The GSBA Blog

  • Member Spotlight: Sloth Around Community Acupuncture

    by Al Smith
    | Apr 19, 2018

    Carmel Aronson, a current GSBA member and former GSBA scholar, and her wife Lynn Bondi, are using the month of April to raise awareness about a simple act that can save lives: registering as an organ donor.

    Carmel developed lung disease as an adult. She ultimately received a double lung transplant that saved her life.

    “I know I would not be alive without my transplant,” Carmel told Westside Seattle, and her experience as a transplant recipient is what motivated her and her wife Lynn to start their GSBA member business, Sloth Around Community Acupuncture.

    Sloth Around Community Acupuncture provides White Center with high quality, affordable, and accessible acupuncture at a sliding scale rate of $20-$50 per treatment.  They provide individual treatment within a larger community context.

    2018 Member Spotlight Sloth Around Community Accupuncture

    Lynn Bondi, EAMP, of Sloth Around Community Acupuncture.

    Aronson’s dream is to “make it possible for other people going through health problems or challenges to know that I would be there for them, just like people were there for me.”

    At Sloth Around, family, friends, and neighbors find themselves relaxing together as they work towards common goals of better health, less pain, and relief from stress. Learn more about Sloth Around on their website – and register to be an organ donor during National Donate Life month at LifeCenter Northwest.

  • Member Spotlight: The Nature Conservancy in Washington

    by Al Smith
    | Apr 13, 2018

    The health of our natural places, people, and economy are deeply intertwined—and GSBA member The Nature Conservancy in Washington embodies these values.

    2018 The Nature Conservancy in WA - Member Spotlight - Pride

    The Nature Conservancy is guided by science to solve the most pressing conservation issues and unleash the power of nature to prepare Washington’s people and urban, rural, and wild lands for the challenges of a changing climate.

    The Nature Conservancy is part of the world’s largest conservation organization, working in more than 70 countries and with nearly 60 years of history in Washington with a mission to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends.

    In Washington we are restoring forests, rivers, shorelines and marine waters, and bringing green infrastructure into cities to clean air and reduce pollution from urban runoff. The Conservancy’s work extends around the globe as shares successes and learns lessons from the Conservancy's global practice. 

    Two of the Nature Conservancy's core values are: respect for people, communities, and cultures: and commitment to diversity.

    To create a world where people and nature both thrive, we need creativity, innovation and diversity of thought.

    2018 The Nature Conservancy in WA - Member Spotlight - Project

    The Conservancy believes that we need all people bringing their ideas in a safe and inclusive environment. Success depends on deep and lasting relationships with diverse communities across our state and around the world.

    We’re proud to have The Nature Conservancy of Washington as a GSBA member.

  • This Seattle Restaurant Week, Support LGBT and Allied Restaurants

    by Al Smith
    | Apr 11, 2018

    Promote equality by visiting restaurants that share your
    values. Our members support the vision of GSBA as we work together expanding economic opportunities for the LGBT community, and we are thrilled to see so many of our fantastic members participating in this year’s Seattle Restaurant Week, (Sunday through Thursday April 2 – 19).

    You have two more weekends to check out GSBA member restaurants and bars to enjoy three-course dinners for only $33 – all while supporting community businesses that support equality for all. Yum.

    Scout PNW - 2018 - Seattle Restaurant Week

    Photo: Scout PNW, a brand new GSBA member restaurant and participant in Seattle Restaurant Week.

    GSBA member restaurants participating in 2018 Seattle Restaurant Week:

    Want more LGBT and allied places to eat, shop, and spend your hard-earned dollars? Visit GSBA's!

  • Member Spotlight: HummingTree

    by Bill Herling
    | Apr 06, 2018

    At HummingTree, we’re on a mission to democratize advertising by giving people the power to easily and affordably create ads. 

    GSBA is a perfect organization to help channel our core values of equity across the spectrum, and we’re excited to be a member!

    We don’t believe digital ads should be so difficult, expensive, and only for big companies with big ad budgets. We want to build a more level playing field. 

    Using a free app, our users can make a beautiful ad in seconds to share across locally targeted sites, apps, and blogs. If you own a website or blog, HummingTree is an easy way to show advertisements created by business owners, activists, and everyday people — not by expensive ad agencies.

    Team HummingTree

    Without any minimum site traffic requirements (unlike current ad networks), any site or blog can make a little money while helping out local businesses and neighbors! The HummingTree team is inspired to help progressive ideas and missions share their message. 

