The GSBA Blog

  • Save money and beat traffic with GSBA member Commute Seattle

    by Nick Abel
    | Jul 26, 2018

    This week, we are featuring a new nonprofit member—Commute Seattle. Join us in welcoming this new member!

    Seattle’s traffic challenges are well-known, but GSBA members might not be aware of a great resource to help navigate the city’s busy highways and streets: Commute Seattle.

    Commute Seattle is a nonprofit transportation management agency founded to address traffic and congestion by working directly with businesses to improve employee travel to and from work.


    They believe equality is a foundational value, drawing on the experience of a unique and multi-talented staff to connect with Seattle’s diverse business community. Their dedication to transportation equity and creating a city that welcomes everyone led them to join GSBA in 2018.

    The second highest living expense in Seattle after housing is transportation. For low-income or marginalized employees and small business owners, the impact of increased commute costs is especially pronounced. Through a mix of free consultations, technical assistance and pilot programs, Commute Seattle is working to reduce barriers to affordable and accessible transit.

    Commute Seattle’s services leverage city-, county- and state-funded commuter benefit programs, educate managers on the advantages of telework or flexible hours for employees, and even offer advice on creating bike-friendly offices.

    Want to provide employees with an unlimited annual ORCA card at the most cost-effective rate on the market? Reach out to Commute Seattle to learn more about the ORCA passport program. Or perhaps you want to save employees hundreds of dollars on commuting expenses without affecting your bottom line. Commute Seattle’s pre-tax program can help your business save as much as 8 percent on payroll taxes.

    No company is exactly the same and employee habits and business resources vary widely. Luckily, Commute Seattle’s robust small business team is experienced working with businesses of all sizes to address their unique commuting challenges. 

    Whatever your organization’s current transportation profile, Commute Seattle can give you the tools to lower employee travel stress, reduce parking costs, cut congestion and leverage the great public and alternative transportation options available in Seattle.

    To contact Commute Seattle, call 206-613-3131 or email

    More about Commute Seattle

    Founded in 2004, Commute Seattle is supported by the Downtown Transportation Alliance (DTA), comprised of the executive leadership of the Downtown Seattle Association, King County Metro, Seattle Department of Transportation, Sound Transit as well as rotating private-sector representation.

    In 2017, Commute Seattle achieved a 10-year goal of increasing transit, rideshare, walking and biking to 70 percent of all trips downtown. They continue to improve commutes to and through Seattle through a combination of consultations, technical assistance, and pilot programs.

    For more information, visit

  • GSBA welcomes twelve global LGBTQ activists and leaders: Bulgaria, Papua New Guinea, Chile + more

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

    This week GSBA was honored to receive a delegation of twelve LGBTQ activists and nonprofit leaders from around the world.

    Our visitors were in town as part of the International Visitor Program of the World Affairs Council and the U.S. State Department. The State Department’s Resilient Societies program on strengthening minority gender communities has been organized around several objectives:

    • Examine U.S. and international initiatives to promote and protect the human rights of the LGBTI community
    • Explore equal access to educational, economic, and healthcare opportunities for citizens with diverse gender identities and sexual orientations
    • Analyze the legislative framework and political perspectives on current and pending efforts to ensure equal human and civil rights in the U.S.
    • Observe how organizations monitor, influence and advocate for human and civil rights policy at the local, state, national and international levels

    This extraordinary group spent the morning introducing themselves and talking about the work that they do in their respective communities. They were interested in how GSBA across its 37-year history has supported the LGBTQ community economically and how support from the allied business community was built over the years. GSBA shared our origins and the story of how the organization has become the largest LGBTQ chamber in North America, how we have built alliances between disadvantaged communities, organized a successful political agenda, and ideas of how to fundraise for a community that cannot always be out.

    7.19.18 WorldAffairsCouncil Delegation_600x337

    Our guests explained how they do their work in their countries, some of which have stronger protections than the United States and others which face additional challenges. The question was raised about how to get local business people to come out and publicly support the LGBTQ community in a society where that could be detrimental. The role of multinational corporations – who may have good internal policies regarding sexual orientation and gender identity – can also be important in extending rights and protections to our community in areas where local laws are still lacking.

    GSBA was pleased to hear that some of our previous efforts with Microsoft, IBM, and the GLAS Foundation in Bulgaria had been successful and still have a positive ripple effect.

    We are thankful to have organizations like the World Affairs Council that help bring our colleagues from around the world to Washington State so that we can share our stories and expertise with one another. We are certainly looking forward to building lasting connections with these leaders, and hope to be able to visit some of them in their home countries in the future.

    We are also thankful to learn that ‘iskis’ means queer in Breton!

    Organizations represented included:

  • This coworking space is ensuring entrepreneurs from marginalized communities have access to vital infrastructure

    by Robbi Anthony
    | Jul 13, 2018

    This week, we are featuring a new member—Praxis Coworking. GSBA member span the entirety of Washington State, and this new member is located in Spokane! Join us in welcoming this values-driven organization.

    My name is Robbi Anthony and I am the founder of Praxis Coworking based in Spokane, Washington.

    We’ve recently announced a program called Second Wind. Second Wind is the philanthropic arm of Praxis Coworking that aims to give entrepreneurs from marginalized communities and groups an opportunity to get their second wind in entrepreneurship and life.

    We will be giving people access to this coworking space to give them the digital and physical infrastructure they need to start, grow, and sustain a business of their own without the financial burden that is associated with a space like this.


    We are looking for the support from other established businesses to help make this program financially sustainable.

