The GSBA Blog

  • GSBA Hosts Statewide LGBTQ Advocacy Meeting

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy & Communications Manager
    | Nov 09, 2017

    Statewide LGBTQ Advocacy MeetingGSBA hosted nearly 30 LGBTQ organizations and groups from Washington State and five members of our LGBTQ legislative caucus to discuss the upcoming 2018 legislative session. With the State Senate flipping control to the Democrats, the community anticipates a much more productive session in 2018, with hopes of passing longstanding priorities such as banning conversion therapy and passing the Uniform Parentage Act to better protect and support LGBTQ families. Other topics discussed by the group included healthcare access for transgender people, supporting LGBTQ seniors and homeless youth, economic development, aligning statewide standards with the End AIDS Washington goals, and fighting back any further attempts to roll back or weaken Washington’s anti-discrimination laws.

    We are proud to have a strong network of LGBTQ advocacy organizations, individuals, and allies in all corners of the Evergreen State. Thank you to our LGBTQ legislative caucus members: Rep. Beth Doglio, Rep. Laurie Jinkins, Rep. Christine Kilduff, Sen. Marko Liias, Rep. Nicole Macri, Rep. Joan McBride, and Sen. Jamie Pedersen.

  • Small businesses speak out against anti-LGBTQ discrimination

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy & Communications Manager
    | Nov 09, 2017
    Small business leaders across the country understand that being open to the public means being open to everyone. We don’t shut our doors to people or discriminate against them because of what they look like, where they’re from, who they are, or who they love.
    But opponents of LGBTQ equality are increasingly attempting to establish a “License to Discriminate” in state laws, at the federal level, and in the courts– and they’re often pushing this discrimination in the name of supposedly protecting small business owners.
    This will be the case on December 5, when the U.S. Supreme Court will consider Masterpiece Cakeshop, a case of a bakery that denied service to a same-sex couple because they are gay – and in the lead-up to the case, we must come together to assert the importance of equality.
    Are you a small business owner who supports LGBTQ equality? If so, please add your name to the growing list of small business leaders speaking out against anti-LGBTQ discrimination. Just click here.
    Your business name and city will be listed on Freedom for All Americans’ website along with hundreds of other small businesses and organizations who support nondiscrimination policies and oppose efforts to undermine or exempt businesses from LGBTQ-inclusive policies. Freedom for All Americans is the national campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people nationwide, and has been a vital partner of GSBA in our work with Washington Won't Discriminate.
    Small business owners are the backbone of our communities – communities where all people should be respected and no one should be denied service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. And now more than ever, we need small business leaders to stand up and declare their support for LGBTQ non-discrimination protections.
    Inclusion and diversity are critical to a thriving economy and a dynamic workforce – and efforts to undermine or exempt businesses from LGBTQ-inclusive policies are bad for business and bad for the community.
    That’s why small business leaders are uniting against anti-LGBTQ discrimination. If you own a small business and are ready to take a stand, add your name to support LGBTQ equality and oppose these “License to Discriminate” proposals here.

  • EQUALUX: Call for Volunteers

    by Travis Mears, Director of Development & Scholarship Programs
    | Nov 07, 2017

    Equalux volunteers 600x337As we approach our 21st Annual EQUALUX: The TASTE of GSBA gala, it's becoming clearer by the day that this will be our biggest event EVER.

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

    With over 900+ attendees, EQUALUX will be an event to remember and we need YOUR help! We rely heavily on volunteers throughout the evening to help make this event a success. Due to the size of this years' gala, we need more volunteers that ever before. We are currently looking for support with the following roles:

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


    We hope you will be able to give GSBA scholars the gift of time on November 18th! Training will be provided and you'll be able to enjoy plenty of food and snacks, as well as get to experience all the luxurious fun of attending EQUALUX, while you volunteer! We thank you in advance for your help, we can't do this without you!

    With sincerest thanks,

    Travis Mears
    Director of Development & Scholarship Programs

  • Business & Humanitarian Awards Keynote Speaker

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing & Communications
    | Nov 06, 2017

    Jennifer Brown (print)-1Jennifer Brown
    is an award-winning entrepreneur, dynamic speaker and diversity and inclusion expert. She is the founder, president and CEO of Jennifer Brown Consulting, LLC (JBC), and is a passionate social equality advocate committed to helping leaders foster healthier and therefore more productive workplace cultures in which every employee is Welcomed, Valued, Respected, and Heard, ultimately driving innovation and business results. Informed by more than a decade consulting to Fortune 500 companies, her #1 best-selling book entitled Inclusion: Diversity, the New Workplace & the Will to Change creates a compelling case for leadership to embrace the opportunity that diversity represents, for their own growth and for the success of their organizations, while simultaneously empowering advocates at all levels to find their voice and be a driving force in creating more enlightened organizations that resonate in a fast-changing world.

    As a successful LGBT entrepreneur, Brown is a highly sought-after expert source on workplace diversity and inclusion and the future of work, speaking with authority on changing demographics, specific communities of identity including women, people of color, LGBT individuals, generations like Millennials, and the role of male leaders in change efforts.

    Brown has been named Woman of the Year by Pace University, Social Entrepreneur of the year by the NYC National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), a finalist for the Wells Fargo Business Owner of the Year Award, a finalist for Ernst & Young’s Winning Women Program, one of the Top 40 Outstanding Women by Stonewall Community Foundation, and NYC Controller Bill Thompson’s LGBT Business Owner of the Year.

    Learn more about Jennifer and JBC here.

