The GSBA Blog

  • Workplace Study at the intersection of DEI and Wellbeing

    by Aparna Rae and Nicole DeKay, Moving Beyond
    | Mar 04, 2021
    GSBA members Aparna Rae and Nicole DeKay of Moving Beyond are launching a series of surveys as part of a larger workplace study at the intersection of psychological well-being, adverse workplace impacts and diversity, equity, and inclusion. The goal is to include a large sample of entrepreneurs, small/mid-sized business owners, and startup founders - a group that is under-indexed in workplace studies. Data will be analyzed intersectionally, looking across race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, geography, disability, and more.


    In the past year, we have experienced unprecedented shifts at work. COVID19 has shifted the landscape beneath us, with impacts on emotional, physical, and other forms of health still occurring. The negative impacts are exacerbated for LGBTQIA, BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color)  and other historically marginalized communities. According to the Human Rights Commission, LGBTQ people are more likely to have experienced a cut in work hours, are more likely to feel that their personal finances are in worse shape and are more likely to be taking steps to actively prepare for the virus (HRC, 2020). Communities of color, in particular womxn of color have borne the brunt of the job losses during 2020. For individuals with intersecting identities, the challenges multiply.

    We are witness to history being made and we, honestly, have no idea how this will impact us and our communities in the long term. Collectively, these experiences, in particular that of the global COVID-19 pandemic has been categorized as a new type of stressor called compressed cultural trauma: for almost a year now, we’ve been living outside the normal in ways that are chronically stressful. All of these chronic stressors (both small and large) are like taking its toll on people’s health. Trauma researchers have known for decades that repeated, chronic stressors are much more complex to manage and harder to heal from than single highly stressful events. 

    We have had a front row seat to watching companies scramble to adapt to these new changes, making public statements on Diversity, Equit, and Inclusion (DE&I) goals, hiring expert consultants, and implementing change. At the same time, we can’t ignore the skepticism around real and lasting change, given companies’ history of episodic and training-based approaches to DE&I that don’t deliver on the goal of a more inclusive workforce.

    For companies to change in ways that help establish new norms and catalyze workplace transformation, they need to see compelling data. Since it’s often seen as a competitive advantage inside of companies, it’s hard for employees in HR, let alone researchers outside to get data needed to understand how our complex workplaces impact people. To truly understand the employee experience using a DE&I lens, an intersectional model that combines several well studied business outcomes with other socially conscious ones that promote human thriving can help inform the way work changes in the future. 

    As we sought to add to the field in ways that promote a more informed workplace, we found that companies are offering to measure the “employee experience” without taking into account all the multiple facets that create an employee’s experience. 

    This pilot program will help us build up the science behind what it looks like to have a data driven agenda in the hands of teams and employees who can use the information to take action. If employees have a place they can share information about their workplaces, they can drive policies at the early stages of company development that put human well-being at the center of the conversation.

    Benefits to GSBA Members 

    Members who sign up as a team - will get a profile FREE of charge at the end of the study period (as long as a minimum of 3 people from a team or company take the survey). 

    All individual participants will get the first copy of our report. Skip the sign-up to take the first study today - 

    During the study period, we are going to release a number of short surveys, and participants will receive one each month between February and May 2021. All data will be held confidentially and will not be shared or used for any other purpose other than the study -- you will not get marketing emails.


  • March 1 Legislative Update

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Mar 01, 2021
    The Washington State Legislature has now passed several cutoff dates for legislation. The next major cutoff is Tuesday March 9, when all bills must pass out of their house of origin by 5pm. Here is where a number of our priority bills stand as of Monday, March 1:

    Signed by the Governor
    HB 1095 - Tax exemptions on COVID-19 grants
    HB 1368 - $2.2 billion in COVID-19 relief funding
    HB 5061 - Unemployment insurance fixes

    Passed House of Origin, Moves to Opposite House
    HB 1054 - Police tactics bill
    HB 1078 - Restoration of voter eligibility to felons
    HB 1088 - Impeachment disclosures for police
    HB 1089 - Compliance audits for police
    SB 5044 - Equity, cultural competency, and dismantling racism in public schools
    SB 5051 - Decertification of police
    SB 5066 - Police duty to intervene
    SB 5313 - Transgender healthcare protections

    Passed Out of Committee, Awaiting Vote in House of Origin
    HB 1213 - Fair Start for Kids
    HB 1332 - Property Tax Deferrals during COVID-19
    HB 1399 - Reducing barriers to professional licenses
    SB 5089 - Certification of police
    SB 5227 - Diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism in higher education

    As a reminder, you can look up the details and progress of any bill on the Legislature's website, and review GSBA's positions on some of these bills in previous blog posts:

  • Get to know Veritas Electric, GSBA New Business of the Year

    by GSBA Staff
    | Feb 26, 2021

    GSBA’s New Business of the Year recipient, Veritas Electric, is a woman-owned and operated electrical contractor that handles the gamut of commercial and residential jobs. We asked owner, Deb McGowan, some questions about her company and her experience working in the traditionally male-dominated field of electricians.

    GSBA: How did you get started with Veritas?

    8Deb: I started Veritas for many reasons. To reach my full potential, I needed to be out on my own. I was frustrated with not being heard or taken seriously. I saw the need for a business that could serve the LGTBQIA+ community as home/business customers as well as an employer. Throughout my career, I have talked with many home and business owners who appreciated the respect and care I took while working on their spaces. I wanted to create a company where this was the norm, not the exception.

    GSBA: What is your experience working in what has typically been viewed as a male-dominated industry?

    : Overall, I have had a great experience and worked with some amazing electricians who have provided me with reliable guidance during my journey. I have had my share of unsavory encounters, including men letting me know I was not welcome in the industry, being talked over, and belittled. It became more prevalent as I advanced into higher positions. But that may just be because I have become more intolerant of it as I get older. I am hopeful that with women gaining more visibility in the trades, more women will be attracted to this industry and view it as a viable career option. This is how the culture will change. We have a long way to go toward full equality, but with the shift in gender dynamics that I see happening amongst younger generations, I am hopeful.

    GSBA: What are you most passionate about in your work?20_12_01_Veritas_0058_RF

    Deb: I love that I have a skill that is so useful! I am grateful that I can use this skill to earn a living and help out my community. What I love about the work itself are the challenges I face every day; figuring out how to overcome obstacles, solving puzzles, and walking into a chaotic jumble of wires and creating a beautifully organized, safe, and functional electrical system

    GSBA: Why did you decide to join GSBA?

    Deb: It was a good way for me to connect with other businesses and clients who share my values. I love working for LGTBQIA+ people! I use the directory all the time when looking for companies to hire. GSBA does awesome work, and I am proud to support the organization that continually supports our community.

    GSBA: What does Equality is Good Business mean to you?

    Deb: Only good things can come from creating an open and inclusive business environment. This makes everyone you come in contact with feel part of your community.

  • GSBA Scholars explore mental health, identity, and systems of oppression with Lindsey T.H. Jackson

    by Taylor Briggs (he/him), GSBA Scholarship Program Manager
    | Feb 26, 2021

    Since the start of the GSBA Scholarship Fund's formal commitment to ongoing leadership development work with scholars more than six years ago, our definition of what "leadership development" looks like has continued to evolve. One of the challenges to developing leadership development programming is that the very definition of leadership is somewhat objective. Each of us have a personal perspective of what qualities are important in a leader. Depending on our context, the qualities we look for in a leader might be: someone who is inspiring, confident, accountable, empathetic, a good decision maker, creative, a good communicator, honest, loyal, humble, a team player, and the list goes on and on.