    Our goal is to recruit an initial 300 businesses who can contribute $10 a month. This will provide 12 up-and-coming entrepreneurs with a space of their own to work on their projects. Donors will have input on who is awarded the scholarship, invitations to events at the space, and access to a podcast that details the incredible stories of these entrepreneurs.


    We know that when everyone is at the table, that is when the best work, collaboration, and projects take place.

    We decided to become a GBSA member because the values of the GSBA aligns with the heart and soul of our organization's mission, and we want to connect with other members of the organization.


    If you’re interested in learning more about Praxis Coworking’s Second Wind program, you can visit our website. If you are in Spokane feel free to visit our space and attend upcoming events that are typically promoted on our Facebook page.

    $10 a month can change someone's life by giving them the means to pursue entrepreneurship in an environment free of discrimination or judgment. This is a very tangible opportunity to give those a leg-up who need it the most. We need the support of this community and we are so grateful for the financial support and helping to spread the word!

  • GSBA Ambassador Spotlight: Kevin Bohnert

    by Kevin Bohnert
    | Jul 03, 2018

    I joined the GSBA in April of 2002 and quickly volunteered to be on the Membership Committee.

    As a member of the Membership Committee, I volunteered to be an Ambassador for the GSBA by arriving to events early, greeting everyone as they arrived with a smile, and helping everybody check in.


    Meridian Mayer, GSBA Sr. Membership Services Manager (left)
    and Kevin Bohnert, GSBA Ambassador (right).

    For new members, long-time members, and everyone in-between, it always feels good to be recognized and welcomed. It is always fun and a pleasure to introduce new members to everyone during the event.

    I have found the GSBA members to be professionals and among the best of the best in their field of work, and I have felt very welcomed.  In my second year on the Membership Committee, I became the co-chair of the after-hours mixer program and served on the Board of the GSBA for 8 years. Being a co-chair and on the board allowed me to greet, connect with, and get to know even more of our membership on both a personal and professional level.

    To me, GSBA is really about the positive, healthy, long-term relationships and bonds that I have nurtured. I truly enjoy being a member of our vibrant LGBTQ and allied community.

     Kevin Bohnert and his and husband Shaun Myrick.

    On a personal note, I live with my husband Shaun Myrick in the northeast side of Seattle by Magnuson Park. Shaun is an interior designer as well as a lifestyle blogger where he shares his creative recipes. We love taking road trips, tasting new wines, dinners with friends, and quiet evenings at home with our two dogs, Elphaba and Napa Cab.

  • Member Spotlight: Q Card Project

    | Jun 19, 2018

    As a result of cultural homophobia and stigma, many LGBTQ youth struggle with bullying, violence, discrimination, and health disparities. Despite this, LGBTQ youth in our communities show us every day that they are smart and creative and resilient and powerful.

    Q Card Project exists to give LGBTQ youth the tools and language they need to advocate for themselves in healthcare settings so they can live healthy lives.


    The Q Card is a simple and easy-to-use communication tool that lets youth fill in their name, pronouns, sexual orientation, gender identity, and any questions they want to ask a clinician. It also includes tips for clinicians on providing sensitive care to LGBTQ youth.


    Since the first printing in March 2014, we have shipped over 150,000 Q Cards to 35 states and four countries. In addition to youth themselves, who offer overwhelmingly positive feedback, adults love Q Cards too! Nurses, therapists, physicians, teachers, librarians, social workers, parents, and non-profit staff love that Q Cards are an easy way to signal that LGBTQ youth are welcome in their spaces.

    Joining GSBA has been hugely beneficial to me. As an “accidental entrepreneur” with a background in community-based public health practice, I had a lot to learn about how to run a business.


    In joining GSBA, I was welcomed into an incredible community of business leaders who care deeply about supporting and mentoring young business owners. Through the Financial Literacy Series, I have gained new skills for running my business, and at monthly Seattle Entrepreneurial Women breakfasts, I’m able to connect and learn from incredible women who share their expertise and insights to help me navigate entrepreneurship.

    I have learned so much since joining, and look forward to staying involved as my business grows.

    —Genya Shimkin, Q Card Project

  • LGBTQ Businesses to Celebrate this June: PSBJ's Outstanding Voices & The List

    | Jun 08, 2018

    Each year during Pride, GSBA partners with the Puget Sound Business Journal to deliver the Business of Pride: an awards event recognizing honoring LGBTQ business leaders, advocates and allies for their support of diversity, equality and inclusion within the business community.

    Fourteen LGBTQ business leaders receive the Outstanding Voices honor—and this year, ten of the fourteen are GSBA member businesses and individuals. We couldn’t be prouder to stand with our LGBTQ and allied business community in recognizing these leaders. See GSBA members recognized for their Outstanding Voices in the list below.

    We also wait with anticipation each year for PSBJ’s announcement of the Puget Sound Region’s Largest LGBTQ-Owned Companies at Business of Pride—also known as ‘The List.’ The List ranks Puget Sound region-based companies with at least 51% LGBTQ ownership based on 2017 revenue.

    We’re thrilled to see 22 of the 25 businesses on The List are GSBA members! Congratulations, in order of revenue, to:

    1 –  Precision Garage Door, GSBA member and Gold Sponsor.

    2 –  Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria, GSBA member.

    3 –  Olympic Hot Tub, GSBA member.

    4 –  Herban Feast, GSBA member.

    5 – Bulk FR8 LLC, GSBA member.

    6 –  Marination, GSBA member.

    7 –  Nyhus Communications, GSBA member.

    8 –  Seattle Storm, GSBA member.

    10 – TomboyX, GSBA member.

