The GSBA Blog

  • Business Leader of the Year: Mona Smith

    | Feb 17, 2016

    Mona Smith
    has served her community in monumental ways and has had an outsized impact on some of our communities’ major issues. Inspired by John F. Kennedy, her community involvement started at a very early age and she has never stopped. Mona has been a steadfast advocate for LGBT civil rights, taking key roles in the effort to gain marriage equality in both Washington and nationally. In numerous leadership positions with GSBA, including two-term President and Public Policy Task Force Chair, she oversaw key policy work that strengthened the sustainability of GSBA and the GSBA Scholarship Fund, while expanding the role of GSBA in advocating for both civil rights and business issues.

    One cannot talk of GSBA and Public Affairs without talking about the role Mona has played in the past decade in leading our policy efforts. GSBA now has both a seat and a voice at the table. As the National Chair of the Victory Fund Campaign Board, Mona leads efforts to elect LGBT people to public office across the country. She actively supports many local organizations including Legal Voice and Q Law, and is tireless in her support of GSBA (Bronze Sponsor) and the GSBA Scholarship Fund (Emerald Jewel Club). All of this, while she takes care of her personal clients and enjoys family life with her wife Natalie and their dog Cocoa. Integrating philanthropy and social justice into her business, Mona is a true business and community leader.

  • Business of the Year: Tuxedos & Tennis Shoes

    | Feb 17, 2016

    Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes Catering and Events
    has been in operation in Seattle since 1986. Their name reflects the range of services they offer, from elegant formal affairs to casual events. Founder David Haggerty was joined by David Meckstroth in 1989 as co-owner and partner in the business. Together they have run the Hall at Fauntleroy in West Seattle for 20 years and are the exclusive catering partners with ACT Theatre, Cornish Playhouse, and Benaroya Hall in addition to running the restaurant and café at Benaroya. They attribute much of their success to their entire team of amazing people. Their love of supporting the community is clearly evident.

    Like many catering companies, Tuxedos & Tennis Shoes gets constant requests for donations and support for causes. They are committed to organizations focusing on LGBT youth, kids and education and cancer research and have supported a myriad of organizations including West Seattle Helpline, Lambda Legal, Fred Hutch Obliteride, Harborview/UW Medicine, YouthCare, the Trevor Project and the Seattle Men’s Chorus and Seattle Women’s Chorus. Tuxedos & Tennis Shoes is also a regular caterer at GSBA networking events and joins us every year at the TASTE. They host an annual Thanksgiving community meal for 400 people, open to anyone in need. Not content to rest on their laurels, they continue to grow and are forming a new brand – D2 – launching in 2016.

  • Voice for Social Justice: Ana Mari Cauce

    | Feb 17, 2016

    Ana Mari Cauce
    is the first woman, Latina, and lesbian to serve as permanent President of the University of Washington. Born in Cuba, where her father was the Minister of Education, Cauce’s family escaped the political turmoil there by moving to Miami when she was three years old. To support the family, her parents took jobs in shoe factories. They instilled in their children the importance of education, which has been in Ana Mari’s DNA ever since.

    She joined the University of Washington faculty in 1986 as an assistant professor of psychology, researching mental-health interventions for at-risk youth. She has held numerous leadership positions at the University of Washington, including heading multiple departments, Provost, and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. She has received numerous awards for her scholarship, teaching and activism, including the much-prized Distinguished Teaching Award. As interim President, Ana Mari launched the Race & Equity Initiative, bringing together faculty, staff, and students to address issues around inequity and social justice. She has spoken publicly about her own experiences with prejudice as an immigrant and a lesbian. Her devotion to fighting social inequity runs deep, she says, in part because her older brother Cesar, a civil-rights activist, was killed in 1979 by members of the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina.

    She has also come out of the closet in another way: she is a proud member of the tribe of “nerds and geeks.” As she says, “Geek is the new chic.” Whether geeks or students of color, young women, LGBTQ, or all of the above, the students at the UW can count on President Cauce encouraging them to reach for their dreams and making them proud they all belong to the tribe of Purple and Gold.


  • Nonprofit of the Year: Ventures

    | Feb 17, 2016


    empowers aspiring entrepreneurs with limited resources and unlimited potential to improve their lives through small business ownership. Their focus is empowering "unbankable" individuals, often experiencing generational poverty, to start their own businesses. They partner with organizations such as Entre Hermanos to provide culturally appropriate training to immigrant communities. Their particular focus on low-income individuals means that their success rate has that much more power - lifting up entire communities with the success of each small business. An astounding 80% of Ventures clients are still in business and making a profit after 2 years. Through their retail incubator in Pike Place market and their rentable food truck, Ventures has a visible presence in our city and a way for the general public to discover the great new businesses fostered though their programs. GSBA members who have gotten their feet on the ground thanks to Ventures include Repair Revolution, our 2013 New Business of the Year, and Sal Floral Design, now one of the top florists in Seattle.