    At GSBA, it has been important for us to question who has historically crafted these definitions and qualities of leadership and who has been left out. How has a culture of white supremacy shaped our definition of leadership and the qualities we look for in a leader?
    GSBA Scholar Workshop with Lindsey T.H. Jackson (Horizontal)With that in mind, the focus of this month's leadership development programming was Exploring the Intersections of Mental Health, Identity, and Systems of Oppression facilitated by Lindsey T.H. Jackson. As the CEO of LTHJ Global, Lindsey leverages cutting edge research on Inclusive Culture Design + Leadership principles, teaching methodologies, and human potential design to work with thought-leaders across various industries, cultures, and continents to re-imagine the future of leadership, work and community.
    In this workshop, scholars were invited to:

    - Reflect on their earliest memories of becoming aware of being asked to adapt to assimilationist culture

    - Explore the strategies that they took on at an early age for 'survival', using the
    Enneagram of Personalities as a guide for their work

    -Identify the subtle ways that they unknowingly internalize the attributes of white supremacy culture and carry these into their families, workplaces, and broader society

    -Discuss the individual work necessary to begin dismantling systems of oppression internally, at work, and in our broader society (including the often unnamed fears that lead 'good people' to prop up their privilege)

    - Explore how systems of oppression are carried into their relationships, work, study, and communities, and why this negatively impacts their health and well-being

    - And develop strategies for promoting self-healing, managing anxiety, and empowering the next generation of social reform and justice

    At the core of this workshop was developing an understanding of the many ways that marginalized people are asked to carry the burden of a building a double consciousness - constantly working twice as hard to prove that they are just as good in a society rooted in white heteropatriarchal supremacy culture.

    Scholars were asked to explore how the attributes of white supremacy culture identified by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun (2001) - perfectionism, sense of urgency, defensiveness, quantity over quality, worship of the written word, paternalism, either/or thinking, fear of open conflict, individualism, worship of unlimited growth, objectivity, and avoidance of discomfort - have shown up for them. In relation to these qualities of a white supremacist culture - what aspects of their personal identities were valued, cultivated and rewarded and what aspects were not rewarded?
    To say that these conversations were heavy would be an understatement. Many scholars expressed feeling exhausted and overextended not only because of this constant extra work of making themselves palatable within white supremacy culture, but to then also have the added layer of COVID-related stress - it's no wonder so many of us are at our breaking point.

    One scholar shared, "Having some room for giving ourselves a break is hard to come by these days. My therapist says take a rest, but don't they always? All my professors are talking about how these are extraordinary times and that we should show ourselves compassion because nothing is business as usual - right before they assign 100 pages of reading and a five-page research paper due in a few days with inflexible deadlines! There were some pretty impactful things said tonight that I really needed to hear. The energy of the event was on point, and I was actively engaged with the content. Thanks for holding space for all of us to let out a heavy sigh."
    So today we are sighing and leaning into the reality that while each of us as marginalized people may be having these same or similar experiences, one way to fight the system is naming these realities and coming together as a community to hold space for us all to heal. We look forward to being able to provide more spaces like this in the future for our scholars to hold community and foster these critical conversations about dismantling the systems which hold us all back.

    Lindsey T.H. Jackson is a GSBA member, artist, storyteller, and social scientist who works to empower individuals to reach their fullest potentials across all areas of their lives. Last year, GSBA and Lindsey came together to create the webinar series Keeping It Real with Lindsey T.H. Jackson, which explores critical issues to help conscious business leaders reach their fullest potential. Click here to watch past episodes.

  • Business Police Reform Letter

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Feb 25, 2021
    This letter was sent to the Washington State Legislature on February 25, 2021.

    Dear Leader Billig and Speaker Jinkins, Our businesses employ thousands of people who work and live across Washington state, creating the fabric of our communities. We are thankful to enjoy strong relationships with members of law enforcement who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe. We also stand forcefully against racism, violence, and hatred – and stand with Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities and groups that work toward justice and equality for all Washingtonians.

    We recognize that bias – implicit and explicit – as well as institutional racism in the criminal justice system impact Black, Brown, and Indigenous people nationwide. Inadequate resources in public health and social services have no doubt become compounding factors that complicate policing today. While we need to address these larger systemic issues, there is an immediate need to reform policing in an effort to build trust amongst community members. In our own state we have witnessed police misconduct that has led to the unnecessary loss of life. From these horrors, national and local, historic protests brought thousands of people together to demand that our leaders reform policing so that all people can feel safe and protected.

    The 2021 legislative session provides us with a critical opportunity for every stakeholder – elected officials, advocacy groups, businesses, our employees, law enforcement, and community members – to come together to reform our criminal justice system, keep our communities and our police safe, and to improve law enforcement-community relations in Washington. We urge the Washington Legislature to take decisive action in 2021 to reform policing in our state. This is a necessary step in achieving systemic change. 

    We support policies that include:
    ● Addressing law enforcement accountability and consequences of misconduct;
    ● Transparency through data collection and making that data publicly available - including the data on use-of-force incidents and police misconduct;
    ● Providing appropriate and robust oversight of policing;
    ● Providing community participation in policing;
    ● Standards-based best practices in law enforcement recruitment, training, and education;
    ● Evaluating and eliminating all discriminatory practices. 

    We believe such policies will improve the culture and support of policing, boost community confidence in policing and public safety, and advance positive outcomes across our criminal justice system.


    Beyond Thinking
    Cake Skincare
    Capitol Hill Business Alliance
    Emerald Coast Venture Capital
    Emerson Salon
    Expedia Group
    GSBA - Washington's LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce
    Inland Northwest Business Alliance
    Resourcing Growing Consulting Firm
    Schemata Workshop
    Symetra Life Insurance Company
    Terra Plata
    Seattle Latino Chamber of Commerce
    Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
    Valdemar Estates
    Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA)
  • GSBA Scholars share favorite Black artists, thought-leaders, and more

    by GSBA Staff
    | Feb 22, 2021

    Black History Month is a great opportunity to introduce yourself to Black thought-leaders, artists, authors, and creators. We asked a couple of our scholars to share some of their favorite Black artists and thought leaders: 

    foushee_zttsxpFousheé is a seriously underrated artist, but she makes beautiful music about evolving, being, and owning yourself and your passions, and creating your own world. She's been a powerful force for me in this new year. - Lash O'Cain (she/her) 2nd Year GSBA Scholar

    Rc31W2rRWaIDmjjAhvxV_2020-10-25_10.37.22_1Grow Your Lovespace by Melanie Holst-Collins
    This is a platform that has allowed me to see myself in my most natural of forms, and be real with myself. It has shown me that it is more than ok to be a black, it’s more than ok to be trans, and it is more than ok to be the woman I am, especially in a world that is adamant on me not existing. She has an excellent exercise where you write a letter to yourself, and heal through movement of your body, self love. And I did just that. It was a very emotional, yet empowering moment for me. My dream that once brought shame, is now shameless. - Ro Boyce (she/her) 2nd Year GSBA Scholar

    Ro's letter: 

    Dear Beautiful Black Girl

    Let me start off by saying, I love you. I used the word beautiful because I know that isn’t a word you would call yourself. I look into your eyes and I see the hope and dream of myself. You look happy and scared, relax baby, it’s gonna be alright. You see yourself through the eyes of him, that’s a lesson you will have to learn over and over. To see yourself and love yourself through your own eyes. 

    My darling, never forget who you were before the world told you who to be. I understand how and why that happened now, the wounds of your past, you will ALWAYS BE a survivor, yet through it all you managed to hold on to a belief that someday it will get better. That, baby girl, will be your single greatest gift, to see through a foggy mirror. Hold your head up my beautiful black girl, we don’t want your crown to fall. #BlackHerStory 

    doja-cat-say-so-live-vevo-may-2020Doja Cat
    I get a lot of confidence boosts from her unorthodox style of rap, her goofiness, and straight-up blunt-being.

