The GSBA Blog

  • GSBA to host first-ever LGBT economic summit

    | Feb 02, 2017



    The Greater Seattle Business Association will host the Western Business Alliance’s first-ever LGBT economic summit on Thursday, March 16 to address economic factors and policy agendas that affect LGBT and allied businesses and communities in the western U.S. and Canada.

    The full-day summit, Working Together for Shared Prosperity, will explore topics such as: leveraging the power of LGBT businesses; tourism on the West Coast; maintaining Left Coast politics in the post-election era; working together to promote diverse supply chains, a case study by the insurance industry; unlocking the power of bringing marginalized communities together; and homelessness. Through keynote presentations, panel discussions, and break-out sessions, attendees will share information, provide critical input to regional challenges, and form lasting relationships with LGBT and allied business leaders from Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, and British Columbia.

    Event information:
    Date:  March 16, 2017
    Time:  8:30am - 7:00pm
    Location:  Renaissance Seattle Hotel
    Address:  515 Madison St, Seattle, WA

    Learn more about the LGBT Economic Summit here.

    The Western Business Alliance, formed in 1992, is a coaltion of LGBT and allied chambers of commerce located on the west coast of the United States and Canada. WBA chambers are committed to expanding economic opportunities for the LGBT and allied community by promoting equality through business. Through cooperation and sharing best practices, our chambers are integral to the economic health of our region and proudly connect the more than 3000 businesses we represent located throughout the West Coast.

    Desert Business Alliance (Palm Springs, CA)
    Golden Gate Business Alliance (San Francisco, CA)
    Greater Seattle Business Association (Seattle, WA)
    Inland Northwest Business Alliance (Spokane, WA)
    Lambda Business Association (Las Vegas, NV)
    Long Beach Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (Long Beach, CA)
    Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (Los Angeles, CA)
    LOUD Business of Vancouver BC (Vancouver, BC)
    Portland Area Business Association (Portland, OR)
    Rainbow Chamber of Commerce of Silicon Valley (Sunnyvale, CA)
    Sacramento Rainbow Chamber (Sacramento, CA)

  • 2017 Committee Chairs

    | Jan 27, 2017

    Get to know GSBA’s committee chairs for 2017:


    Bryan Adamson | Public Policy Task Force

    The Public Policy Task Force is open to all GSBA members and meets monthly to discuss current public policy issues of importance to the LGBT and small business communities. Chair Bryan Adamson is a member of the GSBA Board of Directors and teaches consumer protection law, mass media law and policy and civil procedure at Seattle University. He was an Amicus Advisor in the U.S. Supreme Court cases Hollingswoth v. Perry and Grutter v. Bollinger which asserted the unconstitutionality of California's Proposition 8 and the constitutionality of the University of Michigan affirmative action program, respectively.

    Carrie Carson | Scholarship Steering Committee

    The Scholarship Steering Committee provides strategic direction and oversight of the GSBA Scholarship Fund and its subcommittees. Chair Carrie Carson is a member of the GSBA Board of Directors and Senior Associate at Point B Consulting. In 2016 she established the endowed L.Robb Scholarship in memory of her wife Lori. Carrie was previously the Board President of Three Dollar Bill Cinema.

    Rob Hampton | Tourism Advisory Board

    The Tourism Advisory Board works to create and execute tourism initiatives that promote our region as a top LGBT business and leisure travel destination. Chair Rob Hampton is a member of the GSBA Board of Directors and is Senior Vice President of Sales & Services at Visit Seattle, the private, nonprofit marketing organization that promotes the Seattle as a destination for international and domestic leisure travel, meetings and conventions. He previously served in similar roles at the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, Visit Jacksonville, and Experience Columbus. Visit Seattle is a GSBA Travel & Tourism Partner.

    Dena Levine | Membership, Outreach & Engagement Committee

    The Membership, Outreach & Engagement (MOE) Committee is charged with delivering excellent member benefits and programming to the membership for the purpose of both retaining current members and cultivating new members. Chair Dena Levine is a member of the GSBA Board of Directors and is the owner of DML Insurance Services, an independent insurance agency that helps all types of businesses and individuals find the perfect coverage at an affordable price. She has also chaired the West Seattle YMCA Partners with Youth campaign and served on the Board of City Year Seattle. DML Insurance is an inaugural Pearl Sponsor of GSBA, supporting both the chamber and the Scholarship Fund.

  • Sloth around. Feel better.

    | Jan 25, 2017
    By Lynn Bondi, owner of Sloth Around Community Acupuncture.

    Take a slow, deep, breath.  Pause, and then release it.  What do you notice? Were your thoughts with your breath, or racing to complete your mental “to-do” list?  At Sloth Around Community Acupuncture, we believe in slowing down.  We believe in being present.  We even believe that sloths may have something to teach us about health and healing.  By slowing down, by noticing, by moving with intention, the sloth teaches us how to live life on life’s terms, and how to awaken to the profound beauty that exists in the mundane. This perspective underlies how I run my clinic, and how I approach healing in general.

    sa2-sloth-nobg-orange-l-2Community acupuncture is rooted in a deep sense of ‘togetherness.’  Although each patient receives a personalized treatment specific to what they need, treatments occur in a communal room.  This connection is very important to me.  In a group setting, individuals become part of something larger.  There is something  profound about the shared intention in a room collectively harnessing each individual’s healing capacity. Your Illness might be isolating, but your healing doesn’t have to be.  

    Because I approach health from a community perspective, I also believe that health and wellness are impacted by both individual and societal factors.  Structural inequalities, like unequal access to healthy food, or being regularly targeted by microaggressions, lead to undesired health outcomes.  Treating the individual without addressing the root cause of inequality falsely places the burden of health struggles on individuals.   At Sloth Around, we believe in addressing those barriers to health through partnering with local community organizations who have justice and social change as their goals.  Through partnership, we collectively work to undo systems which undermine a person or community’s natural tendency towards health and wellness.  

