program has become a vital resource to small businesses as they grow and engage in strategic planning,” says Louise Chernin, President & CEO of GSBA. “The program furthers our chamber’s mission of supporting our members through business growth, education, and advocacy. We are thrilled to receive this generous grant from Wells Fargo and NGLCC which will allow us to expand and enrich our program.”

    This year’s Excellence in Communication award recognizes the success of GSBA’s work on the Washington Businesses Won’t Discriminate campaign that opposed the state initiatives (1515 and 1552) modeled after North Carolina’s 2016 House Bill 2 (HB2) – the most anti-LGBT legislation in the United States. Learn more about the campaign here.

    “Knowing that the business voice is both powerful and unexpected on social issues, GSBA built a strong coalition of business – local and national, small and large – to amplify the voice of and for the LGBT community,” says Matt Landers, Public Policy & Communications Manager, GSBA. “Working in concert with partners at national organizations such as Freedom for All Americans, Transgender Law Center, HRC, and Lambda Legal, and with business groups around the state such as the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Inland Northwest Business Alliance, the campaign organized one of the largest and most effective business coalitions in defense of LGBT civil right laws in the country.”

    “I am extremely proud of the work that the Greater Seattle Business Association has done to benefit the LGBT community,” said Justin Nelson, NGLCC Co-Founder & President. “This chamber is truly an outstanding example for the rest of our 47 local affiliate chambers across the nation.”

    Learn more about NGLCC and its 2017 International Business & Leadership Conference here.

  • Joan Huber’s Bequest: “Well May the World Go”

    by Mark Rosén, VP of Development & External Relations
    | Jul 28, 2017

    anne doyle perspective scholar joan huber 2017 600x337LAST YEAR, GSBA RECEIVED A CALL NOTIFYING US THAT JOAN HUBER HAD NAMED THE GSBA SCHOLARSHIP FUND IN HER WILL. A call like this is never happy news, as we mourn the passing of a friend but in Joan’s case, it also created a mystery. We had no idea who Joan was or how she was connected to the Scholarship Fund. I met with her brother, John Huber, and he explained that Joan, a person of very modest means, had lived very simply. Her family had been surprised to learn that her only legacy gift was to the GSBA Scholarship Fund. He didn’t know how she came to make that decision, and so the mystery got deeper.

    John invited me to attend the celebration of Joan’s life, where the veil of mystery began to lift. Rita Smith, one of the early Scholarship founders, was hosting the gathering! When I told her of Joan’s gift, she remembered bringing Joan to one of the early GSBA Scholars Dinners, but had no idea that Joan had included the Fund in her will over 20 years ago! Rita was visibly moved, yet not surprised, to learn of Joan’s generous gift.

    As I listened to stories of Joan’s creativity, humor, and devoted friendships, I came to know a bit about this truly generous person. I felt honored to be in the presence of all the love that exuded from her friends and family, and was sad that I had not been privileged to meet her in person. As she so often did with gifts of sewing, quilting, singing, and more, Joan quietly decided to leave a legacy to support LGBTQ students long after she was gone. Those recipients will never know Joan but their lives will be forever changed because she was moved many years ago, perhaps even before they were born, to make a difference that will keep her spirit alive for generations to come.

    “Joan thought in terms of community. She was a generous, playful and caring friend, who nurtured connections between and among people wherever she encountered them,” says Rita Smith. “She was raised a ‘preacher’s kid,’ moving with her family from her West Virginia birthplace, townto- town across the US, and eventually to Okinawa, where she went to college. Upon returning to the States, she served as Director of Recreation Centers at Fort Lewis Army Base. She started a small food service business on Orcas Island before becoming the manager of Fred Meyer Nutrition Centers across the Northwest.”

    “Joan had a life-long love of the beach, the sea and all things ‘fish.’ She was extremely talented at sewing, painting, quilting, needlepoint, paper art, woodworking, and jewelry making. She designed and created impressive clothing for herself, friends and charity auctions.” “She was a vital member of a long-time women’s song circle, and often proclaimed that we should sing Pete Seeger’s ‘Well May the World Go When I’m Far Away’ at her memorial. Clearly, her bequest to the Scholarship Fund makes her heartfelt intention tangible – supporting GSBA scholars who will help make our world a better place.”

    Photo: During the 2017 GSBA Scholars Dinner, the Joan Huber Scholarship was awarded to Anne Bryson-Doyle (center), who attends the University of Washington as an Interdisciplinary Visual Arts Major. We think Joan would have been proud to know that someone who values the power of creativity was chosen in her name.

