The GSBA Blog

  • GSBA Takes NGLCC Conference by Storm!

    | Oct 03, 2015

    GSBA Checkby Rachael Brister, VP of Marketing & Tourism

    From August 11-14, over 800 LGBT and allied entrepreneurs, business owners, corporate representatives and LGBT chamber leaders from across the country and around the globe descended upon Ft. Lauderdale Florida for the NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference.

    Attendees take part in three days of symposia, panel discussions, development seminars and special events designed to generate business opportunities and build strong relationships with corporate champions and one another. 

    I was fortunate enough to be one of those attendees along with GSBA President & CEO Louise Chernin and GSBA Board members Drew Ness and Jenny Harding. GSBA is a founding member of the NGLCC and we have sent representatives to this conference almost every year and even hosted it in Seattle in 2009. 

    We were not the only GSBA representatives at the conference. Some of our small business members are very active with NGLCC including George Pieper of OutSmart Office Solutions and Elise Lindborg of ZippyDogs, both of whom are certified LGBT businesses. Both have been named Supplier of the Year by NGLCC, in 2012 and 2013, respectively. It was great to see them around the conference and watch them in action as they presented in breakout sessions, were matched with corporate procurement officers to discuss potential business or exhibiting in the marketplace.

    IMG_8896 - TomboyX

    Another GSBA member took center stage….literally. TomboyX was a contestant in the LGBT Biz Pitch, a fast-paced competition among three LGBT entrepreneurs selected to give their best 10-minute presentations on their company. They gain valuable feedback from an expert panel of angel investors, venture capitalists, and other business experts. Participants have the potential to continue their dialogue with the judges, and one lucky winner is awarded a $10,000 cash prize as well as a brand positioning package valued at $20,000. Co-Founder and CEO of TomboyX, Fran Dunaway, delivered a fantastic presentation complete with models showing of their top selling product, the boxer brief. Her knowledge, enthusiasm and overall great line of products paid off because TomboyX won the competition! Congratulations to Fran and her team for a great pitch.

    Throughout the conference the breakout sessions are categorized for the different types of attendees. One of these tracts is for LGBT chamber leaders from across the country. Earlier this year, I submitted a proposal, along with the Co-Founders of Travel Gay Canada, to present one of these sessions on Tourism. Our proposal was accepted and along the way we added an additional presenter: the President & Co-Founder of the Argentina Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

    Driving Economic Growth Through Tourism

    Tourism plays an important economic driver for many communities and LGBTBEs. This session will highlight the importance LGBT tourism can have on a community, and how local and international LGBT Chambers of Commerce can work with their members, their tourism industry, and their destination marketing organizations to create value through increased visitation and tourism receipts. From the session, participants will receive concrete takeaways that they can use to grow business for their own Chambers, LGBTBEs, and communities.

    I focused on what GSBA has been able to accomplish in the LGBT Tourism realm, how we promote our members in this industry and the successes and challenges of a Chamber-based Tourism initiative.  I was proud to highlight the diverse and generous support we receive from our Tourism sponsors and I emphasized the importance of creating strong partnerships with sponsors -- that our Tourism sponsors offer so much more than just a signed check.



    And speaking of checks, a major highlight of the week was the $10,000 grant GSBA received from NGLCC and Wells Fargo. GSBA was awarded a grant to increase our efforts around LGBTBE certification. Read more about that here.

    And on a personal note, in addition to thoroughly enjoying my experience presenting at the conference, I was a giggly fangirl for the keynote plenary on the 1st day of the conference. The one and only Suze Orman told her story of being an out lesbian in the world of finance and her rise to become one of the world’s leading authorities on the subject. She also spent time answering questions from the audience, often with no-hold-barred answers. Before she spoke, she took the time to pose for selfies. This fangirl, unfortunately, did not make it to the front of the ballroom fast enough. But it was such a thrill to hear her speak, I can overlook the fact that I did not get to post a #SuzeSelfie.

  • New Board Member: John Sternlicht

    | Oct 03, 2015

    John SternlichtJohn Sternlicht was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) at the August meeting.

