The GSBA Blog

  • GSBA members share how COVID-19 has impacted their business with Rep. Rick Larsen

    by Ilona Lohrey (She/her), GSBA VP of Membership & Programs
    | Nov 02, 2020

    On a very frosty October morning, I set out on a small business tour in Snohomish County with Congressman Rick Larsen (WA-02) who wanted to connect and hear from GSBA members about the impact COVID-19 has had on their operations.

    Gladys Gillis and Julie KeimFirst stop at 9:00 AM was with Gladys Gillis, owner of Starline Luxury Coaches and Julie Keim, owner of Compass Courses Maritime Training at their home in Mukilteo. Congressman Rick Larsen was accompanied by his assistant Lindsey Webb. All social distancing and safety protocols were rigorously followed.

    We met on the patio of Gladys and Julie's home with a beautiful view of Puget Sound in a chilly 48 degrees. Gladys shared that her business is down 80% of its original revenues and that she had to close four out of seven locations. Bus ridership came to an abrupt halt due to COVID-19. Ridership has still not returned, even though physical barriers were installed from shoulder height to the ceiling, air on buses are cycled every two minutes, and 20% new air is introduced every air cycle. In her continuing quest to bring back ridership and keep people safe, her business uses Xmicrobe chemicals every 30 days as a long-term COVID-19 killing coating, and a disinfectant called FreshStart between every group of riders. Both chemicals are also sprayed on the air filters on each bus.

    The bus industry is the second largest transportation industry following air travel. However, the industry doesn't have standardized cleaning protocols across the board in each State. The United Motorcoach Association is desperately looking to get the CERTS Act approved to ensure survival of the industry. Currently, 80% of the motorcoach workforce has been laid-off across the country. Starline had to drastically cut employees and is now operating with only 12 staff members. Starline has 110 busses in operation, of which some still have payments due. The OCC and banks need to continue working with the motorcoach industry through at least the end of 2021 and extend and preserve credit lines and loans. Gladys doesn't see a recovery for Starline until at least 2022. 2021 will be the true test of survival. "There is no miracle or magic event that happens on January 1, 2021, and everything is great again. It's a long way to recovery," said Gladys.

    Julie Keim is the owner of Compass Courses Maritime Training, one of only a handful of maritime training facilities in Washington State. Julie's company is the only woman-owned company in Washington's maritime industry. She has been operating at a loss for the past six months. Her business is mainly hands-on classroom and in-person training only. This curriculum doesn't translate well to virtual classes. She doesn't see an uptick in business any time soon.

    Our next stop was at All Care Pet Hospital with owners John Wong and Greg CombsJohn Wong 1 in Mukilteo. John explained that business has been down 15% while at the same time, they had to increase staff to accommodate the new COVID-19 safety protocols. Pet owners could no longer bring their pets into the clinic. A technician has to answer the phone when the client arrives, then walk out to the car and do the pet intake outside. Conversations between pet owners, doctor, and technicians are all done by phone, which adds time to the process. John and Greg are currently dealing with an employee who has COVID-19 symptoms, and even though they got tested right away, their test result is still not available after five days of waiting. This puts a burden on the clinic and their entire team. Future Boeing layoffs will continue to adversely affect their clinic and surrounding small businesses in Mukilteo. They are hoping for an effective vaccine to come on the market soon.

    Our third and last stop was with David Brown, owner of Elements Massage in Lynnwood

    His business had to shut down on March 16 when the statewide retail regulations were put in place, and it was the right thing to do to slow the spread. He luckily encouraged his 29 employees to immediately apply for unemployment, since no one knew the extent and duration of the closure. After the initial chaos, the state changed massage businesses to be regulated under the health provider guidelines, which allowed Elements Massage to re-open in Phase 2.

    David has seen a 50% drop in future bookings. In the last five months, his business has provided almost 5,000 massage services without any incidents of infection. Elements Massage has always followed disinfection and clean environment guidelines since it first opened its doors. Although David received a PPP loan, he is afraid to touch the funds because he's unsure of what the forgiveness rules truly will look like. David says that the PPP loan should be what Congress originally passed. He feels lucky that Elements Massage has already been a well-capitalized business, having opened seven years ago.

    Congressman Rick Larsen listened and empathized with all of the business owners. He told GSBA members that he'll take a closer look at the CERTS Act and push for more capital for small businesses, as well as continued deferment of bank loans through 2021. 

    GSBA thanks Rep. Larsen and Lindsey Webb for taking the time during such difficult circumstances to meet with GSBA members, hear their stories first-hand, and for continuing to advocate for small businesses in D.C.

  • GSBA Letter to the Seattle LGBTQ Commission

    by Louise Chernin, President & CEO and Stephanie Dallas, Board Chair
    | Oct 30, 2020
    This letter was sent to the Seattle LGBTQ Commission, the office of Mayor Jenny Durkan, and the Seattle City Council on October 30, 2020.

    To the members of the Seattle LGBTQ Commission -

    For a commission charged with advising the Mayor, City Council, and city agencies on issues that affect the LGBTQ community, including acting as a bridge between the LGBTQ community and the City, the Seattle LGBTQ Commission failed its due diligence in voting to ask for Mayor Durkan’s resignation. The Commission appears not to have not done much, if any, outreach to the wider LGBTQ community, including GSBA, for input on such a serious decision. Certainly, before a community Commission takes such a controversial and potentially divisive vote, one would have expected that this was a decision reached with wide community input - including community organizations - plus a consensus of the entire Commission and not simply by a plurality of six votes out of the current fifteen sitting Commissioners. So, although GSBA is a nonpartisan organization that does not endorse candidates, we feel compelled to speak out against the lack of a fully inclusive and transparent process that occurred when you voted to ask the Mayor to resign.

    Seattle, as the rest of the country, is in the midst of the greatest health care crisis of our time, a perilous economic downturn, a divisive election season, and a national reckoning about systemic racism. Any one of these issues requires that all agenciestake their responsibility to listen to their constituencies and look for ways to bring communities together to address such critical issues. Instead, our LGBTQ Commission made the decision to move forward with a decision that may not be representative of the majority of our community at best, and could be damaging and incredibly divisive at a time when we all are in need of thoughtful leadership.

    Public opinion is divided on the Mayor’s performance, including within the LGBTQ community. Whether you believe Mayor Durkan did right or wrong, you will find members of the community who praise her and others who criticize her handling of critical city issues, including those outlined by the Commission, i.e. the budget, police and City response to demonstrations, and homelessness.

    Everyone has the civic right to challenge our Mayor’s handling of any issue. However, Mayor Durkan is our duly elected Mayor in the last year of her term. The Washington Supreme Court already decided that the recall effort against Mayor Durkan had no merit. Here, the election is the process to decide whether to replace an elected official.