    480px width logo_3xBill Herling, who helped start HummingTree along with his awesome team, is a native Seattleite (born on Capitol Hill). Most recently Bill ran Dial Inc., an interactive imaging technology ( which was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be acquired. 

    In addition to starting HummingTree, Bill has written several patents, dabbled in the film industry, and started a nonprofit aiming to help improve children’s literacy rates. 

  • Celebrating Our Victories in Olympia

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy & Communications Manager
    | Mar 30, 2018

    This week Governor Inslee has been working to finalize the process for the 300+ bills passed by the Legislature in 2018. GSBA was able to attend two signing ceremonies in Olympia, for SB 5251 (Tourism Marketing Fund) and for SB 5722 (Ban on Conversion Therapy). After years of work in broad coalitions on both these issues, GSBA is excited to celebrate their passage!

    Conversion Therapy Ban
    Signing Ceremony - Conversion Therapy Ban
    Governor Inslee offered passionate words in support of banning conversion therapy, thankful the work of organizations like Equal Rights Washington and Senator Marko Liias for their years of leadership. GSBA Board Member Danny Cords and member Manny Santiago of the Tacoma Rainbow Center were two of the voices who testified in committee hearings about the deeply harmful impacts of conversion therapy practices which they have both survived.

    Media mentions of this bill include:
    The Olympian
    Seattle P-I
    KING 5
    KIRO 7
    Human Rights Campaign

    Tourism Marketing Plan
    Signing Ceremony - 5251 Tourism Marketing
    GSBA joined many members of the Washington Tourism Alliance to witness Governor Inslee sign SB 5251 into law after 7 years of hard work by the tourism industry. The final version passed unanimously through both houses of the legislature. Washington remains the only state without a tourism bureau, but this effort helps move us in the right direction. Read the article by Becky Bogard and Kathryn Hedrick about the next steps that the community will take to build a marketing program to make Washington State proud!

  • Member Spotlight: InSpark Coworking

    by Tracey Warren, InSpark Coworking
    | Mar 30, 2018

    InSpark Coworking SpaceI believe community is the key to success in life and business. That is why I do what I do and ALSO why I joined GSBA! This is a community that practices what they preach with amazing grace and without judgement of any kind—something we need way more of in the world right now.

    As a community creator and connector, InSpark Coworking was exactly the right business for me to open! We are the first and only dedicated coworking space in Snohomish County right now! 

    Inspark LogoWe are the cure for the isolation and distractions of working from home and as a community, we provide an amazing place to work with all the amenities you would expect and some of the unexpected—support for one another, weekly workshops, on-the-spot brainstorming opportunities and maybe even the random dance break. (We have also been known to break into song.)

    But, don't mistake our fun for not getting work done, because that is the point! There is something remarkable about joining with other entrepreneurs, business owners, and remote workers in a space that brings new accountability and energy to your work. Our members tell us all the time how much more productive they are when they are here! And, our location is super convenient—right where I-5 and I-405 meet! Memberships start at just $100 per month and your first visit is always free.

    Tracey Warren
    InSpark Coworking, (206) 228-6757

  • Member Spotlight: The Chrysalis Inn & Spa

    by Meridian Mayer, Senior Membership Services Manager
    | Mar 30, 2018

    Chysalis Inn & SpaThe Chrysalis Inn & Spa on Bellingham’s waterfront is a 45-room boutique hotel, spa & restaurant. Four room types, being remodeled this spring, feature increasing degrees of luxury in the Pacific NW style and all include free wifi, free covered parking, and are dog friendly with a fee. Corporate retreats in innovative meeting spaces and stunning weddings can be hosted in the intimate Living Room with Bellingham Bay as a backdrop.

    Mike Keenan of Chrysalis Inn & SpaOwner Mike Keenan, who sold a business in Nebraska, came to Bellingham in 1998 where he thought he would retire. Soon afterward he found the property where the Chrysalis now resides in the Fairhaven area. Seventeen years later, he’s still a very involved owner. The name “Chrysalis” represents the transformative stage of the butterfly—from cocoon to beautiful butterfly. “We want all our guests to feel that transformation when visiting our property,” says Keenan.

    The Chrysalis Inn & Spa is heavily involved in the local community as members of the Chamber of Commerce, Tourism, Historic Fairhaven Association, Sustainable Connections, and most recently the GSBA. “Having the message out there that we are a respite for body, mind & soul for all members of our diverse community, is important to us.”

