The GSBA Blog

  • 2017 New Business of the Year: Diverse City LLC

    by Greater Seattle Business Association
    | Dec 28, 2017

    The GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards honor businesses and business leaders who are successful, exemplify the highest standards of their profession, promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, demonstrate leadership and invest time and resources into their community.

    Cheryl_Ingram2017 New Business of the Year: Diverse City LLC
    Cheryl Ingram PhD, Owner

    Diverse City is a consulting firm founded by Cheryl Ingram PhD, specializing in diversity and equity assessments, training, and coaching. It is immediately apparent upon meeting Dr. Ingram for the first time that she is a hard-working entrepreneur who lives and breathes diversity and inclusion, motivated by her passion to connect people and make the world a better place – for ALL people. Diverse City’s mission is to eliminate discrimination and oppression in every workplace and educational institution and Cheryl does this work with passion, expertise, and thoughtfulness. Her ability to assess, train, and redesign programs with an inclusive and equitable lens is innovative and inspiring. The goal of Diverse City is to work with companies and build long-term sustainable diversity and inclusion practices. They specialize in numerous components of diversity and inclusion, including unconscious bias, racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, religious discrimination, and other components of diversity. Passionate about many issues and generous with her spare time Dr. Ingram also donates her time and talents to numerous nonprofits in Seattle.
    We flourish as a community. We value our local and independent businesses, support our nonprofits, and come together to recognize, value, and celebrate the strength we have when we all work together. Together We Rise.

    The 37th Annual Business & Humanitarian Awards Dinner | Feb 15, 2018

  • 2017 Business of the Year: Precision Garage Door Service

    by Greater Seattle Business Association
    | Dec 28, 2017

    The GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards honor businesses and business leaders who are successful, exemplify the highest standards of their profession, promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, demonstrate leadership and invest time and resources into their community.

    Precision_Door2017 Business of the Year: Precision Garage Door Service
    Kevin Spratt and Kurt Sarchet, Owners

    Precision Garage Door Service of Seattle is your local garage door repair specialist. Kevin Spratt and Kurt Sarchet opened their business in 2002 with three employees. In 2017, it was one of the top three LGBT-owned businesses with 90 employees across three states. Precision Garage Door is consistently one of the highest-rated service providers in their field, with an A+ rating from the BBB, and a Super Service Award from Angie’s List, among others. When King County recognized LGBT certification under its supplier diversity program, Precision won the very first contract awarded. Unique as a gay-owned business in a blue collar industry, Kevin and Kurt have created a culture of support for their employees and their community. They firmly believe that their employees should be treated with the same care and respect as their customers. Generosity, competitiveness, and courage to do the right thing, such as signing on in support of marriage equality, supporting local kids sports teams, donating technology to schools, being a GSBA Silver and Gold Sponsor, and raising the paddle as one of the most generous GSBA supporters each year at EQUALUX: The TASTE of GSBA has helped make them a role model as a business and a true success story.
    We flourish as a community. We value our local and independent businesses, support our nonprofits, and come together to recognize, value, and celebrate the strength we have when we all work together. Together We Rise.

    The 37th Annual Business & Humanitarian Awards Dinner | Feb 15, 2018

  • 2017 Business Leader of the Year: Peter Shalit MD

    by Greater Seattle Business Association
    | Dec 28, 2017

    The GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards honor businesses and business leaders who are successful, exemplify the highest standards of their profession, promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, demonstrate leadership and invest time and resources into their community.

    Peter_Shalit2017 Business Leader of the Year: Peter Shalit MD, Peter Shalit MD and Associates

    Peter Shalit’s dream of becoming a family doctor for the LGBTQ+ community began while he was a self-described “nerdy” genetics major at UW. After earning his PhD in Genetics, he entered UW Medical School and has now been a doctor for our community for 27 years. Soft-spoken, focused, hard-working, and modest, he has treated an estimated 10,000 patients in that time. Taking over a practice in 1990 he jumped right into the middle of the AIDS crisis and was one of the few doctors in Seattle willing to treat AIDS patients. In his free time, he has served on the board of Seattle Counseling Service and helped direct grants from the Beeks Family Legacy Foundation to organizations addressing animal welfare, homelessness, and LGBTQ+-focused organizations. Peter says “I’m a product of the gay community, so I owe everything to the gay community,” which is a debt he has paid many times over though his dedication and as embodied in his motto Tikkum Olam a Jewish phrase that means ‘to heal the world.’ It’s what he has spent his career doing and through his whole-hearted focus on caring for the LGBTQ+ community’s medical needs he has positively affected countless lives.
    We flourish as a community. We value our local and independent businesses, support our nonprofits, and come together to recognize, value, and celebrate the strength we have when we all work together. Together We Rise.

    The 37th Annual Business & Humanitarian Awards Dinner | Feb 15, 2018

  • Louise Chernin Appointed Member of Police Search Committee

    by Kamaria Hightower
    | Dec 22, 2017

    Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced the members of her Police Search Committee who will assist in a national search process to find the best candidates for Seattle’s next police chief. Led by four co-chairs, this diverse Search Committee will work with a national search firm to gather and screen applications following a series of community meetings to collect community input and create the Chief’s job description.

    “The next police chief must be a leader with unquestioned integrity and someone who can both ensure public safety and hold the respect and confidence of rank-and-file police officers and our communities. As our Search Committee begins their work, they will be focused on finding a leader who embraces meaningful and lasting reforms and has a vision that reflects the fact that reform and improvement is a continual process. Before making any recommendations, our Police Search Committee will be listening to our residents, including those communities that have the greatest distrust of police and the criminal justice system and who face the bias and institutional racism of our current system,” said Durkan.