    In Seattle, we are fortunate to have an LGBTQ commission alongside the other commissions that provide a voice for our most marginalized communities. GSBA believes commissions are important, which is why we took a leadership role in creating Washington State’s first LGBTQ Commission. However, with a commission comes serious responsibility to do due diligence in thoughtfully representing the concerns of one’s community. GSBA does not believe that the Seattle LGBTQ Commission did so, when it took this vote to ask for Mayor Durkan’s resignation. It may be too late to change that vote, but it is never too late to start a more thoughtful process.
    For equality,

    Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO
    Stephanie Dallas, GSBA Board Chair
  • Get to know Oma Bap, Ready for Business Fund grant recipient

    by GSBA Staff
    | Oct 21, 2020

    First established in Bellevue in 2011, Oma Bap relocated its flagship location to the Central District in 2014, and opened its Capitol Hill location in the fall of 2019 at 11th Ave. and E. Olive St., across from Cal Anderson Park. The fast-casual restaurant shares traditional and contemporary Korean cuisine by specializing in customizable bibimbap dishes where guests select a base or rice, noodles, or salad; add proteins like pork belly or short ribs; and then choose toppings like kimchi, fried egg, sauces, pickled radishes, and more.

    Oma Bap is one of the 65 small businesses selected to receive the first-ever Ready for Business Fund grants, a program founded by GSBA and Comcast Washington to support LGBTQ, BIPOC, and women-owned Seattle-area small businesses most impacted by the COVID-19 economic crisis.

    GSBA caught up with Oma Bap Owner Peter Pak to talk about Oma Bap's origins, owning a business located near the center of demonstrations, and what he loves about Capitol Hill.

    A3295C55-8B54-4133-B255-3DAFC9C05DC4GSBA: What makes Oma Bap's bibimbap so delicious? What inspired you to bring bibimbap and Korean cuisine to people in a fast-casual setting?

    Peter: About 10 years ago, I was inspired by the combination of the "Chipotle movement" that really revolutionized the fast-casual industry with offering freshly made customizable burritos, and acknowledging that the American palate was really starting to expand to other ethnic foods, especially within Asian cuisine. With both trends in mind, I wanted to create a "Chipotle" of Korean food that would be inviting to everyone that mainly centered around the traditional Korean dish bibimbap. What makes our dish so delicious is that you have a variety of combinations that you can choose from. We offer a variety of freshly prepared toppings and sauces as well as cauliflower rice for those looking for a healthier option.

    GSBA: How has Oma Bap pivoted to meet challenges brought about by the pandemic?

    Peter: When the pandemic hit, it was a shock to us all and we did not know what to expect. We were fortunate that our model was already set up to primarily offer takeout, so we did not have to make too many adjustments besides mandating all workers and customers to wear masks, routine temperature checks with our employees, and social distancing practices.

    GSBA: It's been a tumultuous year on Capitol Hill. Despite all the challenges as aA64A0105_Original small business owner, what are some of the things you like about being a part of the neighborhood?

    Peter: I have lived and worked in this neighborhood for about seven years now and love that there is such a strong community of support here. Despite these challenging times, both local and state government have offered no help at all, but it is nice that organizations such as GSBA and others in the area have offered their support.

    GSBA: How will being a Ready for Business grant recipient help your business?

    Peter: This grant will be a huge help to get our business back on track. Unfortunately six of our windows have been broken over the past couple of months and we have had to board our windows up again. As a result, our business has been negatively impacted because of the unattractiveness of being boarded up, and we look closed. We plan on using some of the money to paint a nice mural on our boards and use the rest to help with operational costs. 

    A64A2181GSBA: What's next for Oma Bap?

    Peter: We have been in business for about 10 years now and love being a part of this city and community. We hope that we can continue to operate our business for many more years to come and do our best to contribute back to our community.

    Oma Bap is open Monday - Saturday from 11:30 AM - 8:00 PM. Customers can place an order on site or order pick-up or delivery from Grubhub, UberEats, DoorDash, and Postmates.

  • Sixty-five LGBTQ-, BIPOC-, and women-owned small businesses receive first Ready for Business Fund grants

    by GSBA Staff
    | Oct 12, 2020

    Sixty-five BIPOC-, LGBTQ-, and women-owned small businesses across the Seattle Metropolitan Area have been selected out of a pool of over 500 applicants to be the first recipients of Ready for Business Fund grants. Co-founded by GSBA and Comcast Washington this August to address mounting financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ready for Business Fund has provided recipients with $2,500 grants in addition to marketing and administrative wrap-around services, courtesy Comcast’s Effectv program. The grant application closed on Sept. 4, and the recipients were selected by a committee consisting of business, government, and community leaders throughout the area. 

    The recipients include:

    - Alchemists & Architects, LLC
    - Amano Seattle
    - BeUnique Agency
    - Boujee Food & Things
    - Cafe Pettirosso
    - Cake House, LLC
    - Century Ballroom, LLC
    - Chloe Collyer Photo
    - Choice Produce
    - Communion Restaurant & Bar
    - Dirty Dog Hot Dogs
    - Downtown House Cleaning 
    - El Mercado Latino
    - Elliana Pauline Lewis
    - Emazing Photography
    - Emerson Salon
    - Epiphanies of Equity, LLC
    - Ethio Mini Market
    - Fit Bar Superfood Cafe
    - Fruitsuper
    - Fuji Sushi Seattle
    - Get It Done Hair Salon & Spa
    - Hahu Abissina Restaurant, LLC
    - Hot Chicks Dog Walking Co.
    - Idman Childcare
    - Jackson General Store/Rimna’s Market
    - Juice Emporium
    - Khongkaew, Inc.
    - Koplin Del Rio Gallery
    - Los Agaves
    - Meekong Bar
    - Mi La Cay Restaurant
    - Mountainfoxgoods
    - Namasgay, Inc.
    - Nile’s Edge Healing Arts
    - Northwest Polite Society
    - Nue
    - Oma Bap
    - Perfect Pronouns
    - Perri Rhoden
    - The London Plane
    - Queer Bar
    - Ramseur
    - Reggie’s Computer Repair
    - Resistencia Coffee
    - Retail Therapy
    - Seeking Kombucha
    - Simone Shaw Style Studio
    - Sleaq S and S
    - Smith Law, LLC
    - Stock & Pantry
    - SUSU Dessert Bar
    - Tai Tung, Inc.
    - Taurus Ox
    - Temple Pastries
    - Thai Star
    - The Art Sob
    - The Wildrose
    - Trap Vinyasa
    - Two Doors Down
    - Virago Gallery
    - We Free Hearts
    - Yolo West Coast

    Over $200,000 was raised within one month for the first round of recipients, with Comcast Washington seeding the Fund with a $50,000 gift in early August, which was followed by an additional $50,000 investment from Comcast in September. T-Mobile contributed $25,000, while AT&T, BECU, Grace Church Seattle, Harborstone Credit Union, Microsoft, Puget Sound Energy, Sanctuary Church Seattle, Seattle Storm, US Bank, Verity Credit Union, and several more generous community members also donated to the Fund.

    With well over 100 Seattle businesses permanently shuttering their doors since the pandemic began earlier this spring, the Ready for Business Fund seeks to help small businesses owned by marginalized community members survive the economic downturn. Fund applicants reported devastating impact, including up to 85 percent loss of annual revenue, being forced to lay off their entire staff, and significant loss of business due to proximity to demonstrations in Seattle. Businesses surveyed about the grants said the funding will be used on necessities such as paying for rent, bills, payroll, and groceries.

    A second round of funding and grant distribution will soon be announced. The 435 applicants who weren’t selected during the first round of funding will remain in the pool to be considered as new grants are issued.