    Visit for more!

  • Member Spotlight: Q Card Project

    by Genya Shimkin, Q Card Project
    | Mar 26, 2018

    IMG_0180As a result of cultural homophobia and stigma, many LGBTQ youth struggle with bullying, violence, discrimination, and health disparities. Despite this, LGBTQ youth in our communities show us every day that they are smart and creative and resilient and powerful. Q Card Project exists to give them the tools and language they need to advocate for themselves in healthcare settings so they can live healthy lives. The Q Card is a simple and easy-to-use communication tool that lets youth fill in their name, pronouns, sexual orientation, gender identity, and any questions they want to ask a clinician. It also includes tips for clinicians on providing sensitive care to LGBTQ youth. Since the first printing in March 2014, we have shipped over 150,000 Q Cards to 35 states and four countries. In addition to youth themselves, who offer overwhelmingly positive feedback, adults love Q Cards too! Nurses, therapists, physicians, teachers, librarians, social workers, parents, and non-profit staff love that Q Cards are an easy way to signal that LGBTQ youth are welcome in their spaces. 

    Genya Shimkin and Pramila JayapalJoining GSBA has been hugely beneficial to me. As an “accidental entrepreneur” with a background in community-based public health practice, I had a lot to learn about how to run a business. In joining GSBA, I was welcomed into an incredible community of business leaders who care deeply about supporting and mentoring young business owners. Through the Financial Literacy Series, I have gained new skills for running my business, and at monthly Seattle Entrepreneurial Women breakfasts, I’m able to connect and learn from incredible women who share their expertise and insights to help me navigate entrepreneurship. I have learned so much since joining, and look forward to staying involved as my business grows.

    Genya Shimkin, Q Card Project

  • Member Spotlight: OUT There Adventures

    by Meridian Mayer, Senior Membership Services Manager
    | Mar 23, 2018

    OTA 3

    GSBA is excited to welcome Elyse and OUT There Adventures as one of our newest members! We asked Elyse to tell us a little about her organization and why she joined. 

    OUT There Adventures is a Pacific Northwest based 501(c)3 whose mission is to further bridge the gap between the LGBTQ community and outdoor recreation and stewardship. OTA operates year-round LGBTQ youth and adult adventures and youth summer multi-day expeditions in Washington and Northern California, program partnerships across the West Coast, Intermountain West and Midwest and co-organizes the annual LGBTQ Outdoor Summit. 

    Elyse Rylander is OTA's founder, Executive Director and Head Jane of All Trades, "As one of the largest LGBTQ outdoor education organization in the country, joining the GSBA and the world's largest LGBTQ and allied chamber of commerce will offer us many opportunities to get even more people OUT there. As new member we hope to increase awareness of our mission and our myriad ways to get outside, cultivate relationships with new program partners and investors, and also to serve as a conduit for others interested in branching in to work with the outdoor and conservation industries. In our opinion, the outdoors is the best place to explore our queer identities because after all, 'there's nothing straight about nature!'"

    Help us welcome Elyse and OUT There Adventures to the GSBA business community. To find out more about what they do and how to get involved, check out their website.
  • Member Spotlight: Four 28

    by Meridian Mayer, Senior Membership Services Manager
    | Mar 19, 2018

    Four 28 member spotlight 2Lara Creasy has been a hospitality professional for over 18 years, and she currently provides beverage management advice to the industry through her consulting business, Four 28. She is an award-winning mixologist and wine list creator, having directed beverage programs at some of the Southeast’s most respected and profitable restaurants, including JCT. Kitchen & Bar, The Optimist and State of Grace, before relocating to Seattle.

    Lara has extensive experience opening new restaurants, having successfully opened 11 within the last 8 years. Two projects, St. Cecilia and King + Duke, both in Atlanta, were named to’s “Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings of 2013 and 2014.” Previous project, The Optimist, garnered Esquire Magazine’s “Restaurant of the Year” Award in 2012. Lara has repeatedly earned the attention of the national media for her work, and her recipes and insights have appeared in such publications as Bon Appetit, Saveur, Southern Living, Imbibe, Wine Enthusiast, CNN’s Eatocracy, and Garden & Gun. She has also earned the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 8 times for 5 different restaurants.

    Lara is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, as well as a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW). She holds a degree in Culinary Arts from the Art Institute of Atlanta and a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism from the University of Georgia. 

