The GSBA Blog

  • The 2017 GSBA Scholars Dinner

    | May 24, 2017

    CHERNIN,LOUISE_2017_blog_217x202Hearts were bursting with pride as over 500 guests including scholars, donors, community leaders and elected officials gathered to witness history as GSBA gave out its $3 millionth dollar in scholarships awarded since 1991.

    This Fund, and the hope it provides, has changed the lives of over 500 LGBT and allied students but, perhaps the biggest game changer is the launch of the GSBA Guarantee. The Guarantee promises up to four years of support to GSBA Scholars as long as they continue their part by doing their best in school. This extraordinary commitment is possible because of you, and your understanding of the power of education to change lives.The exciting news continued as long-term GSBA member and Antioch Board member,Steve Crandall, came on stage to announce the GSBA Leadership Academy, an innovative leadership experience created through a partnership between Antioch and GSBA with support from Microsoft and input from several GSBA donors. This Leadership Academy will hold its first immersion weekend this August at Islandwood Retreat Center on Bainbridge Island during which all 45 scholars will be brought together to go through a three-day leadership curriculum.

    The emotion exhibited in that ballroom was palpable as founders and early donors; six college presidents, a college chancellor, a Supreme Court Justice, a long list of elected officials, community leaders, small business owners and major corporate partners, showed up to celebrate the next generation of leaders and our hope for a better future. It is always a treat to have Justice Yu offer special remarks and this year she also introduced US Senator Maria Cantwell to join her on stage to address our guests. Certainly, the most powerful highlight of the evening came when past GSBA Scholar and 2016 Community Leader of the Year Aidan Key shared his powerful, personal journey and talked about what it meant to him in 2005 to receive a GSBA Scholarship. This year, another new endowment was announced when Sandy Peterson came on stage to present the first Theodore and Rosemarie Ockels Scholarship to Victor Puoci. It is always poignant when our donors who have created named scholarships come on stage to meet their new scholars who received the following named scholarships: Bright Horizon Scholarship; Rich Thoelke Memorial Scholarship; David Barzilai Memorial Scholarship; Chester Podlodowski Scholarship and the L. Robb Scholarship. Additionally, our two Diamond Sponsors, Wells Fargo and Microsoft presented their scholarships.

    Thank you to our Emcee Extraordinaire, Danny Cords, Table Captains, remarkable volunteers, photographers Malcolm Smith and Dani Weiss for capturing the evening and Aria Style for the beautiful arrangements. Because of the generosity of the evening's sponsors: Title Sponsor, PwC; Provost Sponsors Alaska Airlines, Amazon, and Carter Subaru; and Mentor Sponsor, CenturyLink, 100% of your donations that night are able to be invested in our Scholars. Big thanks also to Interchange Media, Precept Wine, and the Seattle Marriott Waterfront for all the support they gave to this event and to their wonderful staff for taking such good care of us.

    Special thanks must also go to our Board Chair, Drew Ness; Scholarship Chair Carrie Carson; dinner Co-Chair Dena Levine; and dinner committee members Katie Mooney and Robert Rhodehamel for giving countless hours to ensure the GSBA Scholarship Fund remains strong. Working alongside this extraordinary Board are GSBA staff members Carlos Chavez, Program and Events Manager, Travis Mears, Director of Development & Scholarship Programs, and Mark Rosén, VP of Development & Corporate Relations and the entire Team GSBA.

    Spending an evening meeting our extraordinary scholars and hearing their stories about how GSBA Scholarships transformed their lives; listening to donors talk about how meaningful it is to honor someone through a named scholarship or learning about the lasting impact of leaving a legacy, many of us now are inspired to take the step by investing in the next generation of leaders. If you are considering a first donation or a lasting gift to support a future LGBTQ or allied leader, please don't hesitate to reach out to Travis Mears or Mark Rosén. You have the power to be that next donor that will change a scholar's life forever. You have the power to ensure a better future for our community. Please consider joining the GSBA Guarantee by making a meaningful gift to the Scholarship Fund.

    It's not too late to join the celebration and to invest in the next generation of leaders by making a donation today.