    The 25 member Police Search Committee is comprised of a broad range of community leaders, including many with extensive and unique experience in criminal justice reform and policing. Members include:

    • Co-Chair Tim Burgess, former Mayor of Seattle, former President of the Seattle City Council, and former Seattle police detective
    • Co-Chair Colleen Echohawk, Executive Director of the Chief Seattle Club
    • Co-Chair Sue Rahr, Director of Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission and former King County Sheriff
    • Co-Chair Jeffery Robinson, deputy legal director at the ALCU and the director of the ACLU Trone Center for Justice and Equality (serving in his personal capacity)
    • Jorge L. Barón, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
    • Scott Bachler, Seattle Police Management Association
    • Solomon Bisrat, Coalition of Immigrants Refugees and Communities of Color (CIRCC)
    • Louise Chernin, Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA)
    • Ben Danielson, Seattle Children’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic
    • Gregory Davis, Rainier Beach Action Coalition
    • Erin Goodman, SODO Business Improvement Area
    • M. Lorena González, Seattle City Councilmember
    • Enrique Gonzalez, Community Police Commission
    • Jimmy Hung, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
    • Roxana Norouzi, One America
    • Asha Mohammed, Women’s Advocacy Center
    • Sonny Nguyen, Chinatown International District Public Safety
    • Becky Roe, Schroeter Goldmark & Bender
    • Jon Scholes, Downtown Seattle Association
    • Mike Stewart, Ballard Alliance
    • Mary Ellen Stone, King County Sexual Assault Resource Center
    • Marcus Stubblefield, King County Office of Performance, Strategy and Budget
    • Kevin Stuckey, Seattle Police Officer’s Guild
    • Pastor Lawrence Ricky Willis, United Black Christian Clergy
    • Rev. Aaron Williams, Community Police Commission

    The Search Committee will hold its first meeting in early January. The search for a new Chief will include an extensive community outreach process during early 2018 and will seek to identify a leader who will successfully continue police reforms and garner public confidence. After conducting interviews with applicants, the Search Committee will submit their recommendations to Mayor Durkan.

  • New Member Profile: Bearified

    by Craig Yeary
    | Dec 21, 2017

    bearified craig featured member 2017 december 600x337"I hit a milestone recently—I have been in Seattle for three years now and I've really come to love and appreciate the community here. I’m originally from Levelland, a small town in the panhandle of Texas. I moved here for work in November 2014 and since then I’ve discovered that my calling is to create and provide love for the bearded community. Until my move to the Pacific Northwest, I'd tried almost every type of facial hair visage except for a magnificent beard, thus, I cultivated a luxurious beard of my own to fully embrace my “hipster” status.

    The idea of Bearified was born a few years ago, in all likelihood as I scratched my beard in contemplation. It was in this moment that I realized I needed a skincare product that cared as much for my face as it did for my facial hair. I tested a couple of different products, but was unsatisfied with the results, so I began a series of homespun experiments with oils, creams, and lotions—not to mention a bevy of heady essential oils. The first few experiments were certainly not up to par. The first attempt was melted coconut and raw lavender, and I can assure you that did not do the trick. I began trying more complex recipes and the results were still unpredictable and far from the beard ambrosia I'd imagined. However, as my triumphs began to overtake my tribulations, I eventually achieved the beard care holy trinity: a formula that nourished, managed, and conditioned all in one application! Adding the perfect scent was the next logical step, so I began to tap Seattle’s fierce bear community for feedback. As demand spiked and samples ran out, I headed back to my beard lab to cast a new batch of jars that featured these sensuous and uniquely Seattle-spun aromas.

    It is with great pride that I acknowledge my friends, the many bearded gentlemen to whom I owe my deepest gratitude, who have been the driving force behind Bearified's continued evolution. Branding and packaging recently received a huge boost when a close friend helped with with logo development and since then I've been using my own marketing and advertising skills to cultivate a product line that exudes glamour, style, and functionality.

    bearified tins I envision that Bearified will stand out from the crowd on its own merit, since it doesn't try to be anything other than itself—FABULOUS! Currently available products include balms, salves, and oils. Each day I continue to brainstorm new product offerings, as the mission of Bearified is to serve the bearded community with unique, natural, and fun products to elevate their follicle dreams. Today, Bearified is developing into a full-fledged system of top-to-tail skincare with no-bullshit packaging, evocative scents, and vigor enough to live out your wildest bearded fantasies. I am so excited to join GSBA because of the wonderful opportunities that the organization offers for new LGBT businesses owners like myself. The resources and potential exposure is more than I can ask for to help this young business soar to new heights." If your face grows hair, give it flair. Be bonafide. #BeBearified 

    Visit to learn more about Craig's products!

  • Ten Steps to Start Your New Business

    by U.S. Small Business Association
    | Dec 14, 2017

    It's time to make your dream a reality and take the next steps to become your own boss. The SBA is here to help. The following are 10 steps to start your new business:

    1. Conduct market research - Market research will tell you if there’s an opportunity to turn your idea into a successful business. 

    2. Write your business plan - Your business plan is the foundation and roadmap of your business.

    3. Fund your business - Your business plan will help you figure out how much money you’ll need to start your business. If you don’t have that amount on hand, you’ll need to either raise or borrow the capital. 

    4. Pick your business location - Whether you’re setting up a brick-and-mortar business or launching an online store, the choices you make could affect your taxes, legal requirements, and revenue.

    5. Choose a business structure - The legal structure you choose for your business will impact your business registration requirements, how much you pay in taxes, and your personal liability.

    6. Choose your business name - Your name reflects your brand and captures your spirit. You’ll also want to make sure your business name isn’t already being used by someone else.