  • GSBA and EASC “Revved Up” Northside Networking!

    by Ilona Lohrey, Director of Membership, Outreach & Engagement
    | Jul 27, 2017

    northsideWe had a wonderful time co-hosting last night's Rev Up Your Networking event! A huge thank you to everyone who attended, to our co-presenters Economic Alliance Snohomish County (EASC), and to our gracious host, Cline Davis and Chevrolet of Everett! It was great to see so many new faces! This was the first joint networking event that GSBA has done with EASC in Snohomish County. Our members were able to mix and mingle with many new businesses and nonprofits on the Northside and some made business connections right on the spot!

    We want to thank Chevrolet of Everett for not only providing a beautiful space for this event, but for grilling up tasty burgers and brats and providing some excellent raffle prizes! Thank you also to all the businesses who donated prizes and congratulations to all of the raffle winners! If you’d like to find out more about the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County, please visit or contact Jim Stephanson, Director of Business Development & Small Business Programs, at

    We’re looking forward to our next event with the EASC and are already interested in creating a joint "Young Professionals with Pride" mixer – so stay tuned! Our next Power Connect: North networking mixer will be on August 17, 2017 at AXIS Pharmacy in Mountlake Terrace. To register for this event and get more details, please visit our event page.

  • Trump Administration Assault on Transgender People & LGBT Workplace Protections

    by Louise Chernin, President & CEO
    | Jul 26, 2017

    Reversing an open and inclusive policy long-supported by top military leaders, Donald Trump announced this morning that transgender Americans will not be allowed to serve in any capacity in the military. Additionally, Trump’s Department of Justice is set to argue in favor of employment discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

    As an LGBT chamber of commerce representing over 1,300 businesses and their thousands of employees, GSBA knows that transgender employees are not a burden on the workplace. Concerns of a cost burden on an employer due to a transgender employee have never been born out, and there is no reason to believe that the United States military would be any different. The Department of Defense’s own study from 2016 states that allowing transgender people to serve openly would “cost little and have no significant impact on unit readiness.” Once again, all of the President’s assertions fly in the face of established fact.

    This is bigotry, pure and simple. It’s not about costs or disruption, it’s about erasing the lives and contributions of transgender people. As stated by Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Trans Equality, “This is an appalling attack on our service members; it is about bigotry rather than military readiness, reason or science. It is indefensible and cannot stand. The President wants to discard thousands of trained and skilled troops who are already serving honorably and have done nothing but be honest about who they are. To turn away qualified recruits simply because of who they are is a shameful way to show our country’s gratitude to the people who serve our country.”

    This change in policy does not erase the fact that transgender people exist and serve in our military and in businesses across the country.

    Our community is under increasingly fierce attacks at the national level. Contact your members of Congress. Now is the time to get involved. Washington State is home to many outstanding organizations that provide advocacy, programming, and support services for our transgender community. Your donations and volunteer engagement is more important than ever.

    For equality,

    Louise Chernin
    GSBA President & CEO

  • Member Candidate: Mac McGregor for Seattle City Council

    by Mac McGregor
    | Jul 24, 2017
    GSBA has several members on the ballot this year. GSBA does not endorse candidates for elected office, but we are pleased to offer them a chance to speak to their fellow members.

    McGregor2017Hi, My name is Mac McGregor and I am running for City Council Seat 8.

    I am the city's 1st transgender candidate for any office and will be the 1st transgender person to be on any ballot in the state of WA. Why is that important you may ask? It is important because having diverse voices and perspectives at the decision making tables brings new possibilities and a perspective like mine has never been at the table.The 1st 40 years of my life I spend as a female athlete and small business owner so I understand the struggles women in our community deal with for equal opportunities, pay, and recognition. I will work tirelessly to end the gender pay gap in our city.

    I am a fierce advocate for all marginalized communities and for middle and lower income folks. I was appointed on Seattle’s LGBT Commission by the Mayor in 2011 and served until 2016 working for LGBTQ folks in our community. I have taught community safety and self-defense in Capitol Hill for the last six years on a donation basis so that it is accessible to ALL.  I want to lower the barriers to success for everyone in our city. I believe in raising up those in marginalized communities and that by doing so we ALL benefit.