    For the future,

    Louise Chernin,
    President & CEO

    from Steve Gunn, Wells Fargo Advisors

    247“As a member of GSBA’s Scholarship Steering Committee and one of the chapter leaders of Wells Fargo’s PRIDE Team Member Network, it is truly an honor for me to help announce our 2017 GSBA Scholar. I would like to thank GSBA for changing so many lives through the scholarship program. I support GSBA because I know how much its members care. They care about supporting small business. They care about creating inclusive workplaces. And they care about investing in our youth. Our support of the GSBA Scholarship Fund is one of the most important investments we make because we are investing in our future leaders—any one of whom can literally change the course of history… Watch and see!”

    from Isyss Honnen, GSBA Scholar

    Isyss Honnen GSBA scholar dinner 2017“Through my volunteer work as a facilitator for [trans]ACTION, a support group for Pacific Islander Trans+ and Gender Non-conforming individuals in the sex industry, I empower them to pursue higher education and leadership development. I am also supporting by providing resources—such as access to healthcare, legal help, education, and employment—and as an unconditional support system through U.T.O.P.I.A. Seattle. Because of your investment in the GSBA Scholarship Fund, I will become the first person in my family to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree. I will sit for the CPA Exam at the end of this year after I receive my B.S. in Accounting from Western Governors University. GSBA is an integral part of my journey to success. Thank you for this opportunity!” 

    (Isyss Honnen was raised in Pago Pago, American Samoa, until leaving for college in Hawaii at 17 years old. She moved to Washington for more opportunities and is now pursuing an undergraduate degree in Accounting with plans to become a licensed C.P.A. Isyss uses her past experiences to empower other Pacific Islander trans women in understanding and believing that life and happiness exists outside of the box we’re forced into by society. Isyss attends Western Governors University.)

  • 10 Tips to make your Capabilities Statement Pitch Memorable

    | May 17, 2017
    April 17th, 2017 |  Article Credit: BrandQuery


    This month, BrandQuery was pleased to present at the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) business development event held at the Starbucks headquarters in Seattle, WA.

    Our own Director of Strategy, Wendy Poischbeg was asked to share an example of a Capabilities Statement (CS) on BrandQuery’s comprehensive experience managing crisis response to promote economic recovery. Wendy delivered a “mock” pitch to Manager of Global Sourcing and Supplier Relations, Supplier Diversity for Starbucks, James Hing.


    What is a Capabilities Statement (CS) and why is it necessary in improving your odds of receiving a government bid?  Quite simply, a CS is a high-level overview of a company’s service or product that a procurement officer or supply chain manager can use to assess a business’s core competencies. The components are straight forward: a company’s overview, history, purpose and differentiators, as well as information on a company’s certifications and examples of past performance. You can see ours here.

    BQ Capabilities Statement (1)

    Presenting in a forum like what was provided by the GSBA is a fantastic opportunity to practice your pitch and gain valuable insight into potential gaps before the stakes are higher. Here are a few tips that will help your company make a great pitch and impression:

    1.) Do your homework. What are the mission, vision, and values of the company you are seeking to do business with? Do those values align with yours? Is the product, service, or idea you’re presenting a good fit? This concept seems like a no-brainier, but you would be surprised by the number of entrepreneurs that only consider the benefit to their own bottom-line, and not the company they’re trying to get a spend from.

    2.) What sets you apart from your competitors? What value does your business provide better than anyone else? What’s your differential? Are you offering an improved product or one that is more relevant? Will your offering bring improved results or growth?

    3.) Tailor your ask. One presentation doesn’t fit all. Your pitch should be customized to the business with whom you are trying to partner.

    4.) Be a great storyteller! The owner of Honest Biscuits has described learning to bake at the apron strings of his grandma when he was a boy in North Carolina. When he talks about the smell of the dough baking, the flour on the table, mouths water! What emotional connection will you share to make your business memorable?


    5.) Do you have a social purpose?
    53% of millennials are more willing to make a purchase from a company if their purchase supports a cause. Include the social platforms important to your company in your business profile (and don’t forget to include it on your website and social media pages as well.)

    6.) What is your track record? Provide relevant stats of your company’s sales, annual revenue, and current customers. Give a sense of scale and ability to perform and fulfil the work order.

    7.) Don’t be remembered for the wrong thing. It’s one thing to be passionate about your product or idea – but that doesn’t mean you can forget your boundaries. A follow-up note to a prospective client is appropriate – a daily phone call or email is not.

    8.) Use a professional domain name. If you want to be taken seriously, don’t use your personal Hotmail, Gmail, or Yahoo account.

    9.) Dress to impress! Don’t show up to your business meeting wearing flip flops and t-shirt. How you present yourself reflects your brand – and your attire is their first glimpse into how you would reflect their brand, too.

    10.) Your brand identity can’t be left to a desktop printer. Just like being dressed appropriately, your presentation materials should be professionally designed and printed. You only get one chance to make a first impression – does your marketing collateral provide the right one?


    Need assistance with writing a Capabilities Statement? Contact your local Procurement Technical Assistance Center PTAC office for a template and advice.