    7. Register your business - Once you’ve picked the perfect business name, it’s time to make it legal and protect your brand. 

    8. Get federal and state tax IDs - Your employer identification number (EIN) is like a social security number for your business. Some — but not all — states require you to get a tax ID as well.

    9. Apply for licenses and permits - The licenses and permits you need for your business will vary by industry, state, location, and other factors.

    10. Open a business bank account - A small business checking account can help you handle legal, tax, and day-to-day issues. 

    Get resources to help with each step from the U.S. Small Business Administration

  • GSBA Reflects on 2017

    by Brandon Macz
    | Dec 13, 2017

    The Greater Seattle Business Association capped off 2017 with an annual meeting where Business & Humanitarian Awards recipients were announced and local lawmakers gave an optimistic preview of the 2018 legislative session.

    GSBA president Louise Chernin shared highlights from the past year, including how the state’s largest LGBTQ chamber of commerce in 2017 raised $950,000 in student scholarship funding. This year marked $3 million in total awards to LGBTQ and allied students to pursue their leadership potential over four years.

    “There is no one doing that,” Chernin said, “so I just have to say that is really remarkable to stay with a student for four years.”

    This was also the first year the GSBA led a leadership academy with students from around the country.

    Antioch University provost Benjamin Pryor said the school’s partnership with GSBA has allowed the university to identify challenges for its LGBTQIA students and improve on its environmental education and mental health counseling. Antioch is also developing a post-graduate certificate for LGBTQIA counseling.

    The chamber took a leadership position in the fight to oppose Initiative 1552, said GSBA chair Drew Ness, which failed to get enough signatures to make the November ballot this year. It would have restricted people to use the bathroom, locker room and other facilities that correspond with their biological gender... more.

  • GSBA members appointed co-chairs of Seattle Small Business Advisory Council

    Signing an Executive Order at Elliott Bay Book Company, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan established the Seattle’s first Small Business Advisory Council (SBAC). Tasked with ensuring small businesses have a role in informing policies and programs as well as access to resources, the council will provide input on impact of City decisions, make policy recommendations, and help increase access to tools and resources available to small businesses.

    “Inventing the future and supporting vibrant neighborhoods means supporting small businesses that call Seattle home. Our small businesses must be a part of solving our urgent challenges of affordability and growth,” said Mayor Durkan. “With this first ever council, Seattle’s diverse and innovative small businesses will have a voice in City Hall and be a part of creating and crafting solutions.”

    As part of today’s announcement, Durkan announced four co-chairs including: Joe Fugere, Owner of Tutta Bella; Taylor Hoang, Entrepreneur and Executive Director, Ethnic Business Coalition; Donna Moodie, Owner of Marjorie Restaurant and CEO of Mint Holding a food and design company; and Tracy Taylor, Manager of Elliott Bay Book Company.

    The SBAC charter will be determine by February 1, 2018 with the first meeting by March 1, 2018. SBAC members will represent businesses of different sizes, different industries, different neighborhoods, and from different sectors, stages, and ownership models and will include under-represented entrepreneurs: women, immigrants, refugees people of color, and the LGBTQ community.

    Seattle has about 36,500 businesses with fewer than 50 employees that employ nearly 200,000 people in Seattle. Across Washington State, small businesses account for more than half of all of our jobs in Washington State. Collectively, our small businesses employ nearly 200,000 people in Seattle.

  • Ambassador Profile: Caroline Millet

    by Caroline Millet
    | Nov 30, 2017

    ambssador caroline millet career paths 300x300"Hello, GSBA! I’m a consultant at Career Paths NW in Lynnwood, though I really prefer the term “headhunter,” because I seek out top sales talent in multiple industries in service to my clients, while helping people take that next step in their career, with lots of coaching along the way. I first recruited in San Francisco during the dot-com boom… and bust. I bring to my role my industry experience in insurance, marketing, event management, hospitality management, digital marketing, and even the legal field. Sales is something I have always done in some form or another, so being a headhunter for sales talent now feels like coming full-circle.

    Prior to moving to Seattle from San Francisco nearly 13 years ago, I was a chef working at a wine bar and bistro, as well as catering and teaching cooking lessons. Given the option of what to cook, I would choose seafood or duck. Cooking and art are my first loves and even with my busy schedule of also being in school full-time, (graduation Aug 2018!), and being a single parent, I find time for both.

    Originally from Minnesota, my family was the first Vietnamese family there, ever. It was a good and challenging place to grow up at that time being of a different race. However, we were sponsored by fantastic people whom I loved as my parents and who insisted I be in 4-H for 11 years, learning public speaking, drama, writing, youth leadership skills, and creative and domestic arts. Perhaps that is why being an Ambassador for the GSBA is so important to me: connecting people and being part of a community that has a mission and shared values feels right to me.

    ambssador caroline millet career paths NW 300x300In my scant spare time, I enjoy being with my 10-year-old daughter and our friends, photography, going to artist and makers shows, sharing meals, volunteering, and enjoying theater, dance, and music. If the weather is agreeable, I can be found at the beach or on a hike, and as long it’s not pouring rain, it’s normal to find me walking Greenlake on a Sunday morning before I buckle down to study. I also enjoy pet-sitting, own a snake, and love a good scotch- the peaty stuff. Throw in dark chocolate, and that’s a good treat, right there.

    Seattle encompasses so many things I love and the GSBA keeps me engaged and involved with some of the best of Seattle. I am excited to be an Ambassador and meet and connect you at an upcoming event!"

  • Featured New Member: Industrious

    by Emily Streeper
    | Nov 30, 2017

    industrious3 600x337Industrious is a premium workplace platform, blending five-star service and stunning design to provide an unparalleled workplace experience for established professionals. Scheduled to open in January of next year, the company’s first Seattle office is located in the heart of Downtown, in Denny Triangle, right next to Jazz Alley and kitty-corner from the Amazon spheres.