    When Executive Director Beto Yarce started his own small business in Seattle he didn’t have all the support he needed to navigate the system. Experiencing these challenges firsthand gave him the unique perspective to understand the hurdles faced by Ventures’ clients. He has overseen the tremendous growth of the organization, including receiving a major grant from the Small Business Administration to expand its services. Beto is passionate and inspired by Ventures’ mission and the opportunity to support other entrepreneurs by helping them realize their business visions.

  • Corporate Leader of the Year: Kevin Baldwin

    | Feb 17, 2016

    Under the leadership of Kevin Baldwin since 2001, PwC’s Pacific Northwest office has grown from 400 employees to over 700 and doubled its revenues. Kevin believes strongly in building diversity at all levels, from PwC’s leadership team to new recruits fresh out of college. Kevin wants to make sure their employees are a reflection of the entire community PwC serves. He is the Partner Champion for PwC’s LGBT Open Affinity Group, and has pushed the company on LGBT inclusion issues. PwC has become a sponsor of the Seattle Pride Parade and contributes a large contingent every year. In part due to his efforts, PwC was one of Diversity Inc.’s top ten companies for LGBT employees in 2015 and top three in overall diversity. They have had a 100% corporate equality index rating from HRC every year since 2006, and won the 2009 Point Inspiration Award for LGBT inclusion, for being a company that champions respect and includes LGBTQ people at every level.

    Kevin helped bring PwC on as GSBA’s first Ruby Jewel Sponsor, committed to investing significantly in both the Chamber and the Scholarship Fund. He sits on the GSBA Corporate Advisory Board, the Executive Committee of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and is a board member of the Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association. Currently he is co-chairing former Governor Gregoire's Challenge Seattle Partnership to work with government and business to improve our region's transportation, education and affordable housing and to tell Seattle’s success stories around the world.

  • New Business of the Year: Bulk FR8

    | Feb 17, 2016

    Bulk FR8
    is a business on the move in every way. As a domestic leader in liquid bulk logistics and freight management, Bulk FR8 provides safe and innovative freight brokerage solutions for chemical companies across the United States and Canada. Wayne Levinson’s vision to fill an industry need and create a dynamic and diverse team is what has created the incredibly rapid success of his company. In just a few short years, Bulk FR8 is now a $20 million enterprise. The have built their company around their values of communication excellence, integrity, breakthrough market knowledge, and steadfast dependability.

    A yoga master, snowboarder, and ardent traveler, Wayne has relied on strong professional and mentoring networks to help him with the best advice before making key decisions. He took this to heart and has devoted himself to doing the same for others. Wayne mentors a group of young entrepreneurs ranging in age from 13-25. Stressing the importance of education, Bulk FR8 offers their team of smart, motivated and passionate people the opportunity to continue their industry knowledge by encouraging and covering the costs for them to seek degrees and industry certifications. Wayne himself is currently in his master’s program in civil engineering at the University of Washington. When Bulk FR8 first joined GSBA, they were asked why a trucking company wanted to join our chamber. The answer they gave was simple – “We wanted folks to know that there are gay truckers out there.”

  • Community Leaders of the Year: Tamara Murphy & Linda Di Lello Morton

    | Feb 17, 2016

    Tamara Murphy and Linda Di Lello Morton say that when they open the doors of their restaurant, Terra Plata, they are welcoming the community to their dinner table. The truth of this is borne out by the sheer number of fundraisers they have hosted for local nonprofits such as Mary’s Place, Legal Voice, Seattle Culinary Academy, Country Doctor, Fare Start, LifeLong, and GSBA. Linda and Tamara’s generosity is not limited to within the walls of their restaurant. Linda has scaled the highest peaks of the Cascades and raised over $250,000 in support of the Breast Cancer Fund. One of Tamara’s first community support efforts involved cooking meals for Babes with AIDS at Fort Worden.

    Both Linda and Tamara are ardent believers in teaching the importance of sustainability. They have created some of our region’s defining culinary events to fund their favorite organizations - Burning Beast (in support of the educational work of the Rubicon Foundation) and the Incredible Feast for the Good Farmer Fund (helping local farmers with unexpected expenses such as last summer’s drought). Other nonprofits they support include Big Table which exists to see the lives of those working in the restaurant industry transformed by building relationships around shared meals and caring for those in crisis, transition or falling through the cracks. They say that “Success comes from being an active participant in our community.” Linda and Tamara understand the value of civic activism, and for being a small business voice working hard to make our home a better place for all.

  • Your Voice in Olympia: Youth & Economic Opportunities

    | Feb 17, 2016

    Olympia CampusAddressing the homeless youth crisis in our region, which has a disproportionate impact on the LGBT community, has long been a stated priority of GSBA. As our community’s business organization, we have focused our efforts on economic approaches such as last year’s Youth Equality and Reinvestment (YEAR) Act. There are several bills in Olympia that seek to make it easier for homeless youth to receive critical services and for those exiting the criminal justice system to successfully reintegrate into society.