    Over the years, Lara has been fortunate enough to tour the wine regions of Italy, South Africa and Spain, learn tequila production in Mexico, taste Bourbon samples from the barrel in Kentucky, and dine in some of the best restaurants from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon. Lara has placed in numerous cocktail competitions, both locally and nationally. Highlights include competing on a rooftop at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, and being crowned “Tomato Queen” for best cocktail at the inaugural Attack of the Killer Tomatoes Festival in Atlanta.

    "I joined [GSBA] on the recommendation of an active member [Dani Cone of Cone & Steiner], and I'm so glad I did! I was looking for a way to network with other professionals in Seattle in a non-threatening environment. I wanted to meet other people that were also interested in meeting other people, expanding their business opportunities and supporting our LGBT community. I've since learned about all of the benefits of membership, and I'm blown away by what a great organization this is. I'm very grateful for how welcoming everyone has been."

    Check out Four 28 on Tumblr: 

    four 28 member spotlight 3

  • Revive Affirmative Action in Washington

    by Tran Dinh, GSBA Extern
    | Mar 13, 2018

    “The state shall not discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”

    Despite Seattle’s progressive reputation, the city, as bound by Initiative 200 (I-200), is prohibited from having preferences based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public contracting, hiring, and education. Washington voters approved I-200 into law in November 1998. I-200 applies to all government entities and programs in Washington State, including public higher education institutions and Washington State’s Supplemental Certification Program (Plus 3).  With an anti-discrimination disguise, I-200 operates in a colorblind and ahistorical society where everyone is treated equally, regardless of the continuing pattern of violent and disparate treatment of underrepresented communities.


    In reality, I-200 significantly impacts Washington State’s ability to hire, contract, and educate underrepresented communities through race- and gender-based policies. For instance, in education, I-200 is not only a barrier that limits access to higher education for underrepresented students but also impedes schools’ ability to attain diverse faculty and staff. More specifically, the initiative impairs school districts’ ability to hire and retain diverse teachers and administrators in the pre-K through 12 system to meet the needs of the increasingly diverse population.


    Similar to public education’s hiring impairment, state agencies now lack the proper tools and incentives to meet their affirmative action goals. Originally, the Supplemental Certification or Plus 3 program implements race- and gender-based policies in state hiring. After the passing of I-200, the Plus 3 program has adapted to meet the parameters set by the law. In practice, the agency’s director of personnel is authorized to select the best seven candidates from employment registers or eligibility lists. The top seven candidates are “certified” to be considered for the open position. The Plus 3 program then allows three more candidates who belong to underrepresented groups to be added to the list for the hiring agency’s consideration. After the state’s affirmative action ban, Washington State’s population had a 4.1% increase in unemployment for African Americans as relative to whites.


    The adverse impact of I-200 is also deeply and widely felt in employment as well as the contracting sector. Between 1994 and 1996, African Americans represented 4.76% of available firms, but received only 0.33% of “construction prime contract dollars” and 3.16% of subcontractor dollars. I-200’s impact on women-owned businesses is similarly negative. The number of certified women-owned firms has declined to nearly half of what it was before I-200 was approved. Further, in the five years before I-200 came in effect, state agencies and higher education institutions spent 10% of their contracted and procurement dollars with certified women-owned firms. Today, that rate is 3%.


    GSBA works to cultivate a vibrant global economy strengthened through the full participation of diverse local communities. To attain this vision, GSBA has selected affirmative action as one of our legislative priorities. While there have been numerous attempts over the years to repeal or amend I-200, none have made it to the Governor’s table. This year, there were two bills in the House and Senate aimed at restoring affirmative action in Washington State. The 2018 legislative session having ended on March 8th, neither of the efforts to repeal I-200 passed this year. However, GSBA is committed to working with the community and organizational partners to restore equitable treatment of underrepresented groups in hiring, contracting, and education in Washington.

    Tran is a law student at Seattle University and is completing an externship with GSBA, focused especially on issues around I-200, minority business contracting, and economic justice.

  • Celebrating 2018 Legislative Victories

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy & Communications Manager
    | Mar 09, 2018

    2018 has been one of our most successful policy years yet! GSBA's advocacy work has grown tremendously over the last few years, most especially with the addition of a contract lobbyist in Olympia. The change in control of the state Senate also contributed to a more favorable legislative environment for many GSBA priorities.