    Industrious was founded in 2013 by Jamie Hodari and Justin Stewart, who are two childhood friends who grew up literally next door to each other.

    Gone are the ping pong tables, kombucha kegs in the corner and skateboards -- stereotypes of what coworking is -- instead, at Industrious, you’ll find office space as professional and innovative as its members’ businesses. Built on the principle of providing people the hospitality and design in the place they least expect it, the Industrious team is driven by making people excited and proud to go to work.

    Industrious members come from diverse industries including creative agencies, growing start-ups, and professional services firms in real estate, finance and legal. As one of the few coworking solutions that caters to freelancers and the Fortune 500, the Industrious team is proud to partner with GSBA and assist its member companies, of all sizes, find their next HQs.

    It’s an exciting time to be in the coworking space; both in Seattle and across the country. Businesses need great work environments in order to grow and succeed but very few are actually able to execute on this core necessity due to complicated, opaque and expensive processes.

    At Industrious Seattle, private offices are available for 1-7+ person teams, as well as national coworking memberships. The space will be equipped with Herman Miller seating and custom-made wood desks. Breakfast will be provided every morning featuring coffee, provided by Caffe Umbria. All levels of membership also include 24/7 access to the national footprint of Industrious offices.

    industrious2 600x337We are excited to partner with the GSBA to help us build an Industrious Seattle community that shares our commitment to promoting equality in business and reflects the diversity of our vibrant city. If you’re looking for a better work environment or on the search for your business’ next home, Industrious is offering a special discount to GSBA members. To learn more about the offer and to schedule a tour of the space, please reach out to Emily Streeper at Emily is the Community Manager at Industrious and has two cats she absolutely adores names Lola & Ware (“Yep, I like Tupperware!”).

  • EQUALUX: Thank You!

    by Louise Chernin, President & CEO
    | Nov 22, 2017

    EQUALUX_staff on stageEQUALUX: The TASTE of GSBA
     is about a community coming together for its own. How thrilling it was to see over 900 guests enjoying each other's company, wonderful food, incredible wines, outstanding entertainment; and giving so generously to the GSBA Scholarship Fund.

    On behalf of the Board of Directors, Scholarship Steering Committee, and staff of GSBA, I would like to express our sincere gratitude and thanks for your support of the GSBA Scholarship Fund.

    Over $950,000 was raised to provide education, hope, and a better future for LGBTQ and allied students!

    We are grateful for the generosity of our guests, volunteers, and local businesses for making this event a success. The GSBA Scholarship Fund cannot continue - or grow - its impact within the community through scholarships and leadership development without your support.
    Over the last year, your generosity has achieved so much. Your participation and gifts have allowed the GSBA Scholarship Fund to make a four-year commitment to our scholars and launch our first-ever leadership program, the GSBA Leadership Academy. We are overwhelmed by your commitment to our current and future Scholars!

    At this year's gala 1995 Scholar Chris Kuhel shared with you the impact the GSBA Scholarship Fund had on his life - so much so that he has returned to GSBA as a volunteer and donor. YOU made this possible! Chris is living the mission of the fund and has become a leader within our community. Because of you this continues to be the norm among our scholars. Following his story of resilience, we were astounded by the flood gates of generosity opened by the Florence & WM Beeks Foundation with their $25,000 donation. From there, the magic spread, with truly inspiring gifts from Glenn Johnson & Michael MelanconMeade Thayer, and Michael Copeland... resulting in $400,000 being raised during the Fund-A-Scholar portion of the evening.
    There are so many thank yous to be given for making EQUALUX such a great success. To begin, let's thank Jennifer Hopper and Jennifer Moran, our dream Co-Chairs who provided leadership and vision for EQUALUX; our incredible Board of Directors, led by Drew Ness; Scholarship Chair, Carrie Carson; the GSBA Staff - especially Carlos Chavez our Programs & Events Manager and Mark Rosén our VP of Development & External Relationships; and over 120 event volunteers!
    During dinner, one lucky table was treated to a gourmet meal by celebrity chefs Tamara Murphy (Terra Plata), Sheena Eliz (Anar & Mbar), Leslie Mackie (Macrina Bakery & Cafe), and Shota Nakajima (Adana). Once again our amazing auctioneer, Laura Michalek, and the delightful emcee, John Fisher, kept us engaged and bidding.
    EQUALUX: The TASTE of GSBA would not be possible without you, our guests, and our wonderful sponsors. A heartfelt thanks to our Title Sponsor: 1st Security Bank; our Presenting Sponsor: Comcast NBC Universal and our 2017 Voice of Scholarship: Interchange Media, and of course our Annual and Event Sponsors. And, what would EQUALUX be without our wonderful restaurant, catering, and wine sponsors: Adrice Wines, Aluel Cellars, Barrage Cellars, Bartholomew Winery, Browne Family Vineyards, Caprio Cellars, Damsel Cellars, Elsom Cellars, Fidelitas Wines, Goose Ridge Vineyards & Estate, Gorman Winery, Gruet, Guardian Cellars, Kerloo Cellars, Latta Wines, Laurelhurst Cellars, Mark Ryan Winery, Market Vineyards, Nine Hats Wines, Nota Bene Cellars, Patterson Cellars, Rotie Cellars, Structure Wines, Tranche Cellars, Va Piano Vineyards, 13 Coins Restaurant, Barrio - Mexican Kitchen + Bar, The Hi-Life, Honest Biscuits, Madres Kitchen, Rhein Haus Restaurant, Bocce Haus, & Bier Hall, Tankard & Tun Restaurant, and Taylor Shellfish Farms!
    We will continue to build on the year's successes with the support of our community with a re-energized commitment to supporting our next generation of scholars. There's so much more we can accomplish if we do it together - the need within our community for leaders is great!
    Because of all of you, our Scholars have the hope and support they need to become the next generation of leaders.