  • Global Report on LGBT Tourism

    | May 10, 2017


    The United Nations World Tourism Organization and the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association released their joint Second Global Report on LGBT Tourism on May 5, 2017. The report discusses the relationship between rights for LGBT people around the world and the increasing visibility of LGBT consumers. It also looks at the trends that will be crucial to the development of the LGBT travel market in the future, such as the attitudes of millennials, increased global support for marriage equality, and the willingness of new destinations to welcome LGBT visitors.

    Download your copy of the UNWTO IGLTA Second Global Report on LGBT Tourism.

    GSBA / Travel Gay Seattle is a proud member of IGLTA.

  • Five Ways to Participate in #SmallBusinessWeek

    | Apr 27, 2017


    Every day, small business owners and entrepreneurs across the Pacific Northwest work relentlessly to grow their businesses, create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase our competitiveness in the global economy.

    During National Small Business Week (Apr 30 - May 06), the U.S. Small Business Administration will recognize the contributions and impact of these entrepreneurs and small business owners.

    Here are four ways you can participate in next week's celebration:

    Engage on social media 
    Download the SBA social media guide and NSBW graphics; and, be sure to include the hashtag #SmallBusinessWeek in your posts. Use the same hashtag to join the official NSBW Twitter chat May 02 at 9:30am PST with @SCOREMentors.

    Watch live events online
    The SBA will broadcast several events throughout the week at Plus, SBA Administrator Linda McMahon will participate in a Facebook Live event May 02 at 8:30am with Facebook Vice President and Chief Privacy Officer for Policy Erin Egan about how to start and grow a business.

    Issue a proclamation or statement 

    Use this template proclamation to reach out to your city and local government offices.

    Participate in a webinar
    Register for the following six webinars the SBA is hosting with experts from various cosponsoring organizations:

    - The U.S. Economic Outlook and Its Impact on Small Businesses
    - 5 Fabulous Habits of Local Business Champions
    - Grow Your Business Online
    - The Future of Small Business Innovation
    - How to Write Your Email Content in 15 Minutes or Less
    - Find the Hidden Money in America

    Learn more about #SmallBusinessWeek here


  • A Message from Seattle's LGBTQ Executive Directors

    | Apr 21, 2017

    "Our community has had a painful and difficult week as it tries to sort out the ramifications of allegations made against Mayor Murray. Public accusations of sexual assault bring to the surface past and current fears and distress for community members who have lived under the long shadow of sexual abuse and rape. Given the current climate of threats against our hard fought civil rights protections, most especially against our transgender community, we may all be feeling especially vulnerable. 

    There is no one correct response to the recent news and, while we may feel external or internal pressures to take a “side,” we know that our community members are simultaneously at greater risk for both sexual assault and exploitation AND stigma and vilification. We know that both ‘sides’ of these harms are on the same coin of homophobia, transphobia, racism, and sexism.

    As a community, we stand in solidarity with all survivors of domestic and sexual violence including LGBTQ survivors, as we know they are incredibly marginalized, and often ridiculed and targeted for speaking out. We can simultaneously hold this truth alongside another truth that, independent of these specific allegations, the tactic to cast LGBTQ people as pedophiles and predators has been used against us for decades, as a means to garner fear and hatred that would justify limiting our rights. The timing of this situation reinforces this common refrain, raising doubts about our moral standards, making us further targets for violence, and forcing us back into the closet.

    This is not new to anyone who is LGBTQ, but we are a resilient community, proud of our achievements, determined to protect each other from harm, and united in our commitment to retain our hard fought civil rights laws.   

    As the Executive Directors of agencies serving the LGBTQ community, we encourage you to reach out to one of our agencies whether you are an adult or a youth, for services, support, and safety or to connect with your community. Our organizations support the arts, provide support for LGBTQ small business owners, fight for LGBTQ civil protections and human rights for all people, provide mental health and chemical dependency services, as well as offer information, advocacy and support for those who are dealing with HIV and AIDS, and provide LGBTQ survivors of sexual and domestic violence culturally-specific services and advocacy. 

    Seattle has one of the largest LGBTQ communities in the United States with a broad range of organizations that are proud to serve our community and are committed to continuing to build a vibrant LGBTQ community for our children, youth, adults and elders. We welcome you to reach out to us and get involved."