    11 – Cupcake Royale, GSBA member.

    13 – Metropolis, GSBA member.

    14 – Urban Animal, GSBA member.

    15 – Soaring Heart Natural Bed Co., GSBA member.

    16 – Board & Vellum, GSBA member.

    17 – Cone & Steiner General, GSBA member.

    18 – Terra Plata, GSBA member.

    19 – Choke Shirt Co. & Choke Print Shop, GSBA member.

    20 – Poppy, GSBA member.

    21 – Bang, GSBA member.

    23 – True North Land Surveying Inc., GSBA member.

    24 – A la Mode Pies, GSBA member.

    25 – Broadcast Coffee Roasters, GSBA member and GSBA coffee sponsor.


    Please welcome GSBA in extending a special congratulations to the 2018 Outstanding Voices, and the following GSBA members recognized for their contributions to our community!

    • Michael Bailey, Bank of America, GSBA member and Gold Sponsor: Small business banker Micheal Bailey helps provide LGBTQ-owned businesses with banking and lending solutions.
    • Sam Whiting, Boeing, GSBA member and Gold Sponsor: Sam Whiting oversees Boeing’s national strategy for education, grants and community partnerships.
    • Patrick Evans, Sound, GSBA member and Ruby Sponsor: Since his arrival at Sound in 2016, Patrick Evans has had a profound impact on the behavioral health organization.
    • Wakefield, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, GSBA member: Wakefield established The Legacy Project to increase racial and ethnic involvement in the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center HIV vaccine trials.
    • Paul Lanbros, Plymouth Housing Group, GSBA member: Lambros, whose organization works to find homes for people experiencing homelessness, says businesses and nonprofits should be living and breathing equality and inclusion.
    • Nicki McCraw, UW Medicine, GSBA member and Emerald Sponsor: Nicki McCraw dedicates her time to ensuring the LGBTQ community has their needs met at UW Medicine and that the UW workforce has the training necessary to meet those needs.
    • David Johnson, Navos, GSBA member: Navos CEO David Johnson has been a leader in the mental health community and served on task forces and boards, innovating pathways for wellness and equity, including for the LGBTQ community.
    • Susan Mullaney, Kaiser Permanente Washington, GSBA member and Sapphire Sponsor: Susan Mullaney is passionate about making sure members of the LGBTQ community have access to the care they need to be as healthy as possible.
    • Luis Fernando Ramírez Limón, Entre Hermanos, GSBA member and community partner: Luis Fernando Ramírez Limón is executive director of Entre Hermanos, whose mission is to promote the health and well-being of the Latino Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and questioning community in a culturally appropriate environment through disease prevention, education, support services, advocacy and community building.
    • James Hing, GSBA board member; Starbucks, GSBA member and Silver sponsor: James Hing oversees the supplier diversity program at Starbucks, but outside of the office, he is the music and choir director for the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Renton and the award-winning Starbucks Chorus.



  • Member Spotlight: The Domaine Madeleine

    | Jun 07, 2018

    From its founding in 1991, Domaine Madeleine has been unique on the Olympic Peninsula.

    The Domaine Madeleine was the first European-style luxury bed and breakfast in the region, originally with a French formal approach to hospitality.

    Over the years, the inn has changed with the times—and with new owners. In 1998, Jamie Weinhold-Collier and Jeri Weinhold purchased the inn from Madeleine, making it the first inn owned by a woman and her transgender partner.

    In 2014, Stephen Fofanoff and Christopher Warnock, a married gay couple, took over full time management of the inn through their company, Art and Soul Enterprises, Inc. As far as we know, Domaine Madeleine is the first inn in Washington State to be owned by a woman and her transgender partner, while also being managed by a gay male couple. In that regard, we hit almost every letter in our LGBTQ community in one business.


    As modern travel has changed, so has the inn. Shifting in focus and style from a French country inn to a contemporary luxury inn inspired by nature, the inn has also made a shift from "upscale" to "luxury", with complete renovations of the property to provide a casual luxurious feel complete with all of the amenities (and more) that a modern traveler would want.

    Additionally, the inn is in the middle of a 5-year sustainability process to move "off grid" and become more self-sufficient without sacrificing all the good stuff: like complimentary super-fast WiFi and Chromecast in every room, bluetooth speakers, luxurious cruelty-free bath products, all-natural long staple cotton towels and extraordinarily comfortable beds.

    Private gardens set among old growth trees and intimate spaces are perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway easily accessible from Seattle but that feels like its oceans away.


    We especially love catering to members of our LGBTQ community, offering private elopements and a welcoming spirit for those who seek romance, adventure, and indulgence close to Olympic National Park with some of the most outstanding hikes, outdoor adventure, and winter sports in Washington State.

    GSBA members receive our lowest discount rates when staying from September 16, 2018 through May 16, 2019. Simply book online at using the special rate code GSBADISC. Subject to availability (first-come, first-served so book early for best selection), but no minimum stays or blackout dates during that period.

  • LGBTQ Travel and Tourism: Three Ways the Industry Can Create a More Equal World for All

    | Jun 05, 2018
    The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association—the world’s leading network of LGBTQ-welcoming tourism businesses—holds an annual global convention to bring together business leaders in the LGBTQ travel and tourism industries every May.

    This year IGLTA2018, Meridian Mayer, Sr. Membership Services Manager, was  able to connect with so many GSBA member businesses who are doing good work in this arena here in Seattle, including Matt Skallerud, President,  Pink Banana Media; Selisse Berry, CEO of Out & Equal; Robert Geller, owner of Outings & Adventures; Clovis Casemiro, Coordinator of LGBTQ Tourism in Brazil for IGLTA ; and Alan Beck, Publisher of Fun Travel Guides.