  • Operation Vote Safe

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Oct 05, 2020
    As November draws closers, Washington businesses are coming together to help local and state election officials deliver a safe and secure election this fall. GSBA has partnered with Business For America on the nonpartisan Operation Vote Safe to help support efforts in the Evergreen State.

    Business for America is mobilizing a national network of civic-minded businesses to assist election administrators in their communities and across the country. Businesses will be invited to support elections by providing:

    • Employee volunteers. Poll workers and ballot counting operations.
    • Equipment and supplies. Safety supplies like PPE and hand sanitizer, equipment like envelope stuffers and dropboxes, and office supplies like pens and sorting bins.
    • Facilities and logistics. Polling places in empty offices or warehouses, fleet vehicles for ballot pickup, ballot dropboxes on company property.
    • Tech. Pro bono election technology and cybersecurity assistance.
    • Communications. Voter guides, social media content, public service announcements.
    In Washington, REI and Outdoor Research are providing PPE and raincoats for poll workers.

    While our state has been vote-by-mail for years, and we know that the systems are in place to handle the volume of ballots safely and securely, there are still some areas where elections officials could use some specific assistance. Secretary of State Kim Wyman recommends sharing messages from the national #TrustedInfo2020 education effort to combat misinformation. King County Director of Elections Julie Wise asks that business do all they can to encourage their patron to vote. King County even has an ambitious goal in 2020 of reaching 90% turnout!

    To get more involved and pointed to the areas that need it most, contact Richard EildlinYou can find also your local county elections department here.
  • Thank you, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    by Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO
    | Sep 28, 2020

    Thank you. To the very honorable Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I thank you for literally giving your last breath to your life’s commitment to achieve equality under the law. Thank you for making it possible for our daughters and all our children, to have access to equal opportunity. Thank you for understanding that this document, our US Constitution, that is supposed to be the underpinning of our Republic, was founded on the premise that equality was only guaranteed for some. Thank you for taking on the daunting task of chipping away at its inherent injustices, to remove barriers for those who were left out.

    Thank you for giving us years of hope, that if we all kept eyes on one prize, the pursuit of justice for all, we will actually be able to change a union created to benefit a few, to one truly meant to be a  perfect union for all. To you, during our Days of Awe, right before Yom Kippur, from one Jewish feminist sister from Brooklyn to another, I hope you can now rest in peace.

    Your mighty battles against injustice are now ours to wage. In your honor, to your memory, the greatest tribute we can give, is for us all to pledge to continue to work for that world in which we can all feel safe, respected for who we are and able to receive equal justice under the law.

    In sadness and profound gratitude,

    Louise Chernin (She/her)
    GSBA President & CEO
  • GSBA Hosts Statewide Advocacy Meeting

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Sep 21, 2020
    On Friday, September 18 GSBA hosted a virtual convening of LGBTQ advocates from around Washington State to meet with our LGBTQ legislative caucus and talk about what the 2021 legislative session could look like.

    This year, the annual conversation was facilitated by Monisha Harrell of Equal Rights Washington and Erick Seelbach of Pierce County AIDS Foundation, and included nearly 75 community leaders from across the state, representing Clark, Franklin, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, Walla Walla, Whatcom, and Yakima counties. Senators Marko Liias, Jamie Pedersen (Seattle), Emily Randall (Gig Harbor), and Claire Wilson (Federal Way) and Representatives Nicole Macri (Seattle) and Skyler Rude (Walla Walla) joined the community groups to share their expectations for the upcoming session.

    It should come as no surprise that everyone expects the 2021 session to be unlike any other. It is unlikely that people will be able to gather in person for testimony and lobbying their legislators, but there are not clear directions yet on how the public will be invited to weigh in on issues. The budget will be first and foremost on everyone's minds, including tough discussions on how to balance immediate needs with new revenue and/or budget cuts. At the same time, the LGBTQ caucus agreed that questions of equity are at the top of the list when it comes to responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis. 

    Going into the meeting, the community had identified a number of issues that were of the highest priority, including: prioritizing black trans women and two spirit folks, increasing access to healthcare (and specifically for trans people), care for LGBTQ seniors and youth, police reform, housing advocacy, LGBTQ-inclusive COVID recovery efforts, defending against budget cuts to social services, and LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum development.

    Washington State is lucky to have a vibrant statewide network of LGBTQ organizations, activists, and leaders with expertise across many issue areas. Undoubtedly the LGBTQ community will have its work cut out for it in 2021. GSBA is currently working on finalizing a legislative agenda for next year, to be released prior to the end of the year. We look forward to sharing the voices of our partners around the state in coming months to elaborate on some of these issues.
  • After 19 Amazing Years, GSBA President & CEO Louise Chernin is Retiring

    by GSBA President & CEO Louise Chernin, GSBA Board Chair Stephanie Dallas
    | Sep 18, 2020

    GSBA Members & Community,

    A decision may be both right and difficult at the same time, which is true of my decision to retire as President & CEO of GSBA, a position I have held for nearly 19 years. It is not an overstatement to say that serving in a leadership role in GSBA has been one of the most impactful, fulfilling, and life-changing experiences of my life. 

    louise video title

    Given the strength and visionary leadership in GSBA, with its outstanding Board, currently under the expert leadership of Stephanie Dallas; an extraordinary and talented staff, that works tirelessly on behalf of our small business members and students and a membership committed to doing good through business, I step down, confident that GSBA is in good hands. As for me, I am not going anywhere. This is my community, which I love. My role is changing but not my commitment to social justice.

    The Board of Directors has appointed a search committee of GSBA Board and community members, which will be led by Board Treasurer Carolyn Hojaboom. The committee will oversee a national search to ensure an inclusive and successful recruiting process for the next President & CEO. We have retained Campbell & Company, a national consulting firm for nonprofits, to lead the search process. 

    Click here to read the job description and learn more about the role.

    This is an incredible professional opportunity, please spread the word to a wide range of diverse, prospective candidates and encourage them to apply. You may send nominations and applications to

    We value your input and want to hear from you!

    GSBA is in place to welcome new leadership during this time of great challenge and huge opportunity to address the economic disparities within our state and nation. GSBA is stable, sound, and well positioned to continue the important work that still needs to be done. Please stay tuned for an invitation early next year to introduce our new President & CEO to the community. 

    For the future,

    Louise Chernin (She/her)
    GSBA President & CEO

    A Message from Stephanie Dallas, GSBA Board Chair:

    Stephanie DallasWe are beyond fortunate to have had Louise Chernin as our President & CEO for these last 19 years, leading us with her passion, experience, dedication, vision, and clarity to bring GSBA to a place of strength, depth, and breadth as an organization. Louise is responsible for an enormous share of that which constitutes the very heart and soul of GSBA, built with her unwavering commitment to our mission and to our community.

    Happily, we continue that good fortune with Louise as we look forward to her sustained involvement with organizations fighting for social justice and economic equity, which includes her continued commitment to GSBA. She has never been afraid to speak out for equity and inclusion, and in fact, she typically leads the charge. Knowing Louise, I trust that will not change and she will continue to inspire and lead all of us in the coming years.

    I am pleased to share that the GSBA Board put in place a succession plan many years ago, and we have already implemented key elements of the plan, including formation of a CEO Search Committee and the hiring of a search firm, Campbell & Co.