    We offer all of our services at a sliding scale rate of only $20-50 per treatment.  Healthcare is only as effective as it is accessible.  We believe that affordable, accessible, and empowering healthcare is a basic human right and I am both proud and grateful that I get to be part of offering that to my community.  

    I joined the GSBA and became LGBTBE certified because of my strong belief in community.  Not too long ago, my own family went through a major health crisis which culminated in my wife receiving an organ transplant.  Despite the difficulty, I was frequently overjoyed by the very best of people coming out, coming together, and offering support.  The financial and emotional backing to be able to open Sloth Around came from friends, family, patients, and sometimes even strangers. My clinic was opened from a position of extreme gratitude. My hope is that everyone who comes to Sloth Around experiences the care that springs from this gratitude. 

    Sloth Around.  Feel Better.
  • Letter from the WA LGBT Caucus

    | Jan 25, 2017
    LGBTQ Caucus
    By the Washington State LGBT Legislative Caucus

    Washington has been blessed for many years to have strong leaders from our community in the state legislature who helped make our state a leader in establishing and protecting the rights of LGBT people.  Senators Cal Anderson, Ed Murray, and Joe McDermott and Representatives Dave Upthegrove, Jim Moeller, Mary Helen Roberts, and Brady Walkinshaw served with distinction and helped to accomplish hate crimes protections, a fully inclusive law against discrimination, domestic partnership and marriage equality, and equal parentage rights.  We stand on their shoulders and benefit from many years of work and carefully cultivated relationships.

    After the alarming election last fall, much that we had taken for granted seems to be at risk for our community – as well as for people of color, immigrants, women, and members of other historically disfavored groups.  All of us need to stand together to make sure that the arc of history continues to bend toward justice for all people.

    The 2017 Washington legislature includes seven openly LGBT members:  Senators Jamie Pedersen and Marko Liias and Representatives Laurie Jinkins, Joan McBride, Chris Kilduff, Nicole Macri, and Beth Doglio.  We are delighted to welcome Beth as our first openly bisexual member!  All of us are strongly committed to continuing the ongoing struggle for safety, dignity, and full equality for all members of our community. We have been meeting regularly with community advocates, including GSBA, Pride Foundation, Legal Voice, the ACLU of Washington, Equal Rights Washington, Washington Won’t Discriminate, Ingersoll Gender Center, the SAFE Alliance, Gender Justice League, and many others to defend our hard-fought rights in the upcoming session and to plan for a time when we can once again lead the country with pro-LGBT legislation.

    Our opponents have already introduced legislation to overturn the Human Rights Commission’s rule protecting the ability of transgender people to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity.  We expect that they will also promote legislation that creates exemptions to our strong law against discrimination based on the religious views of the people discriminating.

    By contrast, we will be working on legislation to reduce bullying of LGBT youth; to prohibit “conversion therapy”; to further the ability of same-sex couples to become parents; and to facilitate the certification of LGBT-owned businesses.  With Republicans in control of the state Senate this year, none of this will be easy.  But we will not stop fighting until we succeed in protecting the rights and dignity of everyone.
  • Ambassador of the Month: Jason Bergevin

    by Jason Bergevin
    | Jan 25, 2017

    Jason BergevinI’m an attorney in private practice with a local firm that works with small- and medium-sized businesses. We do entity formation, contracts, business disputes, real estate, and leases. As my clients have grown, I’ve begun helping them with employment and HR issues as well. My firm’s goal is to help our clients mitigate risks and be successful. I want you to make the best possible business decisions, and I want to be the person you call beforehand. I’ve been practicing for almost 20 years and have been fortunate enough to have several clients for most of that time. It’s been rewarding to watch their businesses grow and succeed, knowing that I’ve been a part of those accomplishments.

    I joined GSBA when I started at my current firm and was looking for opportunities to expand my client base. GSBA provided that plus the opportunity to give back to the community. I am an ambassador because I remember what it was like to join GSBA and walk into my first few events not knowing anyone. We are a friendly group but it can be daunting to walk into a room where everyone seems to be best friends. All it takes is one familiar face in the room to put you at ease. Hopefully, as an ambassador, I can be that familiar face!

    Outside of work, I love to travel and entertain. My husband and I love to spend an evening with friends over good food and wine. I’m also a big opera fan. I’m going on my 11th year as a season ticket holder with the Seattle Opera. I believe strongly in giving back to the community. In addition to my work with GSBA, I am on the Board of Trustees of ARCADE, a local design publication that focuses on the built environment. I am also involved with Pride Foundation, serving on its Resource Development Committee and helping review scholarship applications.

  • Your Investment at Work: Johnny Buck

    | Jan 25, 2017

    My name is Johnny Buck and I am a proud father of a beautiful and intelligent daughter, Tatiwyat Buck.  I am from the Wanapum (River People) community from Priest Rapids on the mid Columbia River in Washington State and also an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation.  My ancestors have lived on our lands since time immemorial.  We are deeply rooted in our homelands and our spiritual, emotional and physical lives are intimately intertwined with our environment.

    Johnny and Tatiwyat BuckAs a first generation college student, I am passionate to lead and model to Native students across the country, that higher education is a powerful resource in the health and wellness for our communities.  I chose to complete my undergraduate degree at Northwest Indian College because I am able to blend the best of both worlds of traditional ecological knowledge and the technical components and practical skills of modern science and mathematics.  These combined will serve as the foundation for policies and practices that best support the protection of our environment and precious natural resources.  I am currently a junior in the Native Environmental Science program at Northwest Indian College, with long-term goals for a PhD in Environmental Engineering and JD in Environmental Law.