    John is the Executive Director of the Economic Development Association of Skagit County (EDASC), a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting and enhancing the economic vitality of Skagit County. He also currently serves on the international Economic Development Council's Board of Directors. He previously served as Economic Development Advisor to King County Executive Dow Constantine, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for the Commonwealth of Virginia and as the first General Counsel and Policy and Legislative Director of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

    John spent his childhood in Rhode Island and North Carolina, and has a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, focusing on Western Europe and Latin America, and studied journalism and communications at the Université de Fribourg before earning a law degree from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He practiced law in North Carolina and Virginia and earned his certification in economic development from the International Economic Development Council in 2001.

    Sternlicht has been married to James Finley, Seattle University’s head volleyball coach, since 2010. Together they have three grown sons.
  • GSBA Scholarship Founders Breakfast

    | Oct 01, 2015
    Founders Toast
    Recently we had the opportunity to gather a few of the visionary early members responsible for establishing the GSBA Scholarship Fund 25 years ago. The creators and benefactors of our Founders’ Scholarship, Bob Dlugosh and Don McKee, opened their lovely home for us on a Saturday morning. We heard stories of the first scholarships and talked about the vision and hopes for the future of the Fund. We heard from Rita Smith, who continues to volunteer as a scholarship interviewer, about the need for the scholarship at a time when it was highly risky for a young person to come out in high school. There were no available LGBT options for assistance in attending college and many of our early scholars faced the challenges of having zero support from family or community. Recognizing that need was the impetus to create the Scholarship Fund.

    We heard how that continues to be a need today and the importance of the Fund in helping fill that need.  Michael Auch shared the significance of the first large bequest to the Fund from the estate of Richard C Rolfs. This was the first major gift of its kind locally and as such it “represented the LGBT community taking pride in itself in a way that had not happened before and therefore opened the door for more giving.”

    Everyone spoke of their pride in having helped create something that they did not imagine could grow to give out its two-millionth dollar and to help support so many future leaders in such a significant way. Perhaps the most wonderful moment came when founder Dave Brown encouraged us all to “think about a time in the future when the Fund is $100 million.” Visionary then, and visionary now!

  • So much Pride

    | Jun 17, 2014
    There are many ways to celebrate pride in the Pacific Northwest. Check out our comprehensive calendar, grab your rainbows and get your Pride on!

    Friday, June 27
    Trans* Pride
    Cal Anderson Park
    1635 11th Ave
    Seattle, WA 98122

    Saturday, June 28
    Capitol Hill Pride
    Broadway (between E. Olive & E. Roy)

    PrideFest Capitol Hill
    Cal Anderson Park

    Sunday, June 29
    Seattle Pride Parade
    4th Avenue, Downtown Seattle

    Seattle PrideFest
    Seattle Center
    305 Harrison St
    Seattle, WA 98109

    Saturday, July 12
    Out in the Park - Tacoma
    Pierce Transit Park
    between 9th & 11th on Broadway (Main entrance is 9th & Broadway)
    901 Broadway
    Tacoma, WA 98402
  • Amtrak - Ride with Pride

    | Jun 17, 2014
    As a proud partner and sponsor of the Greater Seattle Business Association, Amtrak invites you to travel for 15% off an adult full fare and enjoy the journey. Book now through December 16, 2014 and save on travel to Vancouver, BC, Seattle, WA, or Portland, OR.

    Valid for Sale Through December 16, 2014
    Valid for Travel Through March 31, 2015

    This promotion is valid on the following trains:
    Coast Starlight
    Take the train from Seattle to Portland, riding high on a Superliner with views of the Puget Sound and much more. One trip departing daily.
    Empire Builder
    From Seattle to Chicago, this train will take you through the North Dakota plains and into the Big Sky Country in Montana. Glacier National Park is an amazing part of our country's natural beauty and should not be missed.
    Amtrak Cascades
    Take the train from Vancouver, Seattle or Portland and experience the unique Talgo train. With beautiful views and multiple trips daily, the Amtrak Cascades connects passengers from all over the Pacific Northwest.