    The Search Committee is comprised of Board and community members who represent GSBA’s varied stakeholders. I am excited and grateful for their eagerness to put in the considerable time, thought and dedication it takes to lead the Board’s search for GSBA’s new leader. The Search Committee Members include (* denotes current Board member):

           - Carolyn Hojaboom*, Hojaboom Consulting, Search Committee Chair
           - Carrie Carson*, Point B, GSBA Scholarship Fund Chair
           - Brandon Chun*, Lavender Rights Project
           - Stephanie Dallas*, GSBA Board Chair
           - Jennifer Divine, Miller Nash Graham & Dunn, former GSBA Board member
           - Susan Fuller*, Law Office of Susan K. Fuller, PLLC
           - Isyss Honnen, TRANSform Washington, GSBA Scholarship Fund Alum
           - Dustin O’Quinn*, Lane Powell, Liaison from the GSBA DEI Task Force
           - Tristen Pamphlet-Gardner, King County, Former GSBA Staffmember
           - Jay Peterson*, Blue Wave Political Partners
           - Mona Smith, Mona Smith, PLLC, Former GSBA Board Chair
           - Steven Wakefield, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (ret.)

    Additionally, we are including input from our 16 GSBA staff members to make sure their important voices and perspectives are included. A BIG thank you goes to each of them and to the Search Committee members.

    I am also proud to announce that GSBA Deputy Director, Mark Rosén, will step in as Acting President & CEO if we do not have someone in the position before Louise completes her time at the helm. Everyone knows Mark as a thoughtful and passionate leader for GSBA, and we are thrilled that he is willing to serve in this way. This will provide a smooth transition period, should we need him in the role, most likely no longer than a few months.

    In the meantime, we will continue our work to lift small business, our scholars, and the LGBTQ community, giving voice to social and economic equity. We look forward to our next chapter with new voices and new faces in our future as GSBA strides forth into the next decade!


    Stephanie Dallas (She/her)
    Board Chair, GSBA Board of Directors

  • Meet the Ready for Business Fund Selection Committee

    by GSBA Staff
    | Sep 15, 2020

    When we announced the Ready for Business Fund in partnership with Comcast Washington, we knew we were going to need a skilled group to read through and evaluate the applications received from LGBTQ-, BIPOC-, and women-owned businesses in need. With over 500 applications received, these thirteen business, city, and community leaders have risen to the task and will be working to select over 60 recipients for the first-ever Ready for Business Fund grants.

    Applications not selected will remain in the pool and will be considered for the next round of funding taking place later this fall.

    julioJulio Cortes (he/him)
    City of Everett | Senior Communications Officer
    "I'm the Senior Communications Officer at the City of Everett and also manage our City marketing efforts. The pandemic has had a devastating effect on our economies and businesses of all kinds are feeling the impact. Now more than ever we must come together and show empathy and support to our business community. I look forward to playing a role in the economic recovery efforts led by this team."

    gunnerGunner Scott (he/him)
    Making Waves Coaching & Consulting
    Gunner Scott is a Gen X Queer/Bi FTM trans activist who lives in West Seattle with his two cranky cats, leprechaun husband, and a Maltese rescue dog who thinks she's the Queen. By day he works in local government and by night, he is building the capacity of individual clients and organizations to cultivate a climate in which meaningful change thrives. He is excited to bring his thirty years of experience in the non-profit sector including grant-making and executive level non-profit management, to support small businesses impacted by this global pandemic through GSBA.

    crystalCrystal Gamon (she/her)
    Senior Property Manager – Urban Renaissance Group
    Born and raised in Seattle, Crystal has an emotional connection to the community and deep desire to help it thrive. Crystal can often be found volunteering her time with several local organizations and lending her voice to advocate for those in need. Crystal and her wife currently reside in Mill Creek with their three daughters.

    betoBeto Yarce (he/him)
    Ventures | Executive Director

    Beto is responsible for maintaining community engagement, promoting Ventures’ mission, marketing and securing new funding sources to support program growth, set organizational culture; lead all staff to accomplish the organization’s mission, adhere to core values, and maintain positive work environment. Beto is also a member of the GSBA Board of Directors.

    rozRoz Edison (she/her)
    Marination/Super Six | Owner

    Roz is the co-owner of Marination and Super Six. When she is not serving as the "Director of Many Things" for her company, she enjoys travel, spicy food, and a nice, long Law and Order marathon.

    tristenTristen Pamphlet Gardner (he/him)

    King County | Policy Liaison

    Tristen Pamphlet Gardner is an environmental scientist and a community organizer, and is a Policy Liaison at Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County, where he works on increasing collaboration between community and government groups and improving local policy. He is passionate about helping organizations and people collaborate to improve the outcomes for the target population and help community members amplify their voices to be heard and understood more effectively.

    karindaKarinda Harris (she/her)
    GSBA – Capitol Hill Business Alliance | Business Development Manager

    "My personal and professional lives are grounded in community involvement, so I am proud to join GSBA in this effort to uplift Black, Indigenous, POC, and LGBTQ owned businesses most impacted by COVID-19."

    lizLiz Dunn (she/her)

    Dunn & Hobbes, LLC | Owner

    Liz is the owner of Dunn & Hobbes LLC, a local real estate development and property management company. Liz is passionate about supporting other entrepreneurs; more than half of her retail and restaurant tenants are women-owned, BIPOC-owned, or both, and she is an active angel investor in tech, alternative energy, cannabis and consumer-facing companies.

    deaunteDeaunte Damper (he/him, they/them)
    NAACP King County LGBTQ Chair

    "With so many things impacting our community I’m honored to be joining GSBA and Comcast stepping forward to provide the Community with this resource."

    randyRandy Card (he/him)

    "Some of you may know me from my banking days. I've been very involved with GSBA thru various activities and events. Currently, I'm a recent undergrad in becoming a hearing instrument specialist in the audiology medical field. I enjoy the great outdoors, spending time with my family and friends, and being active in our LGBTQ community. I'm excited to participate in the "Ready for Business" selection committee because I love supporting our local small businesses, and I want to help. Now, as a community, there is no better time than to help our small businesses that struggling in today's climate." "Unity is strength...when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved." - Mattie J.T Stepanek

    dominiqueDominique Stephens (she/her)
    City of Seattle

    "Native of Seattle, ensuring all I do is for the growth and honor of BIPOC LGBTQ communities."

    taraTara Jensen (She/Her)
    Quantum3 Group, LLC | Data Operations Manager

    "I have been wanting to get more involved in the LGBTQ community and luckily I have a great contact in Ilona Lohrey (GSBA VP of Membership & Programs) to get me started. I work in Kirkland at Quantum3 Group, LLC, and play softball with Rain(bow) City Softball. I am involved in the LGBTQ community in a limited way and given our current climate, I would love to do more!"

    SheriaSheria Tookas (She/her)
    Wells Fargo Bank

  • Incubator: Summer 2020 Cohort

    by Levi Coffin, Business Training Specialist & Grant Manager
    | Sep 14, 2020


    Manuel Torres (he/him, they/them) 
    Manifest Your Will (Instagram)
    Manuel Torres is a local artist who grew up in Yakima, WA and a child of immigrants. They graduated from Western Washington University with a B.A. in Visual Journalism with studies in French and Spanish. Manuel is the first person in their family to graduate from university, and obtain a professional degree.