    As an ally, I focus my activism on mentoring and supporting young LGBTQ and Two Spirit identified young Native leaders on the front lines of community change in Tribal communities. 

    As an ally, I have also grown in using my local, regional and national leadership roles to verbalize directly the importance of expanded awareness of gender and sexuality, the importance of diversity and inclusion, and how in practice we can all consciously ensure there are safe spaces for LGBTQ and Two Spirit identified community members and leaders.

    I have been fortunate to receive a Pride Foundation and GSBA scholarship.  Since joining these communities, I feel like I have been part of a family, who informs and inspires me to be more bold in creating and sustaining spaces that are safe, inclusive, and equitable for youth in Tribal communities.  Having the opportunity to participate and build community with the Pride Foundation and GSBA has also given me a sense of belonging and a strengthened foundation as an ally, which has magnified my leadership over the past year.  I am also proud of my leadership to connect LGBTQ and Two Spirit identified Native youth to the Pride Foundation and GSBA, to help expand engagement in Tribal communities.

    31476969166_bf63d71823_oThe direct financial support of the scholarships gave me the assistance I needed to prepare for graduate school with specialized training for the GRE and LSAT. I was also able to access the equipment I needed for my coursework and research, and demonstrate the power and potential of the social impact my research can have as an undergraduate Tribal College student.  These investments also enabled me to take the needed steps to set myself up for success to apply for the number one school in the nation for hydrology research at the University of Washington school of Civil and Environmental Engineering.  The scholarships removed barriers for me to achieve and contribute my own unique contributions as an academic and an activist. 

    I have grown in my role as an ally over the past year, becoming more empowered and assertive in my advocacy and supportive role.  For me, being a role model as an ally is exhibiting the values of equality in my life and leadership, and having the courage to speak up in all of the spaces I lead in – from my rural, insular home Tribal community to national Native organizations reaching thousands of Tribal members. 

    There are many layers of trauma our indigenous communities have embedded within our ways of relating to one another.   We are reeling from the impact of the loss of our traditional knowledge in many of our communities, which is the source of many barriers to equity in Tribal communities.  While we cannot erase the traumatic past of our ancestors, we can lead forward with common values of love, acceptance, openness and the sacred value of relationships.

    As an advocate for Tribal youth across the Northwest, I have many young eyes watching me.  I also serve as a bridge between younger and elder generations in Tribal communities.  As a role model, I serve as a strong advocate and speak up in all the spaces I lead in to intentionally create a safe, inclusive space for LGBTQ and Two Spirit identified youth, and for all community members to come together to create loving, supportive, interdependent relationships.  These relationships are at the heart of any real community healing and community change towards greater equity.

  • NGLCC's "America's LGBT Economy" Report

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing & Communications
    | Jan 20, 2017

    The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has released the first ever snapshot demonstrating the economic and social impact of America’s leading LGBT business owners and entrepreneurs.

    The new report explores the types and sizes of LGBT-owned businesses currently certified by the NGLCC, the number of jobs they create, their geography, and the personal narratives of successful LGBT business owners who reflect the very best about America’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit.

    “These numbers tell the real story,” said Bob Witeck, President of Witeck Communications, a certified LGBTBE that served as the analyst for this report. “LGBT entrepreneurs find inspiration and freedom everywhere we look to create jobs and economic value in America. I think we are just scratching the surface of our potential."

    "The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is elated to be able to evidence through this report what we've observed since our founding fifteen years ago: that America's LGBT business owners are driving our economy upward and deserve every opportunity to keep creating jobs and innovating our industries. The estimated 1.4 million LGBT business owners NGLCC advocates for have truly earned a place at the equality table," said NGLCC Co-Founder & President Justin Nelson. "If you are an LGBT business owner and not yet certified, you're leaving opportunities on the table to help your business and our economy grow. For the LGBT community, this also means we are missing out more accurate data, role models, job creators, and future success stories that prove 'If you can buy it, a Certified LGBTBE can supply it.' "

    "At NGLCC, we have nearly 200 corporate and government partners that understand not only the value of the LGBT dollar, but the economic imperative of inclusivity and LGBT visibility in their supply chains and marketplace. This groundbreaking report proves our NGLCC philosophy that economic visibility, just like social visibility, is essential in building a diverse and inclusive society," said NGLCC Co-Founder & CEO Chance Mitchell.

    Key findings in the “America’s LGBT Economy” report include:

    • In 2015, NGLCC certified LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs) alone contributed over $1.15 billon to the US economy; if all estimated LGBT-owned businesses in America are projected, their contribution to the economy exceeds $1.7 trillion

    • Over 900 Certified LGBTBEs have created over 33,000 jobs in the United States

    • LGBTBEs have an average revenue of $2,475,642, with at least one LGBTBE reporting $180,000,000 in annual gross

    • Average LGBT enterprises have been in business at least 12 years -- far above national average, as some reports state nearly half of small businesses fail in their first five years

    • The number of non-white LGBT business owners continues to increase annually -- now at over 17%, bolstered by NGLCC’s leadership in the National Business Inclusion Consortium (NBIC) which brings together all minority business communities;

    Read the full report here

  • Meet GSBA's Newest Board Members

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

    Katie O. Mooney
    | Corporate Diversity & Inclusion Learning and Development Lead, Capital OneMooneyKatie_145x135 Katie is responsible for executing the continued evolution and governance of Capitol One's Corporate Diversity & Inclusion Learning and Development Strategy.She led the inaugural leadership development program in 2016 for high-performing LGBT employees as well as the first virtual learning program at Capital One on unconscious bias, stereotypes, and the importance of creating an inclusive work environment. She has created an online learning library for the company, filled with customized D&I exercises, videos, learning content, and industry research.