  • EQUALUX: Meet the Musicians

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing & Communications
    | Oct 26, 2017

    EQUALUX_ArnaldoArnaldo! Drag Chanteuse started as a soloist with the Seattle Men’s Chorus and has performed with SMC in some of the major concert halls in the U.S., Europe, New Zealand, and Australia. In 1995, Arnaldo! started a group called Cabaret Q where the “drag chanteuse” persona began. In 1999, Arnaldo! began his solo cabaret shows in Seattle’s Capitol Hill and has since performed his one person cabaret in Portland, Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Puerto Vallarta, New York, and Manila. Arnaldo! has also collaborated with various directors, choreographers and songwriters in the Seattle area. In 2005, he completed the Cabaret Summer Conference Workshop at Yale University. In 2006, a group of cabaret performers spearheaded by Arnaldo! started the Pacific Northwest Cabaret Association and continues to organize “March is Cabaret Month” featuring local and visiting artists. 2007 marked Arnaldo!’s New York cabaret debut and in 2008, Arnaldo! was honored with a New York Backstage Bistro Award. 2014 was Arnaldo!'s Manila debut where he received "Most Innovative Concert Artist" in Manila by Gawad Musika. In 2016, Arnaldo! was presented by The Filipino Community of Seattle with a Lifetime Achievement Award for promoting culture and the arts.
    EQUALUX_Cascade“Cascade Cascade” is a new solo project by Seattle musician, Carly Calbero. Performing songs she co-wrote with her wife and former bandmate, Nika Wascher, Calbero mixes her rhythmic, percussive playing style with bold, passionate vocals. She is often compared to indie/folk musicians Tracy Chapman and Brandi Carlile.

    With a national tour and multiple West Coast tours under her belt, Carly has been featured in Seattle Metropolitan and Rolling Stone for her live performances as a busker at Pike Place Market. As “Cascade Cascade” she is currently recording her first full-length album, “The Science of Pride.”

    Christina Brewer
    Christina, a singer/songwriter and former GSBA scholar, has always been fond of the stage. At the age of 2 1/2, she held her first solo performance in front of a large crowd. From there, she flourished on the stage, becoming a vocalist and musical theater actress. Christina graduated with honors from Stadium High School and then, as a first generation college student (along with the help of GSBA and the Pride Foundation), attended and graduated with honors from both Tacoma Community College and Seattle University with a Bachelor Degree in Psychology. Eight years ago, after some time away from musical theater, Christina decided to give it another run and auditioned for a small show at local college, where she met stage manager and film writer/director, Serena Berry. They were married five years later, just before the birth of their wonderful son, Ezekiel. Christina is currently the owner of Washington Wedding and Event Design. When she’s not doing weddings and events, she’s making music. Christina is fueled by her passion for jazz, neo-soul, rhythm and blues, gospel music, and new thought spirituality. She is currently working on raising funds to help produce her first CD. Holding music and creativity to the core of her soul. Christina says, "If there is one thing that I have learned, it is the truth that when music is the language of your soul, it cannot be turned off!"
    Diverse Harmony
    was founded in Seattle in 2002 as the nation’s first queer-straight alliance youth chorus. Over its thirteen seasons, the chorus has grown to nearly 60 members, and have brought performances to communities throughout Seattle. The chorus has also performed tours to Denver, Chicago, Montreal, Miami, and Portland. Diverse Harmony is a member of GALA Choruses (the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses) and is considered a leading youth chorus among its membership due to our longevity and large membership.
    In addition to performing, Diverse Harmony serves as a safe space for singers age 13 to 22 who identify as queer, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and allied. Weekly rehearsals have become a home base for many youth where they can feel respected and accepted, and have fun making music together.
    EQUALUX_ContrerasV. Contreras is a vocalist and songwriter whose distinct alternative soul sound has landed her song “Feelin’ That” on Top 40 and Hot AC Radio while being recognized in the International Songwriting Contest. 

    She has studied opera, rock, pop and jazz with renowned vocal coaches including Lis Lewis (Rihanna, Demi Lovato) and Maestro David Kyle (Liza Minnelli, Ann and Nancy Wilson, and Lane Staley.) V has been a featured vocalist with Seattle Rock Orchestra, in McDonalds commercials, and performed the National Anthem for Seahawks', Sounders', Mariners', and Sonics' games. She just released a single entitled "Like It's Yesterday" and has a new album featuring her compositions dropping in 2018. The album is produced by Martin Feveyear (Brandi Carlile, Duff McKagan's Loaded) and features string and horn arrangements by Andrew Joslyn (Macklemore).
    V. has shared the stage and worked with Duff McKagan, Collective Soul, Morrissey, and has worked with such industry greats as Randy Jackson (American Idol),  Ryan Hadlock (Lumineers, Vance Joy), and Steve Dorff (Grammy-nominated songwriter)