    Manuel selects each crystal with purpose in mind + hand wraps every pendant. One-of-a-kind crystal companions wrapped in reclaimed copper – electrical wiring remnants given new life. This metal is said to amplify the energy of the crystal. A classic leather cord with a sliding knot suspends the pendant.

    Sam I'Am
    Perfect Pronouns (Website/Instagram)
    Sam I'Am is a nonbinary performance artist paving the way for pronoun visibility for all through their small business Perfect Pronouns, selling enamel pronoun pins out of the tiny home they built themself.


    Positively Positive (they/them) 
    Positively Positive Education Productions LLC (Website/Instagram)
    Positively Positive facilitated programs and activities for children and youth as a summer camp counselor for over 15 years in different leadership capacities. They completed in-service sessions on diversity and creative writing, develop curriculum, tutored low-income and atrisk youth, and participated in teaching classrooms for Youth Speaks Seattle as a Youth Spokes Advisory Member and a mentor. They allocated support for children impacted by HIV/AIDS, facilitated creative art activities, and delegated excellent problem solving skills as a camp counselor for Rise ‘N Shine Seattle, WA. They earned a bachelors in sociology and a graduate certificate in environmental education from Islandwood.

    The founder of Positively Positive Education Productions, LLC is {multiply marginalized} black, queer, transgender, HIV+ since birth, Asexual, Aromantic and a survivor of childhood violence. Positively Positive is {asexual} “Ace” typically they do not experience sexual feelings, desires nor are sexually attracted to anyone. Positively Positive is {aromantic} “Aro” because typically they have no interests or desires for romantic relationships. 

    Positively Positive is {one of the only artists in the entire world} that has spoken word poetry, hip-hop music, and workshops about {living with HIV since birth} and about a person who is aromantic, asexual, black, transgender and queer. {Asexuals} and {Aromantics} are a demographic {part of the LGBTQ community} missing from the overall conversation so Positively Positive bridges that gap.


    Emily Alexandra (she/her)
    RE:BIND / REBIND (Website)
    Emily Rose is a trans woman entrepreneur that has innovated in the media space, tackling organic growth head on and employing strategies outside the confines of the typical ad-supported / metric dominated market. She has a background in video / audio content  production, streaming, and writing. RE:BIND is a Video Games Critique & Media outlet, small publishing house


  • Incubator: Spring 2020 Cohort

    by Levi Coffin, Business Training Specialist & Grant Manager
    | Sep 14, 2020
    Andrew "Ace" Houston (he/him)
    House Cosmopolitan (Website/Instagram/Twitter)
    Andrew Grant Houston, known by his friends as Ace, is an architect and urban designer who is passionate about changing the way people live in cities and is focused on creating places where individuals thrive together and culture is celebrated. A mixed-race and queer individual, his appreciation of culture also expands to his interests: he loves eating all types of cuisine, enjoys foreign music and films, and speaks four languages. You can usually find him around Seattle listening to new music, coming up with a new design idea, or trying a new restaurant. Ace is a resident of Seattle, however as a 5th generation Texan also spends time in his adopted hometown of Austin.

    House Cosmopolitan is an architecture and design house that is committed to unique and engaging projects that improve city life. Through the creation and reinterpretation of spaces and experiences, the practice aims to provide places where people feel like they belong and see themselves represented. 

    Gerard Miller (they/them)
    Altared Roots (Instagram)
    Gerard has 15+ years experience as a community organizer, 10 years experience in crafting hair & body products, and 10+ years experience as a nonprofit service provider. They are a skilled thespian with experience on the stage, in playwriting, and with technical theatre. A multifaceted performer, Gerard is also known for telling great stories and sharing information in a relatable and accessible way. Gerard has a heart for the people and hopes to live a life of service to their communities. They are a musician, dancer, poet, storyteller and educator. 

    The owner and operator of Altared Roots, Gerard seeks to help others take care of themselves body and mind through their line of holistic body care products , birthwork, and education offerings. A passion for healing and a deep respect for nature and tradition guide the work of Altared Roots. 
    Altared Roots seeks to help others take care of themselves body and mind through its line of holistic herbal remedies & body care products, movement workshops, birthwork, and community education offerings to build up the individual and the culture. Started in 2012 as Wazojan Enterprises, we aim to bridge gaps in knowledge and in services, especially for historically under-represented groups. 

    As much as possible, we use organic and fair-trade supplies from local vendors in an effort to reduce our energy footprint and support the move toward resource independence for marginalized communities. At Altared Roots, we pride ourselves on providing the best possible services, as well as products with the highest-quality ingredients. What goes on your body goes in your body, and can impact your physical health and your mental/emotional well-being. 

  • Incubator: Winter 2020 Cohort

    by Levi Coffin, Business Training Specialist & Grant Manager
    | Sep 14, 2020

    Yes Segura (he/him, they/them)
    Smash The Box (Website/Instagram/Twitter)
    Yes Segura is a first-generation El Salvadoran American, who was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. After receiving his MS in Planning from Florida State University, Yes moved from Tallahassee to Seattle in 2016 to live in a place that provides transgender people with a high quality of life. His passion for topics that intersect transportation, equity / LGBTQIA+ rights, and urban design brought him into underserved communities, conducting grassroots advocacy work with queer individuals and People of Color through his consulting business Smash the Box. Yes has provided valuable work with organizations such as Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, Transportation Choices Coalition, AIA Seattle, the LGBTQ Planning Division of the American Planning Association, University of Washington Law School, Cleveland State University, and he has presented at the United Nations Seattle Sustainable Development Goals event. 

    Yes is currently Director of Communications for Young Professionals of Transportation International (YPT) and serves as the Chair for  Young Professionals in Transportation Seattle (YPT Seattle). Yes continues to host panels and talks about his work, passions, and bringing together experts in the field of transportation.

    Smash the Box (StBox) was established in 2017 to address the lack of People-of-Color-owned urban planning services both in Seattle and throughout the U.S. This small consulting organization provides multidisciplinary community driven services to educate, equip, and empower underserved communities. Their services include autonomous vehicle research and design solutions, planning, maps, graphic design, and marketing and communications. StBox has three core values: Sustainable, Inclusive, and Innovative. These values also align themselves with 5 out of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Their vision reflects the philosophy of “Start small, think big”, from turning pie-in-the-sky ideas into reality. They are set on establishing transportation design lab(s) that will enable communities to generate and implement ideas that will help to build future smart cities for all.

    KJ Williams
    (blended pronouns) 
    Rise With KJ (Website/Instagram)

    KJ holds a BA in Urban Studies from the University of Washington, and a MPA from Seattle University. KJ has served as member of the City of Seattle LGBT Commission, University of Washington School of Law Diversity Committee, the Board of Directors for the Initiative for Diversity, and the University of Washington School of Law Gates Scholarship Committee.

    KJ is an alum and faculty for JustLead Washington’s Equal Justice Community Leadership Academy. In 2015 KJ received the Community Service Award from the Loren Miller Bar Association, dedicated to addressing disparities in the African American community. KJ has written for Black Women’s Blueprint, For Harriet, NWLawyer and NWSidebar.