    Katie received her MPS in Human Resources from Georgetown University and a BA from Lewis and Clark College. She currently participates with Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, Diversity Best Practices, the Society of Human Resource Management, and SheSays.

    Mike Novasio | Senior Director of Global Finance Ops Strategy, MicrosoftNovasioMike_145x135
    Mike grew up in Colstrip, Montana and worked summers in a coal mine before graduating from Montana State University with a Bachelors in Finance and Economics. He started at Microsoft in 1992 as a GL Accountant, and has since held various finance and operations roles around the world, but he keeps coming back to Redmond. He previously worked for several startups, Amazon, and F5 Network before returning to Microsoft.

    Currently as the Senior Director of Global Finance Ops Strategy, Mike makes it easy for customers and partners to do business with Microsoft globally. 

    His personal philosophy is to open himself so others can find their happiness.

    Trinity Parker | Government & Community Relations OfficerSound TransitParkerTrinity_145x135
    Trinity Parker has over 15 years of experience in the field of Government and Community relations. She joined Sound Transit in November 2005 to work on outreach initiatives in East King County and has worked extensively on Sound Transit’s East Link light rail project during the planning and design phases.

    In her current role, Trinity manages Sound Transit’s government affairs portfolio in the Seattle/Central Corridor and works on a number of regional policy issues for the agency. She is responsible for external engagement with the City of Seattle, King County, Puget Sound Regional Council and regional stakeholders in the business, environmental and social justice communities. Her main areas of focus are University Link, Northgate Link and Sound Transit 3. 

    Prior to joining Sound Transit, Trinity was Vice President of the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce where she was responsible for communications, events  and general operations. Prior to that she was a Government Affairs coordinator with Rowley Properties, a diversified real estate firm in Issaquah, WA.  She  holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Western Washington University. 

    Trinity is a graduate of Leadership Eastside and is co-founder of Women Eastside, a network of Eastside women committed to connecting, mentoring, supporting and promoting progressive leadership. Trinity lives in Issaquah with her family and three dogs. 

    Meet the rest of the GSBA Board of Directors here.

  • Taiwan’s Sun Moon Lake will cast a spell on you

    by Albert Rodriguez
    | Jan 06, 2017

    Sun Moon LakeMost travelers just pass through Taiwan, but with an opportunity to stay and explore the country, one of the LGBT-friendliest in Asia, I say do it! Taipei is a wonderful place
    to start your journey, but with 8 million people living in and around the capital city,
    a quick venture into a more remote area of the country is definitely worth planning.
    On my recent visit to Taiwan, I was introduced to the lush resort area of Sun
    Moon Lake. Located in the Yuchi Township, Nantou County, this reclusive vacation
    spot is a glorious and peaceful respite from the metropolitan bustle. The majority
    of tourists are Asian, as Sun Moon Lake is still a hidden gem to international travelers,
    so it’s unlikely you’ll come across many Americans or other Westerners there. Cradled by majestic green mountains, the lake is 27 feet deep with a 19-mile perimeter,
    and although the bright blue water seems perfect for swimming, no one is permitted
    to enter the water except during the Swimming Carnival, which happens annually
    in September. Throughout the year, an array of festivals, live concerts and firework
    displays are staged alongside Sun Moon Lake, designated as one of thirteen National
    Scenic Areas in the Republic of China (Taiwan).

    Read more here.

  • GSBA Honors Local Businesses and Community Leaders at Annual Awards Dinner

    | Jan 05, 2017

    (January 05, 2017) -  The GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards dinner on Thursday, February 16, will honor businesses and business leaders, recognizing business performance and contributions to the community. This year, GSBA will honor eight individuals and businesses under the theme of "Building Bridges" at the Business & Humanitarian Awards dinner at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront, 2100 Alaskan Way.

    "Never has the theme of Building Bridges been more relevant. If we are to flourish as a community, we must value our local and independent businesses and support our nonprofits that must stretch to meet the needs of those who may no longer get government support and who provide safety for our most vulnerable. Now more than ever, it's important to recognize value and celebrate the strength we have when we all work together." - Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO

    CAPEHART_145x135The evening will feature Keynote Speaker Jonathan Capehart, a member of The Washington Post editorial board and an MSNBC contributor who appears regularly on Hardball and other dayside programs. Prior to joining The Post in 2007, Capehart was the deputy editor of New York Daily News's editorial page from 2002 to 2005. He worked as a policy adviser to Michael Bloomberg in his successful campaign for mayor of New York City, he was a national affairs columnist for Bloomberg News from 2000 to 2001, and he was a member of the Daily News editorial board from 1993 to 2000.

    The 2016 Business and Humanitarian Award recipients are:

    Business of the Year: ZippyDogs, Elise Lindborg and Kelli Henderson, Co-Owners
    Business Leader of the Year: Ann Paris, Paris Insurance Services
    Corporate Leader of the Year: John Zmolek, Verity Credit Union, President/CEO
    Community Leaders of the Year: David Breland MD, MPH, Seattle Children's Hospital and Aidan Key, Gender Diversity
    New Business of the Year: 701 Coffee, Sara Mae Brereton and Rachel Brereton, Co-Owners
    Non Profit of the Year: YouthCare, Melinda Giovengo, PhD, CEO & President
    Special Recognition - Voice for Economic Justice: Dow Constantine, King County Executive

    Title Sponsor: Wells Fargo
    Presenting Sponsor: Vulcan Inc.
    Event Sponsors: Carter Subaru, Nyhus Communications, RBC Wealth Management, Seattle Goodwill, UW Medicine
    Award Sponsors: BECU, Pride Foundation
    Supporting Sponsors: Girlie Press, Sal Floral Design
    Media Sponsors: Pacific Publishing, Seattle Gay News

    Learn more and register for the event here.
  • The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS)

    | Dec 29, 2016
    With almost 28,000 respondents, the U.S. Trans Survey (USTS) is the largest survey ever devoted to the lives and experiences of trans people. The staff of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the rest of the USTS team are thrilled to share the results of the USTS with us.