    Truly an evening for which to be thankful.

    If you were not at EQUALUX, there is still time to be part of the magic of giving. We invite you to make a year-end gift to your GSBA Scholarship Fund here.

    For equality,

     If you would like to make your mark on the 2018 scholarship cycle, please consider giving the gift of time as a scholarship interviewer.

    Visit the EQUALUX photo gallery.

    Click here to see if employer has a matching gifts program.

  • Are you ready for Small Business Saturday?

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing & Communications
    | Nov 21, 2017

    Small Business Saturday, November 25, 2017, is an annual shopping tradition dedicated to supporting small businesses and celebrating communities across the country. Founded by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday is celebrated every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

    Encouraging community members to Shop Small is about more than just shopping at small businesses. It’s a cause that helps to support local economies and promote vibrant, diverse communities. It’s also a nationwide movement fueled by shoppers, business owners, and organizers who come together and celebrate the community because they know it matters.



    Promote your business

    Pick up your Shop Small tote bags, welcome mats, pennants, and balloons at GSBA's LGBT Visitors Center beginning Wednesday, November 22. 

    Attract even more customers with the tools available at the online Shop Small Studio. You can create customized marketing materials for your physical  location, online shop, and social media with the Shop Small Studio —  in less than 2 minutes.

    Create Materials



    Bring your community together

    Help rally small businesses and shoppers in your community on the big day, Nov 25, with inspiration and support from American Express.

    Champion the Community Cause
    Step up for Small Business Saturday as an individual, group, or organization.

    Organize a Community Event
    Throw at least one event on Small Business Saturday that brings the community and businesses together.

    Rally 10+ Small Businesses
    Reach out to at least ten eligible, local small businesses in your community and encourage them to participate in your event.

    Apply Now

  • Spotlight on Bank of America‚Äôs Ally Program

    by Bank of America
    | Nov 19, 2017

    Being a diverse and inclusive company is core to Bank of America’s ability to deliver on its purpose of growing responsibly by supporting the clients, communities and employees it serves. The company has a long standing commitment to LGBT employees and members of the community, demonstrated in a variety of meaningful ways including external partnerships, corporate values, policies, benefit programs, Employee Networks and the company’s ever expanding Ally Program.

    Bank of America’s Ally Program was introduced in 2013 by its LGBT Pride Employee Network, one of 11 Employee Networks at the company. LGBT Pride and its 14,000 members worldwide are focused on helping to attract LGBT talent to the company, the career development of LGBT teammates, supporting LGBT inclusive programs, and community support. The Ally Program encourages teammates to show support for LGBT colleagues and help others understand the importance of equality, fairness, acceptance and mutual respect.

    “Our allies have a profound impact on our employees’ abilities to bring their whole selves to work,” said Kim Vu, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Business and Community Engagement and an Ally at Bank of America. With more than 60 percent of Gen-Y LGBT college graduates going back in the closet when they start their first job, and seventy-three percent of closeted LGBT workers being more likely to leave their jobs within three years, Bank of America recognizes how disruptive this can be for employees wanting to reach their full potential. “Our allies take ownership in creating a workplace environment that honors diversity, equality and inclusion so all teammates can fully engage and its part of what helps to keep us competitive.”

    In addition to supporting a variety of national and local LGBT-focused organizations such as Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, Seattle Police Department Safe Place and Seattle Pride, Bank of America’s LGBT Pride hosts Ally Week—an annual internal employee event to thank and recognize members of the Ally Program, educate employees on what it means to be an ally, and offer learning sessions on being more inclusive of LGBT teammates for all employees.

    “Being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender isn’t always visible,” said Micheal Bailey, Bank of America Small Business Banker and one of the leaders of the bank’s LGBT Pride Seattle chapter. “Our LGBT employees, along with those who have other hidden diversity characteristics, may feel hidden themselves and that stress and anxiety can prevent them from achieving their life and career aspirations. We want our teammates to know that Bank of America is an inclusive workplace, where everyone’s backgrounds are valued.”

    Learn more about Bank of America's commitment to Diversity & Inclusion here

  • Staff Profile: Tristen Gardner

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing & Communications
    | Nov 18, 2017

    GardnerTristenTristen Gardner
    , Development Officer, joined the GSBA staff in September. Tristen is the primary point of contact for all donors and reaches out to individuals who are interested in investing in the GSBA Scholarship Fund. In addition, Tristen is developing a program for engagement with past scholars.

    “I used to play with the Seattle Quake Rugby team but nowadays support them off the field. I also am a huge supporter of Planned Parenthood and believe in everyone’s right to access and receive birth control and safe sex options. Currently however, when I am not working I am pursuing my Masters in Nonprofit Leadership at Seattle University.”

    Before coming to GSBA, Tristen worked with the Environmental Protection Agency as an environmental scientist. He specialized in hazardous waste cleanups and enforcement. His favorite part of that job was working with and educating at-risk communities on the perils of environmental contaminants and assisting community members in ways that they and their families can feel safe.

  • Donor Profile: Interchange Media, The Voice of Scholarship

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing & Communications
    | Nov 18, 2017

    Michele Gomes and Jennifer Ting of Interchange Media Art Productions have created videos for the GSBA Scholarship Fund since 2013. In 2016 they became the official Voice of Scholarship.

    We caught up with Jenny and Michele between trips to film festivals to learn a little more about their story...