    For the third year running, GSBA reiterates its support for the Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity (CROP) bill, which could allow persons who have committed certain non-violence offenses to appeal to a judge for a certificate stating that they have paid all their debts to society. This lowers the barriers for employment for people with criminal records, giving them a greater chance of successfully reentering society. GSBA joined with the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce to encourage state senators to support the CROP bill.

    New in 2016, the GSBA Board of Directors has unanimously endorsed the Supporting Opportunities & Rehabilitation (SOAR) act, which seeks to provided increased rehabilitation measures for juvenile offenders. Proposed items include: adding rehabilitation as an express intent of Juvenile Justice, mandating deferred disposition for qualifying juveniles, eliminating mandatory minimums for juvenile automobile crimes, providing more discretion around specific kinds of domestic violence cases and eliminating mandatory arrest for offenses between minor child and parent/step/grandparent, and removing license revocation for non-driving drug/alcohol/firearm offenses. Additionally, our friend and partner Rep. Joan McBride has proposed HB 2396, a bill that would allow a school nurse or guidance counselor to provide informed consent for health care decisions for a minor in the case that a student is homeless and without a legal parent or guardian.

    Finally, with our Travel Gay Seattle initiative, GSBA is also committed to building Washington State’s tourism industry. As the only state without a dedicated tourism bureau, Washington is missing out on an obvious engine of economic vitality and revenue growth. Fully supportive of the Washington Tourism Alliance’s goals of a self-assessed state tourism fund, GSBA advocates in the meantime for bridge funding of the group as it continues to bring inbound tourism dollars into our state.

  • Your Voice in Olympia: Defending Our Anti-Discrimination Laws

    | Feb 17, 2016

    Sen. Liias speaking against SB 6443Your GSBA advocacy team has had a busy winter. With the short session in Olympia, there is a lot to do but not much time. If you have been following us on Facebook, Twitter or in your email inbox, you know that GSBA has been very involved with the Washington Safety & Access For Everyone (SAFE) Alliance over the last few months. There is a national backlash against LGBT after an unprecented streak of victories for our community, and our opponents are attempting to unravel our hard-fought civil rights.

    There were seven anti-LGBT bills proposed in the Legislature this year, six of which specifically aimed to rollback civil rights protections for transgender Washingtonians that have been law for over a decade (read more about the bills). Senate Bill 6443 would repeal a regulation allowing transgender people to access facilities according to their gender identity and would forbids the Washington State Human Rights Commission from making any more regulations about access to single-sex facilities. SB 6443 was brought up for a floor vote on February 10, and in a nail-biting fifteen minutes we watched as this awful bill failed by the closest of margins (24-25). The remaining anti-LGBT bills in the Legislature are unlikely to be brought up for a vote after SB 6443 failed. However, we are preparing for the eventuality that our familiar opponents will try to file a ballot initiative.

    The collective effort of all the organizations supporting the Washington SAFE Alliance made a difference - including many GSBA-member businesses and nonprofits. Many legislators said that these issues were the ones they heard about most frequently in January. A strong showing of strength from equality-minded Washingtonians carried the day, including three Republicans who listened to the calls and emails from their constituents to oppose SB 6443.

    We are proud of all of you who joined us to defend basic and necessary civil rights in Washington. We aren’t done yet! As we move into the next steps of the coalition, please make sure that your business has endorsed the Washington SAFE Alliance.

  • Gina Grahame

    | Feb 16, 2016

    GSBA is proud to welcome Gina Grahame as the keynote speaker for our Business & Humanitarian Awards Dinner on February 23.

    Gina Grahame exemplifies the indomitable spirit that lives in us all. With courage and determination, Gina envisioned and built the life that she wanted and deserved. How she did it and what she learned along the way - about others and herself – is a powerful lesson in rising above obstacles and being true to who you are.

    Gina is an award-winning speaker, coach, and consultant on how to “Be Authentacious!”™ Her clients include companies of all sizes, corporate executives and politicians.

    Gina Grahame is the Vice President of Corporate Partnerships for GaymerX and the founder of She is very active in the San Francisco LGBT community as board member and Vice President of Membership and Outreach for the Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA), the Bay Area’s LGBT chamber of commerce, and as Vice President of Public Relations for Rainbow Toastmasters.

    Learn more about the Business & Humanitarian Awards and register.
  • The 2015 GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards

    | Jan 11, 2016


    The GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards honor top businesses and business leaders each year, recognizing business performance and contributions to the community. GSBA will honor eight individuals and businesses at our annual Business & Humanitarian Awards dinner on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront, 2100 Alaskan Way.

    The keynote speaker will be Gina Grahame, VP of GaymerX. Ms. Grahame is a highly successful professional and a member of and an advocate for the Transgender Community. She will talk about “The Power of Authenticity, the Process of Overcoming Adversity, and the Transgender Experience."