    USTS Executive Summary

    The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS) is the largest survey examining the experiences of transgender people in the United States, with 27,715 respondents from all fifty states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and U.S. military bases overseas. Conducted in the summer of 2015 by the National Center for Transgender Equality, the USTS was an anonymous, online survey for transgender adults (18 and older) in the United States, available in English and Spanish. The USTS serves as a follow-up to the groundbreaking 2008–09 National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), which helped to shift how the public and policymakers view the lives of transgender people and the challenges they face. The report of the 2015 USTS provides a detailed look at the experiences of transgender people across a wide range of categories, such as education, employment, family life, health, housing, and interactions with the criminal justice system.

    Read the Executive Summary and full report here.

    The Report launch event, including a presentation of key findings by NCTE Survey Project Manager Sandy E. James and a panel discussion with NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling and Ashe McGovern, Associate Director for the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School can be viewed here.

  • 2016 GSBA Advocacy Report Card

    by Matt Landers, GSBA Public Policy & Communications Manager.
    | Dec 15, 2016

    2016 was a very busy year for GSBA’s advocacy efforts at all levels.

    WBWD logo WebsizedFirst and foremost, GSBA was a founding member of the S.A.F.E. Alliance to fend off six anti-trans bills in the Washington State Legislature. We then spearheaded the business coalition within the Washington Won’t Discriminate campaign against Initiative 1515 attempting to roll back our 10-year old LGBT civil rights laws. With hundreds of businesses of all sizes signing on to support our existing and critical protections, GSBA was proud to spread the message that equality is good business.

    Another big success in Olympia was passing the Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity (CROP) bill after three years, providing access to career paths for those with criminal records who have paid their debt to society.

    Every ballot measure that GSBA endorsed in 2016 passed. This included expanding the Seattle Housing Levy, funding a comprehensive regional mass transit system, creating Emergency Risk Protection Orders (I-1491), and raising the statewide minimum wage and implementing paid sick and safe leave (I-1433). We organized business support for a woman’s right to choose in the Whole Women’s Health v. Cole case before the US Supreme Court, which then agreed with many of our points.

    GSBA is thrilled that King County becomes the largest county in the country to recognize LGBT businesses in its supply chain. Together with several of our certified LGBT businesses and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, we joined County Executive Dow Constantine in July for the public announcement. Several GSBA members have already received King County contracts, including Precision Garage Door Service and Gender Justice League.

    At the city level, GSBA and its members have been actively working to bring the small business perspective that is so often lacking in policymaking. We urged the City to assist struggling Central District businesses impacted by construction projects on 23rd Avenue. GSBA participated in the Mayor’s Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee, and we look forward to turning those recommendations into reality to help our small business members across Seattle. We also worked closely with the City of Seattle on several LGBT issues such as addressing rising bias crimes and implementing a ban on conversion therapy.
    Cantwell Hero GraphicBeing a connector is one of GSBA’s favorite roles. We brought our members and their concerns to every member of Western Washington’s Congressional delegation and many city and county councilmembers across our region. We hosted the US Deputy Secretary of Labor in our office, and dozens of candidates and elected officials at our two annual election-related events.

    We know that our opponents will be back in 2017, and we are ready to amplify the voices of the LGBT and small business communities to bring about equality for all.

    If you would like to get involved with GSBA's monthly Public Policy Task Force, write to Matt Landers, GSBA Public Policy & Communications Manager, to be added to the list.

  • Thank you from GSBA!

    | Dec 15, 2016

    The TASTE of GSBA: Equalux is about a community coming together for its own. How thrilling to see over 800 guests enjoying each other's company, wonderful food, incredible wines, outstanding entertainment; and giving so generously to the GSBA Scholarship Fund.

    We are overwhelmed by your commitment to our current and future Scholars!

    There are so many thank yous to be given for making Equalux such a great success.
    To begin, let's thank Joe Adams and Gladys Gillis, our dream Co-Chairs who led an outstanding TASTE Committee and provided leadership and vision for Equalux; our incredible Board of Directors, led by Kevin Gaspari; Scholarship Chair, Stephanie Dallas; the GSBA Staff led by the visionary Mark Rosén, VP of Development & Corporate Relations, and our incredibly talented and creative Program and Events Manager, Carlos Chavez; and over 100 event volunteers!

    220Following the delicious hors d'oeuvres prepared by GSBA member caterers and restaurants, and the hearty pours provide by member wineries, we were delighted and entertained by The Love Markets, acrobats, aerialists, and light dancers. Thank you to Martha Enson of EnJoy Productions and Llysa Holland from theatre simple, and of course, our very talented pianist Victor Janusz.

    During the dinner, one lucky table was treated to a gourmet meal by celebrity chefs Tamara Murphy (Terra Plata) and Jerry Traunfeld (Poppy, Lionhead). Once again our amazing auctioneer, Laura Michalek, and the delightful emcee, Amanda Westbrooke, kept us engaged and bidding.

    246We heard from Freddy Mora, 2009-2010 GSBA Scholar and UW doctoral student. Following his story of resilience, we were astounded by Sandy Peterson's extraordinary $100,000 gift to create a new endowment in honor of her parents, Ted and Rosie. The flood gates of generosity were opened and Microsoft gave $30,000 in support of our new Leadership Academy. From there, the magic spread, with truly inspiring gifts from Glenn Johnson & Michael Melancon, Kent Thoelke & Kevin Gaspari, Chris Befumo, Jay Petterson & Michael Mattmiller, and Meade Thayer... for a grand total of $807,000 raised that evening! Breathtaking!