    “We started our business because we wanted to focus on positive storytelling,” explains Michele. “We have aligned our business model with our personal values. Our company mission is to put the eye of the camera on life sustaining values. We also contribute our success to building trusting relationships with our clients; our willingness to put in long hours, develop new skills, and invest in new technology; and networking and word of mouth referrals.”

    Jenny and Michele share may passions including protecting the environment and LGBTQ equality.

    They have produced documentaries and promotional materials for a variety of clients on subjects ranging from Ebola, to edible urban forests, to a backwoods legend who roams the Olympic peninsula barefoot. They have also created a PSA for the Tibetan community that was used to promote transgender rights and equality within the community, with the primary purpose of the video being shown to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

    Jenny has created two documentary films about the LGBTQ community. Her first film “Not Straight Forward,” about a Seattle lesbian who went on ten dates with ten different women, documents the political climate at the time. “Straight Into Gay America” is about a Lutheran pastor who traveled from Vermont to Washington D.C. in support of LGBTQ rights.

    Their award-winning documentary “Saving Sea Turtles: Preventing Extinction,” premiered on January 17, 2017, and has since been screened at festivals and IMAX theaters across the country. The film began airing on public television stations in April 2017. “It was exciting for us to be able to witness and document how New Englanders, Southerners, and people in Mexico are working together to save a critically endangered species. The film has helped people to understand the bigger picture and overall implications of what it takes to conserve a species at risk and has inspired people to volunteer and donate to marine conservation or other wildlife organizations.”

    When asked about their recent experiences traveling around the country with their film, Michele says “...we’ve witnessed that Good Will is very much alive. A great number of people care about the environment and are supporting conservation efforts all around the U.S. Actually all around the world. We have had large turnouts at screenings whether communities live by the ocean or not, so this is an indicator that many in the US are wanting to be informed about conservation and what kind of action they can take.”

    “We are very honored that Jenny and Michele, two amazing filmmakers, have become The Voice of Scholarship,” says Mark Rosén, GSBA VP of Development & External Relations. “Their work has enabled us to share our students’ stories, and the vision for the GSBA Scholarship Fund, with thousands of people at home and around the world.”

    Learn more about Michele and Jenny here.

  • Paving the Way for Non- Binary Birth Certificates

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy & Communications Manager
    | Nov 17, 2017

    This summer, Oregon became the first state to allow a non-binary “X” gender marker on IDs and driver’s licenses, followed quickly by the District of Columbia and California. Hopefully the Evergreen State will not be far behind! The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) issued a draft rule in August to add nonbinary gender options to birth certificates. People born in Washington can already request an updated birth certificate indicating a gender different than the one originally recorded, but they are limited to the options of “male” and “female”.

    “What we are trying to do is just have birth certificates align with people’s gender identity,” said department head Christie Spice in an interview with the Tacoma News Tribune.

    GSBA joined many partner organizations to sign on to a statement authored by Gender Justice League, Legal Voice, Transgender Law Center, and other partner organization to express support for a clear, accessible process through with Washingtonians can change the gender designation on their birth certificates. There is growing recognition in other parts of the U.S. (California, DC, Oregon) and countries (Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, India, Nepal) that binary gender markers are insufficient as a means to accurately reflect gender and to ensure equality.

    The group is advocating for a series of principles around this rule change, including:

    • Non-discrimination:
    gender exists in many forms and no one should be preferred over the other. All people who need to change their gender designation should have access to this process with as few barriers as possible.
    • Accessibility: all people who need to change their gender designation on their birth certificate should be permitted to do so without significant expense, barriers, or arbitrary limitations.
    • Self-determination: individuals know their genders, and third parties do not need to be involved in this determination.
    • Safety and privacy: the private and identifying information provided by and for people seeking a gender marker change must be protected from public disclosure.

    As our society’s understanding of gender broadens, we hope that the categories a person could choose would recognize the spectrum of gender. The Department of Health has already expressed a desire for any alternative to “male” and “female” to be broadly and non-exclusively defined. The option least likely to exclude Washingtonians and most likely to avoid confusion would be to create an application form with a blank next to the word “Gender” where individuals can self-identify. Should the Department of Health require specific options, the group suggested that the terms “Non-Binary,” “Female,” “Male,” and “Not specified” would also be a positive step forward.

    GSBA is looking forward to advocating for laws, rules, and policies across our state that reflect the entirety of experiences from our communities.

  • Staff Profile: Meridian Mayer

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing & Communications
    | Nov 16, 2017

    Mayer,MeridianMeridian Mayer, Sr. Membership Services Manager, joined the GSBA staff in September. Meridian works with GSBA members to ensure they make the most of their membership experience, remain a valued member of the GSBA community, and feel supported in their business efforts.

    “The consistent connecting element of my life has been remaining oriented toward equality, visibility, advocacy, and community and I am excited to contribute to this vital work as part of GSBA staff.

    When I’m not in the office, I enjoy mentoring fostered youth through the STAR Program at Amara Parenting and Adoption Services. This program is a fantastic way for me to remain connected to my adopted community and invest in youth.

    As a former Division II collegiate basketball player, I enjoy coaching and training. I’ve coached throughout Seattle and am grateful to be able to advocate for developing athletes. There’s also something to be said for a quiet, empty gym at 5am and the focus on the craft that comes with the silence.

    I’m thrilled to be part of the incredible work that GSBA does! The work is conducive to me being my best self, and I’m completely grateful for this opportunity.”

    Prior to joining GSBA, Meridian was the Sr. Manager, Membership Development &
    Premium Seating at Seattle Storm, WNBA.