    I understand the struggles of Seattle residents and have struggled along-side you. My wife and I are renters in this city living with a teenager living on under 50 thousand a year. I will work for rent control and affordable housing.  I have pledged to not take contributions from developers and corporations so that I truly represent the individual citizens interests.

    I believe that our cities homeless situation is at a crisis point and should be our highest priority. I believe wholeheartedly in what Martin Luther King said "We will never be a 1st class nation as long as we have 2nd class citizens." That works for our city as well.

    Education and the environment are our future and we have to fully fund education and do everything possible to protect our environment.

    As a former small business owner for 23 years I advocate for small businesses and a proud member of the GSBA.

    We have to build bridges between marginalized communities and police and have a citizen run use of force review board, so that no one is afraid to call the police for help.

    I am proud that we are a sanctuary city and will work to protect all of our residents - I am asking for your support - vote Mac McGregor for city council.

  • Member Candidate: Charlene Strong for Seattle City Council

    by Charlene Strong
    | Jul 24, 2017

    GSBA has several members on the ballot this year. GSBA does not endorse candidates for elected office, but we are pleased to offer them a chance to speak to their fellow members.

    Charlene_Strong_LinkedInAnyone who knows me, knows I am not one to give up or walk away if something appears to be too tough. It’s served me well, but does nothing to quiet the restless energy that there is still much more to be done. When marriage became a reality not only in our state but nation I was elated but I knew the next day it was back to work, we were far from finished. With the insurmountable odds I have faced in my work and education it would have been easy to become disillusioned, however there was never any time for this and I would have lost the forward momentum that I know is required to continue to assure rights and much needed protections for our community.

    Serving others is an important part of my make-up.  The last 10 years of advocacy work for marriage equality, LGBTQ rights and human rights issues has been both rewarding and challenging.  I find my greatest reward when my work effects change and provides crucial help to individuals and groups that need it most. I have found the greatest challenge is when I strive to create consensus between those that see my hard work as unnecessary and those that need help.  This, if you ask me, is where my greatest strength resides.  Bringing people together and helping opposing parties to see the value in working together for real and lasting solution.

    We face significant obstacles in this ever-expanding city. Homelessness, exploding housing costs, traffic, and a regressive and onerous tax structure. All these issues are complex and need a balanced, nuanced voice and I believe I am that voice. I want to be a city councilperson who can be counted on to always be available to the people of this city, and give their issues the time and attention they deserve.

    I strongly believe we have a lot of opportunities to make a positive impact on all the citizens of Seattle, helping those who are struggling to participate in all this beautiful city has to offer and work to bring those who are enjoying greater success to the table to show them how their help will ensure a fair and equitable city that everyone can be proud to call home. I would like the opportunity to work on these issues for you and greatly appreciate your considering me as your next Seattle city councilperson, position 8.

    Charlene Strong is a member of the GSBA, and candidate for Seattle City Council Position 8. She is Chair of the Washington State Human Rights Commission. She is a national speaker regarding civil rights issues in employment, healthcare and equality.

  • Member Candidate: Jenny Durkan for Seattle Mayor

    by Jenny Durkan
    | Jul 24, 2017

    GSBA has several members on the ballot this year. GSBA does not endorse candidates for elected office, but we are pleased to offer them a chance to speak to their fellow members.

    Durkan2017During this campaign, I’ve had the opportunity to revisit every part of our city.  We’ve toured  neighborhoods and held conversations with local business owners to learn about the unique challenges facing small businesses and every neighborhood.  Gathered in coffee shops or hearing from business owners in forums, I’ve heard loud and clear that our community hates the divisive politics of Washington D.C.  People want the next mayor to bridge divides, sweat the details, and solve the toughest problems in our city. From our biggest moral challenges to our most basic needs, we need solutions on homelessness, affordability, transportation, and police reform.

    We are not going to solve these big challenges unless everyone is part of the solution. We’re the only campaign that is unifying our city with a coalition that includes labor unions such as SEIU 775 and Seattle Firefighters, the business community, environmental leaders, and the LGBTQ community.  My approach is to bring people together to find common ground. In doing this, we must remember that the voices of small business owners and workers are critical in any conversation.

    City Hall needs to understand how to work with business as a partner, which is why it’s critical for the next mayor to engage our local businesses – large and small – to build a healthy business climate in our City. I am committed to making sure Seattle’s dynamic economy continues to thrive, and I am equally committed to ensuring that those benifitting from our economic growth do their fair share. I have broad experience in creating and negotiating solutions to seemingly impossible problems, and as mayor, I will listen, learn and empower others. Our residents, businesses and labor will have seats at the policy table as we discuss and develop regulations, programs, and approaches to addressing a range of pressing issues.