    Selisse Berry - CEO of Out & Equal

    Fabrice Houdart
    , Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, was another key connection—one we’ll be hosting here in Seattle on June 13 for GSBA’s Pride Business Luncheon. Fabrice stands up for equal rights and fair treatment for lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and intersex people everywhere through the United Nations Free & Equal campaign.

    Thought leaders from the Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the United Nations, Marriot International, Eagle Canada Human Rights Trust, and Airbnb left us with three learnings from the IGLTA conference:

    1. Travel and tourism have enormous global economic impact. 

    Although it’s clear and obvious that the travel and tourism industries have extensive global impact on economies and individuals, Fabrice Houdart shared the facts and figures of this reach:

    The travel and tourism industry is one of the world’s largest industries with a global economic contribution of over 7.6 trillion U.S. dollars. Tourism provides 10% of the world's GDP, 7% of global trade and as many as one in every 11 jobs globally.”

    Because of this global economic impact and thus global power, the hospitality and tourism industries have a critical role to play in promoting equal rights for LGBTQ people. We occupy a unique position to increase safety and inbound LGBTQ tourism across the globe, ultimately boosting economic development for all.


    Clovis Casemiro, Coordinator of LGBTQ Tourism in Brazil for IGLTA

    2. Travel and tourism companies that include values of fairness, equality, and inclusion in their business model help create safer spaces for LGBTQ tourists.

    Apoorva Gandhi, VP of Multicultural Affairs at Marriot International Inc. shared that Marriot’s corporate values prioritize fairness, inclusion, and equality in all of their business. These values are fundamental to their culture—and instilling these values wherever they operate help to create safe spaces for LGBTQ travelers and tourists around the globe.

    It’s clear that when businesses integrate values of equity and inclusion into their business models, we’re able to prioritize creating safe spaces for our community locally and globally.


    (left) Robert Geller, Owner of Outings & Adventures; (right) Matt Skallerud, President, Pink Banana Media.

    3. Travel and tourism corporations have the power to make lasting political change.

    Corporations have the opportunity to create intentionally inclusive spaces wherever they operate—and this is a vital step in creating lasting, global change, an idea highlighted by Helen Kennedy, Executive Director at Eagle Canada Human Rights Trust. 

    Corporations have the power to make changes on a political level to create lasting changes. Part of this work involves asking the people ‘on the ground’ who live and work in the places where you do business. 

    Ultimately, in order to create an authentic, safe, and strategic plan toward inclusivity—versus one that could be seriously destructive—we must listen to communities where we do business.

    We’re looking forward to being more deeply connected in the incredible travel and tourism work that’s helping to elevate the safe LGBTQ and allied spaces Seattle has worked tirelessly to create. 

    Questions, comments, or want to have a conversation about how we can translate these learnings to your business? Join us at the June 13 Pride Business Luncheon to hear more from Fabrice Houdart and other leaders in LGBTQ global human rights. 

  • Embracing diversity, embracing whole people: GSBA taking the WIN Pledge

    by Eric Moss
    | May 30, 2018

    When you think about the term diversity as it relates to your business, you probably think about your staff, your suppliers, and then your customers, in that order.

    When asked to explain diversity, like so many of us, you probably begin go down a list: race, gender, sex, ethnicity, language, age, LGBTQ, and so on. You’re right that these are all important characteristics that make up a diverse workforce, but it is important to keep up to speed on how this list is evolving and becoming more inclusive. For example, just a few short years ago, classifying LGBTQ as a diverse characteristic was taboo, and “something we don’t talk about in the workplace”. These categories are ever growing as we analyze and destigmatize individual characteristics that intersect with every part of who we are as business owners, employers, consumers, community members, and very much a part of who we are in our family and social circles. So why is it then, that when we talk about disabilities and mental illness we often do not look at them through the same diversity lens that we use for the other categories in the list?

    GSBA is in the process of reviewing our very own diversity, equity, and inclusion practices, and as part of that work, we too are looking at ways that we can broaden our definitions, improve our policies, and help lead our members to do the same. That is why GSBA has taken the Welcome Inclusion (WIN) Business Pledge, is supporting Special Olympics Washington and the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle this July, and is supporting the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Washington during National Mental Health Month in May. We know that diversity takes many forms, and we know that even in the LGBTQ and allied community, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as those experiencing mental illness are often stigmatized, underserved, and in the employment sector often times undervalued. GSBA believes that embracing diversity means embracing the whole person, and all of the differences brought to the table.


    The timing is perfect to sign the WIN Business Pledge. Businesses who sign the pledge are marking themselves as a business that is accessible to clients and families with disabilities, and will be placed on a map for families to search for welcoming organizations. This means that WIN is able to promote welcoming businesses to the thousands of travelers coming to Seattle for the US Games in July. The signature pledge drive is in partnership with with the Arc of King County and the Special Olympic USA Games. From the Welcome Inclusion website, “WIN is a public awareness and capacity building campaign that will facilitate rapid, transformative community change to promote a world of inclusion for children and adults with intellectual, behavioral, and social differences”. They focus on three key activities to achieve their mission: awareness, community, and training. WIN is running the pledge campaign year-round, but local businesses are encouraged to take the pledge now to declare their inclusiveness and accessibility before the Special Olympics US Games in Seattle early July.