    Victor Janusz has worked regularly at Salty’s On Alki (12 Years, Resident "Weekend Brunch Pianist") Columbia Tower Club, Canlis (seven New Year’s Eve Galas), Aqua/El Gaucho, the Fairmont, to name a few. His one-man show about a 'life at the keys' titled "HANDS SOLO: Pianoman" (directed by Lori Larsen) debuted at NYC's the Duplex and sold out its two-week engagements at ACT Theatre, Palm Springs' Arthur Newman Theatre, and at Yale University Cabaret. His VJ BAND has headlined at many venues including Highway 99 Blues Club, Tulas, the Royal Room, Tulalip Casino, Alki Ballroom (Salty’s), and Boeing Museum of Flight. Victor has been a Special Guest alongside such musical acts as Harry Shearer & Judith Owen Band, Julia Fordham, Duffy Bishop Band at Teatro Zinzanni, Billy Joe Huels, and El Vez.
    TEQUALUX_Mongehere are moments in a performance where an artist gets lost. Where they just let go, allowing themselves to be vulnerable and to feel across the depth and breadth of their being. It is in that state where Whitney Mongé lives and creates. Whitney learned to capture the power of authenticity while honing her skills as a street performer. With or without elevation of a stage, each part of her performance, from the passion of her powerful, smoky voice to the intensity of a whispered lyric, draws listeners into an embrace within each truthful moment of song. Whitney was raised with rhythm and blues in her blood, but while growing up in the Pacific Northwest, her music was heavily influenced by the rock scene of the '90s coining her own genre, Alternative Soul. Having been featured in the award winning Find Your Way: a Busker’s Documentary (2014), and releasing a pair of critically acclaimed albums, Whitney has poured herself into a new project. Her upcoming album, "Stone," captures her evolution as a performer and songwriter in a powerful way, laying bare the wonderment and restlessness of a gifted artist’s search for their place, their voice and for a sense of belonging.

  • GSBA opposes head tax

    by Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO
    | Oct 19, 2017

    This letter was sent to the Seattle City Council responding to the proposal to add a head tax on Seattle jobs.

    Honorable members of the Seattle City Council,

    Late last week several Seattle City Councilmembers proposed a revival of the head tax. GSBA has a long and proud history of supporting truly progressive taxation as well as the idea that everyone needs to contribute their fair share so that our society can pay for our priorities.

    Assertions that businesses have both caused all the problems around Seattle’s growth as well as that they have not contributed financially to the City’s budget are patently untrue. This is at least the fifth proposal to directly increase taxes on businesses just in the last year, after: 1) the increase in business license fees to fund additional SPD officers, 2) another increase of the B&O tax, 3) the Seattle soda tax, and 4) the Seattle income tax (which actually does tax small businesses). Moreover, Seattle’s many municipal labor standards have caused cumulative increases in cost of doing business for Seattle businesses of all sizes. Following our membership, GSBA has supported several of these as common-sense proposals for all Seattleites and opposed others as unnecessary or poorly drafted attacks on small businesses. This cumulative effect, made even worse by fast-rising commercial rents, is wearing heavily on our small business community. Further, the growth of businesses both directly and indirectly contributes to raising the amounts collected by the City.

    Additionally, while other cities and states are forward thinking and doing their best to encourage and incentivize additional hiring, the City of Seattle is taking a backwards approach by penalizing businesses every time a business hires an additional employee. We want the City to encourage businesses of all sizes to hire people, not create a disincentive. While we appreciate the attempt to exempt small businesses from this proposal, the threshold does not show a proper understanding of the workings of many small businesses in Seattle. Gross revenues are not reflective of profit margins and, thus, actual wealth. According to the initial numbers proposed by Councilmembers O’Brien and Harris-Talley, to raise $24 million/year at an estimated rate of $100/year (Publicola) would mean that about 240,000 employees jobs would be taxed – nearly half of all jobs in Seattle (DSA). Like the income tax this summer, what is being pushed as a tax on only the wealthiest is in fact much broader than the Council seems to want to admit. After years of attempts to institute a universal tax on jobs in Seattle, as well as repeated claims that business is responsible for all that ails Seattle, our members also have little to no faith that the City Council will keep the initial threshold at $5 million in gross revenue once a head tax is implemented.

    GSBA and its members are committed to be a constructive and positive partner for the future of our City. We want to find ways to pay for our priorities. However, we are disappointed that the City Council is repeatedly determined to rush through attacks on small business that contribute to a fast-rising cost of doing business in Seattle. We hope, as several City Councilmembers stated during their committee hearings, that the City Council will honestly engage in good-faith discussions with the entirety of the business community about what this proposal means.


    Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO

  • Become GSBA Scholarship Volunteer!

    by Travis Mears, Director of Development & Scholarship Programs
    | Oct 18, 2017

    scholarship interview day 2017It is that time of year again! Students are busily applying for scholarships and we are preparing for interviews. Being a scholarship interviewer is a powerful experience, and we hope that you will be able to join us this year as we award over $350,000 to our future LGBTQ and allied leaders.

    This year, we are expecting to utilize approximately 100 volunteers to support the interview and selection process for some of tomorrow's leaders. We will also need Team Facilitators, who guide the interview teams through the selection-making process. If you are interested in interviewing or facilitating this year, please complete the 2018 GSBA Scholarship Volunteer Information Form and be sure to save the dates below on your calendar.

    The required dates to volunteer as an Interviewer for the 2018 scholarship interview cycle are:

    Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 5:30 PM-7:30 PM
    Facilitator Orientation (Facilitators Only)

    Thursday, February 1, 2018, 5:30 PM-8:00 PM
    Interviewer Orientation

    Saturday, March 3, 2018, 9:00 AM-1:00 PM
    Selection Day

    Saturday, April 7, 2018, 9:00 AM-4:00 PM
    Interview Day

    Although not required, please save the date for The GSBA Scholars Dinner at the Waterfront Marriott on Friday, May 18, 2018 at 5:30 PM.

    Since the application has not yet closed, it is hard to know just how many interviewers we will need. You will receive confirmation regarding your participation during the week of January 15th. Due to a very high volume of interested volunteers, all reviewers, interviewers, and selection team members will be chosen at the discretion of the GSBA Staff.

    Here's to another rewarding scholarship cycle!

  • More than $700K in scholarships for LGBTQ students

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing & Communications
    | Oct 13, 2017

    2017-GSBA-Scholars_600x337_blog-thumbnailThe GSBA Scholarship Fund and Pride Foundation announce that their scholarship application opened, October 11, on National Coming Out Day.

