The GSBA Blog

  • Find your place to influence policy

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy Manager
    | Oct 12, 2018

    “It goes way beyond empowering, and actually making me feel better about the world, that I have the ability to not just contribute to my community but to participate in a way that is meaningful, that my presence adds value.” Wendy Gillihan of Gryffin Consulting has served on many public boards and commissions, including the Washington Department of Revenue’s Business Advisory Council and co-chairing both the Seattle Women’s Commission and the Seattle Labor Standards Advisory Commission. She has volunteered significant time to advocate for women, small businesses, and other groups who are often left out of the decision-making process.

    Public boards and commissions are an important element of the civic process, and offer a rewarding way for people to get involved in the policy-making process. Just like serving on a nonprofit board, serving on a public board or commission is a common way to give back to your own community. However, rather than just helping support a cause, volunteers are working to set policy and provide important advice to their municipal, county, and state governments. “Our region is unique in the ability to participate in the public process,” adds Gillihan, referencing the especially numerous commissions for the public to join.

    Many GSBA members have served on a variety of commissions. An urban planner by profession, Marj Press is part of the Seattle Planning Commission, which is charged with stewardship of Seattle’s 20-year comprehensive plan that guides the city’s growth. “I wanted to offer my experience and skill set to the discussion about how Seattle will grow as we consider livability, equity, and social justice challenges,” she said. “Volunteering to serve in this capacity offers a depth and breadth of experiences and expertise that helps bolster the work of a local government entity.  It is personally and professionally gratifying to be able to support your community with your time and your passion.”

    Chris Brown, a member of the Seattle LGBTQ Commission, add that “When I was approached to serve on the Commission, it was a great way to give back to the community where I grew up and to ensure there is a diverse set of voices with a depth and breadth of experience at the table.” Representing segments of the public, commissioners must also be willing to be a liaison between their communities and the government agencies. Brown says that engagement between commissioners and their communities is one of the most critical ingredients for success, both for the commission itself and for getting results to improve the lives and experiences of residents.

    Who should become a member of a public board or commission? The answer is anyone who feels they have an experience worth sharing. Wendy Gillihan says that the people who contribute the most value are often those who would traditionally not be involved, or those who might hesitate to participate. “It makes a huge difference in what happens in the conversation. If you are having a conversation and people who can speak to the needs of communities who face barriers to participation like the trans community, people with disabilities, and immigrant communities, it allows those perspectives to be included when they likely would not be otherwise.”

    “Participating in this kind of thing is not what I was raised to think was possible. It can be very uncomfortable, and you might be worried about how to express yourself in a way that works in that environment, but it’s worth overcoming those fears to be able to contribute to your community and raise the voices of the disenfranchised and ignored people in our communities. You can reclaim a sense of agency, which is really transformative. It doesn’t matter what issue is of interest to you, no matter how obscure. There are boards and commissions dealing with just about every aspect of life.”


    If you are interested in learning more about openings on public boards and commissions, you can check out some of the listings below. Let GSBA know if the organization can help find the right place for you!

  • Enter to win lunch with Louise, free advertising, and more! Renew your GSBA membership before Oct. 30 to qualify

    by GSBA Membership
    | Oct 03, 2018

    If you’re a GSBA member, you have invested in and committed to equal rights for LGBTQ people.

    You are a part of a strong business community that stands for equality, diversity, and inclusion—and you’re standing up for your values in a critical time in our nation’s history.

    Being part of a strong business community which stands for equality, diversity and inclusion, has never been more important, and 2019 is a year we will be laser focused on your success and your equal rights.

    As a thank you for renewing your investment in equality, we are offering several exclusive prizes! Renew your membership for 2019 before October 30, 2018, and you will be entered to win:

    • Lunch with Louise Chernin, President & CEO of GSBA.

    • One free advertisement for your business in a Sound Publishing publication. Sound Publishing, GSBA member, is the largest community news organization in Washington State.

    • One free advertisement for your business in the Seattle Gay News. Seattle Gay News, the third oldest LGBTQ newspaper in the U.S., has a circulation of 13,500 weekly.

    • $100 gift certificate from Tutta Bella. Enjoy authentic, wood-fired pizzas made with the finest local and imported ingredients. 



    2018 _Membership_Renewal_thumbnail_600x337_v1

    As part of your 2019 membership, you can look forward the benefits of our vision combine business development, leadership and social action to expand economic opportunities for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community and those who support equality for all.

    BUSINESS IN 2019

    To meet the demand for our Small Business Workshops, GSBA is offering additional workshops, at no cost to our small businesses, to strengthen skills around finance, marketing, HR, and LGBT Certification.  


    Our Power Connect, Women on Top, Young Professionals with Pride, and Civic Engagement programs offer year-round opportunities to connect with other business leaders and public officials.

    ADVOCACY IN 2019

    The GSBA Public Policy Task Force and GSBA lobbyist are ready to represent your voice in Olympia, King County, Seattle, and around the state at this pivotal time.


    With your investment in our LGBTQ and allied scholars, our students are gaining the skills and support they need achieve graduation and attending the third year of the GSBA’s Leadership Immersion Weekend.

  • Montucky Cold Snacks: Where Unicorns, Rainbows, Tasty Brews, and Philanthropy Meet

    by Halee Staskivige
    | Sep 26, 2018

    This week, we're featuring a new GSBA member, Montucky Cold Snacks! Join us in extending a warm GSBA welcome.

    MCS_150x80In 2011 Montucky Cold Snacks founders, Jeremy Gregory and Chad Zeitner set out to create a company with a light refreshing beer that centered the company’s core values around giving back and celebrating a lifestyle that encompasses being in the moment and having fun.  Jeremy and Chad were successful.  The beer was created, the brand was established, and the giving back began. 