    The TASTE of GSBA: Equalux would not be possible without you, our guests, and our wonderful sponsors. A heartfelt thanks to our Title Sponsor: 1st Security Bank; our Presenting Sponsor: Comcast; Event Sponsors: Alaska Airlines, Carter Subaru, Holland America Line, JP Morgan/Chase, Precept Wine, Uber, UW Medicine; Supporting Sponsors: Aria Floral, Fran's Chocolates, Girlie Press, Mrs. Cooks/Le Creuset, Reliable Movers; 2016 Voice of Scholarship: Interchange Media; and Media Sponsors: Encore Media Group, Pacific Publishing, Seattle Gay News, Seattle Gay Scene, and Seattle Met.

    We are especially appreciative of our Jewels of GSBA who make a significant investment the Chamber and the Scholarship Fund. Thank you to our Diamond jewels: Wells Fargo and Microsoft; Emerald jewels: Alaska Airlines and 1st Security Bank; Ruby jewel: PwC; and Sapphire jewels: Carter Subaru and Comcast. And, what would TASTE be without our wonderful restaurant, catering, and wine sponsors: Barrio Mexican Kitchen + Bar, The Hi-Life, Lost Lake Cafe & Lounge, Red Cedar & Sage, Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar, Taylor Shellfish Farms, Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes Catering, Two Tartes Catering, Bartholomew Winery, Browne Family Cellars, Caprio Cellars, Eight Bells Winery, Elsom Cellars, Damsel Cellars, Fidelitas Winery, Five Star Cellars, Goose Ridge Estate Winery, Gorman Winery, Gruet, Guardian Cellars, Laurelhurst Cellars, Nota Bene Cellars,Rotie Cellars Structure Cellars, and Va Piano Vineyards.

    And finally, no "thank you" is complete without recognizing the ongoing generosity of our Annual Sponsors. Thank you to our Platinum Partner: US Bank; Gold Sponsors: BulkFr8, Outerwall, Pacific Medical Centers, Starline Luxury Coaches; Silver Sponsors: Amazon, Boeing, Seattle Goodwill, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Precision Garage Door, RBC Wealth Management, Safeco Insurance, Starbucks, UW Medicine; Bronze Sponsors: CenturyLink, DML Insurance, Group Health, Google, Irons Brothers Construction, Mona Smith, Nesteggg, RD House, Sound Fertility Care, Sound Publishing, Sound Transit, Verity Credit Union, and Vulcan; The 2016-2017 Guide & Directory Sponsor: BECU; Travel Partners: Alaska Airlines, Sheraton Hotel, Space Needle, Visit Seattle; Travel Sponsors: Amtrak, King County, Port of Seattle, and Renaissance Hotel; Marketing Partner: Girlie Press; and Media Sponsors: C89.5, Encore Media Group, Pacific Publishing, Puget Sound Business Journal, Seattle Gay Scene, Seattle Gay News, and Seattle Met.

    Because of all of you, our Scholars have the hope and support they need to become the next generation of leaders. Truly an evening for which to be thankful.

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

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving,
    Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO

  • Member Profile: Christy Brooker

    | Dec 15, 2016

    By Christy Brooker, owner of Damask Tattoo and Laughing Buddha Tattoo & Bodypiercing.

    I started working at a tattoo studio right out of high school in 1997. I knew I wanted to be an artist, but the wannabe punk rocker in me didn’t want to work for The Man. I realized in my senior year that doing tattoos was a way to make living in art, be super cool, and probably popular.

    Despite my attempts over the years to look like a badass, I’ve been told by several people that I’ll never lose the innocent and friendly look that I was born with. Only time will tell.

    I worked at the studio in my hometown of Missoula, Montana for a few years. After completing a tattoo apprenticeship, I realized the town was way too small for the big dreams of my 21-year-old self, so I started planning my move to the big city!

    In 2001, I arrived in Seattle and tattooed at several amazing studios in the area before opening my own in 2009. Damask Tattoo was born out of my desire to create a tattoo studio that was warm, welcoming and friendly - a space with a vibe more spa than biker parlor. Damask calls upper Queen Anne home and is well known for being the all-women tattoo studio. But not everyone here is, or identifies as, women. We hold an inclusive environment with a feminine touch.

    When the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity arose to purchase the 20-year-old landmark on Capitol Hill, Laughing Buddha Tattoo & Body Piercing, I jumped at the chance! Laughing Buddha has always been a woman-owned studio, and we were excited to keep it that way. The people at Laughing Buddha are incredibly kind and welcoming. We’re planning a complete makeover coming in the new year and we invite everyone to come take a look.

    It’s very important to me to be a member of GSBA because I can’t possibly keep up with all the changes in laws or threats to equality that would affect us all. It makes me feel good to be a member of an organization that does and can. I am also a very proud member of SEW, GSBA’s Seattle Entrepreneurial Woman group. I look forward to meeting with SEW every month to gain inspiration and keep up with the latest changes in laws and business. It’s also a monthly reminder that we’re not alone and that there are other women business owners who are happy to help or just grab a cup of coffee and talk about the hilarity of owning a business.

    I feel incredibly lucky to live and work in Seattle. This is my home and will be for a very long time. During this season especially, I feel honored, humbled and blessed to curl up to the warmth of the Seattle people. This is such a beautiful and accepting city. It’s good to be a part of something bigger and know that we’re all working hard to keep Seattle inclusive and safe. Happy, whatever holiday, if any, you celebrate and I wish you a prosperous and joyful new year!

  • Ambassador of the Month: Tomo Uehara & The Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival

    by Tomo Uehara
    | Dec 08, 2016

    IMG_7455It had been nearly three and a half years since I last visited my family in Okinawa, Japan. This time, I was feeling differently to be home than ever before.