    The 2015 Business & Humanitarian Award recipients are:

    Business of the Year: Tuxedos & Tennis Shoes, David Meckstroth and David Haggarty, Co-Owners
    Business Leader of the Year: Mona Smith, Attorney At Law
    Corporate Leader of the Year: Kevin Baldwin, Northwest Managing Partner, PwC
    Community Leaders of the Year: Tamara Murphy and Linda Di Lello Morton, Terra Plata
    New Business of the Year:  Bulk Fr8, Wayne Levinson, Owner
    Non Profit of the Year: Ventures, Beto Yarce, Executive Director
    Special Recognition - Voice for Social Justice: Ana Mari Cauce, President of University of Washington
    President’s Award: Kent Thoelke, Executive Vice President of Scientific & Medical Affairs, PRA

    Event Emcee: Sally Clark, Director of Regional and Community Relations, University of Washington

    “Being recognized for business success is not new, but being honored for
    understanding that success in the 21st century must also include a commitment to equality, philanthropy, and sustainable business practices, is definitely unique,” said Louise Chernin, GSBA President and CEO. “For 35 years, GSBA has stood out among business organizations, often as the lone voice for its commitment to advancing equality in business. Over 80% of GSBA members are small businesses, but the important role they play in keeping our local economy strong is huge. They are employers committed to equality, volunteers, and philanthropists, often using the limited resources they have to give back to their community. The impact of GSBA’s work has never been more evident as a growing number of businesses strive to create inclusive work places in order to attract diverse talent and a changing customer base.”

    Title Sponsor: Wells Fargo | Presenting Sponsor: Vulcan
    Dinner Sponsors: RBC Wealth Management, Seattle Goodwill
    Award Sponsors: BECU, Pride Foundation
    Supporting Sponsors: Girlie Press, Team Photogenic, Sal Floral Design

    Purchase your tickets here.

  • A Message from Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO

    | Dec 30, 2015


    Dear GSBA Members,

    You are the best!

    As we come to the close of 2015, we want you to know we remain steadfast in our commitment to your success. We will continue to offer you top quality opportunities to reach the LGBT and allied market; provide you with important business and community information; showcase your business as one which supports equality; connect you with outstanding like-minded business leaders, and be your voice on the city, state, and federal level as we advocate for small business, and continue our unwavering commitment to advance equality and diversity in the workplace; and, of course, ensure a better future for all by investing in the next generation of leaders through our Scholarship Fund.

    Thank you for choosing to be a GSBA member.

    Some of GSBA's 2015 proudest moments:

    * Launched a new GSBA website
    * Created GSBA's first Small Business Council
    * Filmed by Logo TV for a video about the GSBA Scholarship Fund
    * Had a leadership role in advancing trans-inclusive health care policies
    * Participated on the Mayor's Hate Crime Task Force
    * Received a $10k grant from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in partnership with Wells Fargo to promote LGBT Certification
    * Raised over $750,000 at a sold-out TASTE of GSBA
    * Awarded $350,000 in scholarships to 48 students

    Before we say goodbye to 2015, please take 3 very important steps:

    Renew your 2016 GSBA membership

    Make a difference in the life of an LGBTQ student by making that important and very feel good donation to the GSBA Scholarship Fund

    Start 2016 by registering for our January programs

    Have a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year,
    Louise Chernin, President & CEO

  • Intentional Economic Development

    | Dec 18, 2015

    “A good economy and good development do not happen by accident.”

    Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci kicked off GSBA’s economic forecast panel stating the importance of intentional action by government to spur and foster the kind of economy that benefits everyone. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray continued by observing that the Puget Sound region is experiencing its greatest growth since the gold rush and that “This is an incredible moment in our history, so how do we do it right? We must work with businesses to build on those successes!”

    Gladys Gillis, panel facilitator and Principal of Starline Luxury Coaches, asked about the spike of both high-wage and low-wage jobs across the country, at the expense of critical middle-wage jobs. The new Seaport Alliance between Seattle and Tacoma is now the third largest container port in North America, and was given as an example of the kind of generator for those middle-wage jobs. Gillis asked the mayors what role they saw for small business in the economic development of their cities. 

    Balducci expects the number of Bellevue small businesses to double by 2019, while Murray stated that over 63,000 new jobs were created in Seattle in the last five years. This is largely driven by the tech sector, with an estimated seven jobs created for every new tech job generated. Working together for regional solutions was seen as a necessity, whether for transit, homelessness or affordability. The recent Restaurant Success Initiative between Seattle, King County and Washington State was mentioned as a model to replicate. However, Murray did concede that the rapid development of the Pike/Pine corridor on Capitol Hill did not take the neighborhood small businesses into account and that the City needed to do more to hear their concerns.

    Attracting international investors is both a priority and an area where our region has lagged behind as cities like San Francisco have offices abroad devoted to attracting direct foreign investment. Nonetheless, these international investors – particularly from China – have been active in our area, notably with the groundbreaking Global Innovation Exchange partnership in Bellevue between the University of Washington, Tsinghua University and Microsoft. Murray and Balducci pointed to this as a model of success for the region – increasing outside investment, building on our strengths and expanding opportunities for the whole region.