    The blue can featuring a white pony galloping across a sunset caught some eyes and people began mentioning how the pony resembles a unicorn and the sunset resembles a rainbow. People asked that we evolve the design into a unicorn and rainbow for Pride month and that the 8% of profits we contribute to non-profits go to LGBTQ organizations from the sale of these cans. Thus, the Pride Can was born.


    Since the development of the Pride can, MCS has been working to to raise funds for LGBTQ organizations during Pride month in the markets in which we are sold.  Our goal is to raise continuous annual funds for LGBTQ+ orgs following Pride month.

    Montucky Cold Snacks wants to inspire others to enjoy life to the fullest and give back to our communities, all while providing the most refreshing Cold Snacks on the planet. Do good. Be good.

    To us, ‘equality is good business’ means preserving rights, and standing by the fact that every person is equal.  Carrying these ethical practices is not only what we believe and implement, but also how we will continue to progress within our communities.

    Aside from the opportunity to be involved with great organizations, Seattle has been wonderful to the MCS brand, and has done a lot to help share our message.  More importantly, we are a growing company that has the resources to help the surrounding community and we are driven to do so.

    If there is anything we can do for your organization, or if we can give back, please reach out by going to our website and contacting us.  Or by sending us a message on Instagram or Facebook!

  • From YWCA: One-on-one with HIV expert, Dr. Dhanireddy

    by Salma Siddick, YWCA
    | Sep 24, 2018

    This week, we’re featuring a conversation with Salma Siddick, Content & Copywriter Manager at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish and board-certified physician and medical director of UW Medicine's Infectious Diseases Clinic, Dr. Shireesha Dhanireddy.

    Don’t forget Stella Steps Out, YWCA’s annual fundraiser in support of YWCA’s BABES Network, this week!

    2018BLOG_YWCA_4_145x315Dr. Shireesha Dhanireddy's work is grounded in research on improving HIV care through patient engagement and adherence i.e. ensuring patients correctly follow medical advice.

    In anticipation of Stella Steps Out, YWCA’s annual fundraiser in support of YWCA's BABES Network,  I asked Dr. Dhanireddy some questions about support systems and accessibility for women living with HIV. As director of the Madison Clinic, the largest HIV clinic in the Pacific Northwest, Dr. Dhanireddy oversees care for over 2,800 people living with HIV and is this year's 2018 Stella Steps Out Honoree. 

    Below Dr. Dhanireddy provides an overview of the difference between HIV and AIDS and explains the impact of social and racial disparities for women living with HIV.

    What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?

    HIV is a virus. AIDS is the clinical syndrome that describes more advanced immunosuppression or illness that results from the virus. Despite AIDS having a negative connotation, it is important to note that people with AIDS can still become healthy with treatment and no longer be ill or have advanced immunosuppression.

    What does Washington state do well in term of HIV and STI treatment compared to other states?

    We do have more comprehensive coverage of trans-health services, HIV and STI treatment, and prevention services. We see immigration into WA state by sexual minorities for this reason. 

    What gaps exist in HIV treatment and how can we overcome the hurdles of treating women living with HIV?

    There are still pockets of hard to reach individuals as evidenced by the recent cluster of HIV cases in North Seattle. These are heterosexual, unhoused individuals with substance use disorder, some of whom engage in transactional sex. Public health interventions such as more robust needle exchange access in that area as well as medical care for HIV/STI prevention is needed for these vulnerable individuals.

    What social problems contribute to women accessing resources and health care services to assist in coping with the disease?

    The biggest is stigma. So many women I’ve seen in the clinic over the years feel that they are alone. This is why YWCA BABES Network is such an important organization. Other barriers to care include mental health issues and substance use disorder.


    Why does HIV increasingly affect African-American women?

    For some in the African-American community, distrust in the healthcare industry stems from poor historical or personal experiences which can lead to a lack of engagement or retention in care. Having culturally competent providers and staff who can connect with communities of color is important to reaching this population.

    What role does stigma play in the mental health of a woman living with HIV?

    A huge role. Stigma can lead to isolation and worsening depression. As an example, one of my patients attended Stella Steps Out two years ago. She had never told anyone about her HIV except her husband. She felt alone and had such a negative view of herself and her self-worth. She came to the event and was so inspired by the women who were positive and proud of themselves. She cried tears of happiness as she was welcomed and accepted by the women of BABES. 


    What are some ways we can improve HIV care?

    On a national level, we need more providers who are competent and knowledgeable about HIV and HIV primary care. As individuals with HIV are living longer and mortality decreases, we need to adapt to the changing demographics of the population. HIV is not a death sentence and people can have long healthy lives, have long-term partners/spouses without fear of transmitting the virus, and have children.

    We need to not only treat HIV while minimizing side effects/long-term toxicities of medications, but we also need to focus on preventative care (i.e., cancer screening, controlling blood pressure, and cholesterol) just as we would with any aging individual. Of equal importance, organizations that support individuals with HIV and combat stigma continue to be essential.

  • Welcome Eli and Jeff to the GSBA team!

    | Sep 19, 2018
    Join GSBA in welcoming two new staff members, Eli Coffin, Business Training Specialist & Grant Manager, and Jeff Boyer, Sr. Development Officer!


    2018GSBAStaff-EliThe GSBA membership team has a new team member, Eli Coffin (he/him, they/them), Business Training Specialist & Grant Manager. He will be managing the Communities of Opportunity grant awarded to the Transgender Economic Empowerment Coalition (TEEC) which GSBA is a partner and will also manage the Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) grant that was awarded to the Ethnic Communities Chambers of Commerce, which GSBA is also a partner. Eli will be creating and teaching a business curriculum serving the needs of transgender and LGBTQ POC business owners and entrepreneurs. This work includes working with corporations to review and create inclusive corporate workplace policies in partnership with the TEEC.