    2019 Scholars Dinner_Photo Credit Malcolm Smith Photography_ (140)Ro Boyce grew up in Miami, FL and is now living in Lynnwood, attending the University of Washington, pursuing an undergraduate degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences. Her hope is to continue the conversation and inspire LGBTQ youth, especially QTPOC to recognize their own power, to learn and be the transformation the world needs. Ro has made becoming a Speech and Language Pathologist her long term goal. She will continue working with communities that are frequently marginalized and denied access to medical resources due to their identities.

    20190201_AmberZbitnoffPhotography_TotemStar_LIO12_0029_hiresLash O'Cain is a queer film and art history buff born in Renton, WA. After growing up in South Park, WA she is currently living in Mount Vernon to attend Cornell College for the rest of this academic school year, intending to transfer to California for Sophomore year to study film in a more opportunistic atmosphere. She has many goals, one now being to get closer to the entertainment industry where she plans to execute incorporating more queer identities of color in stories untold. Lash has decided that art is a passion she cannot step away from, and intends to graduate with a Bachelors in Film Study or Acting by using connections made through the poetry and music communities where she's been involved for several years.


  • Police Legislation in Olympia

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Feb 16, 2021

    There are over a dozen bills dealing with many different aspects of policing in Washington State this session. Here are some of the bills that GSBA has actively endorsed:

    * denotes which of the bills is advancing if companion bills were offered in both chambers

    Tactics & Equipment (SHB 1054)

    Rep. Johnson of Federal Way is leading this omnibus effort that encompasses a long list of reforms on what tactics and equipment are permissible for use by police. It would prohibit the use of chokeholds, neck restraints, no-knock warrants, using dogs to arrest or apprehend suspects, and the acquiring or using of tear gas and certain types of military equipment. The bill requires law enforcement agencies to adopt policies and procedures to ensure officers are reasonably identifiable. Restrictions would be placed on certain vehicular pursuits. Status: passed out of committee in the House, awaiting House floor vote.

    Impeachment Disclosures (SHB 1088* / SB 5067)

    Requires law enforcement agencies to report an officer’s misconduct that would affect their credibility or any act that may be potentially exculpatory to a defendant. The WA Association of Prosecuting Attorneys would be required to update their policies and develop online training consistent with that policy. Law enforcement agencies will be required to inquire where an applicant has ever been subject to impeachment disclosure. Status: passed House, in Senate Law & Justice Committee.

    Law Enforcement Audits - (E2HSB 1089* / SB 5069)

    Authorizes the State Auditor to review a deadly force investigations to determine whether the involved actors complied with all applicable rules and procedures. Status: passed the House, in Senate Law & Justice Committee.

    Duty to Intervene - (SSB 5066)

    Requires an officer to intervene when witnessing a fellow officer engaging in the use of excessive force. Requires an officer observing wrongdoing by a fellow officer to report the wrongdoing to the officer’s supervisor. Requires law enforcement agencies to adopt written policies on the duty to intervene and ensure that all officers are trained on the policy. Status: passed Senate committee, awaiting Senate floor vote.

    Certification of Police Officers (SB 5089)

    Like many other professions in Washington, police officers are required to hold professional certification from the state. This bill requires applicants for a city or county police officer to be at least 23 years old and to have either an AA/AS degree or have two years relevant experience. It requires a 24-month probationary period for newly hired officers, and awards applicants for certain specific skills or experience (language proficiency other than English; Peace Corps or Americorps experience; professional experience with domestic violence counseling, mental/behavioral health care, homelessness programs, or other social services). Status: passed Senate committee, awaiting Senate floor vote.

    De-Certification of Police Officers (HB 1082 / SB 5051*)

    Like other professional certifications in Washington, the state can revoke an officer’s professional certification in certain circumstances. This bill expands background investigation requirements for applicants for police, reserve officers, and corrections officers, and expands the conduct for which the certification of an officer may be revoked. It requires agencies to report all separation and disciplinary matters regarding certified officers to the Criminal Justice Training Commission. It removes confidentiality of complaints, investigations, and disciplinary actions for certified officers and requires information be maintained on a publicly searchable database. Status: passed Senate committee, awaiting Senate floor vote. 

    There are other bills that GSBA is still monitoring, including SB 5055 which deals with the arbitration process for disciplining officers. This bill is less strong than SB 5134, which would have prohibited collective bargaining agreements from overturning disciplinary decisions, but which did not make it out of the Senate committee.

  • The Passing of Charlie Brydon

    by Louise Chernin, Former GSBA President & CEO
    | Feb 12, 2021
    Charlie Brydon, long time Seattle LGBTQ activist and business leader, passed away on February 9th. We asked our past CEO, Louise Chernin, to share more about Charlie:
    This week we lost a great leader, mentor and friend. A founder of most of our early LGBTQ organizations and leader in the fight for LGBTQ equality, Charlie Brydon, is considered to be the “father of the LGBTQ Civil Rights Movement” in Washington State. Others called him the “un-elected or self-appointed tribal leader of the gay community”. Charlie worked to bring gay rights to the forefront of Seattle and Washington politics. Charlie Brydon was instrumental in founding Seattle’s first gay organization, the Dorian Society, a loose organization of prominent gay businessman and activists, formed in 1967 to serve the gay (as it was referred to at that time) community and educate mainstream Seattleites about the community. Always at the forefront for LGBTQ rights, Charlie led the community in gaining a major legal victory with the passage of city ordinances banning employment and housing discrimination against sexual minorities in 1973 and 1975. However, in 1978, those rights were challenged by Initiative 13, but with Charlie at the forefront and other activists including Anne Levinson, Tom Rasmussen, Don Moreland, Jim Reid, Cal Anderson, Mary Kay Wright, Jan Bianci, Laurie Jinkins, Tim Bradbury, Lonnie Lusardo and others, the initiative was soundly defeated by Seattle voters.
    By 1975, activist groups were continuing to press for legal protections similar to those in the Fair Employment Practices Ordinance. It was The Dorian Group, under Charlie’s leadership that proposed a revision of the city's Open Housing Ordinance that would make it illegal for landlords and home sellers to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. In 1977, Brydon persuaded then Mayor Wes Uhlman to commemorate Seattle’s first Gay Pride Week and in 1978 Brydon rallied activists to join Citizens to Retain Fair Employment, which organized fundraising and educational activities to push back at national efforts to roll-back employment protections. Understanding the importance of an national gay liberation movement, in 1979 Charlie joined the Board of Directors of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. But what most defines Charlie was his work with Hands Off Washington and the Privacy Fund, organizations created in his living room to fight against statewide anti-gay legislation, successfully stop discriminatory state ballot initiatives, establish chapters across the state, and laying the very foundation of many of today’s LGBTQ political organizations, initiatives, campaigns and public officials.
    In addition to being an activist, Charlie was a highly successful business person. As an out and proud business owner of Brydon Insurance, Charlie joined GSBA in 1982. Many may still remember the announcements that Brydon Insurance took out on KUOW, in which it proclaimed that Brydon Insurance was a gay-owned business. Charlie took out an ad in each GSBA Guide & Directory and was the go-to gay insurance agent in our community. After selling Brydon Insurance, Charlie was appointed by the Governor to the Liquor Control Board and after that the Board of Tax Appeal. Charlie remained active in GSBA throughout the years, attending our events, donating to the Scholarship Fund, and often dropping in at the GSBA office. He especially loved the GSBA Scholarship Fund and a number of years ago, went up to Vancouver British Columbia to help their LGBTQ Chamber create their own LGBTQ Scholarship Fund.
    We finally got to honor Charlie in 2005, when he was presented with a Special Recognition award, the Voice for Social Justice at GSBA’s Annual Business & Humanitarian Awards dinner. GSBA brought Charlie to the dinner under the ruse that he was going to present an award to our LGBTQ Legislative Caucus for their huge victory of finally, after 29 years, passing a bill to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the Washington Law Against Discrimination. He was thrilled to present that award, not knowing that the award was actually being presented to him by Anne Levinson and the LGBTQ Legislative Caucus for his decades of work in advancing LGBTQ equality. Charlie was speechless and deeply moved, not only by the award but by seeing his beloved niece who had flown up to share this night with him. It was an evening we will all remember and Charlie is someone we should never forget.
    Whether you knew him or not, your life has forever been changed because Charlie Brydon spent most of his adult life fighting for LGBTQ equality. Thank you, dear leader and friend.