    Danni Askini, Executive Director
    Gender Justice League

    Karter Booher, Executive Director
    Ingersoll Gender Center

    Connie Burk, Executive Director
    The Northwest Network 

    Louise Chernin, Executive Director
    Greater Seattle Business Association

    Gary Davis, Executive Director

    Barbara Ebert, Executive Director
    Kris Hermanns, Executive Director
    Pride Foundation

    Rebecca Lane, Executive Director 
    Generations Aging With Pride

    Ann McGettigan, Executive Director
    Seattle Counseling Service

    Egan Orion, Executive Director

    Fred Swanson, Executive Director
    Gay City

    Joshua Wallace, Executive Director
    Seattle Area Support Groups

  • Donor Profile: Sandy Peterson

    | Apr 13, 2017

    In 2016 Sandy Peterson, along with husband Glenn, sister Carolyn, and brother-in-law Steve, became the first ally to create a GSBA named Endowment Fund. The Theodore & Rosemarie Ockels Memorial Scholarship honors her parents and their dedication to education and social justice.

    Sandy says, “our parents taught us by example. Treating people of all backgrounds with compassion, empathy, encouragement, and fairness was a given in our household.   Opening our home to those who didn’t have one was a ritual that turned routine, ending up with countless individuals, regardless of their struggles, being embraced and accepted into the greater definition of family. 

    “It was this importance of inclusiveness and extended family in Ted and Rosie’s lives – and ours – that aligned so well with the mission statement of GSBA and its educational endowments. At some of GSBA’s events, we heard students talk about their families closing the door to them just because of sexual orientation, leaving them locked out without support networks, guidance toward adulthood or the sense of community that makes us all feel whole. If they (Theodore and Rosemarie) were alive today, they would advocate for the outreach and structure that GSBA provides these students as they grab the reins of their lives and forge their own paths. We hope that, with the help of this scholarship – and the love, support and guidance of the extended GSBA family – these students will use their education as their own driving force of social transformation and work toward a more just society.”

    Sandy and her family are a crucial part of the GSBA donor community who carry on the work of the Scholarship Fund and its mission to invest in future leaders who make the world more just and equitable for all. Their investment makes it possible to offer the GSBA Guarantee, which means that the Scholarship Fund will support a student for up to 4 years, until they walk across the stage with diploma in hand. It also is helping fund the new Lead Bold initiative and the Leadership Academy which goes beyond the tuition dollar to invest further in the success of our scholars by offering a leadership immersion weekend with expert educators sharing vital skills to insure the student’s persistence to graduation and success beyond. By creating a legacy, Sandy has thought about the lasting investment she is making for future generations and to that end she has also included the Scholarship Fund in her estate plan.

    If you would like to know more about how you can be part of the community of support and help make a difference now and in the future, please contact Mark Rosén, VP of Development & Corporate Relations.

  • Give OUT Day - 04.20.17

    | Apr 12, 2017

    Give OUT Day, a national day of giving for the LGBTQ community, will once again coordinate a 24-hour online fundraising event that unites the LGBTQ community from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and D.C. Give OUT Day 2017 will take place on April 20, 2017 from 9:00am to 8:59pm PST. Last year, Give Out Day raised over $550,000.

    Throughout the day-long event, thousands of people make gifts to support a diverse array of LGBTQ nonprofits across the country, ranging from the arts to social services agencies, advocacy groups to sports leagues, community centers to health care nonprofits.

    Give OUT now.

    "This year, in a challenging political and cultural environment, where local services and advocacy are needed now more than ever, Give OUT Day will raise funds and visibility for hundreds of participating organizations," said Roger Doughty, President of Horizons Foundation.

    "Few would have predicted the dramatically different climate we now find ourselves in, after several years of rapid progress on LGBTQ equality and increased visibility and public education, continued Doughty. And yet Horizons Foundation’s research shows that only a small percentage of LGBT people give direct financial support to LGBTQ organizations. We can and must do better, especially as all of our organizations face unpredictable and significant obstacles. This year on Give OUT Day, we hope to reach thousands of LGBTQ individuals and our allies to engage in supporting the organizations," concluded Doughty.

    Give OUT Day has provided vital unrestricted operating funds to organizations since its inception in 2013. Over 23,000 individual donors have contributed more than $3 million and supported more than 500 different organizations in every part of the country.

    Give OUT Day is a project of Horizons Foundation. Founded as a community foundation of, by, and for LGBTQ people, Horizons has been supporting LGBTQ nonprofit organizations, leaders, and donors for more than 35 years.

    You can make a gift directly to the GSBA Scholarship here.

  • The 2017 NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference

    | Apr 11, 2017

    Looking to jump start your business or build a stronger professional network? Interested in bringing more LGBT-owned businesses into your corporate supply chain? Aiming to strengthen your local LGBT chamber of commerce and network of B2B referrals?

    There is only one place to be: the 2017 NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference..

    The event will attract over 1,000 entrepreneurs, corporate decision-makers, affiliate chamber leaders, and government officials from across the country and around the world. The connections made at the conference can be the basis for contracting opportunities and strategic growth for years to come.