    Prior to GSBA, Eli was on the Executive Board of Directors at OutFront Minnesota and worked at Charterpoint Wealth Strategies.

    Eli is new to Seattle, and when asked about why he wanted to work at GSBA he told us, “I was looking for a team of people that cared not only about the bottom line but also investing in our community. I was so excited when I found GSBA because it connects the LGBTQ community in a way I haven’t seen done before.” While at GSBA, he hopes to bring new ideas and creativity to the table while centering work on some of the most marginalized and unsupported members of the LGBTQ community. “This work is essential for our community. Eli has the focus and organizational skills, and at the same time is very personable and skilled to work with our coalition partners and connect with people in our most marginalized communities,” said Ilona Lohrey, Director of Membership, Outreach & Education.

    Outside of grant management and training, Eli loves being outside and traveling. He can most likely be found out on a walk, preparing for his next camping adventure, or anywhere near the water. “So far what I love most about Seattle is the fresh flowers, luscious trees, and exploring all the different neighborhoods and communities.” 

    You can contact Eli at

    2018GSBAStaff-JeffOur newest GSBA Scholarship Fund team member, Jeff Boyer (he/him), Sr. Development Officer joins us from his role as Major Gift Officer at Childhaven. Jeff will be working closely with GSBA Scholarship Fund partners and donors, crafting strategy and managing major GSBA Scholarship Fund events like EQUALUX: TASTE of GSBA and the annual GSBA Scholars Dinner. When asked about his goals for the fund, “I want to help grow the GSBA Scholarship Fund programs as much as we can,” he said. Jeff has a B.A. in Psychology from Seattle Pacific University, and a Certificate in Fundraising Management from the University of Washington.

    Jeff currently volunteers at Lambert House, but has also volunteered at Childhaven, was the Scholarship Lead for AFP Advancement NW, and Trainer and Phone Worker at the King County Crisis Clinic for over 5 years. As you can see, Jeff has a passion for helping others. He is excited about joining the GSBA Scholarship Fund team and when asked why he wanted to work with scholars, Jeff stated, “I want to be a part of helping future LGBTQ leaders in our community, and help today’s LGBTQ youth have more support than I had.”

    While not at work Jeff enjoys traveling, houseplants, volunteering, and experimenting with painting, art, and do-it-yourself projects. Between work, volunteering, and his hobbies, Jeff still finds time to have dinner with his grandmother every week. Although he has only been here a short time, one highlight he pointed out was, “having so many of my personal friends share stories about their GSBA experiences or talk about how they want to get involved.” We look forward to working more with Jeff, and can’t wait to see all of the great work he’ll do.

    You can contact Jeff at

    Meet the GSBA team

  • Queen Anne Coffee Co.: Brand-new, gay-owned café opens in Queen Anne

    by Brianne Ryan
    | Sep 18, 2018

    This week, we’re welcoming a new GSBA member business, Queen Anne Coffee Co.. Join us in welcoming them to GSBA!


    This café—Queen Anne Coffee Co.—is our proudest work of art! We exercise creativity and artistry in virtually everything we do here. We crafted these recipes ourselves, with years of consideration towards taste, nutrition, sustainability, and aesthetic presentation.

    We've curated a collection of local masterpieces, from the custom merchandise on our shelves, to our equipment, to our custom roasted coffee blends, to the fresh ingredients we use to make our food. 


    We hope you’ll stop by and try our menu, and check out our calendar for upcoming musical performances, lectures, and visual art shows!

    I am profoundly grateful for my good fortune to be opening this business in 2018 Seattle, when much of the heavy lifting towards equality has been done for me. 


    I hope that my GSBA membership will help me find more opportunities to personally contribute to advancing equality, particularly for those groups who remain highly vulnerable.

    Further, I hope to network with other LGBTQ and allied businesses in the area, and have it be known that Queen Anne Coffee Co. is proudly gay-owned!


  • Four Day Fireplace: the newest GSBA member in Marysville, where equality is worth the drive!

    by Eric Shaw
    | Sep 14, 2018
    This week, we’re welcoming a new GSBA member business, Four Day Fireplace. Join us in welcoming them to GSBA!

    Four Day Fireplace with Brick_150x80Four Day Fireplace was created to serve a need in the fireplace industry. We are the only fireplace shop in the state that does complete projects in house. We specialize in fireplace makeovers and handle everything from the gas piping, framing, to installation of your new fireplace along with finishing it in a variety of tiles or stacked stone.

    We partner with our customers on each project to create a unique centerpiece for their living space that they will enjoy for years to come. We are Four Day Fireplace because we complete projects in four days or less. Whether replacing an old gas fireplace or putting one making a blank wall a brand new showcase in your living room! We have built our business on customer referrals and through memberships in great organizations like GSBA.

    Equality is good business is an obvious statement around our shop and in each interaction we have with customers. We treat everyone as individuals instead of labels. It is this approach that contributes to our referrals to new customers.

    All of our management team has been members of the GSBA in the past. When we decided to open this new concept of complete fireplace makeovers in four days, it was not even a question that we would want to shine as a GSBA member on the north end!

    We are having a grand opening for our 3,000+ square foot design center and showroom September 13-15 in Marysville. We will have over 50 different fireplaces to choose from and we are giving away a free gas insert with installation (over a $5,000 value) to one lucky winner. We would love for our fellow GSBA members to come celebrate with us and see all the cool things that can be done to enhance their homes. Visit our website for more details!


    We do complete fireplace makeovers in four days or less and are avid supporters of equality. To us—support for equality is worth the drive, whether that is us coming to you for a free consultation, or you driving up North to see our brand-new design center.