    Both organizations provide scholarships for LGBTQ and ally students of any age from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, or Washington. This support is for students pursuing any kind of post-secondary education -- including community college, public or private colleges and universities, trade schools and apprenticeships, or certificate programs.

    The GSBA Scholarship Fund awards educational scholarships to students who exhibit leadership potential, demonstrate strong academic abilities, and are actively involved in school and community organizations. GSBA Scholars represent a diverse group of students who have dreams of making our community and the world a better place, and each of them possesses the skills, talents, and dedication to make those dreams a reality.

    There are over fifty different types of scholarships, but  only one web-based application for students to complete here.

    Deadline for completion is Friday, January 12, 2018 at 5:00pm PST.

  • Face to Face with Port Commission Candidates

    by Anthony Derrick, Public Policy Task Force member
    | Oct 09, 2017

    F2F PS Hero

    [Part I of the series looking at Seattle City Council candidates can be found here]

    For the second race of the morning, candidates for Port Commissioner John Creighton and Ryan Calkins had a frank conversation with GSBA members about the challenges facing the port. As before, candidates started by laying out their previous support of the LGBTQ community [video]. During Creighton’s previous term as a commissioner, the Port began tracking LGBT business relationships for the first time, and extended employee health plans to cover domestic partnerships. Calkins, on the other hand, spoke about his personal relationships with LGBTQ leaders like Zach Silk and Brady Walkinshaw.

    The first question posed to them was by Elise: As the most important economic engine in our region, what is the biggest challenge facing the port, and what will we do about it [video]? Creighton argued that the biggest issue is the growth of the airport. As a major transportation hub and economic player, an expanding airport is a good sign for the region, but how does it remain a good neighbor to the community while growing within its space? For Calkins, the biggest issue facing the port is the consolidation of major shipping lines and production. Seattle is facing pressure from many other seaports along the west coast, and we need to make sure that the port’s 60,000+ jobs are preserved.

    The next two questions from Steven and Gunnar focused on inclusion at the port, both for POC and LGBTQ people [video]. Addressing what the port is doing now and could do better, Creighton emphasized existing initiatives present in the port like hiring goals, creating pipelines for youth and people of color, and pushing the port to do more business with LGBTQ organizations and small businesses.

    Calkins argued that the port needs a more welcoming public face, including advertising the port as a safe harbor for people who don’t “fit the mold.” As examples, he suggested making the port a sanctuary for immigrants and refugees, and making sure that there are gender-neutral bathrooms at the ports. In order to create a more inclusive environment, he said, it is important to recognize the systemic obstacles POC and LGBTQ people face.

    Gladys Gillis and Roger Nyhus asked about the Port's history with tracking LGBTQ and minority small business contracts and the resulting data collected [video]. Commissioner Creighton said that though the Port of Seattle has been tracking LGBTQ inclusion since about 2013, that the data shows that they can do better. He asserted that the Port is working on outreach, in part with GSBA, to better reach the small business community. He stated that 90% of businesses awarded contracts in the recent round of bids at Sea-Tac went to small businesses and that I-200 would not be a limitation for doing even more work with small minority businesses. Calkins advocated for a more streamlined process to lower barriers to entry for small businesses. He also wants to push for greater transparency at the Port of Seattle.


  • Face to Face with City Council Candidates

    by Anthony Derrick, Public Policy Task Force member
    | Oct 09, 2017
    F2F CC Hero

    [Part II of this series looking at Port of Seattle candidates can be found here]

    This past Friday, several candidates for public office in Seattle came face to face with GSBA members to discuss their positions and policies. Facilitated by Roger Nyhus, panelists Steven Sawyer (POCAAN), Gladys Gillis (Starline Luxury Coaches), Beto Yarce (Ventures), Gunner Scott (Pride Foundation), and Elise Lindborg (ZippyDogs) led the conversation with insightful questions about the candidates’ commitment to equality, opportunity and LGBT rights in Seattle.

    Candidates for Seattle City Council positions 8 and 9 (Lorena González was unable to attend at the last minute) led off the morning with a question that would be asked of all candidates: What have you done to personally advance LGBT equality throughout your life? [Video] John Grant touted his time working on the Decline to sign campaign, and was sure to reinforce the importance of elected officials standing with the trans community. Teresa Mosqueda’s work in building broad coalitions around worker’s rights and healthcare – both of which have a disproportionate impact on LGBTQ people. For her part, Murakami said she has been “personally supportive of gay rights,” and served on the South Seattle Crime Prevention Unit, where she worked on the Danny Vega case and advocated for recognizing it as a bias crime.

    The first question from the panelists came from Steven Sawyer.  Seattle has reached a critical benchmark with the 90-90-90 strategy - that 90% of those living with HIV are diagnosed, 90% of those diagnosed are on antiretrovirals, and 90% of those on antiretrovirals will have viral suppression. While we have achieved that benchmark, the 10% remaining are predominantly men of color, particularly African American men. The CDC estimates that fully half of African American gay men and a quarter of Latino gay men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetimes. Sawyer as what each of the candidates would do as a Councilmember to best address this epidemic. [Video]

    Grant’s answer focused on collaboration – engaging and partnering with KCPH and other organizations that have trusted and tested relationships in this community, and supporting them with the funding and outreach they would need. Mosqueda brought up her background in public health, and her work creating a safety net in the Healthy Seattle Plan. Mosqueda also outlined her intention to work with schools to expand preventative education and broaden in-school health programs. Murakami’s answer focused on the necessary change in dynamic within POC communities – in particular calling out black churches for not accepting gay men in their congregations. In addition to expanding health services, she also argued that changing the culture would be necessary because people who feel shame about their condition are less likely to seek treatment.