    We are celebrating huge victories for the LGBTQ community with the banning of conversion therapy, an effort led by Sen. Marko Liias and Rep. Nicole Macri. This multi-year effort finally succeeded, with GSBA board member Danny Cords' personal testimony presented to legislators. Sen. Jamie Pedersen succeeded in pushing through a reform to the Uniform Parentage Act, which strengthens protections for LGBTQ parents and non-biological parents, as well as allowing for compensated surrogacy while protecting the woman acting as surrogates. In contrast to the last few years, we did not even need to fight off any efforts to roll back our anti-discrimination laws.

    After several years of strong lobbying, a statewide tourism marketing campaign finally passed both houses of the legislature. GSBA worked closely with the Washington Tourism Alliance and Visit Seattle to pass this legislation, which will create significant economic opportunities for small businesses in the tourism industry across all of Washington State. For the sake of our small businesses that depend on an open internet to do business, GSBA supported the first state-level net neutrality bill in the country.

    Several important bills focused on gender inequities succeeded. The Equal Pay Act protects workers from practices that perpetuate inequality and allows workers to discuss and inquire about pay without retaliation. The Reproductive Parity Act requires insurers to cover abortions if they also cover maternity care.

    Continuing our advocacy on gun control efforts as a major concern to both the LGBTQ and business communities, we were pleased to have a ban on bump stocks. Initiative 940, which GSBA endorsed in the fall of 2017, was successfully passed by the legislature to make historic changes in the use of deadly force by police.  We applaud our many civil rights partners for the victory of the Washington Voting Rights Act and many other pieces of successful legislation that make voting more accessible and fair in our state.

    While we had a successful year, there are still efforts which we must continue next year. Pro-LGBTQ bills like an anti-bullying law for trans students and an effort to include LGBTQ curriculum in long-term care worker training both failed to make it out of committee. A repeal or reform of Initiative 200 once again did not make progress, although we are optimistic that the community's efforts are picking up momentum. Other efforts to reduce economic inequities remain with work to be done, including prohibiting the use of a prior salary in hiring.

  • Inclusion Riders

    by Louise Chernin, President & CEO
    | Mar 05, 2018

    “I have two word to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider.”

    Frances McDormand in her acceptance speech for best actress Oscar last night urged more A-list actors to stipulate in their contracts that diversity be reflected across the entire production of a film.

    GSBA has believed that equality is good business for over 37 years now. Having a social justice mission has been core to our mission since we were started and long before most of the business community began to think of terms like “corporate social responsibility.” In working to advance economic opportunities for the LGBT community, we believe that it is essential to fight for equity along gender and racial lines. That is why one of our legislative priorities for the last several years has been the repeal or amendment of Initiative 200, which has hampered the ability of the state government to work with certified women- and minority-owned businesses. That is why we fight for the expanding recognition of a business certification for companies that are 51% or more owned and operated by LGBT people. We know that women, minorities, and LGBT people have earn less than average. We know that our communities have been excluded consciously and unconsciously from fully participating in the economy. In fact, this year we have seen fierce attacks against the LGBT community by those who would deny us the ability to adopt, to buy a cake or flowers, or to be employed at all.

    We are pleased at the number of small businesses and corporations who understand the value of creating a diverse supply chain. We still have room to grow. While we generally see our local governments as strongly supportive of LGBT rights, there has been a surprising reluctance to acknowledging the economic disparities faced by many in the LGBT community. False stereotypes of the inherent wealth of a community supposedly made up of double-income-no-kids households persist, even at when a lesbian household is still made up of two women, when gay men earn significantly less than straight men, bisexual people face tremendous socioeconomic barriers, and the transgender community has simultaneously some of the highest rates of education and the highest rates of homelessness. Each of these factors is multiplied when combined with any number of intersectional identities, especially including race.

    As we continue to fight for a vibrant global economy strengthened though the full participation of diverse local communities, we ask all our members, neighbors, and colleagues to take a look at their own businesses. Are you cultivating a diverse workforce? Do you have a diverse supply chain? Are you helping build equity across our entire community? Do you bring your values with you when you are doing business? Please join us in doubling down on this commitment this year, and taking a conscious look at how we can increase visibility, celebrate diversity, promote inclusiveness, and build future leaders.