    KJ Williams is Owner and Founder of RISE with KJ, LLC (Radical, Insightful, Solutions to Create Equity). Under this umbrella KJ facilitates the work of diversity, equity and inclusion by working with organizations, groups and individuals across industries. The work of RISE is grounded in the belief that working from the inside first develops the infrastructure necessary for change, sustainability, and growth. While working as the Diversity Program Manager for the Washington State Bar Association KJ originated the “Inside – Out” philosophy as the working premise behind the inaugural diversity and inclusion plan. In her role, KJ provides equity and inclusion leadership to WSBA’s 40k+ members and functions as an internal consultant to the WSBA Board of Governors, and as an external consultant, educator, speaker and facilitator to law schools, legal organizations, law firms, student groups and individuals. 
    Gabriel Bello Diaz (he/him) 
    AntiSocial (Instagram)
    GabrielBello Diaz is a community organizer focused on giving access and opportunities to collaborating artists and activists who are aligned with supporting their communities. With a background in public education he lead a 6th-12th grade STEAM engineering classroom developing project from building houses for the homeless to participate in city exhibitions to showcase their innovation within the classroom. He hopes to bring more tech into community access through education and work with various programs as STEAM arts instructor for youth. After a year of running a physical space dedicated to giving artists opportunities to popup exhibition space in downtown Seattle he is moving his work to a publication, AntiSocial, that continues to highlight the voices he’s been supporting and being supported by. With this magazine he aims to showcase a high level of collaboration within the various cultural and artists communities in Seattle.

    AntiSocial is an arts and fashion magazine focused on highlighting the narratives of artists in Seattle through a multidisciplinary visual exploration of the vulnerability behind the scenes of making it happen. With over 125+ collaborators already, each article is written from the artists perspective and each photo is generated through the combination of our featured artists with local photographers, fashion designers, jewelry makers, hairstylists and other artistic visionaries depending on the shoot. The ad space for AntiSocial focuses on supporting the visibility of small businesses and our lens of equity and inclusion centers around highlight voices of black, brown, LGBTQA+, youth and other marginalized or silenced communities who do not have accessibility to this type of publication. AntiSocial is a response the beautiful collaborations that exist in our communities and creating a space where these stories can be appreciated and elevated. We believe the work of these artists deserves a stamp in history beyond the clout of social media, and create professional content for their career. I hopes of launching Spring 2020 we are currently setting foundation for this publication to be sustainable and financially viable for the artists volunteering their time now to get Volume 01 off the ground. 

    Enjoli Izador (she/her, they/them)
    Enjoli Izifor Design (Website/Instagram)
    Enjoli was born and raised in Seattle, moved away for about 10 years for college and to play professional basketball in Europe, and has been back for about 11 years. I really enjoy traveling and gaining perspective by seeing other parts of the world, so I’m extremely grateful for that experience. I moved back to Seattle because of my roots here, and I love my city but don’t love all of the changes I see happening the last several years. I want to do my part to help highlight the voices of those that are being left out of the discussion, so I’m happy that my profession and passions align in a way that can help me do that. 

    I’m a designer with 11 years experience, aiming to partner mainly with non-profits and small businesses that are working to elevate marginalized communities. Specializing in branding & visual identity, I design for good. 
    ChrisTiana ObeySumner (they/them)
    Epiphanies of Equity (Website/Twitter)
    CEO and principal consultant, ChrisTiana ObeySumner has dedicated nearly two decades of their life and career to amplifying the importance of social equity through the lenses of critical race theory and existential social psychology –particularly through frameworks of: Narrative identity development and its role in cultural humility and allyship; Intersectionality and social models of disability justice; Bridging awareness to the lived experience of race, racism, racialized ableism and antiblackness, and; Dismantling neuropsychological and psychosocial paradigms underlying social injustice and inaction. These goals are pursued through social impact and accountability measurement structures, mentoring, public speaking/yelling, and grassroots community advocacy.  
    Epiphanies of Equity LLC is a Diversity, Social Equity, Inclusion and Intersectional Disability Consultancy. We provide full-service consulting ranging from trainings and facilitation, to organizational equity scans and strategic planning. 

  • GSBA Recommends Voters Approve Votes on Transit, Harborview

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Sep 04, 2020
    The Board of Directors of GSBA has voted to endorse two additional ballot measures facing voters this November: Seattle Proposition 1 (Transportation Benefit District) and King County Proposition 1 (Harborview Bond Levy). GSBA previously endorsed the Approve Referendum 90 campaign that will also appear on the ballot.

    Voters in Seattle should vote to approve the measure funding the special Transportation Benefit District. This measure renews the existing funding that GSBA also supported several years ago. The tax in this levy is a 0.15% sales tax (15 cents for every $100) to generate $39 million annually over six years. Losing this funding will disproportionately impact low-income and BIPOC communities and many essential workers who depend on the public transit network. The goals of this levy include safe and efficient transit for all - especially essential workers, preserve a robust transit system, make investments in underserved areas and for those with acute mobility needs, more funding for ORCA Opportunity for students and Low Income Access programs, and ensure continuity of critical transit services despite financial restrictions caused by both Initiative 976 and COVID-19. Investments in West Seattle transit are included due to the current situation with the West Seattle Bridge. 73% of the funding would be spent on transit service, 20% on mobility access, and 7% on capital projects and spot improvements. You can learn more about the Seattle-specific services supported here.
    GSBA recommends that voters approve the bond measure for Harborview Medical Center. This is a capital improvement bond measure, which needs 60% approval with turnout greater than 40%. It would raise $1.74 billion in bond funding over 20 years for health and safety improvements at Harborview, the only Trauma 1 Center serving Washington, Alaska, Idaho, and Montana. The majority of this funding would go toward building a new tower at the medical center, but also include a new behavioral health building, renovations, seismic upgrades, and more beds for the hospital. This property tax is equivalent to 9 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, or $68 per year for a home valued at $600,000. Campaign website | Statement from Dow Constantine
  • Meet Karinda Harris, GSBA Business Development Manager

    | Sep 03, 2020
    karinda 2Karinda (She/her) is excited to join GSBA as a Business Development Manager, focused on the Capitol Hill Business Alliance while Christina Arrington takes a temporary leave to focus on her family. Initially introduced to GSBA during her time in the Mayor’s Office - then connected with GSBA, as a member, during her role as Seattle Community Manager with New Seasons Market - Karinda is looking forward to impacting ongoing efforts to support and strengthen the business and overarching community in Capitol Hill.

    Karinda Harris is a proud lifelong Seattleite, having grown up in the Beacon Hill and Madrona neighborhoods. Led by these words and inspired by her grandparents, "If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living shall not be in vain," Karinda is committed to improving the lives of others and positively impacting community.

    In 2007, she earned her Bachelor of Business Administration in finance from Howard University and earned her Master of Public Administration from Seattle University in 2012. During her graduate studies, she worked as the Betty J. Narver policy fellow for the Washington State Budget & Policy Center, and as a policy intern in the Director’s Office of Seattle Public Utilities. She’s also a graduate of the Institute for a Democratic Future (IDF), a six-month fellowship, focusing on public policy and emerging issues, the legislative and political process, campaigns and elections, and geographic issues around Washington state. Karinda recently worked in community relations and external affairs roles for New Seasons Market and the City of Seattle, Office of the Mayor. She is a connector, and her passion is the intersection of social capital, strategy, and social impact. She eventually sees herself returning to government in a role where she can truly use her voice and skills to make positive and impactful change.