    Next, Gladys Gillis asked about dealing with the growing disenfranchisement of business owners in Seattle, who increasingly don’t feel like they have a seat at the table. [Video]

    All three candidates mentioned the need for relieving the burdens on small businesses, including rent stabilization for commercial properties, and encouraging more communication between small businesses and the city. Grant expressed the need to enable small businesses to remain in their neighborhoods and continue serving as cultural anchors. He also suggested a portable benefit system for small business employees that the city would manage. Mosqueda highlighted her existing commitment to small businesses as an advocate for minimum wage and sick leave laws, but made sure to mention that those battles were won through collaboration with small businesses. She proposed giving small businesses additional capital to get through the first few years, and suggested we should review the way the city awards small business licenses. Murakami’s focus was on filling empty commercial spaces by pressuring landlords to lower rents to more sustainable levels. She also encouraged a focus on industrial jobs and outreach into South Seattle business districts.

    Beto Yarce posed a more existential question for the candidates: at what point does a small business become a big business, and therefore a “bad guy?” [Video]

    Grant one again reinforced the importance of small businesses as neighborhood anchors and destinations, but he struggled to answer the question directly. Without giving specifics, Grant nevertheless maintained that there is a tipping point between big and small business, and that if a business is large enough that they put a strain on Seattle’s infrastructure, it may be time to look at charging them higher B&O taxes.

    Seizing on her opponent’s lack of specifics, Mosqueda took the opportunity to call out Grant’s lack of a concrete plan. She emphasized that big and small businesses in Seattle must work together to create a city that works for everyone, and to do so we need to hold larger businesses accountable to paying their fair share.

    The only one to directly answer the question with a number, Murakami said that business with more than 500 employees are considered big business. Even still, she noted that at about 150 employees, there is a shift - but that it doesn’t necessarily make them the bad guy. “It’s more about the flow of money,” she said. Is it staying at the top, or does it go back into the business to pay for employee growth and opportunity?

    The last question from Gunner Scott posed to the city council candidates asked about the formation of paid positions in city hall to specifically address the concerns of LGBTQ people in Seattle. [Video]

    Both Murakami and Mosqueda answered yes unequivocally, while Grant pivoted to housing. He did say he would be a strong proponent of creating an office for LGBTQ affairs, but was more focused on enforcing existing laws and working with offices already in place. While Mosqueda did say that she supports an office of LGBTQ affairs, we need to make sure that we’re working within existing offices to be responsive to the community and make sure LGBTQ people are represented in all parts of government. Murakami brought up a friend of hers who is a senior living with HIV, and insisted that the city’s office of Civil Rights needs to listen to people like him to make sure that they are following through on issues that are impacting these communities.


  • Featured Scholar: Maksym Dedushko

    by Maksym Dedushko, 2016 RHR Foundation Scholar, 2014 Future Ribbons Scholar, 2012 Scholar
    | Sep 28, 2017

    maksym dedushko 300width scholarI WAS BORN AND RAISED IN CHERNIHIV, a northern city in Ukraine. Growing up poor, my parents place the utmost importance on studying hard as they see getting an education as the only way out of the situation in which they are living – getting by without enough money for basic necessities for a family of four. Studying did pay off as I was able to enter (and win) a competition for a U.S.-sponsored cultural exchange program that provides Ukrainian students an opportunity to study in a U.S. high school and to live with an American host family for one academic year. While attending high school in the U.S., I realized that I wanted to continue to pursue my education here. I was also fearful of going back to Ukraine, where mandatory conscription was awaiting me in a country that is hostile to LGBTQ people. With the help of my family, my host family and friends, a pro bono attorney, and organizations like Seattle Education Access and GSBA, I was able to stay and to begin the long immigration process while pursuing my education here.

    Since my arrival in this country, I graduated from Garfield High School, got an Associate of Arts degree from Seattle Central College, and a Bachelors of Science in Molecular Biology and Chemistry with Honors and a Master of Science in Chemistry from the University of Washington.

    Right now I am entering my fourth (out of five) year of the Ph.D. program in Biological and Inorganic Chemistry at U.W.

    I made my second trip to Ukraine on July 5th of this year, a few days after I passed my Ph.D. candidacy examination. I made this trip as a naturalized U.S. citizen and without fear of being conscripted into military. I wanted to see my family and my homeland, especially after the huge changes that Ukraine has undergone from the pro-Western Maidan Revolution of 2014 to the annexation of Crimea and the Russia-backed military conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

    I am still not out to my family back in Ukraine because of society’s intolerant views of LGBTQ people. So when I was back in Ukraine I had to turn my “straight face” back on. I find it regrettable that I cannot share a big part of my life experience in Seattle, like who I date, what kinds of volunteering I do or the community involvement that my close friends and I are engaged in to make life for LGBTQ people in Seattle better and more prosperous. My parents know that GSBA awarded me with scholarships that have allowed me to graduate from a prestigious U.S. school (UW) and are amazed and grateful for the organization that has helped me turn my life around, but they still don’t know that part of the GSBA mission is to empower local LGBTQ youth to be successful leaders. I still sometimes feel torn between two realities of my life in that sense.