    A functioning transportation network was named by both mayors as the top priority for Puget Sound. Neither city has it easy though, with Bellevue (incorporated only in 1953) as a 20th century car-centric city with superblocks and Seattle as dense urban center platted out in the 19th century with aging infrastructure that cannot always accommodate the sheer volume of personal vehicles on its roads. Mayor Murray touted the recent passage of the GSBA-endorsed Move Seattle levy, which will provide a desperately needed investment in Seattle’s transportation network. 

    Businesses need people to be able to live near where they work to prevent gridlock, so concerns of affordability are of paramount importance as well. Murry touted Seattle’s leadership on what he calls “the most aggressive housing affordability program in the United States.” Balducci was proud of Bellevue’s leading on environmental innovations, particularly related to water quality and shoreline stewardship.

    Facilitator Kevin Baldwin of PwC concluded by mentioning that in 1800 only two percent of the world’s population lived in cities, but now over half do. As presented in a study for APEC, this sets the stage for the importance of leadership of our mayors as the pressing issues we face are increasingly at the city level rather than state or federal.

  • Meet Jason

    | Dec 17, 2015

    DITTMER, JASON_headshotMeet Jason Dittmer, GSBA's Director of Marketing & Communications.We sat down with him and asked him our customary introductory questions:

    Welcome Jason! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

    I am from Montana and moved to Seattle in the early 1990s. I was drawn to the city because of its theatre scene and worked onstage and off at many fringe theatres during their infancies. I love a great story whether its told onstage, on screen, or in print – and am currently consuming  a lot of documentaries, histories, and biographies.

    What did you do before coming to GSBA?

    Prior to GSBA, I was the Director of Marketing at Seattle International Film Festival and Whidbey Island Center for the Arts (Langley, WA) and worked for a number of nonprofit organizations including United Way, Washington Works, Open Circle Theater, and Williamstown Theatre Festival.

    What are you looking forward to doing in your new job?

    GSBA is marking its 35th year in 2016. I am honored to be part of the team that celebrates our organization’s past and that is looking toward its future. I’m looking forward to exploring how we can better celebrate our community’s successes, be a stronger voice in advocacy for business and social issues, and provide even more support for LGBTQ scholars. 

    Now that you’ve gone pro and will be working all throughout Pride weekend, what will you be doing to relax the week after?

    For the last few years, work commitments have kept me from fully enjoying the glory of a Seattle Summer. This year, I plan on finishing my garden, floating on Lake Washington, reconnecting with old pals, and treasure hunting (I have a vintage problem).
    You can reach Jason at JasonD [at]
  • Walk Me to the Car: IT Security

    | Dec 17, 2015

    Amit SharmaBy Amit Sharma, CenturyLink IT Security Advisor

    IT Security is not novel.  Security concerns are ubiquitous.  Yet, it’s the very breadth and depth of IT security that makes it challenging for business managers.  There’s a mind-numbing amount of information out there about the very topic.  In this post, we will focus on a few simple ideas that will keep you on top of IT security discussions from the perspective of business leadership and outcomes.

    The top 3 things I need to know about security.

    • The goal is resilience, not perfection – You are going to get attacked. (The bad guys are probably probing your network even as you read this.)  The goal should be resilience – making sure that your business is able to defend itself well, understand the vulnerabilities and recover quickly should a security breach occur.
    • Your focus should be on business impact – Though there are a million questions and concerns about your company’s exposure to security risks, there is really only one question to ask: “What is the business impact of an incident for the information or assets in question?” E.g. what’s worse – the network going down for an hour or the business brand credibility being bruised in the eye of the consumer? The security risks with the highest potential business impact should be first in line for risk assessment and IT security resources.
    • Security is technical, but also people-centric – Conversations about security can get bewilderingly technical, even for IT professionals.  But, becoming secure has a lot to do with people and the security policies that govern their interactions with your information, apps, and customers.  Many security breaches result from poor oversight, such as sharing passwords and neglecting to apply security patches to old software.

    Give me two good reasons to pay more/better attention to IT security.

    • There is potential for serious trouble – This is not big news, but a major security incident can be a career-ending or stock-price destroying event. Being knowledgeable about what really matters in security has become an essential executive skill. If you can’t afford the cost of a breach – make sure you’re protected.
    • You can likely get better protection for the same level of spending – ITSecurity is not cheap, but what’s more expensive is the cost of a breach – a single incident in 2014 cost one major retailer nearly $165,000,000. If you understand how security truly relates to the business and to the bottom line, you will be poised to make better security investments.

    Where are the risks?

    • Missing the complete IT security picture – Adversaries  look for vulnerabilities across a wide spectrum of IT and business processes, and the worst breaches often occur in the little areas where few people thought to focus, like the memory cache on a credit-card terminal. This is where a risk assessment is key! If you don’t know where you’re vulnerabilities are how are you expected to plug the holes?
    • Misallocation of IT security resources – If you don’t understand the business impact of a security breach, you may allocate resources in the wrong place. For example, if your network is vulnerable and exposes you to a high-impact incident, you need to invest in securing your network. This may sound obvious, but some organizations attempt to secure everything at the same high level and wind up under-securing the assets that potentially affect their businesses the most.