    For equality,
    Louise Chernin

  • Member Spotlight: ProjectCorps

    by Ilona Lohrey, Director of Membership, Outreach, & Engagement
    | Feb 27, 2018

    shelleyProjectCorps, a consulting company perched between the gap of business and technology, prides themselves in hiring talent who are free to be their authentic selves on the job and in the office. As a woman-owned business, they have held true to this belief for the past 16 years. Their working environment is a collaborative beehive full of smart people who want to get up in the morning to make a difference!

    Like their approach to talent, ProjectCorps also has a different take on how they provide consultancy services. They serve organizations from visionary start-ups to Fortune-50 companies across a wide variety of industries, including financial services, healthcare, retail, and the public sector. This allows them to bring cross-industry, good practice, best fit perspective to enrich all of their client engagements. Instead of simply sending consultants from a specific “industry vertical”, they focus on broad experience across multiple, relevant industries to drive approaches that are the best fit for the customer. Working side by side with clients, they focus on achieving results with speed, predictability, and control in a manner appropriate for the culture of the organization.

    Above all, ProjectCorps respects that ideas and solutions emerge from diverse points of view. President & CEO Shelley Gaddie says that she is “rooted in the belief that leadership is grounded in integrity and humility, forged by experience, and communicated through behavior.” Chief Operating Officer Paul Tripp echoes this by stating “I want to get up in the morning believing that I am going to make a difference. I joined ProjectCorps because they put this belief into action.”

    paulProjectCorps joined GSBA because they see the organization as forward thinking and as advocates of growth and abundance for the whole of the community and our allies. They are firm supporters of LGBTQ business enterprise certification through the NGLCC – the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and believe that wider recognition is long past due. Shelley adds “Becoming certified celebrates and honors who we are as individuals, people, groups and organizations. We look forward to linking arms with other GSBA and NGLCC members to continue to affect positive change within the Puget Sound region and beyond.”

    ProjectCorps is a brand-new GSBA Pearl Sponsor, investing equally in the chamber and the Scholarship Fund. Learn more about ProjectCorps.

  • Member Spotlight: Ravishing Radish

    by Meridian Mayer, Senior Membership Services Manager
    | Feb 22, 2018

    ravish radishLisbet Halvorsen started Ravishing Radish in 1993 because she loves parties and making each event special. She lives on Bainbridge Island and commutes every day on the Washington State ferries with her Vespa to Capitol Hill.

    Her food philosophy is simple — the culinary team works tirelessly to create locally-inspired and hand-crafted menus that bring together flavor, beauty & function. Whether it's formal affair or an intimate gathering, they consider the planning process a collaborative effort to ensure that the food is a centerpiece of an event. They also have a full-service design and floral department that creates everything from simple table arrangements to large installation pieces. Their bartending team is also creating new and seasonal libations to accent our food and add a fun twist to our events. They love being a one-stop shop for their clients and being able to make each event not only delicious, but beautiful and cohesive.

    Lisbet adds that "Everyone at Ravishing Radish appreciates the diversity that Seattle offers, and we felt that joining the GSBA is a great way to connect with similarly minded businesses and people."

    Ravishing Radish

  • Louise Shares Story with Will to Change Podcast

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy & Communications Manager
    | Feb 20, 2018

    GSBA President & CEO Louise Chernin had the opportunity to sit down with Jennifer Brown as part of her The Will To Change podcast. GSBA had the pleasure of welcoming Jennifer to Seattle as the keynote speaker for the Business & Humanitarian Awards Dinner on February 15 at the Seattle Waterfront Marriott.

    About Jennifer Brown:
    Jennifer Brown is an award-winning entrepreneur, dynamic speaker, and author and diversity and inclusion expert. She is a passionate social equality advocate committed to helping leaders foster healthier and therefore more productive workplaces, ultimately driving innovation and business results. Informed by more than a decade consulting to Fortune 500 companies, she creates a compelling case for leadership to embrace the opportunity that diversity represents along with empowering advocates at all levels to find their voice and be a driving force in creating more enlightened organizations.

    About The Will To Change:
    Everyone has a diversity story- even those you don’t expect. Get ready to hear from leading CEO’s, bestselling authors and entrepreneurs as we uncover their true stories of diversity and inclusion. The Will To Change is hosted by Jennifer Brown- Jennifer is an award-winning entrepreneur, dynamic speaker, and author and diversity and inclusion expert. She is a passionate social equality advocate committed to helping leaders foster healthier and therefore more productive workplaces, ultimately driving innovation and business results. Informed by more than a decade consulting to Fortune 500 companies, she creates a compelling case for leadership to embrace the opportunity that diversity represents along with empowering advocates at all levels to find their voice and be a driving force in creating more enlightened organizations.