    Going back to Ukraine made me more aware of the fortune and privilege I’ve been given by the Seattle LGBTQ community in contrast to gay people in Ukraine that, for the most part, hide their identity and significant others from society, friends, and family. It’s always an overwhelming experience of enormous gratitude and enormous sadness. I do hope that Ukraine will turn a tide towards a more accepting society which will respect and celebrate everyone’s differences and work towards uplifting each other.
    Now that I am back in Seattle, I am focused on finishing my Doctorate in the next two years. I’m already thinking about my long term plans, as I will be trying to make connections to find a full time position as a researcher in Seattle. I want to spend my life in Seattle, which I consider to be my home, and finding a fulfilling career in Seattle is my dream and the next big step.

  • NGLCC Certifies 1,000th LGBTBE

    by Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell
    | Sep 27, 2017

    We've done it! After 15 years of NGLCC advocating for LGBT business owners and guiding the largest companies in the world towards more inclusive supplier diversity, we've hit one of our biggest milestones yet: 1000 certified LGBT Business Enterprises® (LGBTBEs).

    When we started on this journey, we hoped to make a difference in the LGBT business community and to stand up for the often overlooked LGBT business owner. With over 1000 LGBT businesses certified as LGBTBEs, we have incontrovertible proof that we are not the only ones committed to this vision. Our businesses are essential to the economic health of this country - adding over $1.7 trillion dollars to the the U.S. economy and creating tens of thousands of new jobs. We are thriving in every sector and in every corner of the nation because of your commitment, innovation, and pride in our business community.

    NGLCC's success could not have been achieved without the incredible support from our corporate partners, affiliate chambers, friends, allies, and our 1000+ certified LGBTBE owners. For your unyielding support, we thank you.

    Even with this incredible milestone under our belts, our work is far from over. With our recent inclusion in the Billon Dollar Roundtable and the standalone requirement in the HRC Corporate Equality Index to utilize LGBT businesses in corporate supply chain, we know there is exponential growth still ahead for our LGBTBE certification numbers and for the number of contracting opportunities for our businesses to thrive. We encourage each one of you to talk with a friend or colleague about getting certified and helping us move a little closer to our goal of getting 2000 certified LGBTBEs by 2020.

    With excitement for the next fifteen years of LGBT business success,

    Justin Nelson
    NGLCC President and Co-Founder

    Chance Mitchell
    NGLCC CEO and Co-Founder

    Did you know? If you are a GSBA member, your NGLCC LGBT Business Enterprise® (LGBTBE) certification fees are waived! Click here to become LGBTBE certified today.

  • GSBA supports birth certificate gender change rule making

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy & Communications Manager
    | Sep 26, 2017

    Washington State Department of Health,

    The Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) is writing in support of Washington State's Birth Certificate Gender Change Rule Making Regulatory change. GSBA is the largest LGBT and allied chamber of commerce in North America, with over 1,300 business and nonprofit members across Western Washington. Sex designations and gender identity are an issue of freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and should not be limited to “male” and “female” when those designations do not accurately represent 35% of all transgender people according to the 2015 US Transgender Survey.

    People should be allowed to attest to their own gender identity without confirmation from third parties. Many people do not have access to an understanding health care provider or notary public. DOH must ensure that everyone has the same access to accurate identification and the ability to elect a not specified or non-binary gender designation. The unique needs of incarcerated persons and foster youth should be taken into consideration. Self-attestation is the most accurate method of ensuring that the sex designation on a birth certificate matches the individual.

    This regulatory change represents a critical need for many non-binary and intersex people: as of right now, Washington birth certificates do not recognize the existence of people whose gender does not fit the traditional definitions of “male” and “female.” Thank you for recognizing that need and proposing this regulatory change. GSBA strongly supports the adoption of a regulatory change to provide for a gender marker other than “male” or “female.”


    Email your support to
    Re: I SUPPORT Birth Certificate Gender Change Rule Making

    (credit to Gender Justice League for much of this language)


  • Featured Ambassador: Michelle House

    by Michelle House, Featured Ambassador
    | Sep 20, 2017

    michelle house featured ambassador 300widthBefore I joined GSBA, everyone thought I was a straight white dude. Yes, you see I am a transgender woman, they just didn’t know. I had come out publicly only two months prior, and, while my employer was generally accepting, it didn’t go over well with my realtors or with some of my co-workers.

    I had heard of the GSBA, so I decided to check the organization out. I learned more about the OutLeads group and joined right away, which became a huge help in replacing some of the business I had lost. I also found a great group of accepting people who now have become my friends. Within a year, GSBA had voted me in as the President of the Wallingford OutLeads Group, and our leads to members have been growing ever since.

    At the same time that I was serving as OutLeads President, I decided to join the GSBA Ambassadors team. Since I was already going to at least one networking event a month anyway, it just made sense! I love connecting with and being a connector of people. I have a passion for helping others, which includes helping them with business or getting into their dream home—whether it's their first home or just a move.

    I got into the real estate business in 1997 as a realtor in the Phoenix/Scottsdale Area. Being involved with listing and selling homes, investment real estate, investment seminars, setting up REIT’s, and property development gave me an outlet for my creative streak. I even spent some time working as a loan officer before moving back to Washington in 2009.

    In 2010, I returned to mortgage lending as a loan officer because I had a big passion for helping people with one of their biggest financial transactions—their homes! I joined Bank 34 Mortgage Center, because they have been a community bank for almost a century and because they focus on providing clients with excellent, personalized service. I have, to date, been able to help people with home mortgages in 49 out of 50 states, and I have been so impressed that customers have recruited me knowing full well that I am a transwoman. Being a rarity in the financial sector, I tend to push perception everywhere, as I am often the first transwoman that people in the business have met. I work with an excellent team, including Chhoeun Chhean, my loan partner who provides great customer service, and Bethany Borger, our processor who is a star at moving loans forward quickly. With the additional help of our Area Manager, Michael Ronchetti, I feel that I am supported 100%!