    Our progressive values make our city the special place others emulate. We need all hands on deck if we are to build the just, equitable and dynamic Seattle of the future. Like many of you, I’ve spent decades fighting for equality, working for social justice, and advocating for LGBTQ individuals.

    I have spent my career focused on civil rights issues. In 2009, I became the first openly gay U.S. Attorney in our country’s history. As U.S. Attorney, I formed a special civil rights unit and prioritized hate crime prosecutions, including of a man who sought to terrorize a gay nightclub on Capitol Hill. I know the pain of LGBTQ families whose rights were stripped from them and individuals unable to visit or get information about loved ones who were being treated in an emergency. I’ve championed cases to enforce fair housing laws, language access services in our courts system, and the employment and housing rights of soldiers and veterans. I have been on the frontlines for social justice, including in the struggle for full marriage equality and other LGBTQ rights and efforts to address racial bias in policing.  The battle for equality must mean we fight for the equality, respect, and protection for every person.  Discrimination of any kind weighs down each of us.

    As your mayor, I will be a progressive fighter and inclusive leader, and I hope to earn your support as I seek to become the first female mayor in nearly 100 years and the first gay woman ever to hold this office.

    Jenny Durkan was the first openly gay U.S. Attorney. She’s a GSBA member and candidate for Mayor of Seattle. Learn more at


  • Ambassador Profile: Nikki Dickerson

    by Nikki Dickerson, Featured Ambassador, First Financial Northwest Bank
    | Jul 22, 2017

    first financial nikki dickerson featured ambassador july 2017 blog 300px width"I joke that before joining the GSBA, I had no social life. But now, 6 years later, some of my closest friendships are a direct result of the contacts made through this tremendous organization. I joined GSBA to increase business, and becoming an Ambassador to help connect people to other GSBA members, falls right in line with my love for making connections and building relationships. When I joined First Financial Northwest Bank, the very first thing I did was make sure we became GSBA members. The value membership brings to your business, and to your life, is so much more than the cost of joining.

    I have more than 25 years of banking experience. I have served in many facets of banking, from teller to commercial real estate associate, but found my true passion to be business banking. First Financial Northwest Bank is a great fit for me. We are about delivering personalized service and innovative solutions. Headquartered in Renton, WA, we have been a fixture in the community since 1923. Residents and businesses alike have relied on us, not just as a bank, but also as a promoter and sponsor of scores of non-profit, civic and social groups. From smaller things like food drives, to big events, festivals, fundraisers, and helping those in need. Our goal is to bring a little more happiness into everyone’s life. For over 93 years, we've built our reputation as a provider of financial solutions, a concierge of professional connections, and a partner in community service.

    I have lived in Snohomish County with my family since 1999. We share our home with our cat and two dogs. Some interesting facts about me include: I was raised on a horse farm. I trained and showed All American Quarter Horses and won my first trophy at age two! My parents tell me I learned to ride horses before I could walk. I have two rescued pit bulls that have no idea they are dogs; they think they are cats! I almost got tackled by the Secret Service at a University of Delaware football game for climbing across the bleachers to ask Vice President Biden to take a picture with me—which he did! I am a huge Baltimore Ravens fan. I cheer for the Seahawks too, except when they play the Ravens.

    If you see me at a GSBA Event, please come and say hello! I love making new friends!

  • Featured Member: Sugarpill, Karyn Schwarz

    by Karyn Schwarz, July 2017 Featured Member
    | Jul 22, 2017

    karyn schwarz sugarpill featured member july 2017 300width blog“The other day, I received a postcard in the mail from a person who lives and works in the neighborhood, and who walks past my door almost every day. The last line of the notes reads: ‘It makes me feel so safe just knowing that you are on the block.’

    My grandmother knew everyone on the block in her small, mostly immigrant town. We’d walk into shops where she would say hello and catch up on news or gossip, and then just let herself behind the counter, gather what she needed and scratch a note in the shopkeeper’s ledger books to let them know what she was taking, and then ask if that person needed anything before we went on our way. Rarely was any money exchanged, and if it was, there would first be a great fuss about how unnecessary payment was. Everyone owed everyone a favor, which made currency less something that could be counted or accumulated, and more a constant tide of connection, flowing out and returning again as needed. People took care of each other because they had to, and because that is what we are supposed to do.