  • Support Immigration Policies That Strengthen & Keep Families Together

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy & Communications Manager
    | Feb 09, 2018

    GSBA was invited to add our names to this letter by our partners at OneAmerica and the National Immigration Forum. We proudly added our name in support and urge our members and colleagues in the business community to join us.

    Dear Members of Congress:

    We the undersigned business leaders write to support immigration policies that strengthen and keep families together. As Congress considers a legislative solution to address the situation of undocumented individuals who were brought to American as young children, we urge you to keep the solution as narrow as possible.

    We gratefully contribute to the economy and help create jobs. We are committed to ensuring that the U.S. economy remains the strongest in the nation. We support having a robust process to ensure that we have an immigration system that meets our nation’s 21st century needs that is separate from the issue of the DACA recipients. While we support the current effort to fix our immigration system, we urge Congress to maintain policies that strengthen families.

    We value our American and immigrant workers. Our workers are the backbone of our companies and without them we cannot run our businesses and fully compete. We need to be able to recruit and retain talented and qualified employees so that we can continue to grow the American economy. We also need to be able to compete with other companies, including those in other countries.

    For businesses that recruit potential employees from other countries, we believe that they see their ability to bring their families with them as an added benefit and helps with our recruiting. At a time when we compete with other countries for talent, we cannot afford to lose out because our immigration policies are more restrictive.

    Immigration policies that allow families to stay together are beneficial to our country. Family based immigration accounts for about two-thirds of the total number of immigrants who come to the U.S. each year. Family-based immigrants bring different levels of work skills but in recent years almost half (48 percent) of recent immigrants had a college degree. Family members can help immigrants integrate and navigate the job search process allowing them to enter the workforce more quickly. We know that our employees who have family support are better, more reliable employees.

    We thank you for your service to our country and are ready to work with you to pursue immigration policies that benefit employers and American workers.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Azusa Pacific University
    Chase Marketing Group
    Chinese Community Center Inc.
    Downtown Alliance
    Evangel University
    Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association
    Greater Seattle Business Association
    Greenville University
    Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
    ICN Foundation of Grand Rapids
    Idaho Dairyman's Association
    ImmigrationWorks USA
    North Bay Leadership Council
    Northwest University
    NYS Restaurant Association
    Salt Lake Chamber
    San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce
    San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
    Santa Cruz Area Chamber of Commerce
    SC Test Prep
    Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
    Texas Border Coalition
    University of the Southwest Whitworth University

  • 10 GSBA Members Named to Mayor's Business Council

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy & Communications Manager
    | Feb 05, 2018

    Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the formation of the city's Small Business Advisory Council. GSBA has long been advocating for the creation of this body to increase the voice of small businesses in the policy-making process.

    The Small Business Advisory Council will create City-wide strategies to promote the interests of Seattle’s small businesses and develop specific recommendations in the following areas:

    • Identification of issues that impact small businesses and their workers across the city, to explore how programs, resources, tools and services can be improved.
    • Evaluation of the impacts of city actions including construction projects, permitting processes, parking practices and fees, regulations, signage, licensing, and changes in zoning.
    • Recommendations on policy issues such as alternative financing options, improved permitting processes, and tools to support commercial affordability and community business ownership.
    • Providing input to strengthen and expand programmatic support, such as consulting and financing resources needed to help small businesses remain competitive and grow in an ever-changing environment.
    GSBA is proud to see a fantastic list of small business owners that reflect a diverse range of sectors, demographics, and geography. We are particularly proud of the ten GSBA member businesses who have been named to this council for the inaugural two-year terms:

    • Co-Chair Joe Fugere, Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria
    • Co-Chair Taylor Hoang, Cyclo Corp., Ethnic Business Coalition
    • Co-Chair Tracy Taylor, Elliott Bay Book Company
    • Joey Burgess, Queer/Bar, Grim’s Provisions and Spirits
    • Elise Lindborg, ZippyDogs LLC
    • Molly Moon, Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream
    • Linda Morton, Terra Plata (GSBA board member)
    • Kamala Saxton, Marination
    • Gail Stringer, Hawaii General Store
    • Beto Yarce, Ventures (GSBA board member)
    In addition to the business owners, two city councilmembers will serve as ex officio members: Lisa Herbold and Teresa Mosqueda.