  • Volunteer with the GSBA Scholarship Fund at EQUALUX: TASTE of GSBA 2018

    | Sep 14, 2018

    As we approach our 22nd Annual EQUALUX: TASTE of GSBA gala, it's becoming clearer by the day that this will be our biggest event EVER. 

    It's amazing to see how dedicated our community is to supporting our future leaders through the GSBA Scholarship Fund. Now, more than ever, it is critical for our community to come together to continue moving the needle on social change. 


    With over 1,000 attendees, EQUALUX will be an event to remember and we need YOUR help! We rely heavily on volunteers throughout the evening to help make this event a success. Due to the size of this years' gala, we need more volunteers that ever before. We are currently looking for support with the following roles: 

    - Setup 
    - Bid Spotters 
    - Bid Assistants 
    - Bid Helpers 
    - Clean Up 


    We hope you will be able to give GSBA scholars the gift of time on November 17!


    Training will be provided and you'll be able to enjoy plenty of food and snacks, as well as get to experience all the luxurious fun of attending EQUALUX, while you volunteer! We thank you in advance for your help, we can't do this without you! 

  • To our community, remembering Barbara Bailey

    by Louise Chernin
    | Sep 11, 2018
    2018BARBARABAILEYOn September 1, the Seattle community lost one of our own. Barbara Bailey, a force tobe reckoned with. 

    Barbara's strength, conviction, passion, and unwavering commitment to community, civil rights, small business, and the promotion of women in leadership has touched every aspect of our community. 

    When we think of Capitol Hill businesses, it is hard not to remember the vital role Bailey Coy Books played as one of the nation’s top independent bookstores and prime gathering place of the LGBTQ community. 
    Not long after opening Bailey Coy, Barbara joined GSBA and remained a steadfast supporter of our organization, the LGBTQ community, small business, and the work to elect progressive leaders. She was serious in her work and irreverent in her life, which she lived with grace. 

    The Bailey family has a legacy of shaking up the world and challenging us to be the best we can be. Barbara was a founder of Pride Foundation, where she has a scholarship in her honor. Later on, her brother Thatcher would become Pride Foundation’s Board President, the founder of Bailey Boushay House, and current President and CEO of Seattle Parks Foundation; her sister Mary Ann Bailey would launch and lead the GSBA Scholarship Fund, the first LGBTQ Scholarship Fund in the U.S.

    Barbara challenged us all. Her greatest gift is not to simply leave us with a memory but an amazing family and cadre of friends to continue her activism, commitment to community, and making the world better. The best tribute we can give to Barbara is to continue to fight the good fight.

    We will miss you, Barbara.

    Louise Chernin
    President & CEO

  • GSBA connects member business BrandQuery to scholarship and ultimately, course at Yale

    by Al Smith
    | Sep 06, 2018

    At GSBA, we proudly act as a connector between LGBTQ- and allied-owned businesses and opportunity.

    When we heard about the Small & Diverse Business Education Fund Scholarship sponsored by Bank of America and administered by the Communities Foundation of Texas, we knew that many of our small business owners qualified for such opportunity and shared it with GSBA members.

    Applications are now open for the Small & Diverse Business Education Fund Scholarship and are accepted until October 26, 2018.

    “I am a regular reader of GSBA’s newsletters, both digital and print,” said Jacque Beamer, President and Brand Strategist of BrandQuery.

    “One day last fall while reading a digital version I was fortunate to come across a scholarship program from BofA administered by Communities Foundation of Texas. It noted scholarships were available for small and diverse business owners for Business Education in the amount of $10,000!”

    Several weeks later, we received fantastic news: President and Brand Strategist Beamer was awarded the Small & Diverse Business Education Scholarship to attend Yale University’s Business Perspectives for Creative Leaders!

    The Communities Foundation of Texas enabled Beamer to attend a program that would have been out of her reach. “Without the scholarship I would not have afforded the program,” said Beamer.


    The program covered subjects related to business including consumer choice, organizing for innovation, leading organizational change, negotiation, law, and more. Yale professors—some of the brightest minds teaching and researching today—lead the classes.

    In addition to classroom instruction, Beamer said connecting with other business leaders was a valuable part of the program. “I was able to make connections around the country of which I will value for a lifetime,” she said.

    Held on the Yale campus in New Haven, Connecticut, the program was an opportunity for Beamer to pursue her on-going goals in continuing education. “Consumers and B2B are constantly evolving. It’s important that no matter what stage my career or business is in and how successful, there are always opportunities to learn,” she said.

    Yale Program participants were from the U.S., Europe, and South America, representing some of the most notable companies including Bloomberg, the NY Times, IDEO, Jet Blue, Johnson & Johnson, Thought Form, and Capital One.


    “This experience was both educational and validating,” said Beamer. “I’ve gained many insights to help BrandQuery clients and BrandQuery itself. In addition, the program validated much of what we are doing well for our clients. I’m looking forward to applying the new insights over the next year and further.”

    Congratulations to GSBA member and LGBTBE Certified Business owner Jacque Beamer and BrandQuery!

  • BizDiversity: Expanding the influence of diversity in mainstream business culture

    by Samuel Rodriguez
    | Sep 06, 2018
    This week, we’re welcoming a new GSBA member business, BizDiversity. Join us in welcoming BizDiversity to GSBA!

    2018MEMBERSPOTLIGHT_BizDiversity_145x135BizDiversity is a multicultural business community, and our purpose is to support the expanded influence of diversity in the mainstream business culture. The BizDiversity site is a platform for education, collaboration, promotion, inclusion, and influence.

    We started our business in 2011 as decision to improve diversity, equality, and inclusion in multi-cultural businesses so they can thrive and grow through cross-sector business development. At BizDiversity, we develop success by creating an environment of diversity and inclusion.