    What is the takeaway idea for me?

    IT Security is a broad and extremely complex subject that can be effectively managed through a disciplined focus on building resilience and securing assets with the highest business impact vulnerability.  By balancing the people and technical aspects of you IT security strategy with a firm grasp of business impact, it is possible to improve security without necessarily raising the level of spending.

    Amit Sharma can be reached at for any questions about how to protect your business and mission-critical assets.
  • 4 Things Small Businesses Need to Know About EMV Chips

    | Dec 17, 2015

    Frank Sena squareBy Frank Sena, Capital BankCard

    If your small business isn’t yet prepared to accept EMV chips, you’re not alone. Capitol Bankcard recently surveyed small businesses and found that over half of respondents were not EMV-ready by October 1, 2015, the date when businesses that had not upgraded their payment terminals became liable for fraud. Another 37 percent of respondents don’t even plan to upgrade in the near future, despite the liability shift.

    That said, 63 percent of survey respondents also revealed that experiencing the effects of fraud liability might get them on board with EMV, and 47 percent of those respondents would be swayed if it cost $100 or less. No matter where you stand as a small business, here are five things you need to know about EMV—including why making the switch to EMV processing is so important.


    1. What the Heck is an EMV card?

    EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa, the three companies that originally created the standard. If you’ve traveled internationally you’ve probably noticed that EMV chip cards are widely accepted outside of the United States. Unlike magnetic-stripe cards used to make credit card payments until now, EMV cards contain an embedded chip that communicates with payment terminals, using a unique code each time and offering higher standards for authentication, so hackers can’t access cardholders’ data.  This makes each transaction more secure and resistant to fraud. As of October 1, 2015 merchants are now liable for fraudulent credit card charges moving forward.

    2. EMV Isn’t Just a Solution for Large Retailers

    The most recent edition of the National Small Business Association’s technology survey shows that almost half of survey participants had been targeted by hackers. The average cost to those small businesses was $8,700. Bigger businesses might make headlines when a breach occurs, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only companies cyber criminals are after, and it certainly doesn’t mean they’re the only retailers that should upgrade to EMV terminals.

    3. Be Ready for Some Changes at the Checkout 

    EMV ReaderWhen it comes to processing EMV transactions, cashiers should be prepared to answer some common customer questions and recognize when a shopper is paying with a chip card. The most obvious change is the need to dip a card into a slot at the bottom of the payment terminal, not swipe it. Another thing to note: processing EMV transactions takes a few seconds longer than purchases via magnetic stripe. Cashiers should be ready for questions about this extra time and ensure customers that this new, more secure payment method is worth the wait.

    4. Being EMV-Ready Can Also Mean Being Mobile-Ready

    Adding new technology to your retail repertoire might feel like a big undertaking, but EMV presents an opportunity to get even more out of that upgrade decision. Retailers can switch to an EMV-ready terminal that also accepts NFC payments like Apple Pay and Android Pay. These “tap to pay” platforms are growing in popularity, and a recent report from Deloitte predicts in-store mobile payment usage will have increased 100-fold by the end of 2015. If you’re not convinced of the EMV benefits just yet, upgrade for the benefits of accepting mobile payments. Consider the extra peace of mind each time a customer dips their card instead of swiping to be a bonus.
    Frank Sena ( has been working in technology since 2006 and is a self-taught payments expert. Contact him if you have any questions about EMV or how to upgrade.
  • Introducing the 2016 GSBA Board of Directors

    | Dec 04, 2015

    The following is the 2016 slate of Directors approved by the GSBA Board at their December 2, 2015 meeting:

    2016 OFFICERS:
    Chair: Kevin Gaspari (Real Estate Broker, Windermere)
    Vice Chair: Drew Ness (COO, 1st Security Bank)
    Secretary: Brandon Chun (Director of Human Resources, MDC)
    Treasurer: Marci Flanery (CPA)
    Scholarship Chair: Stephanie Dallas (Vice President, Morgan Stanley)
    Public Affairs Chair: Jay Petterson (Principal, Blue Wave Political Partners)

    2016 INCOMING BOARD MEMBERS (see below for bios)
    Chris Befumo (Region Operations Manager, US Bank)
    Rob Hampton (Senior Vice President, Visit Seattle)
    Gladys Gillis (Principal, Starline Luxury Coaches)
    Linda Marzano (CEO, Pacific Medical Centers)
    Beto Yarce (Executive Director, Ventures)

    Calvin Goings
    (US Small Business Administration*)
    Jenny Harding (New Chapter Weddings & Events)
    David Hernandez (New York Life)
    Dena Levine (DML Insurance Services)
    Jay Petterson (Blue Wave Political Partners)
    Paul Villa

    BefumoOriginally from New Jersey, Chris graduated with a BA in Economics from the University of Rhode Island in 1992.  He currently serves as the Region Operations Manager for Washington Metro Branches for US Bank. Chris has worked in the financial industry for 21 years, starting as a personal banker, Assistant Manager, Branch Manager and then 10 years as a District Manager in Minneapolis, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Reno.