    5.30.2018 WIN Pledge


    Special Olympics USA Games will kick off July 1st. The 2018 USA Games will offer 14 sports in the best sports facilities in the greater Seattle region, beginning with an opening ceremony at Husky Stadium which will include the lighting of the torch, Parade of Athletes, a 2,018 voice choir, Ann Wilson of Heart, and so much more. The Games website describes the program as “the Opening Ceremony launches six extraordinary days of competition and special events where the abilities of athletes with intellectual disabilities will be celebrated at the national level. Thousands of Seattleites and visitors will experience the transformative power of sport, and the positive impact of a more inclusive world for all”. Attending the competitions is free to attend, but if you can’t attend the games, the best way to support the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle 2018, is to buy a ticket and attend the opening ceremony. Tickets start at just $20, and the ceremony is sure to be like nothing you have seen in Washington before.


    Nearly one in every five adults in the United States experience some form of diagnosable mental illness every year. That statistic is staggering when you think that in Washington, there are 1.3+ million people employed by small businesses, meaning more than 260,000 of our employees, coworkers, vendors, suppliers, clients, or friends and family across the state are experiencing some form of diagnosable mental illness, at any given time. The statistics get worse when you take into account other factors such as, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, occurrences are higher in women, highest between the ages of 18-49, highest for people of two or more races. And higher still for owners of small business. And there is no shortage of research that shows how these numbers swell in the LGBTQ community at large. With the reality that 20% of our friends and neighbors are experiencing a diagnosable mental illness, GSBA supports the work of NAMI Washington, and the resources NAMI Washington offers to the LGBTQ community. NAMI has an upcoming event, the NAMIWalks in Kirkland on June 2nd to raise awareness and donations to increase access to services.

    Diversity, equity, and inclusion are not just key words and tricky phrases we use to promote our work at GSBA. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is the work to be done to improve our role as your LGBTQ chamber of commerce. We invite you to join GSBA in broadening your definition of diversity to include disabilities, mental health, and so much more. By being inclusive of these communities, you are helping remove the sigma, as well as honoring your staff, suppliers, customers, and community for the whole person that they are.

  • Why we oppose the City of Seattle's head tax

    | May 25, 2018
    Dear GSBA members and friends,
    GSBA is vehemently opposed to the City of Seattle imposing a head tax on employees. Taxing a business for hiring employees is a job killing and poorly thought out way to raise revenue. Jobs are good for the economy, and Seattle has been the benefactor of incredible job growth in our region. Certainly, the rapid pace of growth has caused challenges in our infrastructure, housing, and yes, a strain on our City budget. But a head tax is not the answer.

    As a progressive business chamber, we are fully committed to being a partner in addressing the crisis of homelessness in our community. We also are aware that some of the solution may include a need for new revenue. We are not an anti-tax organization. We see economic development, more jobs - not fewer - as part of the solution.

    Make no mistake, if taxes on hiring and jobs continue to rise, businesses will hire fewer people, and there will be fewer jobs. 

    Long before the Head Tax went to vote, GSBA vocally opposed the proposal. Staff, volunteers, and members have spent countless hours working on this issue including writing letters to City Council; signing on to letters from others; testifying before committees; discussing the issue as part of GSBA's Public Policy Task Force, Public Policy Council, Small Business Council, and Corporate Advisory Board; as well as co-authoring an Op-Ed in the Seattle Times

    We believe GSBA's leadership played a key role in raising the threshold from eight million to 20 million and the amount per employee lowered from $500 per head to $275 per head and the inclusion for a sunset provision which will take place in five years. It was largely GSBA members who spoke out at City Council hearings and made their business voices heard.

    GSBA feels strongly that before our City asks for more money, we need a clear analysis of the scope of the homelessness problem and exactly what will be needed to address the issue. 

    We also need a full analysis of what we currently collect in taxes, from whom, what goes towards homelessness, and what exactly is the gap in revenue needed to get this job done in a timely manner. The City currently spends and incredible amount of money on homelessness with poorly laid plans, little transparency, and even less accountability for meaningful outcomes. 

    No other city in this country is so regressive to have both a B&O tax AND a tax on employment, both on gross income. Seattle small businesses already make up 60% of the City revenue, while only a fraction of that is devoted to supporting diverse and robust economic development. We understand that homelessness is at crisis level, and we know that there is a lot that needs to be done to solve this issue. But we also know that the solution cannot be carried on the backs of Seattle businesses alone, and certainly not without thorough analysis and a transparent regional plan.

    The homelessness crisis does not begin and end at Seattle's borders. Our Mayor understands this, which is why regional leaders have convened One Table to bring together leadership from Seattle, King County, and surrounding cities to develop a collective, regional approach to bringing affordable and accessible housing to more of our citizens. Without a regional solution, a clear plan, and accountable reporting on milestones, we simply cannot continue to throw money at a growing problem that isn't making a dent in this horrendous epidemic. 

    One point is clear - the City cannot and should not tackle this problem alone. An additional $50 million tax on jobs does little to help fund homelessness services and solutions compared to the billion already spent annually. In fact, the head tax may not be bold enough, although it does enough damage to business that it could actually be exacerbating the problem by encouraging business to go elsewhere. If the City is serious about combating the conditions of homelessness and finding real and lasting solutions, they will work with regional leaders, improve communication with and between service providers, build relationships with Seattle employers, and present a transparent plan for any additional dollars raised.

    As you may know, there is a movement to gather signatures to place a referendum on the ballot to repeal the Head Tax. Several of our members have begun gathering the 30,000 (17,00 qualified) signatures needed, and GSBA fully supports their efforts and encourages you to sign on. 