    This world-renowned, three-day educational conference delivers innovative leadership programming, networking and engagement opportunities for business leaders like you. Our cutting edge educational programs will include inspiring keynote speakers, the annual B2B Boot Camp for LGBT Business Enterprises, a chamber development track, marketplace expo, one-on-one matchmaker meetings, and much more.

    Learn more and register here.
  • 2017 LGBT Biz Pitch

    | Apr 11, 2017

    NGLCC_BizPitch_300x250Hold on to Your Seats for an Entrepreneurial Competition Like No Other!

    The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) is excited to launch the seventh installment of LGBT Biz Pitch where contestants compete for a cash prize of $25,000 along with an additional $25,000 business consulting and prize package.

    As its own version of the ABC hit show Shark Tank, this competition features top LGBT business owners in a dynamic, fast-paced setting where only one emerges with game-changing cash, prizes, and coaching. This year the stakes are higher than ever as the audience plays a crucial role in selecting the top contenders and corporate mentors advise and hone the pitches leading up to the final stage presentation.

    LGBT Biz Pitch takes place at the 2017 NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference in Las Vegas on August 1-4.

    The Application Process:

    The application process is open to all LGBT entrepreneurs. All submitted applications will have the chance to be featured in conference marketing leading up to the big event. NGLCC retains the rights to feature all applicants in conference and general marketing before and following the event. NGLCC will launch a social media campaign to promote selected applicants leading up to the conference. Selected applicants will be coached throughout the process by corporate mentors in order to elevate their presentations on the main stage. Participants must attend the 2017 International Business & Leadership Conference.

    Selected participants for the LGBT Biz Pitch will present on the main stage in front of the conference plenary audience. Entrepreneurs from three finalist companies will be selected to give their best 7-minute presentation on their company, new or existing product, market, or other innovation followed by a Q&A session with the purpose of gaining valuable feedback from an expert panel of judges and angel investors. The winner of “LGBT Biz Pitch” will receive a cash prize of $25,000 along with an additional $25,000 business consulting package.

    If you are interested in participating as an LGBT Biz Pitch contestant, please complete the application form no later than Friday, May 5.
  • Featured Ambassador: Rob Macauley

    | Mar 23, 2017
    By Rob Macauley, loan officer at 1st Security Bank of Washington.

    RobMacauleyI am a resident mortgage lender. After entering the mortgage business 31 years ago I worked as an Internal Auditor as well as a Processor before becoming a Loan Office back in 1994.  I have found that working in varying capacities of the business has given me a well rounded knowledge of industry allowing me to better assist my clients with just the right solution to meet their goals. I've worked for 1st Security Bank for just about 3 years and have found it to be a great fit for both myself, my clients, and they are totally supportive of my community.

    I've been a member of The GSBA for about 10 years.  I enjoy being an Ambassador because I like greeting members, especially new members to events and working to get them connected to other business people that could be mutually beneficial.  I have also been on the scholarship interview teams for the last four years as well as being a member of the Easts Side Out Leads group.

    When I'm away from work, I love to travel.  I'm an avid Equestrian and DIY'er.  My horses and I compete at Barrel Racing and Western Gaming.  I also take them camping a great deal, enjoying the beauty of the Pacific North West.
  • Be Your Own Boss

    | Mar 23, 2017
    By Jennifer Jimenez, co-owner of Eastside Total Health & Lactation.

    womenshealthpic2Throughout my life, I always heard my mother's voice echoing: "Be your own boss." In the midst of the Cold War hysteria, my mother emigrated from the Philippines during a time when the fear of communism had virally taken over the American psyche, and coalesced into unconstitutional legislation that barred entry, and even the chance of citizenship to those seeking refuge in the "promised land."  Sound familiar? The irony is uncanny, but now more than ever, her words that once seemed like an inaudible lullaby have so much meaning.