    Louise Chernin
  • February Olympia Update

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Feb 08, 2021
    The Washington State Legislature has now been in session for a month. As we approach the first round of deadlines for bills to be heard in committee, here is a look at some of the bills that GSBA is watching so far:

    Pandemic Relief
    With a few emergency bills sailing through both chambers of the Legislature, GSBA is still supporting efforts to get the most needed supports in the hands of small businesses. Most notably is the $2.2 billion COVID relief bill funded by federal supports. This bill includes $714M for K-12 schools; $618M for public health; $365M for housing-related items like rental assistance; $240M for small business assistance grants; $100M for epidemiology, laboratory grants, and vaccines; $91M for other income assistance; $50M for childcare; and more.

    Other business-related relief efforts include making pandemic-related assistance grants tax exempt (HB 1095). GSBA is also monitoring SB 5251 regarding business interruption insurance claims.


    With the nation's first LGBTQ scholarship fund, equity in education has always been a focus for GSBA. In the state legislative session, there are a number of efforts to specifically increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism efforts in public schools. GSBA has endorsed both SB 5044 and SB 5227, which provide guidance for these efforts at the K-12 and higher education institutions respectively. GSBA has also endorsed the Fair Start for Kids bill (HB 1213), which gives significant support to childcare programs and expands eligibility for early childhood education and assistance programs.

    GSBA has participated in the Coalition for Inclusive Healthcare for many years, focusing on the access and available of medically necessary healthcare for transgender and gender-diverse Washingtonians. Parallel with our ongoing efforts at the Washington Healthcare Authority, GSBA has joined the Coalition in endorsing SB 5313, which closes loopholes and makes it clear to insurers that they may not deny coverage for medically necessary gender affirming treatment or apply blanket exclusions to that treatment.

    Continuing our support for the establishment of the Washington State Office of Equity in last year's session, we support efforts to fully fund that office (cut due to the pandemic) and SB 5105 which would implement the recommendations of the Office of Equity Task Force. Additionally, we are supporting GenPRIDE's request for a $1 million budget appropriation to fund LGBTQ senior services at the future LGBTQ senior housing development in Capitol Hill.

    There are many other issues that GSBA is monitoring during this session, including various proposals for progressive taxation. Tune in to our February 22 Civic Engagement Series to learn more about those efforts. Next week we will be writing about the many police accountability bills that the legislature is considering this year. If you have any questions about GSBA's legislative work, please reach out to

  • It's a beautiful day in the Gayborhood

    by GSBA Staff
    | Feb 05, 2021

    As a creative agency and content production company, Gaybors Agency brings together LGBTQ+ creators (also called Gaybors) and brands to create content for and with the LGBTQ+ community. Gaybors engage their social media audience and are an essential part of moving equality forward and creating visibility.

    We spoke to new GSBA member, Todd Murray, Founder and President of Gaybors Agency, to find out more.

    GSBA: Tell me about the Gaybors Agency and how you started working in this space?

    _MG_7990x1200x836 (1)[1]Todd: I got my start in marketing and specifically influencer marketing working for the United Nations in South Africa, Swaziland, Thailand, and Mexico. I worked with minority populations within the LGBTQ+ community: young people living with HIV, trans people, and sex workers. The campaigns we worked on promoted community kindness and, frankly, helped young LGBTQ+ people get home at night without being killed.

    Fast forward 20 years, and the influencer category had become an integral part of marketing campaigns across every industry. I would see marketing agencies and influencer agencies bill themselves as diverse and authentic, but they had one LGBTQ+ influencer on their roster. Why are we asking people who don’t understand our community to speak for us? We can help brands better understand how to talk to and reach the LGBTQ+ community, but there needed to be an agency to do that, so I started one.

    Our community deserves better; we deserve better. This is why I did not just launch a website with a bunch of influencer pictures. I worked on building the agency, building a group of people that would generate content for the LGBTQ+ community, but that also felt like a family. The Gaybors could learn from each other, build their own personal brands, and be better creators. So I worked on the Gaybors Agency for over a year. And then we launched... 45 days before the start of the pandemic.

    GSBA: What brought you to Seattle?

    Todd: I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. I lived in Phoenix at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and decided I wanted to be closer to my family, so I moved back to the Pacific Northwest and settled in Seattle. I remembered it as a city that showed kindness to strangers, and I knew I wanted to live in a place where people would be kind to each other. I also wanted to be in a place where I could grow this new agency while keeping the people I love alive and safe.

    GSBA: Why did you decide to join GSBA?
    Mesa+de+trabajo+1-8+(3) Todd: I want Seattle to know what's in their backyard. That the Gaybors Agency is part of their community. I know that GSBA members are some of the most forward-thinking, articulate, and front-leading companies in the country. Many have shown up even when they did not have to. I wanted to be among small and large businesses that repeatedly demonstrate their commitment to the LGBTQ+ community and engage in authentic and meaningful marketing practices. I also wanted Gaybors Agency to be able to help companies engage with the LGBTQ+ audience. We are here and are a resource, even if it’s just for a conversation.

    GSBA: What is your favorite thing about working with LGBTQ content creators?

    Todd: I admire LGBTQ+ content creators’ commitment to live their lives unapologetically. I remember going into corporate board rooms and begging them to include the queer community in their marketing campaigns and was told we [LGBTQ+ people] are a liability. And 20 years later, to see these fearless creators be so open, honest, and unapologetic is inspiring and exhilarating. Every day I work with humans who embody the message of openness and honesty, promote that message, and they are never deterred. When I go to work, I have a front-row seat to see the work of so many fearless people in our community. And I am forever grateful for that.

    GSBA: Has the pandemic affected your work? Any pivots you needed to make?

    101395832_301103564221035_6939389853743238582_nTodd: The majority of our work is in the travel industry, and for Pride-related events, so the pandemic hit us very hard. Within two weeks of the start of the pandemic, we lost 98% of our contracts. I did not have the will to continue. I had built the agency up over a year but was feeling so defeated. I publicly said to my team and the Gaybors: “I think I am done. I don’t think I can do this.” And they said "no, we believe in the value of this company."

    I was quickly reminded that LGBTQ+ people had put community over themselves time and time again, and it was my turn. I took a week off and decided this was not an, “I am tired, I can't do this anymore” situation, but that the Gaybors Agency needed to show up, especially for the election of our lifetimes. We pivoted all of our campaigns and quickly learned the new world of online events. When I started the agency, I knew influencers were valuable, but I had no idea that when the pandemic started that influencer content would become 10x more valuable than before. We secured more revenue in the first three weeks than we had projected for the whole first quarter of 2020.

    GSBA: What is one thing that would surprise people about you or your agency?