    We have also learned that some supporters of this tax have called for a boycott of small businesses who have spoken out against the head tax. Threatening the livelihood of small businesses simply because they are exercising their right to speak out is a strong-armed tactic that we hope will receive no support. GSBA strongly believes in civic engagement and applauds our members and all members of our community to stand up and speak out for what you believe in. The divisiveness and polarity in this city will not have a good outcome and leads to poorly thought out decisions such as the passage of an employee head tax.

    We encourage you to contact us with your thoughts and ideas, continue to attend City Council meetings, add your signature to the referendum to repeal, and to contact your local and regional governments to express your concerns. Homelessness, economic development, and business representation are important conversations, and there is more than enough room at the table for everyone to contribute to the solution. 

    For Equality,

    Louise Chernin
    President & CEO

  • QueerDoc: GSBA Member Spotlight

    by Al Smith
    | May 25, 2018

    Starting June 1, QueerDoc, GSBA member business, will provide queer- and gender- focused healthcare online patients anywhere within the state of Washington. Services are provided by Dr. Crystal Beal, Board Certified Family Medicine provider.

    QueerDoc’s practice is entirely based in telehealth: video visits through medically secure software similar to Skype.

    Excitement abounds for the potential for this model of care because of the time it affords Dr. Beal with patients while improving access to culturally competent care.

    “As a provider, more traditional models and systems of care have not allowed me the time I feel needed to provide my best patient-centered care in a sustainable fashion,” say Beal.

    “As a queer person, I have personally experienced outright discrimination as a patient in addition to generally having to educate my providers. I hope to change the experience of care for my LGBTQ* community with QueerDoc.”


    QueerDoc provides hormone therapy, surgery, and mental health referrals for gender expansive patients. They also provide PrEP, STI screening, contraception, and treatment for erectile dysfunction in the setting of feminizing hormone therapy. 

    “While I personally have a special passion for working with nonbinary patients, I really enjoy working with all of my queer community- trans, trans*, gay, lesbian, bisexual, poly, queer, and all of the other colors of our beautiful rainbow in need of queer and gender focused healthcare,” says Beal.

    “We are starting on a smaller scale with goals of growth to additional states and funding for sliding scale and subsidized care.”

    Check out to learn more about how QueerDoc works, their services, and Dr. Crystal Beal, the physician and owner of QueerDoc!


  • LGBTQ Commission & Pinkwashing Event

    | May 24, 2018

    Dear Mayor Durkan, Council President Harrell, and Interim Director Lockhart


    On behalf of GSBA, we are deeply opposed to have the City of Seattle’s LGBTQ Commission, a Commission supported by city dollars, sponsoring the film “Pinkwashing Exposed”. This is not only a misuse of City funds but it is also aligning the City with a highly politicized, biased agenda, which is inflammatory and could be interpreted as promoting an Anti-Semitic agenda.


    We understand that the LGBTQ Commission’s charge is, in part, to “provide information to the Mayor, City Council, and other City departments, offices, commissions and boards concerning issues of importance to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities”. We understand that this issue, in the Commission’s position, is an intent to raise an issue of concern to City representatives, but is doing so in a highly ill-considered manner. 


    Regardless of concerns people have about Israel or any other country in terms of human rights abuses, we must not allow our City government to be used to promote highly political agendas without a full public discussion and clear intentionality as the purpose of why Seattle or any of our City sponsored Commissions would be taking a position on a political and controversial issue.


    This feels like a repeat performance of the incident in 2012 when the city publicized a reception for a group of LGBTQ Civil Rights leaders from Israel and, after pressure from an outside group, rescinded that invitation and then found itself in the awkward position of scrambling to find a way to meet with these Israeli LGBT Civil Rights leaders. The documentary, in fact, centers itself on that conduct, which is particularly inappropriate, as this film specifically takes aim at those who criticized the LGBTQ Commission’s actions on this same topic of “pinkwashing” just a few years ago.  The current Commission’s use of City resources in this way is highly inflammatory and inappropriate.  


    To be clear, we believe that one can be pro-Israel and be critical of some of its policies. At the same time, we believe that Israel policies can be criticized without being labeled anti-Semitic. We deplore the deprivation of human rights in every form, including those we have recently witnessed on the news in the last two weeks.  Regardless of what concerns people have about Israel or any other country in terms of human rights abuses, we should not allow our City government to be used to promote a position without a broader discussion.


    This is not the first time our LGBTQ Commission has gone beyond the scope of its purpose and it is also concerning that the Commission on People with DisAbilities seems also to be involved with this screening at City Hall, on topics far outside its expertise and mission.  We believe the intent of both commissions may be well meaning but by advancing ideas that appear biased, our City is inadvertently endorsing an analysis not based on enough information or understanding of the complexities of these issues.



    Whether or not the City should be engaged in this type of international political dialogue is a question we need to answer, but at the very least, we need to have more inclusive representation that allows for more than one viewpoint from those who have knowledge of the issue. As a city, if we are going to have a discussion about human rights, this film is an irresponsible artifact upon which to base any responsible discussion of Israel and its relationship to Palestine and Palestinians, and the City should do better.



    We ask that you, as Mayor and City Council, do not endorse or list the City as a sponsor or host of this film to avoid our City from being seen as complicit in what may be interpreted as promoting anti-Semitism.