     "Be your own boss," catalyzed me to start my own healthcare practice in Kirkland, WA. Eastside Total Health & Lactation (formerly Eastside Women's Health Center) was born in the fall of 2015 after joining forces with my business partner, Kristina Chamberlain, CNM, ARNP, IBCLC. After 25 years in New York and nearly twenty years of being a Certified Nurse-Midwife, I took those years of experience and started something exquisitely my OWN. The experience of providing care to individuals and families and impacting lives was certainly my calling. I gained precious insight during those years; no matter where one is from: the Bronx or Manhattan, inner city or the suburbs, people want to be heard, and good care lasts a lifetime. Experience within communities and the humbling lessons from colleagues and clients is the experience upon which I built my practice. It took two decades to fortify my foundation, but I knew right away that the only way I could best impact lives was to "Be my own boss."
    It sounds crazy, but it was easier to manage a laboring woman in the back of an ambulance on "9/11" than start my own business. I was the Midwife on-call that night, and in the midst of all the chaos, I felt the enormous responsibility to guide this mother and her baby through this personally impactful moment amidst chaos and fear. I was the expert in that scenario; I felt confident, and had faith in my skills, knowledge and expertise. The spirit of my community was the intangible force that kept me focused and grounded. (And yes, a little girl named Jennifer was born that night.) The same tremendous fear of the unknown almost overwhelmed me when I moved to Washington State, 3,000 miles away from a place I called home. But just as I am the expert in my field, I knew I had to find a community of experts in business. Three days after my arrival in Washington, after a simple Google search, I was having lunch with one of the members of the GSBA. 
    As a proud member of the LGBTQ community and micro-business owner, I needed to find "my people”—and that is exactly what I found in the GSBA. I found an organization that not only represented who I am, but wanted to see me succeed. As a GSBA member, I had access to all the tools I needed to get started in business: training workshops, networking events, and my business even got certified as a LGBT Business Enterprise through the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) thanks to GSBA's help.  
    Little did I know that I found more than a business chamber—I joined the largest LGBT and allied chamber in the nation that truly embodies the four pillars of their work: business, community, advocacy and philanthropy.  
    Today, I am proud to say that my healthcare center is able to flourish and provide gynecological, family building, lactation, acupuncture, massage therapy, and nutrition services to diverse members of the Washington State community and beyond.  We have launched a new nationwide service that certifies companies to be breastfeeding friendly, as well as, created access to lactation support to employees at the work site.  Additionally, we started a series of training for healthcare providers across the country to aid in breastfeeding success.
    BE YOUR OWN BOSS can mean many different things to many different people.
    Now, as a single mother, woman of color, micro-business owner in healthcare, in yet another abhorrent chapter in American history, I am confident that those who came before me, like my mother, Rosalinda, can see that my business is also my voice.
  • Labor Standards Outreach & Education

    | Mar 10, 2017

    Late last year GSBA received a significant grant from the City of Seattle’s Office of Labor Standards (OLS) to conduct outreach and education for our small businesses. We are part of a coalition with the Ethnic Chambers of Commerce Coalition, Business Impact Northwest, Cascadia Consulting, the Eritrean Community of Greater Seattle, and OneAmerica. Together with OLS and our partners we have created a curriculum to walk business owners through the current Seattle labor laws: wage theft, minimum wage, paid sick and safe time, fair chance employment, and secure scheduling.

    GSBA and our partners will be offering trainings throughout 2017. All are free and open to any business owner. One-on-one advice is also available for any business owner who has questions that go beyond the workshop. Here are some basic reminders:

    All places of employment must have THIS POSTER displayed in a conspicuous and accessible location at job sites in English and in the language(s) spoken by employees.


    Minimum Wage

    For 2017 the Seattle minimum wage is between $11 and $15, depending on the size of your business and benefits offered. Large employers (501+ employees) must pay $15 or $13.50 if they offer medical benefits. For small employers (>500 employees), the rate is $13/hour unless at least $2/hour is contributed toward medical benefits and/or the employee earns at least $2 in tips.


    Wage Theft

    Employers must pay all compensation owed on a regular pay day and give employees written information about their job and pay. The important details of this regulation that businesses should pay extra attention are the requirements around record keeping and what constitutes hours worked. Remember – work “off the clock” must still be paid!


    Fair Chance Employment

    Job ads cannot categorically exclude applicants with conviction or arrest records. Questions about conviction or arrest history can be asked, but only after screening for the job’s minimum qualifications. Applicants must have the opportunity to explain or correct their record. An employer must have a legitimate business reason that employing the applicant will harm the business or impact the employee’s ability to perform the job.


    Paid Sick and Safe Time

    Employers must provide employees with paid leave to care for themselves or a family member. As with minimum wage, there is a tiered accrual and use structure based on business size.

     PSST chart

    All employers must comply with the applicable laws. Retaliation is illegal in all cases.

    For more information about how to comply with Seattle's labor standards laws, please visit or contact the GSBA office about upcoming workshops and other educational opportunities.

    Workshops offered as part of our grant include:
    Tues May 23  |  1-3 PM  |  Seattle Public Library - Capitol Hill
    Thurs June 15  |  11:30 AM-1:30 PM  |  Business Impact NW
    Tues July 11  |  10-noon  |  Seattle Public Library - Queen Anne
    Thurs July 20  |  8-10 AM  |  GSBA Office
    Tues Aug 8  |  1-3 PM  |  Seattle Public Library - Greenwood
    Thurs Sep 21  |  11:30 AM - 1:30 PM  |  Business Impact NW

  • LGBT Economic Summit: Meet the Panelists

    | Mar 02, 2017

    Working Together for Shared Prosperity
    , the first-ever LGBT economic summit, will explore topics such as: leveraging the power of LGBT businesses; Blue State tourism; maintaining Left Coast politics in the post-election era; working together to promote diverse supply chains; and unlocking the power of bringing marginalized communities together.