    Todd: I work really hard and have a public persona as part of this community, but on a personal level, as a gay man, I have to fight with myself to find my own value. Gay men have a lot of work to do around giving and receiving love. I am around Snapchat filters and Instagram personas all the time. I am hyper-aware that things are not always what they seem, but I have to work hard to find my self-worth and self-esteem. I am a product of a community that has not prioritized giving love to each other in a meaningful way. People see the glitz and glamour on the outside because of who I work with, but I am not an influencer or a public person. I rarely post on social media. I hate being in front of the camera. That stems from a lack of self-worth—something I have to work every day to find. There is power in saying this publicly, to show vulnerability.

    GSBA: What's next for the Gaybors Agency? 

    Todd: We just launched an app and are looking at opening offices in the UK and Canada. We know that what we do is applicable in the US, but also in so many locations around the globe.

    We launched the largest agency for LGBTQ+ creators in the world. Executed hundreds of campaigns and put over half-a-million dollars into the pockets of LGBTQ+ content creators during a pandemic. In one of the most challenging economic years of our lifetimes, we were successful, so I am not stopping now. I hope we will have offices around the globe that will work with their communities. I should not be working in South Africa or Mexico; there should be another Todd in those countries to leverage their knowledge of their communities and their country's influencers. We are also looking into a Gaybors studio for creators to use when it is 100% safe to do so. It will be a safe space for queer creators to do their work without worryingπ about any homophobic eyes or ears on their content.

    And more margaritas.

  • Incubator: Fall 2020 Cohort

    by Levi Coffin, Business Training Specialist & Grant Manager
    | Feb 03, 2021

    Felix Blanco (he/him)
    Evolving Paths

    Felix worked in the technology industry for 25+ years, developing engaging experiences for customers in the entertainment, automotive, and medical imaging fields. After completing his master’s degree in Computer Graphics, Felix’s career included working with Fortune 500 companies. His career quickly evolved and started managing people, and he found an interest on collaborating with teams and individuals to reach their goals. This new interest aligned with his value system, propelling him to start his own coaching practice. After obtaining his certification as a Professional Coach, Felix took his professional practice to the next level, where technology meets human needs.

    As a professional coach with Evolving Paths, LLC, Felix empathetically and intuitively listen to his clients needs, helping them to identify potential limiting beliefs that are impacting their lives. His product technology background enables him to listen to unmet needs, as well as to create the coaching tools that are in planning stage.

    Danielle Morales (she/her)
    Digital Management LLC

    Danielle is the first entrepreneur of her family and just getting out of corporate life. She is looking to help others with her knowledge to develop their business growth.

    Digital Management LLC helps businesses market on their social media. They partner with their clients to find a strategy that works for their business!


    Alanna Francis (she/her)
    Alanna Francis Events & Consulting

    Alanna follows her passion and her greatest impact. To evolve communities, people, and organizations past their plateau of checking diversity boxes to infiltrating with *holistic intentions integrations of systems meant to retain folx and create change. She is invested in bettering our communities through authentic intentional relationships and aligned values & morals. She is invested in seeing a world where people can live and be themselves free of the societal pressures and implications. Where they can be aligned within themselves and their businesses with a connection to who they strive to be. Our magic is always within, so what narrative is preventing you from swirling in it?

    Do you envision a more connected colorful empowered educated world? So does Alanna. By connecting with her clients through holistic event planning and developmental magic she creates inclusively exclusive experiences. She is for you, are you for everybody? Holistically inclusive events with an atmosphere of exclusivity. Serving individuals and organizations rooted in creating change, invested in representation and building community. Fundraising. Diversity Equity and Inclusion. Transforming the norms of an organization to an evolution


    Shaun Glaze (they/them)
    Inclusive Data

    Shaun Glaze is the Chief Consulting Officer for Inclusive Data. You may know them as the Research Director for the Black Brilliance Research Project - the nation's largest Black community-led research. Their company Inclusive Data helps people do research that creates true community safety, health, and thriving. But that's not all they do. They help you save money and generate wealth by teaching you the secret sauce that large companies use to create their success. They teach you how to secure grants, how to cut costs, and how to make more money. Basically, they help you turn data into dollars.

  • Legislature Passes Unemployment Insurance Fixes

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Feb 01, 2021
    On Friday night, the Washington State Legislature passed ESSB 5061, an emergency bill to address the significant increases in unemployment insurance faced by businesses at the start of this year. GSBA supported these efforts and will continue to advocate for continued support of small businesses in the management of the unemployment system as well as efforts to keep the program fully funded so that it can continue its essential role for workers. This bill reduces the various automatic formulas that determine unemployment insurance rates, as well as increases the benefits for the neediest workers. In total, this bill represents over $1 billion in taxes that are being waived or delayed.

    What will ESSB 5061 do for employers?
    - Experience rate: the benefit ratio calculation period is extended from 4 to 5 years, resulting in a lower average experience rate
    - Social tax: maximum lowered from 1.22% currently to 0.5% in 2021, gradually increasing to 0.9% in 2025
    - Solvency surcharge: suspended for 5 years. This is an automatic surcharge that typically kicks in when the fund is below a certain level, to a maximum of 0.2%
    - Voluntary Contribution surcharge: will not be charged through May 2026
    - Shared Work programs: now 100% reimbursed by federal CARES Act through March 14, 2021 and will not be charged to employers
    - Makes certain unemployment insurance benefits non-chargeable to employers' experience rates, including all weeks between March 21 and May 30, 2020.

    What will ESSB 5061 do for employees?
    - Expands eligibility for those in high-risk households, particularly in instances where someone in a high-risk household leaves work voluntarily
    - Waives waiting period when federally reimbursed
    - Increases weekly benefit threshold by increasing minimum from 15% to 20% of average weekly wage (maximum remains the same)
    - Ends deduction of lump sum pensions from weekly benefit amounts

    You can read the full bill here, or the Legislature's 6-page summary here.

    This bill now heads to the Governor's desk for final signature. As it is designated emergency legislation, it will take effect immediately.

    Later this week there will be additional emergency bills that impact small businesses, including HB 1095 which makes certain COVID relief grants tax-exempt, and a new $2.2 billion COVID relief bill.

    Please reach out to GSBA staff if you have any questions about ongoing legislative work ( or how these new rules might impact your business (

  • Over twenty-three years of dance and counting at Century Ballroom

    by GSBA Staff
    | Jan 22, 2021

    From gentrification to a pandemic, Century Ballroom & The Tin Table have survived the odds

    Hallie Kuperman and her staff at Century Ballroom and The Tin Table have seen more than their fair share of change from the second floor of Capitol Hill’s Oddfellows Building at the corner of 10th and E. Pine streets. From parking changes and the addition of the streetcar and light rail to Cal Anderson Park's many transformations to massive residential and commercial development, for almost 24 years, Hallie has watched her professional home change on every level that a neighborhood can change.

    sMeCVPEQShe opened Century Ballroom in 1997, a business with a mission: “To promote social dancing of all kinds, Century Ballroom encourages a diverse community that includes your gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, race, age, and religion. As a DJ and dance instructor herself, dancing is in Hallie’s DNA.

    In 2009, she opened The Tin Table across the hall from Century Ballroom. A warm, cozy restaurant with an eclectic menu of Pacific Northwest dishes, cocktails, and an expansive list of bubbles. Hallie felt that every meal out should feel like a celebration and wanted her customers to feel the same when dining at The Tin Table.

    With two businesses rooted in gathering and community, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected Hallie on all fronts. We asked Hallie how she and her team have been coping this past year and what is on the horizon for her businesses.

    GSBA: How have you pivoted both of your businesses to meet the challenges and obstacles brought on by the pandemic?