    • Education – The BizDiversity community teaches business owners how to profitably build influence with and across cultural boundaries.
    • Collaboration – The site helps business leaders to find win/win collaboration partners by providing education and tools to develop communication, cooperation, and commitment.
    • Promotion – BizDiversity provides directories, ads, and other tools to promote your business inside and across multi-cultural business barriers.
    • Inclusion – It’s basic economics—we all do better when we all contribute what we do best.
    • Influence – With a membership program that is growing every day, we are able to influence the traditional business community in positive ways that promote everyone.

    We work to promote an environment of diverse perspectives, work experiences, lifestyles, languages and unique cultures.


    To us, ‘equality is good business’ means building awareness of a world with greatness, practicing inclusion, and promoting diversity.

    Register your business in our DEI directory for your free listing:

  • Whim W’him: Innovative, collaborative, contemporary dance

    by Krina Turner
    | Aug 31, 2018

    This week, we’re welcoming a new GSBA member nonprofit, Whim W’him. Join us in welcoming the Whim W’him team to GSBA!

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

    WW Logo_150x80

    Whim W’Him is an award-winning Seattle-based contemporary dance company founded in 2009 by Olivier Wevers, former Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer and choreographer. The company showcases groundbreaking dance creations in collaboration with global artists, while paying dancers a living wage and offering health benefits.

    Whim W'him is a contemporary dance company founded in 2009 by Olivier Wevers, former PNW Ballet principal dancer and choreographer.

    The company is committed to innovation, collaboration, and high caliber relevant art that engages and challenges audiences.

    We have performed original works by Danielle Agami, Juanjo Arques, Andrew Bartee, Adam Barruch, Banning Bouldin, Lauren Edson, James Gregg, Mark Haim, Joseph Hernandez, Gabrielle Lamb, Larry Keigwin, Maurya Kerr, Gabrielle Lamb, Loni Landon, MADBOOTS, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Joshua Peugh, Bruno Roque, Ihsan Rustem, Penny Saunders, Pascal Touzeau, Manuel Vignoulle, Kate Wallich, Dominic Walsh and Olivier Wevers.

    What are you sharing with the world that you want your fellow GSBA members to know about?

    Our 18/19 season kicks off in September! In our 9th season we are sharing 8 world-premiere creations featuring 7 stellar dancers and 6 internationally recognized choreographers. Come to a performance to discover something new and leave inspired.

    What does 'equality is good business' mean to you?

    Equality is good business means doing great by doing good in the world. Everyone is welcome at Whim W’Him.

    Why did you decide to become a GSBA member?

    A big portion of our company leadership, staff and audience members identify as LGBTQ. We want to connect and collaborate with businesses and individuals who share our values.

    How can our readers get involved?

    Choreographic Shindig IV opens September 7! Get a 20% discount by entering the code “whimmer” before checkout.

    The Choreographic Shindig was created in 2015 to give our dancers the power to choose which choreographers would set work on them. This unique program helps us achieve our mission to provide a platform centered on choreography and dance for artists to explore their craft through innovation and collaboration. We are the only professional dance company with this unique program.

    Anything else you'd like to share about your business?

    Our work is made possible only through generous donations and volunteer time. If you want to get involved and gain behind the scenes access email us at

  • Finding the Inspired Transgender Care You Deserve | Pacific Medical Centers

    by Pacific Medical Centers
    | Aug 27, 2018

    When therapist Rene D. Czerwinski, LMHC, NCC, learned that almost half of transgender Americans attempt suicide in their lifetimes, her strong commitment to providing excellent care to transgender patients was reconfirmed. “That’s way higher than the national average for any other group. It’s a shocking number,” she says.

    Rene’s practice at Pacific Medical Centers is underpinned by a key message: you are not alone, and there is support. Rene has pursued specialized training and certification in transgender care. At PacMed, she works with other health care providers who are open to continuous professional learning and committed to team care for their patients.

    Rene works with transgender people as well as their parents. Parents of transgender children need to know they are not alone and that there are people out there who understand what they are going through.

    The Need for Unified Services

    In an international study published by the National Institutes of Health,* the rate of attempted suicide by transgender persons ranges from 32 percent to 50 percent around the world. Transgender people also face increased risk of discrimination, bullying, and violence, plus the loss of their support systems if rejected by family, friends, and the larger community. The police, health care providers, and other service providers often don’t have training or knowledge to provide high quality care to transgender people. All of these, of course, can influence the well-being of transgender people.

    Rene sees a need for transgender services, a care area that she feels is not well understood. “Being transgender is not an illness,” she says. She explains that the emotional struggles of people who are transgender are often related to social anxiety, fear of rejection, self-image, and body image. This is part of what Rene helps patients, family, and communities understand. Rene knows firsthand what family members might need to know during transition: her child is transgender.


    Respectful Mental Health Support

    For clients who are transgender or exploring, Rene emphasizes that being transgender doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. “We need to remove the stigma that being transgender is a mental health issue or an illness,” Rene says. “By doing so, we can see that the anxiety and depression that get attached to being transgender are related to the fears about how others will react or how sometimes our bodies don’t match what we want them to be.”

    Clients who are considering transitioning, with treatments ranging from hormones to surgeries, may need the services of not only physicians, surgeons, and a counselor, but also a psychiatrist. Together, these professionals can make sure that insurance qualifications are met and provide letters and other documentation. They can help research support resources and care options and provide guidance during the process.

    Your Body, Your Choice

    Rene’s experience and training has heightened her awareness of how to create an accepting space for her patients. “It’s important for a caregiver to come on board with the patient—to not try to tell them how or what to feel,” she explains.

    Therapy is a place to explore where a person is now and their desires for the future. Transgender care encompasses everything from small changes to big shifts. A transgender person doesn’t—and shouldn’t—have to know their destination immediately to receive excellent care.