    Through keynote presentations and panel discussions, attendees will share information, provide critical input to regional challenges, and build relationships with other LGBT and allied business leaders from Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, and British Columbia.

    Meet our distinguished panelists:

    Adamson, Bryan_145x135
    Bryan Adamson, Seattle University School of Law

    Bryan is an Associate Professor of Law at Seattle University. He has published numerous articles that demonstrate a diverse and interdisciplinary approach to scholarship on topics ranging from civil rights through the lens of the judicial procedures and how media institutions rationalize and reinforce racial hierarchies. He currently teaches a Consumer Protection Clinic and Mass Media Law and Policy and is a member of the GSBA Board of Directors.

    Clark_145x135Sally Clark, University of Washington

    Sally is the Director of Regional and Community Relations at UW. Her duties include working with the City-University Community Advisory Committee, the University District Partnership, Urban@UW, and the Arboretum Botanical Garden Committee all in service to helping the University accomplish its mission – the preservation, advancement and dissemination of knowledge – while being a great regional neighbor and collaborator. Prior to working at UW, Sally served more than nine years on the Seattle City Council, including as Council President 2012-2013.

    Edison_145x135Roz Edison, Marination

    Roz Edison is the COO and co-founder of Marination. Often the called the Director of Many Things, Roz makes sure that the operations of Marination run smoothly across all locations. She's known for making a spreadsheet for just about everything. Roz grew up in Athens, Greece with an undergraduate degree in French, and a Masters degrees in both business and education. Prior to Marination, she served in Peace Corps Romania, worked in public education in Boston, and advised at the University of Washington. Roz loves data, street food and gadgets.

    Fugere_145x135Joe Fugere, Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria

    Joe is the founder of Tutta Bella, the Pacific Northwest’s first certified, authentic Neapolitan pizzeria. In 2004, Joe opened his first restaurant and currently has five locations in the greater Seattle area. His restaurant group holdings expanded in 2016 to include operating The Hollywood Tavern in Woodinville, WA. Joe believes that there is a direct correlation between business success and creating shared values with employees, customers, peers, and community members. He regularly leads socially-responsible, small business initiatives in environments ranging from the White House to local neighborhood councils. In 2015, Joe testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions on behalf of Washington business owners and also met with Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez, as part of his "Lead on Leave Tour." Joe is currently actively involved with One America, which is a leading force for immigrant, civil and human rights. By nurturing a meaningful business that also reaps economic and social benefits, Joe hopes to encourage other local businesses to make investments in staff and community.

    Gardner_145x135Jaebadiah Gardner, Onpoint Real Estate

    Jaebadiah Gardner is the Founder & CEO of GardnerGlobal, Inc. and the Managing Partner for Onpoint Real Estate Services, LLC, a full-­service real estate brokerage firm in Seattle. He oversees the property management & development divisions, which include residential, multi-­family, condo buildings, and private and nonprofit clients. Jaebadiah is the driving force behind business development, real estate development and acquisition opportunities. Since its founding, GardnerGlobal, Inc. has grown from a team of one to nine, currently owns two companies and is heavily involved in the community fabric of Seattle. In addition, Jaebadiah is developing a 115-­unit affordable housing building and a 70-unit apartment building in Seattle. Jaebadiah's focus is building business through investments, partnerships and community.

    GILLIS_143x135Gladys Gillis, Starline Luxury Coaches

    Gladys founded Starline Luxury Coaches with a vision and a limited fleet of three shuttle buses. Over the years, she has become a respected leader in the transportation industry. Gladys has served on the board of World Affairs Council since 2010 and just recently finished her term as Chairman of the Board in February, 2015. She remains an active voice for the transportation industry at the national level. Since 2012 she has expanded her operations in Pullman, WA with Wheatland Express and in June acquired A & A Motorcoach with yards in Yakima, Wenatchee and Pasco. She currently serves on the GSBA Board of Directors and the GSBA Corporate Advisory Board and is recognized as the CEO of the largest, women-owned fleet in the Pacific Northwest.

    Herrera_145x135Michael Herrera, SoCal Gas

    Michael Herrera is the LGBTBE advisor for Southern California Gas Company in the Supply Management and Supplier Diversity departments. Michael has been an integral part of the supplier diversity group meeting and exceeding SoCalGas' supplier diversity goals for the past couple of years.