    Hallie: We made a choice early on not to teach dance online. Century Ballroom is somk6_FRgg steeped in social and partner dancing that it didn’t feel right to take that dancing online. We also knew the internet would be inundated with classes.

    We waited to offer take out for the Tin Table since it wasn’t something we had offered pre-pandemic, and we wanted to make sure we got it right. When restaurants could re-open indoor dining at 25 percent capacity, we transformed Century Ballroom into a restaurant to have ample space for tables. It was The Tin Table at Century Ballroom. We spent many, many months going with the flow of the neighborhood, the city, and the country in terms of staying open on any given day or choosing to close. It was unpredictable, at best.

    One new idea we launched was “to-go” baskets or bags with themes including Fancy Picnic, Glamping, and date night. And, of course, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and NYE dinners. The latter included candles, glitter, balloons, and fake snow.

    zHxkCUewGSBA: How has being a Ready for Business grant recipient helped you and your business?

    Hallie: We recognize that both of our particular businesses will be some of the last to open. We have been able to keep operating because of the generous support we have received. Rent and payroll are the obvious significant expenses, but there are so many more expenses beyond those two that need to be paid as well.

    GSBA: These days, what keeps you going?

    Hallie: Knowing how vital Century Ballroom has been to the community over the last (almost) 24 years and the outpouring of support we have received makes fighting for the business’ survival all worthwhile.

    GSBA: What’s next for Century Ballroom and The Tin Table?

    Hallie: We’re starting a weekend takeout series called “The Tin Table Travels.” Each week we offer a themed three-course meal highlighting cuisines of various countries, including Germany, Italy, France (for Valentine’s Day, of course), and more. We will resume indoor dining once we are allowed to do so. Right before the indoor dining ban, we had started dinner and a movie night in the Ballroom. I am excited to start that up again. As for dancing, once we can have up to 10 people in a class, we will resume teaching classes again. I know large public dances or 70-person classes, which are our bread and butter, won’t be happening for quite some time. But I sure look forward to that first dance, whether it’s OutDancing for the LGBTQ+ community, Swing, Salsa, Kizomba, Bachata, Tango, Waltz…I know it will be epic!

    Century Ballroom is one of the 65 BIPOC, LGBTQ, or women-owned small businesses in the Seattle Metropolitan Seattle area who received a grant from the Ready for Business Fund in the fall of 2020. Co-founded by GSBA and Comcast Washington, the Ready for Business Fund provides $2,500 grants and wrap-around support services to minority-owned small businesses most impacted by the economic downturn due to COVID-19. The program's next application will open in March, with a $100,000 fundraising goal. Click here to donate or learn more about the Ready for Business Fund.

  • AntiSocial publication carves out space for Seattle BIPOC artists & creators

    by GSBA Staff
    | Jan 19, 2021

    Founded by Seattle-based artists Gabriel-Bello Diaz, Ulysses Curry, and Leleita McKill in 2019, AntiSocial is a local publication focused on highlighting the voices of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ artists, small businesses, and community organizers through photographs and articles.

    AS Finals 17In December of 2019, Co-founder Gabriel-Bello Diaz joined the inaugural GSBA & Ventures Small Business Incubator class to kick-start the publication and learn about the many nuances of owning a small business. Designed to elevate and empower transgender, BIPOC, and QTBIPOC entrepreneurs, the GSBA & Ventures Small Business Incubator takes small business owners through an immersive eight-week learning experience, including Ventures’ Business Basics Course, periodic mentor discussions, a complimentary first-year GSBA membership, and more.

    Gabriel graduated from the program in early 2020, with AntiSocial publishing its debut issue in the fall. We caught up with Gabriel to hear about his goals for the publication and how the Incubator helped him get off the ground.

    GSBA: Tell us a bit about what kind of content someone might see in AntiSocial.

    Gabriel: “We tell the stories of local BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ artists through photographs and articles on how they navigate through the city to achieve the amazing work they are doing. These photoshoots are in collaboration with local photographers and fashion designers to make each article feel like a high-fashion editorial. This publication is produced locally through another GSBA member, Girlie Press, because again we love how our city collaborates.”

    GSBA: How did you first come up with the concept for AntiSocial?antisocial issue 1

    Gabriel: “The need for our voices to be heard was always at the forefront in creative industries. I wanted to pull those stories together and showcase the ‘behind the scenes’ of the work we do.”

    GSBA: What motivated you to apply for the GSBA & Ventures Small Business Incubator?

    Gabriel: “I've been an artist selling one off custom products for over a decade, but I wanted this new business to operate at a higher level. I needed the support of the legal and financial growth of a business that aims to dish out W9 to artists, along with gaining sponsorship and support from the city. GSBA has that now, as well as those resources.”

    GSBA: What was your experience like taking part in the GSBA & Ventures Small Business Incubator? 

    Gabriel: It has been very helpful in establishing the financial structure and decision-making for our launch. (It also) provided an opportunity to meet other small businesses who we could potentially collaborate with in the future. The most important thing I learned was to keep looking into the future while focusing on the present. This approach helped me develop a solid plan while maintaining flexibility as I navigate my decisions daily. It’s okay to change and adopt your business in its infant stage.

    GSBA: What was it like to take part in a community of trans, gender-diverse, and QTBIPOC entrepreneurs?

    antisocial volume 2Gabriel: It was refreshing to find us all on a business or entrepreneurial road, with a focus on success for our community and supporting each other.

    GSBA: What’s next for you and AntiSocial?

    Gabriel: Our launch happened on November 27, but I'm still in the beginning phases of getting this off the ground through paperwork. Our current goal is to get our 200 copies sold and get the attention of potential sponsors, so we can establish a strong foundation moving forward. As of now, the annual community publication costs $50 and we aim to provide it quarterly and for free.

    In February, AntiSocial will conduct an open call for artists to take part in its second issue, Volume 02: Love + Rage. The first issue can be purchased here. Folks can keep up with AntiSocial by following the publication on Instagram.

  • GSBA Condemns Attempted Coup at US Capitol

    by Jay Petterson, GSBA Board Chair & Mark Rosén, GSBA Acting President & CEO
    | Jan 11, 2021

    Issued on January 7, 2021

    Yesterday’s insurrection was nothing short of an attempted coup. All of us at GSBA share the pain, sadness, and anxiety that is being felt across our community this morning at the state of our nation. The actions in both Washington, D.C. and Olympia yesterday were direct attacks on our democracy, the rule of law, against the free press, and often fueled by racist and anti-Semitic hatred. It is also impossible to ignore the difference in how these rioters were treated compared to those protesting for Black lives this summer. These actions have been spurred by years of blatant lies from the President and his followers.

    We are thankful that our federal delegation and their staffs appear to be unharmed, but we carry with us the deep hurt in witnessing what they experienced yesterday in the center of our democracy. Yesterday’s events should never have been possible, and we must ensure that it never happens again. We must work together to hold the perpetrators accountable. While we cannot come together in our community hubs or with our friends as we normally would, let us continue to support each other while we remain physically apart. Please take care of yourselves and reach out to and check in on those around you.

    Jay Petterson, GSBA Board Chair
    Mark Rosén, GSBA Acting President & CEO

  • How to #ShopSmall this holiday season

    by GSBA Staff
    | Dec 14, 2020
    Small businesses employ over half of our state's workforce, give our neighborhoods their character, and serve as gathering places and safe-spaces for our community. This holiday season, our small businesses need the support of our entire community as they continue to face unprecedented challenges. So, we put together a list of actions you can take to show up for our small business community during the holiday months - and throughout the year.