  • Washington State Dept. of Revenue launches new tax filing sysytem

    by Greater Seattle Business Association
    | Feb 02, 2018

    On March 19, 2018, the Washington State Dept. of Revenue will launch My DOR as the secure portal for all online services. Businesses and tax professionals will be able to access all their tax and business licensing accounts using their SecureAccess Washington (SAW) login. There will be a new look for the online excise tax return, reseller permit application, tax credits application, and bill pay. The Department will retire its existing online service portal, My Account/e-File, and taxpayers will begin filing electronically and accessing their tax accounts in My DOR.

    • To help prepare businesses and tax preparers, Revenue will host a series of free live webinars starting March 7. Continuing education credit is also available. A complete schedule is available on
    • For additional information and frequently asked questions, visit

  • Black History Month

    by Tristen Gardner, GSBA Development Officer
    | Feb 01, 2018

    GardnerTristenWe celebrate Black History Month to remember the important contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout our nation’s history and the groundbreaking work members of our Seattle community do and have done to secure land, address the housing crisis, preserve local black culture, and enrich our local economy. We also use this time for contemplation, the exchange of experiences and ideas, and shared advocacy initiatives. We are all connected to the rich, complex history of our nation, and by celebrating Black History Month everyone can engage in the tradition of acknowledgement, inclusion, and community building.

    The History of Black History Month
    As a Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson believed that truth could not be denied and that reason would prevail over prejudice. His hopes to raise awareness of African American’s contributions to civilization was realized when he and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925. The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The response was overwhelming: Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort..." Learn more here.

    Black History Month Events
    I am honored to be living in a city whose community is doing so much to celebrate our local Black History and celebrate our community members who do so much for us. While I am hoping to attend many of the events going on this month, here is what is currently on my schedule. I hope you'll join me!

    Blacks In Tech Hackathon | Feb 02-04 | Facebook Seattle
    Hackathons provide a space for self-expression and creativity. People with technical backgrounds come together, form teams around a problem or idea, and collaboratively code a unique solution from scratch.

    A Book with No Pages | Feb 06 | Jacob Lawrence Gallery (UW)
    C. Davida Ingram's residency project focuses on venerating pioneering Seattle black artists: Jacob Lawrence, Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence, James Washington, and Barbara Earl Thomas. Ingram is a conceptual artist known for making subversive social inquiries. She is passionate about beauty and social justice, and her primary muses are race, gender, and social relationships. Her process includes dialogues with community organizers, artists, and healers considering black radical imagination and deeper dreaming of solidarity in the Trump era.

    Through the Eyes of Art | Feb 10 | MoPop
    A wonderful opportunity to learn about the intersections of activism and sports!
    Panelists include: Donald Watts, former UW basketball player; Mario Bailey, former UW wide receiver; and Joey Thomas, former Green Bay Packer and current Garfield High School football head coach.

    Uncovering the History of Seattle’s Black Community | Feb 13 | MOHAI
    Historians Mary Henry and Jacqueline E.A. Lawson share their work documenting the history of Seattle’s black community. This is an opportunity to learn about the Central District as it was in the mid-20th Century, as well as the significant African American leaders who have shaped our region.

    State of Africatown 2018 | Feb 17 | Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute
    The 5th annual State of Africatown will feature presentations on the accomplishments of the last year, as well as vision, opportunities, and challenges facing the African American and African Diaspora community in 2018 and beyond. Learn more Africatown's achievements in 2017 here.

    How Minority Men and Tradeswomen Won Justice on the Jobsite | Feb 21 | MOHAI
    Civil rights and labor activists in the '60s and '70s broke down barriers for women and workers of color and opened a pathway to long inaccessible jobs. UW Labor Archivist Conor Casey will share how Seattle workers fought for justice on the job through the lens of the historical collections that document this history.

    Resilience in the Black Community: What gives us strength?  | Feb 24 | Mount Zion Baptist Church
    This event is close to my heart as HIV and police violence have huge impacts on the Black community. Here, you will be able to hear the amazing Dr. Michele Andrasik and Seattle's Chief Carmen Best discuss our resilience. 

    Complex Exchange: Figuring Black Futures Today | Feb 28 | NAAM
    This event features presenters and practices that reference black experience and lives of people of color from a local context. A series of conversations with Seattle community members from a variety of disciplines features photographer Zorn B. Taylor, musician Eva Walker, and Jaebadiah S. Gardner, Founder and CEO of Gardner Global. Chieko Phillips will moderate.