    “I remind my patients that everybody is going to look different. We don’t have to know that this is exactly how we want to look. Maybe you want to be somewhere in the middle,” says Rene. “We’ll find what works best for you because it’s your body, your choice.”

    The Care at PacMed

    Transgender people get to choose the right path for their personal journey. They need physicians who support them through the process—“in whatever stage you’re in and whatever stage you want to go to,” adds Rene.

    Pac med 2018

    Primary care physicians are a good starting point. When meeting a new provider, it’s important to be open about yourself, ask questions, and listen and watch how the provider responds. A good primary care doctor should be able to provide culturally competent care so that you feel comfortable and safe sharing who you are.

    “One of the things I really like is when a physician feels free to ask questions, to consult with me and other providers, to learn what they need to know about this person. That’s a good sign,” says Rene.

    At PacMed, you will have a point person to coordinate your care. Your team will communicate and consult with one another to keep each other on the same page with your goals. We want you to experience a unified approach to your care.

    2018MEMBERSPOTLIGHT_PacMed2_135x135Rene D. Czerwinski, LMHC, NCC, practices Behavioral Medicine at the Pacific Medical Centers clinic in Totem Lake and is also a Board Certified Transgender Therapist through International Transgender Certification Association in Florida. PacMed offers licensed therapists and psychiatrists, an Endocrinology team and more than 60 board-certified primary care providers for adults at 10 clinics in the Puget Sound region.

  • WA State Employers: the Paid Family & Medical Leave program impacts your business in 2019. Are you ready?

    by Matt LaPalm | Paid Family and Medical Leave – Employment Security Department – State of Washington
    | Aug 24, 2018

    Washington is soon to be the fifth state to offer paid family and medical leave benefits.

    Our workers will no longer have to choose between caring for their loved ones and making ends meet. They can dedicate their time away from work to be the best caretaker they can be. In return, employers have access to an inexpensive competitive benefit, save on payroll costs while the worker is on leave, and reduce employee turnover costs. Washington is a leader and our Paid Family and Medical Leave program is ready to prove it in 2019.

    Workers can begin taking leave in 2020, but next year, employers will have some actions to take.


    First, employers need to withhold premiums from paychecks starting with the first check in 2019. These premiums are split between employers and workers. Workers foot most of the bill, but employers with 50 or more employees also have a portion to pay.

    Employers with fewer than 50 employees don’t have to pay premiums but are still responsible for collecting and remitting the workers share. Premiums are paid to the Employment Security Department by employers quarterly, starting in 2019. Learn more about premiums on our Premiums page.

    Second, all employers will report wages, hours worked, and more. This reporting will be done at the end of each calendar quarter. The first reports will be in April 2019. These reports will be done through a website that is under development. We will share more about what needs to be reported on our Reporting page when it is available.

    Do you have a similar plan you already like? You can turn that plan into a Voluntary Plan. Applications for Voluntary Plans start in September of this year. You can learn more on our Voluntary Plan page.

    Want to learn more? We would be happy to come to you. Our team is accepting presentation requests now, and we can provide these presentations free of charge. Please fill out our presentation request as soon as possible as our calendar is filling quickly.

    Please feel free to email me ( directly. I am happy to answer your questions or find an answer if I don’t know it. We are excited to work with GSBA in preparing Washington’s businesses for this new program and I am thankful for this venue.

  • The Hepatitis Education Project: Working to eliminate viral hepatitis in the U.S. by 2030

    by Jason Sterne
    | Aug 24, 2018
    This week, we’re welcoming a new GSBA member nonprofit, the Hepatitis Education Project (HEP). Join us in welcoming HEP to the GSBA family!


    The Hepatitis Education Project (HEP) is a Seattle-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works primarily with underserved and marginalized populations, and for 25 years HEP has been a leader in addressing the public health burden created by viral hepatitis.

    HEP was started in 1993 by a group of patients and medical professionals who wanted to provide support and education to others living with viral hepatitis.

    In February of 2000, HEP opened one of the only Hepatitis Resource Centers in the country, a walk-in and telephone support center for hepatitis patients and family members. Over the past 25 years, HEP’s programs have evolved to focus on communities that are disproportionately impacted by the disease. These populations include people with low incomes; people who are uninsured or underinsured; people experiencing homelessness and/or housing instability; people who inject drugs; incarcerated or formerly incarcerated individuals; and immigrant and refugee communities.

    Today, HEP conducts hepatitis education to incarcerated individuals in every WA state prison and outreaches to over 50 locations in the state, conducting more than 1500 hepatitis C tests a year. HEP’s hepatitis C medical case management program is one of the most robust in the country, and their advocacy work at the city, state and federal level has bolstered some big policy wins, including the removal of treatment restrictions in WA that were not evidence-based and causing unnecessary progression of the disease.

    HEP is celebrating its 25th year anniversary this year. We are having a celebration event on September 29th2018, 5:30pm at Bell Harbor Conference Center, 2211 Alaskan Way, Seattle WA. 


    The mortality rate from complications related to hepatitis C has surpassed that of HIV in the US, and there are an estimated 100,000 people living with hepatitis C in WA State. For many years HEP has advocated for the need of a public health strategy to eliminate the virus in the state. Now, aligned with the World Health Organization’s targeted goal to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public threat by 2030, jurisdictions across the U.S. have begun to take concrete steps towards viral hepatitis elimination.

    The tools currently exist to do so. There are highly effective cures for hepatitis C and vaccines available for hepatitis B. Treatment costs have dramatically reduced so that it is now more cost-effective to treat and cure than it is to manage the liver damage caused by the disease.

    We are close in WA State. With hope, WA State agencies, legislature and Governor’s office will follow in the footsteps of states like NY and agree on a plan to eliminate the virus. If passed, HEP’s work will be instrumental in serving some of the most vulnerable populations in our state.