    I moved to the U.S. in 2008 with two suitcases, seeking new opportunities. I left everything behind to start a new life in the dream land, or at least that’s what I thought. However, the first few years of life in the US did not go as I planned. I struggled a lot to find my path, struggled financially, and lost my motivation. Even more, I started losing my identity. “Why am I here?” “Who am I?” “Who is this Tomo?” My optimistic personality helped me get me back on my feet, and things are going well now and I even became a U.S. citizen in June 2014, but I never could have imagined such difficult transition in my new life.

    Now, fast forward to October 2016. Back to my homeland for 11 days. As always I had an amazing time with my family and friends. But this time was different and I was about to rediscover my heritage and identity.

    Over 110 years ago, many Okinawans migrated to Hawaii and South America to look for a better life. They worked very hard in hopes of creating a better life for themselves – just as many other immigrants to the Americas did. Even as more than a century passed, these Okinawans passed their traditions and pride of being Okinawan onto succeeding generations.

    Every five years, Okinawan government hosts its largest international event -- the Worldwide Uchinanchu (Okinawan) Festival -- offering thousands of overseas Okinawans an opportunity to return to their roots. Even though it was my first time attending, as the newly elected President of the Okinawa Kenjin Club of Washington State, I led a group of 150 PNW Okinawans to attend this event.

    During this five-day event, I met so many Okinawans from different parts of the world speaking languages like Portuguese, Spanish, English, Chinese, German, and French. Most of them did not even speak Japanese, as they were in their second, third, or even fourth generation abroad. For some of them, it was their very first time visiting their ancestors’ homeland.

    IMG_7461While I grew up on Okinawa myself, almost everything was a new experience to many of them. They were searching for their ancestors’ roots, meeting their long-lost relatives, and feeling the Okinawan breeze.  What amazed me was that these people born all around the world were so proud to be Okinawan. I almost felt ashamed that they felt more “Okinawan” than I did. These younger generations were filled with pride and a strong identity with a culture that they may never have been able to experience firsthand. I told myself that the hardships of my own migration were nothing compared to those who migrated over 100 years ago.

    As I walked down Kokusai Street in Naha City with my fellow Washington Okinawans (in Seahawks colors!), tens of thousands of people cheered “Welcome home!” to all of us. I have never felt so overwhelmed, and being home was much more than just seeing my family and friends. I am so proud to be Okinawan! Now it is my turn to pass on these great assets to next generation!

  • Letter from Uber on Rideshare Regulations

    | Dec 05, 2016

    GSBA has not yet taken any position on the issues mentioned below. As a matter of policy, GSBA does not weigh in on matters of unionization. Uber is a member of GSBA and has asked that we post this letter for our membership to see.

    We’re reaching out to our community partners about the City’s plans to deny thousands of drivers the right to vote on their future, which puts local jobs at risk and could make it difficult for rideshare companies like Uber to continue operating in Seattle.


    The City has just released draft rules to implement a law that enables the Teamsters to represent rideshare, for-hire, and taxi drivers. These rules give a minority of drivers the power to make decisions for everyone. They also offer no protections for driver privacy or protection from harassment or retaliation from the union.


    Uber respects and upholds the right of drivers to decide whether they want to be represented by a union. We believe every driver should have a voice in that decision. We hope you’ll support our effort to let the City know the current approach is not right. The deadline for public comment is Tuesday, December 6 and there are several ways you can get involved:


    1. Take a minute to hear the perspective of Debra, a local Uber driver-partner.
    2. Visit to learn more and reach out to the City of Seattle.
    3. Let @CityofSeattle know that #EveryDriverCounts and share on Twitter and Facebook.
    4. Sign up to join the Drive Forward Community Advisory Committee.
    5. Sign up to attend a public hearing at City Hall on December 6 at 1:30 p.m.
    6. Forward this email to your network and urge others to speak up for Seattle drivers.

    Brooke Steger
    General Manager, Uber PNW
  • Taiwan shows its true rainbow colors on Pride weekend

    by Albert Rodriguez
    | Nov 11, 2016

    TAIWAN PRIDE 2016This might surprise you, but Taiwan is one of the most open-minded countries in all of Asia. In fact, it’s arguably the safest, Gay-friendliest place in the Far East to live or visit, while playing host each year to Asia’s largest LGBT Pride festivities. The island nation is also on the brink of legalizing same-sex marriage, which would be a first for that part of the world.

    On October 28 and 29, the capital city of Taipei was the location for two well-attended, highly publicized events, Taiwan LGBT Pride and the newly formed Queermosa Awards. I was privileged to attend both, as part of a group of fellow Gay journalists from North America invited to experience the culture and sites of the country, traveling to a handful of cities, including Taipei.

    Read more here.