  • My Member Go-To's

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing & Communications
    | Nov 15, 2017

    Harding, Jenny"As a wedding & event planner, I have the pleasure of working with and referring a variety of highly reputable and talented GSBA member businesses to my clients. Tuxedos & Tennis Shoes: A DSquared Company and Cameron Catering are my go-to caterers, along with Lavish Roots Catering who is a newer business making big waves the past couple years. I call on Herban Feast often for their vast array of services offered at any of their gorgeous venues. Ray’s Boathouse is the perfect rehearsal dinner spot and Silver Cloud Hotel – Seattle Broadway always offers stellar service and affordable/flexible room blocks for out-of-town guests. I rely on Starline Luxury Coaches for transportation needs, Seattle Parties for top-notch DJ services, and ARIA Style for creative and classic floral décor and design. Goldmine Design and J. Rankin Jewellers provide a very unique and customized experience in choosing wedding bands. Street Treats and A La Mode Pies offer the yummiest of desserts and Fran’s Chocolates are always included in welcome gifts to out-of-town guests.

    Renaissance Seattle Hotel and Seattle Marriott Waterfront are among venues that have hosted the annual One Love Wedding Showcase and we have just chosen the King Street Ballroom & Perch as the venue for the 7th annual Showcase happening February 2018." -- Jenny Harding, Owner, New Chapter Weddings & Events

    Orion, Egan"To get the word out about events and to reach out to diverse communities within the LGBTQ sphere, I rely on the expertise and the reach of non-profits like Gay City, Three Dollar Bill Cinema, and GSBA, among others. Community partners and sponsors like Kaiser Permanente, Seattle Gay News, Seattle Gay Scene, Sound, Sound Transit, TomboyX, and Verity Credit Union remind us that we couldn’t do it by ourselves, nor would we want to." -- Egan Orion, Festival Director, Seattle PrideFest

    Williams, Craig"1st Security Bank takes good care of our financial needs, as well as providing a fantastic event space. Tuxedos & Tennis Shoes and Cupcake Royale fill that space and others with wonderful treats for our community friends. Nate Gowdy Photography helps us capture and share those memories with everyone.

    Girlie Press takes care of our printing and designing needs all year long and ZippyDogs is woof-tastic. Our out-of-town staff are treated like family at the Bacon Mansion. Thanks GSBA, for bringing us all together!" -- Craig Williams, Office Manager, Pride Foundation

  • LGBTQ-affirming Affordable Senior Housing in Capitol Hill

    by Ashwin Warrior
    | Nov 14, 2017

    Last month, Capitol Hill Housing (CHH) announced our plans to develop Seattle’s first
    LGBTQ-affirming affordable senior housing, right here in Capitol Hill. For many, the announcement of a project like this feels long overdue. The community has been
    sounding the alarm around this issue for years, and the need for affordable, LGBTQ-friendly housing is immense.

    Thanks to research from Dr. Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen with the University of Washington and Generations Aging with Pride, today we have the clearest picture yet of the unique challenges facing LGBTQ seniors. Compared to their peers, LGBTQ seniors are more likely to live in poverty, be at higher risk for illness, and have less support of children or biological family. LGBTQ seniors often find themselves isolated in traditional retirement communities, and are frequently forced back into the closet to survive.

    At a time when rising rents and rapid change threaten the neighborhood’s LGBTQ identity, projects in Capitol Hill that create a space to address these issues can’t wait.

    For Capitol Hill Housing, responding to the emergent needs of the community is an essential part of our mission. For over 40 years, we have worked to build not
    just affordable homes, but also vibrant and engaged communities. With this project, we have a unique opportunity to bring much-needed affordable housing to the neighborhood while also creating a welcoming environment for LGBTQ elders in our community to age in place.

    Our plans are to develop this new housing at the southwest corner of 14th and Union. The initial concept calls for a seven-story building with up to 66 apartments affordable to individuals 55 years or older who make less than $33,000 a year. In accordance with fair housing laws, the building will be an LGBTQ-affirming community welcoming to all seniors, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The first floor will have space for local businesses or community groups that can help further the overall community vision. As part of the project, CHH will also make upgrades to the adjacent Helen V Apartments, a building we have owned for 16 years, and which offers an affordable home for low-income seniors and individuals with permanent disabilities.

    This is the outline, but we need the community to help us fill it in. In September, we hosted a gathering at Gay City to convene the community around this issue.

    Our work to engage the community is just beginning, and our efforts to incorporate the voices, stories, hopes, and aspirations of LGBTQ elders across our city will be ongoing.

    So far, we’ve been honored to have the counsel of over a dozen leaders from community organizations and government entities to help start articulating what LGBTQ-affirming senior housing in Seattle could look like. Bailey-Boushay House, City of Seattle, Entre Hermanos, Gay City, Generations Aging with Pride, King County HIV/AIDS Planning Council, LGBTQ Allyship, Lifelong, POCAAN, Seattle Counseling Services, Seattle Foundation and Virginia Mason Hospital have all helped us look at how to leverage design, social programs and health interventions in the building to support aging LGBTQ community members. In this regard, we are not starting from scratch, and can look to successful projects like 55 Laguna in San Francisco or the Town Hall Apartments in Chicago for inspiration.

    If all goes well, we hope to be able to begin construction in late 2018 and open in 2020. In the meantime, we hope this project will be a catalyst for conversation and greater action throughout the city.

    We are mindful that this is just one small, albeit important, step in a larger movement to address the needs of LGBTQ elders in our community.

    We’ll have more to share in the coming weeks and months. To be receive email updates on the project or to get more involved, please contact Ashwin Warrior.