    Lastly, a little about me. I am an animal lover. I love to hike, fish, and also spend time at the beach. I love the diversity of our outdoors here in the PNW. If you would like to learn more, please feel free to reach out to me. Let’s get coffee, or, if you see me at an event, say hi... I would love to meet you!

  • Featured Member: The Logical Alternative

    by Melissa and Evelyn Dickinson, Owners
    | Sep 20, 2017

    member feature logical alternative 600x337The Logical Alternative is a small technology consulting company, founded in 1992 and headed by Evelyn Dickinson and her wife Melissa. The company’s philosophy is that professional IT solutions and website design aren’t just for big business. Evelyn is a transwoman, and she and Melissa are involved with several Seattle-area nonprofit trans organizations, including Gender Diversity/Gender Odyssey and the Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violence. They recently designed and implemented the website for the King County Trans Resource & Referral Guide. 

    Evelyn heads the IT practice, which provides comprehensive IT services to non-profits as well as small, medium, and large companies. She gets to know your business and your challenges, documents your needs, sorts out the technical details, and converts them into a detailed list, identifies and recommends the best fit using the most appropriate technologies, then makes it all happen.

    Alongside Evelyn's technical know-how, Melissa provides the conceptual and visual services that help businesses stand out. She comes from a graphic design and creative writing background, but she also knows that mobile compatibility, search engine optimization, and marketing integration are key to a website's success, and can offer support and advice on these technologies, as well as including them in all website development projects. 

    In many cases, the Dickinsons find that their client relationships evolve, and they become a full-service, turn-key, outsourced technology and/or marketing department. Their clients say this provides them the freedom focus on what they're good at. Melissa says, “It’s always an honor to be trusted and empowered to act in our clients' best interests for the long term. And when we say long term, we mean it. We've been operating in this capacity with some of our clients for over 20 years.” 

    The Logical Alternative has particular experience with:

    • Responsive, mobile-compatible CMS Website solutions—especially DotNetNuke/Evoq and WordPress
    • Executive-level IT analysis and outsourced CIO consulting
    • Website integration with CRM and Marketing Automation solutions (such as Infusionsoft, Hubspot, Pardot, Salesforce, etc.)
    • Custom programming in many environments including LAMP, .Net, and Java
    • SEO competitive analysis and consulting, as well as integrated, comprehensive online marketing advice and strategies
    • Professional graphic design services
    • Custom integrated technical solutions to unique challenges

    Evelyn says, “Our philosophy of business is simple: we listen carefully to our clients to determine their exact needs, and then design and develop comprehensive solutions that exceed expectations. We enjoy a good challenge and frequently are called upon to solve problems that others can't.”

    As Evelyn and Melissa have steadily increased their business and personal focus on the LGBT and non-profit communities in Seattle, involvement in the GSBA is an obvious natural development for Logical Alternative. They look forward to connecting with other chamber members and helping to support the GSBA’s advocacy and philanthropy missions for many years to come.


  • GSBA Members Get Schooled in Excel

    by Ilona Lohrey, Director of Membership, Outreach & Engagement
    | Sep 18, 2017

    biz lit series excel microsoft 600x337Last week, our friends at the Bellevue Microsoft Store hosted one of GSBA's Business Literacy Series workshops as part of our ongoing efforts to provide business development tools to our members. The workshop, led by Tammy Eubank, was focused on Microsoft Excel 2016 for small business. Tammy walked us through some of the advanced features and provided helpful tips to help small businesses get the most out of the software.

    Workshop attendees were able to bring their own laptops or borrow a Microsoft Surface to create Excel spreadsheets, learn about graph imports, and to analyze data in many different ways. We were so happy to have such an amazing instructor and were delighted that our members were able to get their questions pertaining to their business needs answered.

    Learn more about the Business Literacy Series.

  • Matthew Polzin: Investing with a Passion

    by Mark Rosén, VP of Development & External Relations
    | Sep 14, 2017

    polzin matt 2017 300px widthWhen you meet Matthew Polzin, you immediately learn that he is passionately involved in investing in his community. He creates and runs successful community fundraising events, supports a variety of nonprofits, and when the cause is one he truly believes in, not only writes a check, but also rolls up his sleeves to help get the job done. As Manager of Amazon's Global Merchant Tax Services Team, Matthew travels frequently, manages a large team, and is constantly on the go. Yet, somehow, he manages to be involved in a number of causes and to spend a lot of time with his younger brothers and sister, mentoring and exposing them to the richness of our region’s culture.

    When Matthew attended his first GSBA Scholars Dinner in 2016, his passion was once again ignited to support our future LGBTQ leaders. He’s become a true ambassador for the GSBA Scholarship Fund and is on a mission to bring more friends to events so that they too can join in support. Matthew is especially motivated to bring in as many allied supporters as possible, because he realizes that the Scholarship Fund mission is important to everyone. He’s planning on hosting multiple tables with new allies at the next GSBA Scholarship Dinner and has recently joined the Emerald Jewel club which honors our most generous donors. When Matthew attended the annual Jewels of GSBA Luncheon in June, he heard from another donor how they planned on leaving a legacy gift in their will for the Scholarship Fund. He emailed the next day, and told us that he was adding the Scholarship Fund to his estate plan. Make no doubt about it, this man is on fire and the GSBA Scholarship Fund has a wonderful new champion.

    Thank you, Matthew!