    A little bit goes a long way
    (Mostly) Priceless ways to show your support
    - Leave a positive Yelp, Facebook, or Google review
    - Follow small businesses on social media & engage with their posts 
    - Give a social media shout-out & use #SmallBusinessSaturday or #ShopSmall
    - Tip generously
    - Tell your friends & family about your favorite business

    Your GSBA Guide & Directory
    Whether you're looking to remodel your kitchen, a new dentist, or tonight's dinner, the GSBA Guide & Directory can point you towards an LGBTQ or allied owned small business that can meet your needs.

    Shop the Hill
    Take part in the annual neighborhood tradition led by the Capitol Hill Business Alliance (CHBA), a program of GSBA, and the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog by following the Shop the Hill Facebook page and downloading the free digital images here. Neighborhood businesses can submit their promotions here and request a safe poster delivery here.

    Virtually stroll from store to store with Support Capitol Hill
    Earlier this spring, CHBA partnered with DEI Creative, Hunter's Capital, and Dunn & Hobbes to present, an online marketplace which lets shoppers browse products from storefronts and restaurants across the neighborhood, while businesses retain 100% of the revenue and can list their products for free.

    Spend Like It Matters
    Because it does. GSBA member The Intentionalist has created a handy holiday shopping guide for the kids, parents, activists, foodies, and more in your life. Their delivery and take-out directory can help you feast to your fill this holiday season, and their gift certificate marketplace makes it easy to support small businesses who don't have an online store.

    Shop Your Block
    The Seattle Office of Economic Development's program Shop Your Block gives you a seamless shopping experience throughout Seattle neighborhoods including North Seattle, the U-District, West Seattle, Ballard, Capitol Hill, Pioneer Square, South Seattle, and Crown Hill.


  • Thank you for supporting LGBTQ students at EQUALUX 2020!

    | Nov 23, 2020

    EQUALUX: A Virtual Concert for Our Scholars, successfully brought together our community far-and-wide this Saturday, filling our hearts with the amazing stories of our scholars and wonderfully moving performances. In a year like no other, it was heartening to see and feel the outpouring of support for our future leaders. Amidst so much uncertainty for our country and community, one thing that’s certain, is the knowledge that when we come together, we can accomplish much - and that is exactly what happened. To all of you, we say thank you!

    If you missed the event, you can watch it here!

    A huge thank you must first go to our Entertainment Partner, A Sensible Theatre Company and our producers, Jared Michael Brown and Paul Flanagan, who worked closely with GSBA Programs Manager Carlos Chavez, GSBA Sr. Development Officer Jeff Boyer, and our EQUALUX Co-Chairs, Incoming GSBA Board President Jay Petterson and his husband Michael Mattmiller, whose calm leadership and passionate support kept us focused on our mission. We couldn’t have done this without our wonderful EQUALUX Committee who worked hard to reimagine EQUALUX as a virtual event. We couldn’t be prouder and more thankful for their dedication. 

    he night was led by our stylish emcee, award-winning actor and Seattle celebrity, Timothy Pigee, who carried the evening with such warmth, as we celebrated our scholars through a series of truly magnificent performances. Alex Newell kicked off the show with an energetic performance of "Keep It Moving." Then, Rheanna Attendido, Olivia Hamilton, Aviona Rodriquez Brown, Arika Matoba, and Cassi Q Kohl, sung an acoustic rendition MUNA's "I Know a Place," while Lauren Du Pree sung a moving take on “Stand Up” by Cynthia Erivo later in the night. We were enthralled with a routine by two of Seattle’s acclaimed contemporary dancers Nahshon Omari and Dustin Durham who, in collaboration with Devin Marie Munoz, brought X Ambassadors’ song “Unsteady” to life through movement. World-renowned singer Jimmie Herrod also sung a passionate take on “Tomorrow.” The night came to a powerful conclusion with a memorable piece by the genius of Darnell White, a multi-faceted Harlem-based composer and activist, who was joined by fellow New Yorkers Nathan Tolliver, Burgundy Williams, Josh Walker, Kwame Remy, and David LaMarr – reminding us again, that indeed, a New Day is Coming!

    We were reminded of the impact your investment has on our scholars, when Washington State Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu talked with GSBA Scholar Astro Pittman about what it means to be a young Black activist and student in 2020, and his hopes for a brighter and more just future.

    mary and astro

    We also got to know several other GSBA Scholars including Ro Boyce, Manny Lopez, Anna Rink, Nick Takahashi, Bryant Allen, Isa Jolie, Casey Williams, and Kendrick Jackson. They are already making a huge impact on their campuses and in their communities, and we can’t wait to see the difference they continue to make after earning their degrees. These scholars were introduced by supporters of the Fund Shay Thoelke, Jorge Peraza, Dana Savage, Kristi Maldonado, M Abeo, Felipe Lenz Carvalho, and Kyle Rapiñan.

    GSBA Deputy Director Mark Rosén, introduced a surprise special segment honoring retiring President & CEO Louise Chernin, and announcing the Louise Chernin Scholarship Fund in her honor. This fund, created by the GSBA Board, will support the work of the Scholarship Fund and the community is invited to make donations and to attend the virtual party in Louise’s honor in late January, date to be announced.

    Though we didn’t have the traditional paddle raise moment, several donors raised their virtual paddles with significant donations including Co-Chairs Jay Petterson and Michael Mattmiller, The Beeks Foundation, Glenn Johnson and Michael Melancon, ad Kevin Spratt. The GSBA Board once again stepped up with 100% participation to create a Leadership Match, which was instrumental in helping double guests' donations.

    All of this would not be possible without our Board of Directors, led by Board Chair Extraordinaire Stephanie Dallas and Scholarship Fund Chair Carrie Carson. The magic of EQUALUX wouldn’t be possible without our magnificent sponsors, including Title Sponsor Comcast NBC Universal and Event Sponsors Alaska Airlines, Amazon, Carter Subaru, DML Insurance, Fred Hutch, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Kaiser Permanente, Morgan Stanley, Sound, Symetra. We’d like to also thank our Main Stage Sponsor ArtsWest, Voice of Scholarship InterChange Media Arts, Mask Sponsor Brand|Pride, and Print Sponsor Girlie Press.

    A very special thank you to the GSBA Development and Scholarship Staff, with the vision of Mark Rosén leading the team of Jeff Boyer, Taylor Briggs, Carlos Chavez in making this evening possible, with special assistance from Toraya Miller, Gabe Neuman, Rachel Chernin, Cade Schmidt, and the rest of the amazing GSBA staff.

    Most importantly, from the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank you our guests, for helping make this year's EQUALUX such an outpouring of community love and hope.

    If you were not able to join us Saturday night, there's still time to show your support by making a year-end gift to the GSBA Scholarship Fund. We also would like to encourage all guests to renew their GSBA Membership for 2021, and if you are not yet a member, we'd love to have you as a member to contribute as we move with forward vision together into a brighter 2021. Together, we all thrive.

  • GSBA Urges New Small Business Supports with New Restrictions

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Nov 20, 2020
    This letter was sent to Washington State and City of Seattle leaders on November 20, 2020.

    As we enter the next four weeks of restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19, we ask that our public officials take a strong stand to support our small businesses and community nonprofits. Representing 1,300 members across the state, GSBA - Washington's LGBTQ chamber - is very concerned about the survival of our members, especially during what is normally the most important commercial season for many small businesses. We understand and agree that the pandemic must be brought under control before we can work on an economic recovery.