  • Louise Chernin Appointed Member of Durkan Transition Committee

    by Kamaria Hightower, Communications Director, Mayor-Elect Jenny A. Durkan Transition Team
    | Nov 13, 2017

    Seattle Mayor-elect Jenny A. Durkan unveiled her full transition committee, a diverse and inclusive group of more than 60 community leaders and experts. The committee includes housing and homelessness advocates, social justice activists, transportation advocates, environmentalists, labor, and business leaders.

    "Our transition team reflects the best of Seattle. To solve our affordability, housing, and homelessness crisis, we need urgent action and innovative ideas. These community leaders and policy experts from all parts of Seattle will develop key achievable policy recommendations to make differences not just in the short term, but which help build a progressive, innovative and inclusive city for the next generation," said Mayor-elect Jenny Durkan.

    The transition committee will further develop short-term policy solutions focused on housing, homelessness, affordability, and many others. The committee will coalesce with final recommendations around the following: Environment and Transportation; Education, Economic Opportunity, Jobs and Innovation; Social Justice, Equity, and Healthy Communities; Good Government; Civil Rights and Criminal Justice Reform; and Affordability, Displacement, Housing and Homelessness.

    "We are facing unprecedented challenges as a city, and we want to have a myriad of voices at the table to ensure we are making decisions that will have the most impact and provide immediate relief within our communities,” Durkan concluded. Every member themselves will be reaching out to bring an even greater range of ideas to the table.

    Last week, Durkan selected former Deputy Secretary of the US Department of HUD and King County Executive Ron Sims, Transportation Choices Coalition Executive Director, Shefali Ranganathan, and Plymouth Housing Executive Director Paul Lambros as Co-Chairs of her transition committee.

    Transition Committee Members:
    Adrian Z. Diaz, Lieutenant, Seattle Police Department
    Angela Stowell, United Way, Campaign Co-Chair and Co-Founder of Stowell Restaurants
    Anne Lee, TeamChild, Executive Director
    Asha Mohamed, Women’s Advocacy Center, Co-Founder
    Behnaz Nelson, PTE Local 17, Executive Director
    Bill Hallerman, Catholic Community Services of King County, Agency Director
    Brianna Ishihara, Community Member
    Caleb Banta-Green, University of Washington, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, Principal Research Scientist
    Charlene Strong, Washington State Human Rights Commission, Chair
    Charles Royer, Former Mayor of Seattle
    Cherry Cayabyab, Community Activist
    Colleen Echohawk, Chief Seattle Club, Executive Director
    Dave Gering, Manufacturing Industrial Council, Executive Director
    Dave Stewart, Vulcan, Executive Vice President and General Counsel
    David Della, Former Seattle City Councilmember
    David Rolf, SEIU 775, President
    Diane Sosne, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, President
    Eileen Sullivan, Amazon, Senior Manager, U.S. State Public Policy
    Eileen V. Quigley, Clean Energy Transition, Director
    Emilio Garza, The Washington Bus, Executive Director
    Ezra Teshome, Community Leader
    Gordon McHenry, Jr., Solid Ground, President & CEO
    Helen Howell, Building Changes, Executive Director
    Jan Drago, Former Seattle City Councilmember
    Jerry Everard, Capitol Hill and Belltown Business Owner
    Jordan Royer, Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, VP for External Affairs, Manufacturing Industrial Council Board Member, and Washington CeaseFire Board Member
    Jorge L. Barón, NW Immigrant Rights Project, Executive Director
    Juan Cotto, El Centro de la Raza, President of the Board, and Board Member of Sound Mental Health
    Kathleen Taylor, ACLU - Washington, Executive Director
    Lauren McGowan, United Way, Sr. Director, Ending Homelessness & Poverty
    The Honorable Leonard Forsman, The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, President and Suquamish Tribe, Chair
    Leonard Smith, Teamsters 117, Director of Organizing & Strategic Campaigns
    Linda Di Lello Morton, GSBA, Board Member, and Terra Plata, Owner
    Lisa Daugaard, Public Defender Association, Director
    Louise Chernin, Greater Seattle Business Association, President & CEO
    Lt. Kenny Stuart, Seattle Fire Fighters Union, IAFF Local 27, President
    Marcos Martinez, Casa Latina, Executive Director
    Mariko Lockhart, National Coordinator, 100,000 Opportunities Initiative - Demonstration Cities, The Aspen Institute's Forum for Community Solutions
    Martha Kongsgaard, Kongsgaard-Goldman Foundation, President
    Marty Hartman, Mary’s Place, Executive Director
    Mary Jean Ryan, Community Center for Education Results, Executive Director
    Maud Daudon, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, President & CEO
    Mohamed Sheikh Hassan, East African Community Leader
    Monisha Harrell, Equal Rights Washington, Chair
    Monty Anderson, Seattle Building and Construction Trades Council, Executive Secretary
    Nicole Grant, M. L. King County Labor Council, Executive Secretary Treasurer
    Norm Rice, Former Mayor of Seattle
    Ollie Garrett, Tabor 100, President
    Patrice Thomas, Rainier Beach Action Coalition, Strategist
    Paul Lambros, Plymouth Housing, Executive Director
    Riall Johnson, De-Escalate Washington, Campaign Manager
    Ron Sims, Former King County Executive and Former Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Roxana Norouzi, OneAmerica, Deputy Director
    Ruthann Kurose, Community Leader
    Ryan Calo, University of Washington School of Law, Lane Powell and D. Wayne Gittinger Associate Professor, Shefali Ranganathan
    Transportation Choices Coalition, Executive Director
    Sheila Edwards Lange, Ph.D, Seattle Central College, President
    Stephan Blanford, Education Researcher
    Taylor Hoang, Ethnic Business Coalition, Executive Director
    Thatcher Bailey, Seattle Parks Foundation, President and CEO
    Trish Millines Dziko, TAF, Executive Director