    If we don’t act now, countless more lives will be lost. We CAN eliminate viral hepatitis in our lifetime, averting about 90,000 deaths in the United States by 2030. 


    What does 'equality is good business' mean to you?

    HEP prefers to talk about equality and equity together. Equality works when there is a level playing field. Equity means for things to be equal, some communities may need additional support or resources. This is extremely important for the populations HEP serves. Overcoming barriers and addressing determinants of health that negatively affect many marginalized communities, is vital for making that level playing field, so things can be equal.


    Why did you decide to become a GSBA member?

    Hepatitis C disproportionality affects the MSM community and being coinfected with HIV more than triples the risk for liver disease, liver failure and liver-related death. HEP partners with LGBTQ health and service organizations in our outreach programming as many don’t understand the risk or know how to protect themselves from exposure.

    It was important for HEP to become a GSBA member as we need to raise awareness about the silent disease impacting our community. HEP also values inclusion, self-expression, and social justice, which are all values of GSBA, so it was a natural fit.


    HEP is celebrating its 25th year anniversary this year. We are having a celebration event on September 29th, 2018, 5:30pm at Bell Harbor Conference Center, 2211 Alaskan Way, Seattle WA. 

    We are looking to the GSBA membership to join us at the celebration event or support HEP’s mission through sponsorship or donation to our auction. HEP is a 501c3 organization registered in the State of Washington.


  • LGBTQ Scholarship: Fundraising on Facebook for Future Scholars

    by Mark Rosén
    | Aug 23, 2018

    Mark Rosén, VP of Development and External Relations, recently held a Facebook fundraiser to celebrate his birthday and raise funds for the GSBA Scholarship Fund. In this blog post, he shares his success in raising over $1,500 for LGBTQ and allied scholars.

    2018GSBAStaff-MarkI’ll admit, I was somewhat skeptical of Facebook fundraisers that friends had created. As a professional fundraiser, I wasn’t so sure that this kind of an effort would yield results, and I also wasn’t sure how Facebook handled transferring money.

    I already knew that some of our loyal Scholarship supporters had created fundraisers in the past, but it hadn’t been easy to track the results.

    With the aid and expertise of GSBA Marketing Specialist Al Smith, we decided to give it a try, so for my 62nd birthday (yes, I’m really that old), we created a Facebook fundraiser. It was easy to add find and select GSBA as the recipient.

    Al had already done all of the set up work to make sure that the Scholarship Fund was properly registered and that the funds would transfer, so I didn’t have to worry about any of those details. I just wrote a heartfelt post, added the Scholarship fund link, set a goal of $500, and hit share.

    GSBA Scholars
    GSBA Scholars during the 2018 Leadership Immersion Weekend.

    I also went the extra step of inviting friends from my list who I knew might be interested in supporting the Scholarship Fund with a small donation.

    Almost as soon as I hit the share button, friends began to donate. Within 30 minutes I had reached my goal!

    Needless to say, Al and I were a bit blown away and not sure what to do! I had set the donation period for one month to give people a chance to participate. The fervor at which the initial donations came in gave us the courage to raise the goal to $1,500.

    By the time my actual birthday rolled around a week and a half later, that goal was not only reached; but it was exceeded. I’m so happy to report that this was such an easy way for friends to support the cause nearest and dearest to me.


    The added bonus is that my action inspired two more friends of the Scholarship Fund to create birthday fundraisers! I’ve gone from a doubting Thomas to a true believer in the blink of one short birthday month. What a great way to celebrate and avoid the challenge of figuring out what to buy as a gift! Instead, with a couple of clicks, you can easily open up a path to creating a gift for many!

    If you feel inspired to follow our lead but need a little help, don’t hesitate to contact either Al ( or me ( at the GSBA office. We are happy to help.

    More about creating a Facebook fundraiser.

  • Pink Boat Regatta—on track to raise half a million dollars for breast cancer research

    by The Pink Boat Regatta
    | Aug 17, 2018

    This week, we’re welcoming a new GSBA member nonprofit. Pink Boat Regatta. Join us in welcoming the Pink Boat team to the family!

    The Pink Boat Regatta is a timed ‘round the buoys’ race in which participants compete on and off the water through a unique “buy-a-buoy” concept. For each $100 donated on behalf of a participant, the sailboat earns an extra “buoy” on race day, thus creating a fun, competitive, and highly effective fundraising environment.


    The Pink Boat Regatta began with a sailor, daughter, and scientist wanting to do more. Ashley Bell had recently fallen in love with sailing when she learned her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer - for the second time.

    Having been adopted at birth, Ashley hasn't met her mother until after the first diagnosis and treatment a decade earlier, and was determined to support her from several thousand miles away. Inspired by a sailing event in San Francisco, Ashley decided to rebrand the event and bring it to Seattle where she lives.

    In 6 years, The Pink Boat Regatta has raised more than $460,000 for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation to date representing 100% of all net proceeds. These efforts have funded nearly 6,400 hours of research!


    Every year, sailors and supporters alike start planning months ahead of time to don their pink, get their sailboats race ready, and begin campaigning as part of an event which was built upon by a passionate little Seattle sailing community dedicated to getting on the water for something greater. Something affecting us all. Something we CAN do something about, just by coming together and doing what we love most - being on the water.