    With the latest round of restrictions, both the City of Seattle and Washington State have announced renewed efforts to support our small businesses. With that in mind, GSBA urges our governments to:

    • make available as many direct cash grants as possible, rather than loans
    • ensure that funds are directed to those most impacted by the new restrictions, including food and beverage establishments, small retail, and arts organizations.
    • ensure that eligibility criteria are broad enough to incorporate low-margin high-employment businesses like restaurants (is there room to expand beyond the current 25 FTE limit?)
    • clarify that if nonprofits are included in grant or loan opportunities, that the applications reflect that circumstance
    • make the application for and disbursement of funds as simple as possible for struggling establishments
    • expand and expedite permitting to assist small businesses adjust quickly to the evolving situation, given the holiday season and its weather
    • give any business financial relief that is possible, specifically waiving or eliminating any taxes or fees (rather than delaying them)

    We understand that state law constrains our ability to provide enough direct small business assistance in the necessary ways. We still urge you to do all that you can to provide as much assistance as you possibly can.

    Additionally, we have been asked if the City can clarify some of the following points:

    • What is the capacity of OED to process additional Small Business Stabilization Fund requests? Is the round going to be increased from where it was two weeks ago, or are we operating under the same numbers of grants as prior to this lockdown?
    • Will any City supports be retroactive for those businesses who have already had to purchase required goods?
    • What taxes or fees does the City believe could be feasibly waived to help provide relief?
    • Clarification on the City's decision that personal guarantees on business leases are unenforceable -- are they retroactively enforceable? A business could be covered right now under the rule, but what happens if/when the order expires? Could a landlord come back and then try to enforce a personal guarantee after the pandemic is over?

  • Letter from WA Small Business Recovery Working Group

    by GSBA staff
    | Nov 19, 2020

    This letter was sent to the Washington federal delegation on November 19, 2020. GSBA is a signatory.

    Members of the Washington State Congressional Delegation:

    We urge immediate Congressional action on small business relief to mitigate the continued and rapidly worsening impacts of COVID-19. The situation facing small business is dire. Washington State is experiencing the worst levels of infection and hospitalizations since the onset of the pandemic. Small businesses, trying to hang on since the spring, will likely be destroyed without further provision of significant federal emergency aid. Thousands more jobs will be lost as workers and families are already struggling – Washington led the nation in new unemployment claims the first week of November. This was the largest weekly increase reported by any state over this period and the largest increase in Washington State since mid-March 2020.

    Here are specific actions we believe Congress should take before Thanksgiving: 

    - Reauthorize the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which expired on August 8, and extend it through June 2021.
    - Allow existing PPP borrowers to apply for a second PPP loan and allow a more flexible use of proceeds so that businesses can use the funds for personnel as well as other costs they must incur in order to survive until the pandemic is under control and normal business operations can resume.
    - Extend the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) authorization through June 2021.
    - Mandate that the Small Business Administration (SBA) lift the $150,000 per loan cap. Small businesses need to be able to borrow the amount they need to weather the pandemic’s disastrous impacts.
    - Allow EIDL borrowers to get a second EIDL if needed due to the long duration of the pandemic or due to the previously imposed small loan size caps. Congress should clarify that the SBA should not deduct EIDL advance grants from the PPP forgiveness calculations. EIDL and PPP are separate programs.
    - Reinstitute the SBA debt relief provisions related to 7a, 504 and micro loans. This useful set of relief tools expired on September 27, 2020. Congress should again authorize these relief provisions and extend them through June of 2021.
    - As called for in the RELIEF for Main Street Act, sponsored by Senators Murray, Booker and Daines, invest in Community Development Financial Institutions as well as state and local economic development loan funds. Investing in the alternative access to capital delivery system will help ensure dollars will get to minority and women-owned firms and smaller enterprises.
    - Create a streamlined process for PPP forgiveness. Currently, the SBA is using a streamlined process for PPP loans under $50,000. Congress should extend the streamlined process requirement to loans under $150,000. The volume of PPP transactions that needs to go through the forgiveness process is vastly larger than what SBA is staffed to handle. In Washington State alone there were over 107,000
    PPP loans approved for over $12.3 billion. Each one of these must go through the forgiveness review process. Nationally over 85% of the PPP transactions are under $150,000 but represent only 30 percent of the funding. It is just more practical to forgive the smaller loans using a streamlined method and focus the agency review resources on the larger dollar transactions. 
    - Extend the state and local government spending deadlines for CARES Act funding through 2021 and clarify that repayments from loans made with CARES Act funds can be retained for further small business support and recovery purposes.

    Thank you for your consideration of our request. We recognize the complexity of these issues and appreciate your consideration of our suggestions.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Members of the Washington State Small Business Recovery Working Group

  • Assist Your Employees in Returning to Work More Quickly

    by Emily Sixta, Thurston County Chamber of Commerce
    | Nov 10, 2020
    L&I’s Stay at Work Program Benefits Businesses by Assisting in Safely Returning Employees to Work After Injury

    The importance of worker safety cannot be understated. At a time when businesses are doing everything possible to maintain operations and remain as lean as possible, reducing on-the-job injuries and employee absences is of upmost importance. When an employee sustains serious injuries, it can lead to multiple months of missed work resulting in interruptions to business operations, loss of productivity and additional costs to train a new or interim employee. This is not only detrimental to your business but also has a substantial impact on the employee’s income and can negatively affect their feelings of self-worth and further hinder their recovery. To mitigate these issues, L&I offers a Stay at Work program geared toward returning previously injured employees back to work in a safe manner.

    When done properly, bringing an employee back to work quickly, and safely, can reduce costs to your business and reduce the likelihood of the employee being on permanent assistance. With L&I’s Stay at Work Program, eligible employers can receive reimbursement costs associated with bringing an injured employee safely back to work, including pay and alterations to the workplace or equipment. Employers benefit by retaining skilled employees and employees benefit by getting back to work more quickly and in a safe manner.

    What Is Your Company Required to Do?

    With the Stay at Work program, employers provide light-duty or interim positions, complying with any medical advice, that allow employees to return to work as they heal from their injuries. This may include providing the employee with a reduced schedule, adjusting their job duties to those with less physical demands while the employee heals and then phasing in more strenuous work as allowed or adjusting the worksite and/or equipment to meet the limitations of the employee. Employers may work with the injured party’s practitioner to develop an approved plan that is mutually beneficial to the business and employee.

    Who is Eligible?

    To be eligible for the Stay at Work program, employers must be paying workers’ compensation premiums to L&I, meaning that it is not available for self-insured employers. Also, L&I states that at the time of the injury or occupational disease on the claim, the employer must be either “an employer whose experience rating is affected by the allowed claim because you once employed the worker,” or, “the worker’s last employer when the allowed claim was filed, even if the claim will not affect your experience rating.”

    What Can Be Reimbursed?
    Employers can be reimbursed for 50% of the worker’s base wages equaling up to $10,000, or wages for 66 days worked within a consecutive 24-month period in the light duty job, whichever comes first. Base wages may include the hourly or base rate and overtime but cannot include tips, bonuses, commission, board, housing or fuel. In addition, employee benefits such as healthcare, vacation, sick leave or holiday pay cannot be covered within the reimbursement.

    L&I can also reimburse employers for part of the cost in training, tools and clothing necessary for performing duties approved within the back-to-work plan. This allows employers to adequately prepare a workspace that is medically approved for the injured employee. All expensed items must be purchased in order to assist the worker in performing the light duty work; meaning employers cannot be reimbursed for any equipment, tools, training, or clothing that would be regularly provided to employees.

    Through the Stay at Work program, employers collaborate with the injured employee and their practitioner to determine what is best for all parties involved. When employers, employees and practitioners come together to find mutually beneficial ways for previously injured employees to return to work quickly, everyone benefits. To learn more about the Stay at Work program, eligibility and how your company can benefit, visit

    This article was originally written by the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Department of Labor & Industries for employer outreach and education.