    When I was a kid, I was very likely to be found dreaming on a low branch of a low tree, or making ink from the chokecherries that vexed my mom every summer, or playing “store” by constructing elaborate displays of mysterious goods made from whatever I could find and arranging them on tiny shelves that a person could inspect, choose from and trade for whatever random treasure they might have in their pocket. Turns out, this would all become the basis for what I have found myself doing now.

    I got lucky. I had some big challenges in life that forced me to seek out help in ways that I did not know were available. As is generally true of real healing, these new possibilities led me in directions I had not planned to go, and required me to let go of things that I thought I wanted in order to find what I really needed. I never set out to do what I do; it just happened as I followed the path of my own interests over many years, and scrapped together a living as I sought out a deeper understanding of what it means to heal, what it means to take care of yourself and of others, and what it means to create resilience personally as well as collectively.

    SugarPill is my best attempt at creating a job for myself that utilizes all of my fairly disparate and not particularly marketable skills, but more than that, it is my own public gesture of fostering community in a city that has increasingly buckled under development strategies that favor only a very few, and which seems to cherish technology over everyday humanity.

    We need connection. This tiny shop is just one tiny place on one block where you can find that, and so much more, when you walk in the door.

    SugarPill a member of the GSBA because they don’t just understand that; they champion it. No other agency has done more to support me in the nearly 7 years since the inception of my business than the GSBA, and I am not certain I would have made it this far without their guidance, appreciation and love for me and for all of their members.”

  • Member Candidate: Sara Nelson for Seattle City Council

    by Sara Nelson
    | Jul 21, 2017

    GSBA has several members on the ballot this year. GSBA does not endorse candidates for elected office, but we are pleased to offer them a chance to speak to their fellow members.

    Nelson2017My name is Sara Nelson.  I’m a small business owner, a parent, a sustainability freak, and a candidate for Seattle City Council Position 8.

    As co-founder of Fremont Brewing, I learned about business on the job and on the fly.  We’ve grown our little craft brewery from three full-time employees to over 50.  In the process, I’ve learned how deeply I value my relationships with both my employees and the community.

    It’s no secret I’m more of a policy wonk than a beer geek and my true love is public service. I come to this race with extensive public policy background.  I served as a Legislative Aide for Councilmember Richard Conlin for over 11 years and worked on landmark bills on economic development, the environment, and social justice.  This deep background of experience and willingness to get things done has earned me the endorsement of The Seattle Times in this race.

    Business backgrounds are often negatively portrayed when you run for public office, but I hold mine proudly.  That’s not only because we strive to be good to our staff.  It’s also because we strive to be good to our community.  As a small business owner, I’m a little part of a lot of lives and that’s one of my favorite things of owning Fremont Brewing.  Every night, hundreds of Seattleites come to our tasting room to laugh, talk, and even fall in love.  I’ve witnessed two proposals, a pop-up wedding, and was honored to host the wedding of my sister, Joanna, to her partner Karen.

    As members of the GSBA since 2014, I’m also proud that Fremont Brewing, like the neighborhood that surrounds it, has always embraced the LGBTQ community. We sent over 30 cases of beer across the state during the R-74 campaign to refresh volunteers after canvassing and phone banking. I’d like to think we were part of a few marriage proposals that time, too. We made over $1,500 of in-kind donations to LGBTQ non-profits in the region over the last two years and we donate all proceeds of our Pride Kolsch to local LGBTQ non-profits ($3,000 last year to the GSBA Scholarship Fund and the Rainbow Center in Tacoma).

    This year, our LGBTQ staff, led by Nik Hagen, chose the recipients (Ingersoll Gender Center and Lambert House), helped brew the beer, and promoted its release. We don’t know final sales numbers yet but this year’s cash donation amount will likely be higher.

    During this campaign, I’m talking to a lot of groups, and I’m always honest about where I stand.  I consider myself a progressive with a deep passion for social and environmental justice.  But I also wear the badge of “small business candidate” proudly.  In fact, I wear it so proudly I even write a guest editorial in The Stranger about it.  You can read it over at Slog.

    If I’m saying the same thing to business owners as I am to The Seattle Times and The Stranger, you can trust that what you see is what you get. You’ll get a Councilmember who is an ally to the LGBTQ business community. And I promise you’ll get an advocate who understands that local business is a partner, not an antagonist, in building a better, more progressive Seattle.

    I would be honored by your support, and I ask for your vote.