    Our 2018 events will include:

    • Regattas in Bellingham, Seattle, and new for 2018: Tacoma
      • Bellingham – August 25, 2018
      • Seattle – September 8, 2018
      • Tacoma – September 15, 2018
    • “Day at the Races” Seattle spectator event during which our non-sailing supporters will board the Argosy Sightseer race day from which to enjoy the festivities, support the boat(s) of their choosing, and vote for the coveted ‘Pinkest Boat’ award recipient.
    • Additional “Pink Power Squadron” powerboat format for Tacoma participants

    For more information, visit our website at:


  • Looking Forward to #NGLCC18: International Business & Leadership Conference

    by Al Smith
    | Aug 13, 2018

    This week, three GSBA staff members will be attending the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) International Business & Leadership Conference. This annual gathering of LGBTQ chambers from around the country offers an opportunity for GSBA to connect with our long-time colleagues and new partners in equality.

    Will you be there? Let us know at We’d love to connect.


    We asked our staff what they are looking forward to most at #NGLCC2018:

    Meridian Mayer, Sr. Membership Services Manager

    2018GSBAStaff-MeridianAs a first-time NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference attendee, I am most looking forward to making new connections and learning as much as I can. In my role at GSBA I manage several programs, including the Travel Out Seattle tourism initiative.

    Connecting with hospitality and tourism industry leaders to explore their programs and initiatives presents a great opportunity to promote the PNW and share expertise. I have found it rewarding to glean perspective from other industry leaders, come back to market, and implement key learnings for strategic growth.

    There is so much industry knowledge out there—I am grateful to be able to attend. Plus, Martha Stewart will be there, so, enough said!

    Ilona Lohrey, Director of Membership, Outreach & Engagement

    2018GSBAStaff-IlonaSince taking on the Supplier Diversity Initiative at GSBA, I have made many wonderful connections with corporate and government Supplier Diversity Officers who are committed to supporting small and diverse businesses.

    I very much appreciate being able to engage with our certified LGBT Business Enterprises who bring a variety of different experience levels and knowledge to the table and to hear about their success stories in landing a new contract and sometimes very creative ways with getting a foot in the door.

    The NGLCC Conference provides a platform for me to meet existing partners and chamber colleagues and make new connections in the Supplier Diversity world—its own little biosphere!

    Louise Chernin, President and CEO

    2018GSBAStaff-LouiseFor me, attending the NGLCC Conference is all about connecting with colleagues and friends from other LGBTQ chambers. I generally attend the Chamber track and get to learn and share best practices from large and small chambers throughout the country.

    Of course, I also love the opportunity to be introduced to prospective corporate partners. Where else can one spend time with over 1,200 LGBTQ business professionals? What a treat!

  • Tackling workplace drama, cultivating peace and increasing productivity with Jami Hudson

    by Jami Hudson
    | Aug 09, 2018

    This week we are featuring a new member, certified mediator and life/business coach Jami Hudson. Join us in welcoming Jami!

    Less drama leads to more of the good stuff, like peacefulness and productivity. Like serenity and satisfaction. I started Drama Free Workplaces because I am certain I can help you get more of the good stuff and enjoy life in and out of the workplace.

    Take Jami's conflict resolution survey! The survey includes questions on the type of conflict and the types of support you need, the cost of conflict to the organization, and the type of training that would be most beneficial.

    My name is Jami Hudson and I am the Stop the Drama Mama. After helping hundreds of clients stop the drama and teaching at the graduate level, I am certain I can help you reclaim peace. Or perhaps find it for the first time in your life.

    Conflict is an expensive thief. Our relationship to conflict can restore us or sink us. We want things—or let’s be honest, people—to change, but we succumb to old patterns of dealing with the issue AND the people. We do this even though we know the adage, “doing the same thing and expecting different results is insanity.”

    Conflict is also drama. A drama triangle, complete with victims, heroes, and villains. But we can recast the roles and change the story. I can't wait to show you how!

    Jami Hudson Member Profile 8-11-2018 

    I joined GSBA because I believe in doing what I can to change my little corner of the world and my favorite corner is Seattle. Also, as part of the LGBTQ community and with family who are as well, I am thrilled to be part of a group that supports equality, diversity, and inclusion.

    Equality is good living. Good loving. And yes, good business. It means treating others like the amazing, mysterious, priceless being that they are. Always and all ways.

    Want to learn more about creating a drama free workplace? Free discovery sessions are available on my website. If nothing else, we should create a conflict price tag so you know exactly what it's costing your company. And if you're game, we can talk about what it is costing you personally.


  • Documenting queer lives: Dylan M. Austin Photography

    by Dylan M. Austin
    | Aug 02, 2018

    This week, we are featuring a new member—photographer Dylan M. Austin. Join us in welcoming Dylan.

    2018MEMBERSPOTLIGHT_DylanMAustin1_200x250I was always the kid that picked up family members' disposable film cameras to use up all the remaining shots. In high school I kept that enthusiasm through film classes, learning dark room developing processes, and manually rolling my own film.

    Once I picked up a DSLR for the first time, friends and family started asking what my rates would be for things like senior portraits (a question I had no idea how to answer at first!) and it all just happened from there. I did portraiture part-time until I finally decided I wanted to make it my career, and here we are!

    Aside from what pays the bills, I spend a significant amount of time photographing what I want to see better represented in media.

    I photograph drag queens, top surgery scars, sex-positive and nude imagery, queer musicians and performers. It's important to me to use my platform and skills to document the queer experience and use those photos to spread messages and promote other artists.


    To me, equality is good business means that businesses, big and small, have a voice to be heard and an opportunity to represent values in the communities they do business in. Members of GSBA have a special platform to demonstrate how equality is a critical factor in business and setting a standard for the ethics and humanity that we so need in our businesses.


    I have known about GSBA for some time and think organizations like this are critical to the community and necessary to bolster each other's ventures and success. My accountant, my fellow photographers, and more always told me about the organization, so I knew I needed to join!

    I'm all over Seattle, so please say hi! The best place to get in contact with me and see what I am up to is my website,!

    I am thrilled to meet new people—it is one of the greatest parts of what I do. Let's work together—be it headshots or something super creative!