    He moved to the Pacific Northwest in August of 2014 and fell in love with the region.  An avid runner, Chris has completed 6 half marathons this year.  He was joined the GSBA Corporate Advisory Board in March, 2015 and is now very excited to join the Board of Directors in 2016.  

    Gladys Gillis, native to Seattle, started her career in the engineering department at Boeing where she worked for 13 years.

    GillisIn 1998, she founded Starline Luxury Coaches with a vision and a limited fleet of three shuttle buses.  Over the years, she has become a respected leader in the national transportation industry.  She has served on the board of World Affairs Council of Seattle since 2010 and just recently finished her term as Chairman of that Board.  
    In 2012, she expanded her operation to the Pullman and Spokane markets through the purchase of Wheatland Express bus company.  She currently serves on the GSBA Corporate Advisory Board and is recognized as the CEO of the largest, women-owned fleet in the Pacific Northwest.  She believes in community involvement and enjoys consulting with other enterprising business people to develop their financial management skills.

    HamptonRob Hampton is Senior Vice President Convention Sales and Services at Visit Seattle, the private, nonprofit marketing organization that promotes Seattle as a destination for international and domestic leisure travel, meetings and conventions. Rob oversees Visit Seattle’s Convention Sales and Services departments, including 25 employees in the organization’s main Seattle office as well as sales offices in Washington, D.C. and Chicago.

    Hampton has more than 25 years of progressive sales leadership experience in the convention and meeting industry, including at the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, Visit Jacksonville and Experience Columbus. Hampton is an active member of several meeting industry organizations, including the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) and PCMA.  

    Hampton and his husband, Mark, enjoy their new home in Seattle, as well as traveling and having new experiences in unique destinations. 

    Linda currently is Chief Executive Officer of Pacific Medical Centers at Providence Health & Services, responsible for oversight of the nine-clinic system serving the Puget Sound region. She also serves as the Executive Director of the US Family Health Plan, a Department of Defense health plan for retired military at Pacific Medical Centers.

    Linda has over 25 years of healthcare experience in a variety of settings. Linda is a founding member of Project Access Northwest, a ground breaking non-profit that has significantly improved access to healthcare for underserved populations in the region. Under her leadership, Project Access brought together the major providers of care in the region to develop solutions to the challenges of providing specialty care to the underinsured and uninsured populations in the community.

    Linda is Past Board President and current member of the Policy Committee for the Women's Funding Alliance. In 2014, she was recognized by GSBA as Corporate Leader of the Year for her leadership role in promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace. She also volunteers for Year-Up, supporting urban young adults for their future careers. Linda holds a B.S. in Nursing from University of Miami and an M.H.A. from Barry University.

    Beto joined Ventures in March 2008 and serves as its Executive Director. Beto is passionate and inspired to support other entrepreneurs with their dreams and helping them realize their vision in a business. When Beto started his own business in Seattle, he did not have all the business support that he needed to navigate the system and that was the reason he decided to join Ventures (then Washington C.A.S.H.).

    Beto led Venture’s Latino Business Program for seven years, growing a fledgling training course into a thriving model for Latino small business success around the country. An aspiring businessman since the age of 8, Beto is also the founder and owner of Cintli, an upscale Mexican art and retail store in Pike Place Market. These experiences give him unique insight into the challenges faced by aspiring entrepreneurs as they work to increase their financial self-sufficiency through small business ownership.

    He received a degree in International Business from the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO) in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.
  • Take Ten

    | Nov 30, 2015
    10percentThis year, any GSBA member that refers a new member to GSBA will get 10% off their dues!

    But why stop there? Our members are our best ambassadors and we want to reward you for expanding our network of small businesses. Each member who brings a new member into our organization will be able to "take ten" percent off their membership dues. If you bring in 10 new members, your own dues are fully paid for one year!

    Our membership application includes a "referred by" spot. Be sure to tell your colleauge to put your name there so that you get the credit. Or email Ari and let them know who you referred.

    Referrals must be completed by February 1, 2016 to be credited to 2016 membership. All small business members are eligible to participate. Please contact Membership Services Manager Ari Rosen to share details about a referral.
  • $775,000 raised to send our LGBTQ and allied students to college!

    | Nov 24, 2015


    TASTE of GSBA co-chairs Kevin Gaspari and Kent Thoelke.

    You did it. Congratulations!

    The TASTE of GSBA is all about a community coming together for its own. How thrilling to see over 800 guests enjoying each other, wonderful food created by GSBA member restaurants and caterers; incredible wine tastes from the 12 wineries featured in the Wine Lounge; outstanding entertainment by Robbie Turner and company; our celebrity chefs: Maria Hines, Agrodolce, Golden Beetle and Tilth; Leslie Mackie, Macrina; Tamara Murphy, Terra Plata; and Jerry Traunfeld, Poppy, Lionhead; a sit-down dinner; and a silent and live auction featuring wine, chef experiences and travel.