  • Featured Scholar: Anne Bryson-Doyle

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

    This month we are proud to highlight one of our amazing 2017 GSBA Scholars, Anne Bryson-Doyle! In addition to being a third-year returning GSBA Scholar, she is also the recipient of GSBA's Joan Huber Scholarship.

    Anne is currently majoring in Interdisciplinary Visual Arts with a focus on exploring gender expressions at the University of Washington. As the mother of eight children, she is an advocate for meeting the needs of and providing stability for children in crisis, winning the Stella Mae Carmichael Award in 2008 and joining the board of directors for Amara in 2011. Anne’s goal is to complete her master's degree in social work and strive to change the foster care system to achieve permanence for every child.

    anne bryson doyle video 300widthClick the image (left) to view a video of Anne sharing with us her incredible story at this year's Jewels Luncheon! We are so honored to have Anne as one of our GSBA Scholars and wish her all of the best in her studies and future endeavors.

    GSBA supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and allied students who have the vision and the ability to truly make a difference in the world. With a GSBA scholarship, students are able to focus more wholly on their academic pursuits. With the financial burden lightened, they are able to work one less job, avoid going into student loan debt, and involve themselves in community activities. This is a community effort. We are giving these students the gift of education, and they are giving us a future full of hope and equality. We encourage you to join us in supporting tomorrow’s leaders today!

  • GSBA Stands with Dreamers

    by Louise Chernin, President & CEO
    | Sep 06, 2017

    Dear GSBA Members & Friends

    One irrational, thoughtless assault against our common humanity after another. Throughout the last few months we have watched our country unravel the principles and values that we strive to live by. I understand that we have deceived ourselves, since those values were never truly enjoyed by all, but we held on to hope as civil rights movement after civil rights movement fought to ensure equality under the law for all. Yesterday, hearing that over 800,000 people in the U.S. who are workers, students, neighbors, friends and family, could be deported and forced to leave the country that they have known as home for most of their lives, has left us all feeling sick and ashamed. How does a country built on immigrant labor, a country whose only "true Americans" are our those of us who are Native American, suddenly talk about rescinding the right to live, work and go to school in the home where they were raised? And, yet, the Trump administration's overturning of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, will do just that.
    For those of us in GSBA, we know that many of our members will be directly affected by this. As a Jew, I have to say, the thought of forcing people to leave their homes, gives me chills. Whether as small business owners, employees or students, many of our members are from families who migrated to the United States to flee persecution or to find a better life for their families. For the LGBT community, Washington State stands out as a safe haven for those in countries where the laws do not recognize their right to exist. Even before this announcement, GSBA was speaking out, contacting our Congressional delegation and joining with other elected officials and business leaders, condemning any overturn of DACA.  

    But, for us, our greatest concern is our scholars, who as you know, think of GSBA as family. Over the last two days we have reached out to our Scholars offering them support and resources. As Travis Mears, our Director of Development and Scholarship Programs, stated to our scholars: 

    "We understand that you now may have new questions and grave concerns about whether this decision jeopardizes your safety, funding and, more seriously, you or your family's immigration status. Unfortunately, we don't have the answers but we do know we will do all we can to have your back. Your GSBA funding is secure and we are more committed than ever before to continue our work for equality and inclusion, including the rights of our immigrant or undocumented students. We encourage each of you to take time to care for yourselves and your families during this difficult time." 
    There is no doubt that we are all better off because of the contributions that our scholars and our business members give to our community. Fortunately in Washington State we have a governor, attorney general, county executive, mayors and other elected officials who have the courage of their convictions and have vowed to fight this ruling with every tool at their disposal. Yes, elections do matter! We are also proud to have corporate members, such as Microsoft, Starbucks, and Amazon who defend to any of their employees threatened with deportation under the repeal of DACA. We know many of our other corporate partners are also ready to stand their ground to support their employees. The economy of Washington is very dependent on the talent and labor of our DACA workforce and would be devastated by suddenly losing those employees. We all benefit from the richness of a multicultural student body and workforce, and the loss of over 18,000 talented and engaged residents will profoundly affect us all. But, of course, the greatest cost will be the human one, if we are forced to tear families and friends apart. This simply cannot happen. Once again, we call on our GSBA family to do what we do best: speak up, reach out, contact your Congressperson and ask that they make the passage of a permanent DACA law a top priority.
    For those that will be directly affected by DACA, below are some resources that are prepared to provide you help and support.

    In solidarity,

    Louise Chernin, President & CEO

    NORTHWEST IMMIGRATION RIGHTS PROJECT. Offering statewide community forums, resources, and information. [Learn more

    UNITED WE DREAM. The largest immigrant youth-led organization in the country. [Learn more

    WASHINGTON DREAM COALITION. Local immigrant youth-led organization in Washington. [Learn more

    ONEAMERICA. Advances the fundamental principles of democracy and justice at the local, state and national levels by building power within immigrant communities in collaboration with key allies. [Learn more

    ENTRE HERMANOS. 27 years of serving the Latino LGBTQ community. [Learn more

    SOMOS SEATTLE. Sociopolitical organization for LGBTQ Latinx folks. [Learn more

    SEATTLE COUNSELING SERVICE. Promoting accessible health and wellness for the LGBTQ community since 1969. [Learn more]

  • September is "National Preparedness Month"

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

    National Preparedness MonthPreparing your business for a disaster is much more than mapping out a fire escape route. There are many considerations to meet the unique challenges of natural disasters, epidemics, and acts of violence. The US Small Business Administration can walk you through the steps of planning, implementing, and improving your disaster preparedness plan so that you can keep your focus on the day-to-day needs of your business. Learn more here.