    Bryan Adamson,

    GSBA Public Policy Chair


    Louise Chernin

    GSBA President & CEO

    Cc: Seattle City Councilmembers: Sally Bagshaw, Lorena González, Rob Johnson, Lisa Herbold, Debora Juarez, Teresa Mosqueda, Mike O’Brien, Kshama Sawant;  LGBTQ Commission Co-Chairs: Julia Ikaura Ricciardi, Jessi Murray; Katrina Sanford; DisAbilities Commission Co-Chair Shaun Bickley; DisAbilities Co-Chair Chris Tiana ObeySummer

  • Meet Taylor Briggs: GSBA Business Outreach Coordinator

    by Eric Moss
    | May 18, 2018

    We know that in today’s business climate, the time of a small business owner is in high demand. It can seem like there isn’t enough time in the day to run a business, let alone keep up with the ever changing requirements imposed by new laws and ordinances. We know it is easy to sometimes put off change until tomorrow, and tomorrow never seems to come. We also know it that you don’t have to go at it all alone.

    Late 2016, the City of Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) awarded GSBA and other Ethnic Chambers of Commerce Coalition  ECCC partners a grant of $285,000 to provide outreach, education, and technical assistance to Seattle small businesses. The purpose is to help the businesses understand their responsibilities under Seattle's Minimum Wage, Wage Theft, Paid Sick and Safe Time, Fair Chance Employment, and Secure Scheduling ordinances. GSBA’s focus is on outreach to employers not typically served by traditional outreach methods including people of color, immigrants and refugees, women, veterans, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community.

    Taylor Briggs, GSBA Business Outreach Coordinator

    In early 2018, Mayor Jenny Durkan and OLS announced recipients for the new award to continue the same work. This time, with the city's renewed two-year commitment to fund small business outreach, GSBA was able to take the next step and hire a half-time staff to fill this role. In March of 2018, we hired Taylor Briggs as the GSBA Business Outreach Coordinator.

    If the name Taylor Briggs sounds familiar to you, it should! Taylor is a very recent GSBA intern with the GSBA Scholarship Fund, completing 300 hours of work for his internship, and a long-time volunteer with the chamber. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Taylor onboard as staff, and our small business members are already reaping the benefits of Taylor’s work.

    His work for now primarily focuses on helping small business owners fully understand the new laws, analyzing the economic impact of complying with the new ordinances, one-on-one counseling with business owners, providing in-person workshops to diverse communities to help them understand the complexities of the new laws, and also connecting businesses to resources to find compliance.

    I hope to develop strong and trusting relationships with business owners so that they can feel comfortable approaching me for help,” says Briggs. The job is part educator, part analyst, part counselor, and part connector - all in one.

    Some businesses might be nervous about contacting someone for help if they feel like they don’t understand or are embarrassed if they already know they are not in compliance.

    When someone reaches out to meet with me, they should know they are entering a judgement free zone. My goal is really just to help them run the best possible business they can, and I am committed to helping them get there,” says Briggs.

    The Ethnic Chamber of Commerce Coalition (ECCC) has developed online training materials which outline the specific requirements of each labor ordinance and how they can be implemented in your business. The training takes about an hour and is a very helpful place to start if you are not sure you want to contact Taylor right away.

    You’re probably asking yourself right now, “how can I get in touch with Taylor to set up a one-on-one counseling session to review all of the new city ordinances and how they are impacting my business?”

    Easy! You can call Taylor Briggs at 206-363-9188 or send him an email directly to to ask a question or set up a time that works for you.

    Changing rules, laws, and ordinances can be scary and sometimes be overwhelming, especially for a small business owner, but you don’t have to tackle it alone. GSBA is here to help, so contact Taylor today and find out how he can help.


  • AIDS Memorial Pathway at Cal Anderson Park: Call for Artists

    by Paul Feldman / Project Coordinator / The AMP: AIDS Memorial Pathway
    | May 17, 2018

    What do you get when you mash up one of Seattle’s most famous and well-used city parks with a public plaza surrounded by 428 affordable and market-rate apartments built over a light rail station?

    With the selection of a lead design team artist(s), The AMP: AIDS Memorial Pathway will get an integrated art plan for its site at Cal Anderson Park and the transit-oriented development above the adjacent Capitol Hill Link light rail station. Information for artists and others about the public art opportunity is available here.

    Submissions are due May 29.


    What is The AIDS Memorial Pathway? The AMP, community-driven and -funded, will use public art to create a physical place for remembrance and reflection; utilize technology to share stories about the epidemic and the diverse community responses to the crisis; and provide a call to action to end HIV/AIDS, stigma, and discrimination. The AMP is now raising $2.5 million for the project.

    Why now? Because many long-term survivors of HIV/AIDS and community leaders who built King County’s impressive continuum of care and prevention when AIDS surfaced in the U.S. in 1981 are our elders, and it is important to record their oral histories now. And because The AMP was able to secure an iconic location for The AMP at and near the park named for our beloved Cal Anderson, Washington state’s first openly-LGBTQ elected official, who died from AIDS in 1995.

    How can I help? The AMP needs donations of time and funds. To learn more about volunteering – and to be invited to The AMP’s next monthly volunteer orientation – email To donate, please visit the website at

    Paul Feldman, project coordinator for The AMP: AIDS Memorial Pathway, has been living with HIV/AIDS for almost 40 years and has been an AIDS activist for almost as long. 


  • Member Spotlight: Socialistics

    by Jason Yormark
    | May 11, 2018

    This week, we’re happy to shine the spotlight on GSBA member business Socialistics.

    My name is Jason Yormark and welcome to Socialistics. After 20+ years of doing it “their” way, I’m ready to re-write the rules when it comes to marketing and it starts with focusing on what really matters…content. Channels and technologies evolve, change, come and go, but great content stands the test of time. If you can effectively tell your company or organization’s story across all your channels and with the right people, well, that’s marketing. Unfortunately many companies and organizations don’t have the time, money or expertise to pull it off. That’s where I hope Socialistics can fill the gap.