    Robbie Turner and his dancers set the tone for a night of Cabaret fun and glamour while our extraordinary auctioneer, Laura Michalek and the very talented and delightful Emcee, Amanda Westbrooke kept us engaged and bidding. Speaking of bidding, thank you to Glenn Johnson and Michael Melancon for leading the Fund-A-Scholar with a $25k gift, followed by another amazing $20k gift from Microsoft and from there, the magic spread. Announcing the $100k Leadership Match, the room went into action and that match and more was met in minutes resulting in over $310k raised just during Fund-A-Scholar. Breathtaking!

    None of this would be possible without you, our guests and our wonderful sponsors. A big shout out to our Title Sponsor, 1st Security Bank; our Presenting Sponsor, Nesteggg and our Marquee Sponsors: AHF, Alaska Airlines, Carter Subaru, Gordon Biersch, Holland America, JPMorgan Chase, Safeco, Starline, Svedka Vodka and UW Medicine; TASTE Premier Sponsors: The Sheraton and Hogue Cellars and generous support from: Aria Style, Girlie Press, Reliable Movers, Team Photogenic and Village Theatre. We are especially appreciative of our Jewel Sponsors who invest in both the Chamber and the Scholarship Fund -- Diamond: Microsoft; Emerald: Alaska Airlines and 1st Security; Ruby: PwC and RBC Wealth Management. And, what would TASTE be without our wonderful restaurant, catering, and wine sponsors: Barrio, Sur 16, Hi Life, Two Tartes, Hook & Plow, Tuxedoes and Tennis Shoes, Café Yumm!, Ernest Loves Agnes, Gordon Biersch, Bartholomew Winery, Browne Family, Canoe Ridge, Elsom Cellars, Fidelitas Winery, Five Star Cellars, Good Ridge Estate Winery, Laurelhurst Cellars, Nota Bene Cellars, Structure Cellars, Va Piano Vineyards, and Waterbrook.

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

    A huge thank you to Kevin Gaspari and Kent Thoelke, our dream Chairs who for the past two years have led an outstanding TASTE Committee and provided leadership and vision for the TASTE; our incredible Board of Directors, led by Board Chair, Martha Davis and Scholarship Chair, Stephanie Dallas. With their leadership and the support of our stellar staff, led by Director of Programs and Development, Mark Rosen; Program Manager, Mandy Domer and Scholarship Director, Jessica Wootten as well as Ari, Jason, Rachel, Matt and Victoria, we knew we were in for a spectacular evening. And finally, no "thank you" is complete without recognizing the ongoing generosity of our Annual Sponsors -- Platinum: US Bank; Gold: American Family Insurance, Outerwall, Pacific Medical Centers, Wells Fargo; Silver: Boeing, Carter Subaru, Goodwill, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Precision Garage Door, Safeco Insurance, Starbucks, UW Medicine; Bronze: Amazon, Argosy Cruises, Carpet Liquidators, CenturyLink, DML Insurance, Group Health, Irons Brothers Construction, Mona Davis, PLLC, Nesteggg, Overlake Reproductive Health, Whitepages, Verity Credit Union, and Vulcan; Guide Sponsor: BECU; Travel Partners: Alaska Airlines, Sheraton Hotel, Space Needle, VisitSeattle; Travel Sponsors: Amtrak, King County, Port of Seattle, Renaissance Hotel, and Sound Transit. 

    Truly a moment 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

  • Small Business Saturday - Deals from GSBA Members

    | Nov 24, 2015
    SmBizSatDon't forget to shop at the businesses that support your communities and neighborhoods this holiday season! Several GSBA members have specials for Small Business Saturday.

    • Timothy De Clue Collection Holiday Trunk Show. There will be free grab-bags for the first 15 people and a free set of designer Christmas lights with a $50 purchase. (1307 1st Ave, Seattle |
    • Loft 63. 12% off a purchase of $299+ at full retail price. Offer valid on purchase amount before tax, excludes delivery fee, original wall art and floor lamps. See store for full details. Valid Friday, Nov. 27 - Sunday, Nov. 29. (1205 E Pike St, Suite 1F, Seattle |
    • Two Big Blondes Plus Size Consignment. From November 26-30, all items 25% off on eBay and 15% off on Etsy online stores. Seattle storewide holiday sale is December 1-5, with discounts on every single item - 10-90% off (2501 S Jackson St, Seattle |
    • SugarPill. Pop-up shop with Grace Gow Jewelry (900 E Pine St, Seattle |
    • Café Yumm. $8 bowl and brew - any medium Yumm bowl and a 12oz bottle of beer. (717 Pine St |
    • Brian Knecht, Caliber Home Loans - $500 off closing costs to anyone who completes an online application on Saturday, November 28 or Sunday, November 29.