    Karinda is most proud of her community involvement. She is an active member of the Seattle Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., serves on the Board of Trustees for Neighborhood House, a member of the Policy Leadership Group at the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, and volunteers on the Advisory Council for Garfield Community Center. Most importantly, Karinda believes in giving back through mentorship and is an active mentor and connector for young ladies in her community. GSBA Members and Capitol Hill community members can reach Karinda here.
  • Meet GSBA Member Lindsey T.H. Jackson, Founder of LTHJ GLOBAL & Host of "Keeping It Real"

    by GSBA Staff
    | Aug 25, 2020

    GSBA thrilled to shine the spotlight on Lindsey T.H. Jackson Global (LTHJ GLOBAL), a Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI)-focused coaching program for individuals and businesses. LTHJ Global is leading the second wave of DEI training. Their program focuses on requiring leaders to commit to real self-interrogation, measurement, and consistent action that changes the face of the business landscape.

    Photo Shoot- LTHJ & PWF.November 16th, 2013.0224 (1)Lindsey T.H. Jackson business has become her passion project, and has poured 10 years into it. She has known since the age of 19 that this was the work she wanted to be doing: bringing leaders together to grow, learn, and self-interrogate. Lindsey wanted to see more Black women launching and scaling large enterprises, and she thought it “made sense to walk my own talk.”

    Today, LTHJ GLOBAL has grown into a powerful promoter of DEI coaching. Their purpose is to “burn down the imagined, real, and systemic barriers that get in the way of reaching our individual and collective highest potential.” When working with organizations, instead of employing a one-size-fits-all approach to diversity training, they use the Enneagram—a system of interconnected personality types—to help teams work through individual blocks to diversity initiatives and create space for shared understanding, education, and growth. They work with innovative leaders who are well past looking for sound-bytes but instead ready to spur real change that disrupts the face of their industry.

    Over the past few months, you might have seen Lindsey as the host of Keeping It Real, a webinar series formed in partnership between GSBA and Lindsey, designed to explore health and wellness topics for leaders. As time went on, the program grew to provide a venue for conversation surrounding the global pandemic, racial injustice, and allyship and social justice in the workplace. Lindsey explains,

    “In fact, one of my favorite moments to date on the show was a rare and candid moment with GSBA President & CEO, Louise Chernin. One of the great things about our show is the ability to create a 'friends sitting on the couch speaking openly' vibe. Well on this episode, the topic was the nonprofit landscape during COVID-19, Louise is unabridged and raw. There's this powerful two or three minutes where she just lays it out, she names everything from white supremacy culture to the failures of our government to protect those most marginalized. I don't think I took a breath the entire time she was speaking.”

    To learn more about LTHJ GOBAL and their programming, you can find them online at; on Facebook; or on Instagram. Stay tuned for Keeping It Real's upcoming Fall episodes!

  • Support the U.S. Postal Service

    by Louise Chernin, President & CEO
    | Aug 24, 2020

    Members of the Washington State federal delegation,

    The efficient functioning of the U.S. Postal Service must be strongly defended.

    On behalf of GSBA: Washington's LGBTQ chamber of commerce and our 1,400 members across the state, we urge you to stand up strongly to defend the operations of our postal service over partisan politics.

    Despite Postmaster DeJoy's defenses of his actions before Congress today, his actions to dismantle high-capacity sorting machines around the country and slow down service strongly appear to be deliberate efforts to interfere with our general election, which has only been confirmed by President Trump's own words. We know that Washington State's elections bodies have carried out universal vote-by-mail for years, and that thankfully our state is ahead of much of the rest of the country in the current circumstances. But the exemplary work of our state elections officials also relies on the dependability of the USPS.

    In a time when so much commerce has shifted online and to deliveries over in-person shopping, the efficient functioning of the national mail service is critical for our small businesses to stay afloat. There are already too many stories of perishable goods rotting in sorting centers, prescriptions not arriving in time, and bills and payments arriving late. Several of our members have reported that medication for people living with HIV/AIDS is being delayed to the point where it is a threat to their health. A GSBA member in Snohomish County is one of the many farmers who have received crate-loads of dead chicks because of the delays. Every day this continues harms all Americans. Claims that the deactivation of sorting machines and slowing service delivery increase the efficiency of the postal service are demonstrably false and must be reversed.

    Please take every step necessary to restore American's faith in our constitutionally mandated postal service.

    Louise Chernin 
    GSBA President & CEO

  • GSBA Endorses APPROVE Referendum 90

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Aug 17, 2020
    The GSBA Board of Directors voted unanimously to endorse the APPROVE campaign for Referendum 90. This is a ballot measure that will be voted on in November 2020.

    A vote to approve Referendum 90 supports allowing Senate Bill 5395 to take effect, thereby requiring public schools to provide comprehensive sexual health education for all students and requiring students to be excused if requested by their parents.

    GSBA strongly supported SB 5395 for the last few years as it made its way through the legislative process. Having inclusive sex education that positively reflects the lives of LGBTQ people is critical for our populations, and sorely lacking without this bill. Young people need access to information and resources about healthy relationships to understand how to respect personal boundaries, ask for consent, and learn how to say and receive a 'no.' Young people who have quality sex education are less likely to participate in risky behavior, experience unintended pregnancy, or get a sexually transmitted infection. All information included in this curriculum is age-appropriate, and parents can opt their children out of the lessons.

    GSBA joins the Approve campaign with partners such as the ACLU of Washington, Asian Counseling and Referral Service, Equal Rights Washington, Gay City, Gender Justice League, Ingersoll Gender Center, King County Sexual Assault Prevention Task Force, League of Women Voters, Legal Voice, Lifelong, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, PFLAG, Pierce County AIDS Foundation, Planned Parenthood, Tacoma Rainbow Center, Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network, UTOPIA Seattle, the WA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the WA Public Health Association, and Youthcare.

    Click here to learn more about the Approve R-90 Campaign.

  • Seattle Small Business Need Support Now

    by Louise Chernin, President & CEO
    | Aug 17, 2020
    This letter was sent to City of Seattle officials on August 17.

    Mayor Durkan and Members of the Seattle City Council,
    With the City Council's amending of their spending plan yesterday in CB 119860, we are writing to ask that Seattle's leadership work together to get the critical supports within that bill in the hands of those who need it as soon as possible. Let us not let our commitment to Seattle's small businesses waver precisely when it is needed most.
    We understand and appreciate your caution as the City's leaders in how the rainy day fund is treated. Right now it is the rainiest of days. Small business are on the brink of disappearing, taking with them the precious jobs, the culture of our neighborhoods, and tax revenue that the City so desperately needs. We certainly wish that the Small Business Stabilization Fund could be increased by an order of magnitude, but the funding allocated in this bill is what we have to work with in a time when everything is stretched to the limit.
    GSBA worked for months to help craft spending packages that would provide the assistance that Seattle's small business need right now. The Small Business Stabilization Fund in particular is the most needed piece of that - flexible cash grants. Consistently across all surveys, our small businesses say that this flexible cash is what they need above all else. With the restrictions imposed by the Washington State Constitution, we understand that the funding available for this purpose is also quite limited. That is why the funds allocated as part of CB 119860 are so essential.
    Our small businesses are in dire straits. We know that the Small Business Stabilization Fund will only be able to help a fraction of applicants, but that help is vital. The other buckets of emergency relief are likewise critical for some of the neediest populations in Seattle - housing assistance, food security, support for immigrants and refugees who have been denied other government assistance. The rainy day fund is for emergencies, and this certainly qualifies as the greatest of emergencies. If this assistance does not arrive for those in need, we fear that its intended recipients - and especially our small businesses - may not be around for the next round of budget debates.
    Thank you for your efforts to steward the City through perhaps the most difficult budget cycle of its history. We urge you all to implement the appropriated relief funding as intended, to deliver critical support now when it is most needed.