    Socialistics is about providing an agency solution that doesn’t feel like an agency solution. We work exclusively with small and medium sized businesses and we do so affordably. Big fancy downtown office? Nope. Expensive, over-sized staff? Nah. Streamlined, results-oriented, experience at your disposal? You bet. Digital, print, social media, search, website… whatever your marketing needs, we can help.

    I’ve been a long time member of the GSBA with previous businesses, and there hasn’t been a better partner I’ve had that has provided not only incredible support for my business and career, but multiple colleagues, business partnerships and friendships along the way. I thoroughly enjoy working with GSBA members and I’m happy to provide free one-hour consultations with anyone about their business and marketing needs. 


    I’ve spent the past 20 years building towards Socialistics by gaining a wealth of experience, a network of subject matter experts, and a business model that just plain works. No matter what the scope is of your specific marketing needs, Socialistics can help create, curate and connect your story to the world.

    So what’s your story?

  • See you at SIFF – LGBTQ films on our list this year

    by Al Smith
    | May 09, 2018

    Seattle International Film Festival – SIFF – opens next Thursday, May 17, which means we’re well on our way to summertime in Seattle, Pride season, and all sorts of community happenings. Time to update your calendar and grab your tickets! This year, GSBA is the proud sponsor of several LGBTQ films at the festival, and we hope you’ll join us in celebrating all that queer cinema has to offer.

    See you at the movies! 

    Looking For?

    SIFF 2018 - Looking For

    Mon, May 21, AMC Pac Place 7:00 PM
    Tue, May 22, AMC Pac Place 4:30 PM

    What should be one of the simplest of questions in setting up a dating profile isn't so easy for gay Taiwanese filmmaker Chou Tung-Yen to answer, leading him on a globetrotting journey interviewing a variety of men who share their stories of love and lust to reveal how dating in the gay community has changed since the rise of dating apps.

    A Kid Like Jake

    Sat, May 26, AMC Pac Place, 7:00 PM
    Sun, May 27, AMC Pac Place, 1:30 PM

    Claire Danes and Jim Parsons star in an emotional and nuanced look at modern parenting as a married couple whose precocious, creative four-year-old begins to exhibit gender-expansive behavior. Directed by Silas Howard ("Transparent") and with an impressive supporting cast that includes Octavia Spencer and Ann Dowd.

    I Miss You When I See You


    Fri, May 18, SIFF Cinema Uptown, 6:00 PM
    Sat, May 19, SIFF Cinema Uptown, 2:30 PM

    After reuniting in Australia after nearly a decade, chronically depressed Kevin follows his old secondary school friend Jamie back to their native Hong Kong, forcing them both make a choice between following their heart or subscribing to the suffocating normality of heterosexual society.

    My Big Gay Italian Wedding


    Mon, June 4, SIFF Cinema Egyptian 7:00 PM
    Tue, June 5, SIFF Cinema Uptown 4:15 PM

    In this merry movie of matrimony, happily engaged Antonio brings his fiancé Paulo to the exquisite old Italian village of his birth to meet his headstrong parents and reveal his sexuality, setting out on a quest to make a city founded on religious tradition understand that love is love.



    Sun, May 27, SIFF Cinema Uptown 8:00 PM
    Mon, May 28, AMC Pac Place 1:30 PM

    A young gay man starving for connection in rural Argentina is set to escape the confines the countryside for an education, until his father suddenly passes and the immense responsibility of the family ranch falls to him, in this gripping feature based on remarkable true events.



    Wed, May 30, AMC Pac Place, 7:00 PM
    Thu, May 31, AMC Pac Place 4:30 PM

    During the first wave of the AIDS crisis, a closeted gay New Yorker returns to his Texas hometown for the holidays and struggles to disclose his terminal illness to his conservative Christian parents (Virginia Madsen and Michael Chiklis) in this delicate indie drama from Yen Tan (PIT STOP).

  • Member Spotlight: Irons Brothers Construction

    by Al Smith
    | May 04, 2018

    Going into people’s homes as contractors is an intimate experience. As owners of an LGBTQ allied business—Irons Brothers Construction—Joseph and Melissa Irons recognize that the values of equality, inclusion, and diversity help to create a safe, positive experience for their customers and their staff.

    “Irons Brothers Construction work is impeccable and their community engagement is widespread and ongoing,” says Louise Chernin, GSBA President and CEO.

    In 2010, we honored Joseph Irons as GSBA’s Business Leader of the Year.

    Which is why it’s no surprise to us that Iron Brothers Construction recently received a 2018 Guildmaster Award from GuildQuality for demonstrating exceptional customer service within the residential construction industry. What is truly astounding about this award is that more than 90% of customers must respond to the GuildQuality survey that they would recommend you to their friends and family.

    Friends of GSBA will recognize Irons Brothers Construction as a Bronze Sponsor, a generous donor to EQUALUX: TASTE of GSBA, and a supporter of the GSBA Scholarship Fund. Strong ally-owned businesses who are committed to investing in future leaders though scholarship is a strong statement in-and-of-itself, but then continuing to be involved throughout the year and to engage with GSBA, and other GSBA member businesses is truly phenomenal.

    It’s clear that Irons Brothers has a special place at the heart of GSBA. When GSBA staff moved into our current office location on Pine Street, our space lacked one vital feature: a kitchen. Joseph Irons offered his generosity and services in the form of a pro-bono kitchen build out for GSBA.

    “Irons Brothers is known for not only their outstanding work but for coming in on budget and on time and leaving customers very happy,” says Chernin.