  • Special Message from Your LGBTQ Community Leaders

    | Nov 09, 2016

    Despair, sadness, and shock are what so many of us are feeling this morning.
    How did our country, even with all its faults, elect a new leader that has campaigned with such total disregard for so many that make up the fabric of our nation? For so many of us who represent the breadth of differences that strengthen the country -- our LGBTQ families and friends; the differently-abled; racial, ethnic, and religious minorities; and all women -- today is a hard day. We need to acknowledge the profound kick in the gut we all feel and then, as we have always done, we will continue with more fervor than ever, persevere in our work to challenge discrimination and promote equality for all.
    In Washington State we still have a lot going for us. We have an amazing network of organizations that provide us with care and safety. We have elected leaders on the city, state and federal levels who will fight harder than ever for all of us. Yesterday we re-elected and elected decent, principled people to represent us and we successfully passed important initiatives such as increasing the state's minimum wage, a new gun safety measure, and a comprehensive regional mass transit system.
    Seattle's LGBT executive directors meet regularly to ensure that in challenging times we know who to turn to, and in joyous times how to come together to celebrate. This morning's meeting left us compelled to reaffirm our commitment to each of you and our community as a whole. Whatever your needs, we will be there for you. Whether you turn to film, music or the arts to heal and enrich your life. Whether you are searching for health care or struggling with mental health or addiction challenges. Whether you need safety from sexual, physical or emotional abuse. Whether you are looking to support underfunded nonprofits or are building a vibrant and economically healthy community as an entrepreneur. Your community stands ready to support you as we all continue our journey to be your voice for equality and to safeguard your civil rights as LGBTQ people. 
    If you are feeling emotionally overwhelmed or scared or sad, remember to reach out to talk with a friend, co-worker, or family member to share your feelings. If you need help, call Seattle Counseling Service's 24-Hour Crisis Line at 1-866-427-4747 for emotional support and care.
    We are family, we always have been, and we are stronger together.
    For equality,
    Danni Askini, Gender Justice League
    Connie Burk, The NW Network
    Louise Chernin, GSBA (Greater Seattle Business Association)
    Gary Davis, Companis
    Barbara Ebert, Lifelong
    Kris Hermanns, Pride Foundation
    Ann McGettigan, Seattle Counseling Service
    Jason Plourde, Three Dollar Bill Cinema
    Luis Fernando Ramirez, Entre Hermanos
    Steve Smith, Seattle Men's Chorus/Seattle Women's Chorus
    Fred Swanson, Gay City: Seattle's LGBTQ Center
    Josh Wallace, SASG (Seattle Area Support Groups and Community Center)
  • GSBA Letter on Proposed Seattle Head Tax

    | Nov 04, 2016

    GSBA sent this letter to the Seattle City Council in response to a proposal to implement an employee headcount tax to fund the Office of Labor Standards.

    Honorable Councilmembers,

    GSBA, one of the largest chambers in Washington with over 1,200 members, has supported the creation of an Office for Labor Standards and was a champion that this office be independent from the Office of Civil Rights. Given the importance to economic health of small business in our city, GSBA feels it is essential that this funding come from the city’s general fund and we applaud that the Mayor’s budget proposal shows that the City’s general fund can indeed readily address a much-needed expansion of the office.


    The current proposal by the City Council to fund the Office for Labor Standards with a head tax on businesses of all sizes is the surest way to discourage growth and give a disincentive to businesses considering expansion. The increase in fees would range from several hundred dollars per year to hundreds of thousands of dollars. For small businesses, increasing taxes on an already fragile existence in this increasingly expensive city could push them out of business or put a curb on any expansion. This increase would come as businesses in our city have consistently invested in what is best for this city and our communities. We already generate 50 percent of the tax revenue for the City of Seattle’s general fund and have been waiting for the city to do its part to demonstrate its support for our business community.


    GSBA believes in businesses investing in their employees and treating them right. That is why we are a proud supporter of Initiative 1433 to raise the minimum wage and implement paid sick and safe time at the state level. We have been a good-faith partner to the City as Seattle proposes and implements additional labor standards every year, even as the concerns and realities of small businesses are dismissed at nearly every turn.


    The cost of living and the cost of doing business is rising fast for Seattle, partially through the growth we are currently experiencing and partially through the intentional work of the City. While each individual policy might not have a significant impact, the cumulative effect is piling on our businesses, especially for the smallest businesses which anchor our neighborhoods and communities. A head tax on businesses makes it harder for businesses to increase their staff – the opposite of what should be the City’s goal.


    As you continue your deliberations, we strongly urge you to support the Mayor’s proposal for continuing to fund the Office of Labor Standards through the general fund. Implementing our city’s labor laws does not require a separate funding source but a clear commitment of support that the City of Seattle understands that everyone benefits from a healthy business environment and therefore, funding for this vital office be supported by Seattle’s General Fund.


    For equality,

    Louise Chernin, President & CEO

  • Member Candidate: Dan Shih

    | Oct 30, 2016

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

    Dear fellow GSBA members,

    DanShihHeadshot1I’m Dan Shih, candidate for state representative in the 43rd District.  As an openly gay legal professional and a father of three girls in a two-dad household, I am deeply thankful for the GSBA’s advocacy over the last thirty-five years on behalf of our community.  Our district has a history of electing great leaders, and I hope to continue the tradition and to be a champion for LGBTQ equality and the concerns of businesses and professionals in our community.

    I’m honored that SEAMEC has given me its highest rating for leadership on LGBTQ issues.  I have been a dedicated advocate for our community through my work at QLaw to make the legal system fairer for LGBTQ people, as a board member at the ACLU of Washington advising on our civil rights projects, and as a volunteer attorney for Lambda Legal.  While we have made amazing advances in recent years, there is still work to do—for example, helping LGBTQ youth in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, protecting our LGBTQ elders, and ensuring equality for our transgender friends.

    As a working parent, I know how challenging it is to work a demanding job and provide for one’s family while making time for parenting and serving one’s community.  I also understand how hard it is to run a business.  I saw my parents struggle to make a success of their own small business.  Before starting my law practice, I was a business consultant and helped manage several companies.  Now, as an attorney, I know the challenges of running a professional practice.  I will be a representative who takes into account the unique difficulties that small businesses and professionals face and who works to find creative solutions that help working people while understanding the needs of employers.

    I am honored to be endorsed by The Seattle Times, which described me as the candidate who “has the disposition and talent to be a diligent, creative, workhorse lawmaker.”  I was also the sole candidate to receive an “Outstanding” rating from the Municipal League for being “a path-finding and respected leader” who “brings knowledge and creativity to issues facing the office.”  In addition, many get-things-done leaders have endorsed me, including State Senator Jamie Pedersen, former Mayor Norm Rice, and former Governor Gary Locke.

    I hope to earn your vote!  To learn more, please visit my website at or my Facebook page at

    Yours truly,
    -Dan Shih