    Louise Chernin
    GSBA President & CEO

  • Statement on Resignation of Chief Best

    by Louise Chernin, President & CEO
    | Aug 16, 2020
    Hearing of Chief Best’s abrupt retirement generated shock, sadness, and grave concern over the process and how the decisions were reached by our Council. This letter is not to defend the actions of our Seattle Police Department during the protests on Capitol Hill, but to register our surprise and disappointment at recent events. 

    GSBA has consistently demonstrated our commitment to addressing systemic racism in all our institutions, including in the police and justice departments. We strongly support the demilitarization of the police department and, as ever, look forward to working with City leaders to address the need for change. However, these issues do not erase the dedicated service of a 28-year veteran of the Seattle Police Department. Carmen Best devoted most of her professional life to protecting the safety and security of the City of Seattle, its citizens, and visitors. Her importance, contributions, and significance to this city have been well documented by multiple associations, organizations, and individuals. 

    GSBA and its members have been grateful beneficiaries of Chief Best’s focus and efforts to build community between the SPD and the LGBTQ population. Long before she was Police Chief, she proactively worked to create understanding and commonality among those whom might otherwise have been less inclined.

    Chief Best was a well-respected police officer who rose through the ranks, with a stellar record, and support from both her community and her rank and file officers, earned over decades of service. That makes it all the more shocking that in a city where there has been ample discussion during the last few years about the salaries of department executives related to their performance, the first time the Council passed a salary cut of a department head was by targeting that of the first Black woman to serve as Police Chief, and not conferring with her directly over that and other significant actions affecting the Department.

    We cannot change the events of the past week, but GSBA implores every member of the City Council and Mayor Durkan to put aside their differences to come together in a respectful manner to help our city weather the enormous obstacles we currently face. To succeed in dismantling racism in our City will require us all to work through difficult conversations to address the severe problems in our society and especially in our Police Department. There has never been a more critical time when responsible leadership is essential to help us create a more just and inclusive environment in our city.
    Louise Chernin
    GSBA President & CEO
  • GSBA Scholars & Alumni Go Virtual for Leadership Immersion Weekend

    by Taylor Briggs (He/Him, GSBA Scholarship Program Manager
    | Aug 11, 2020

    This past weekend, the GSBA Scholarship Fund gathered virtually for a re-imagined version of our annual Leadership Immersion Weekend. While we were all disappointed that we couldn't get together in person, connecting virtually still served the important purpose of reminding scholars that they are not alone during these incredibly trying times.

    This weekend’s workshop explored one of the most frequently asked questions that we receive from scholars: 

    How do I show up as my authentic self and stay true to my values, while working within inherently oppressive systems without getting burnt out?

    To receive this question time and time again is a painful reminder that our next generation of leaders are still entering institutions that don't always value their unique and brilliant identities and experiences as LGBTQ people, people of color, and people with disabilities. It's a reminder that even after 30 years of investing in LGBTQ and allied scholars, we still have a lot of work to do to amplify diverse voices speaking out against inequitable systems – because these systems are still alive and well.

    Workshop Screenshot 4While painful, hearing this question from our scholars is also inspiring. It's inspiring to see their passion to change our current reality and create a society that values us all. Beyond their passion, this question also illustrates their thoughtfulness and strategic thinking. Our scholars are in this work for the long-haul and know that if any change is going to come, we need to take care of ourselves and take care of each other.

    To help our scholars explore this question, we could think of no better group of people than our GSBA scholar alumni. Thirteen former GSBA Scholars (as well as one GSBA Board Member and two GSBA Business Members) stepped up to lead our eight breakout rooms. Scholars were broken up into groups based on their academic and career interests: Arts, Business & Communications, Education, Healthcare & STEM Research, Law & Public Policy, Mental Health & Social Services, Technology, and Trades. The hope was that these former GSBA Scholars and community members could lead honest conversations about what it has been like for them to work in each of these fields and give advice to the our current cohort.

    After attending this workshop, scholars shared:

    - Such a great experience! Not only incredibly inspirational hearing from peers and leaders in our community, but more community building – in seeing more queer-identifying folks being successful and staying true to themselves.

    - I learned that a lot of the same questions and worries that I have about my career are shared with others in my field- I'm not alone!

    - I learned about my own unlocked perseverance, resilience, and the validity of my experiences from hearing folks share theirs and how that led them to where they are today. Reminder that imposter syndrome is real, but shouldn't keep us down.

    - This workshop was impactful because the facilitators are young and out and queer and doing badass work so it was very inspiring!

    - I think I gained more insights on the importance of community and allies within advocacy, helping me become a leader who views a need for others as a strength rather than a weakness.

    - It was extremely refreshing to have facilitators that have experience in industry. It was very easy to relate over our shared experiences that are unique as trade workers. While a lot of information and advice can be universal to all disciplines, I feel that there are some things that are very unique to the experience of being in the trades that I would not have been able to discuss otherwise. They were both very knowledgeable individuals that I felt I could be myself around and I will be reaching out to them to keep in contact.

    As our workshop wrapped up, it was great to see scholars sharing their LinkedIn profiles and contact information with one another and asking when we could get together again. While GSBA Scholarship Fund workshops at their core are meant to create space for leadership development, they also serve the important purpose of connecting these incredible leaders with one another to build a community of support. We at GSBA could not be more excited to see the collective positive impact that this group of scholars continue to make.

    Special thank you to our breakout room facilitators: Elliat Graney-Saucke (2004 GSBA Scholar), Landyn Pan (2014-2016 GSBA Scholar), Kyle Rapiñan (2008-2011 & 2014 GSBA Scholar), Jamie Keene (2012 GSBA Scholar), Brianna Bragg (2008 & 2010 GSBA Scholar), Julian Chavez-Gamez (2012 & 2013 GSBA Scholar), Nathan Hoston (2009 GSBA Scholar), Freddy Mora (2009 & 2010 GSBA Scholar), Tanner Vea (2003 & 2004 GSBA Scholar), Anthony Yun (2012-2014 GSBA Scholar), Lisa Eytel (2011 GSBA Scholar), Nyka Osteen (2013 & 2014 GSBA Scholar), Alik Brundrett (2014 & 2015 GSBA Scholar), Eve Gourley (GSBA Board Member & Product Owner, Slalom Consulting), Eli Allison (Owner, Repair Revolution), and Morgan Mentzer (Co-founder, Lavender Rights Project).