    Michael is also an alumni of SoCalGas' Volunteer Local Diversity & Inclusion Council and Employee Diversity Council and leads the corporate sponsorships between SoCalGas and the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, The Desert Business Association, The Golden Gate Business Association, The Long Beach Chamber of Commerce and The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

    Jimenez, Jen_145x135Jennifer Jimenez, Eastside Total Health & Lactation

    Jennifer Jimenez has been a Certified Nurse Midwife for over 20 years who earned multiple degrees from Columbia University. But when asked, she would say that her most valuable lessons were those taught to her by the Latino and Caribbean communities in the South Bronx, Washington Heights, and Harlem. She moved to Washington State from New York in 2015 and co-owns Eastside Total Health & Lactation (ETHL) in Kirkland. ETHL is a certified LGBT Business Enterprise that offers a gynecology, family building and lactation services with special attention for the LGBTQ and the single parent by choice communities.

    LEE_145x135Martha Lee, Chinese Chamber and the Ethnic Coalition of Chambers of Commerce

    Martha is the current president of ECCC for the Greater Seattle Area. She also serves on the board of the Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce and was the President for 2014 to 2015. Martha is a 2016 recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the White House. She has over 35 years of financial and management experience in various Senior Vice President and CFO positions with Royal Philips Electronic Corp.

    McClure_145x135Sam McClure, National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC)

    Sam serves as Senior Vice President at the NGLCC. In this role, Sam oversees the Affiliate Relations, External Affairs, and Supplier Diversity departments and is a member of the executive leadership team. In 2014, Sam led NGLCC’s legislative campaign to pass California Assembly Bill 1678, the first law of its kind in the nation which added certified LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs) to the Supplier Diversity program of the California Public Utilities Commission. In 2015, she lead the team that achieved the first statewide Executive Order to add not only LGBTBEs, but also Disability Owned & Veteran Owned Business Enterprises (DOBEs & VBEs) to the small business development opportunities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She is a leading voice on organizational development strategies and LGBT business inclusion. Driven by entrepreneurial spirit and an appetite for community and economic development, she is a passionate advocate for the LGBT community and a champion of Business Equality.

    McDermott_145x135Joe McDermott, King County Council

    Joe McDermott is currently serving his 7th year as a member, and 2nd consecutive year as Chair, of the King County Council. Holding a Master of Public Administration from the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs, he served a decade in the state legislature prior to joining the Council. Joe is a passionate advocate for vibrant and safe communities, reliable transit and transportation options, our environment, and civil rights. He currently resides in West Seattle with his husband Michael.

    Montes_145x135Frank Montes, California Hispanic Chamber

    Frank Montes uses his skills as a professional advocate to impact change at State and National levels in order to create a wide range of opportunities that will generate growth, education and prosperity for families, businesses and communities. In his work as a business owner, he uses his personal experience as an entrepreneur to identify with and understand his clients' needs and challenges. Mr. Montes has worked on local, regional and state legislative issues for the last six California state legislative assemblies and is fostering a professional history of representing individuals with elected and appointed boards. Additionally, he has lead efforts with volunteers, private consultants, and representatives of governmental agencies. As a proficient supporter, Mr. Montes has specific knowledge to address public policy issues that affect small business including lending, taxes, health care and shortage of skilled workers.

    Mirabella_145x135Joe Mirabella, Seattle Office of Economic Development

    Joe is the Communications Director for the Office of Economic Development. Previously, he served as Mayor Ed Murray's Social Media Manager. Joe is a former GSBA Board Member and has a passion for the intersection of equality and business.

    Morales_145x135Mark Morales, State of CA, Dept. of Insurance, Diversity Task Force

    Mark Morales has over 20 years of business banking experience and specializes in SBA financing and loan programs for diverse owned businesses. Mark was recognized by the SBA as the first lender nationwide to fund an SBA loan for an LGBT business in 2015. In March 2015 Mark was appointed to the California Department of Insurance's Insurance Diversity Task Force whose mission is to encourage increased procurement from California’s diverse suppliers and diversity amongst insurer governing boards. He is the first LGBT Business Enterprise advocate/representative since the task force inception in 2011. Mark is the President of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (LAGLCC) Board of Directors.

    Murray_145x135Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle

    Edward B. Murray became Mayor of Seattle in 2014 after 18 years in the Washington State Legislature, where he was a champion for LGBT rights. Within the first six months as Mayor, he convened a committee comprised of business, labor, and non-profit stakeholders to work out the terms of a deal that would benefit all involved and set the highest minimum wage in the nation. For this work, he was named one of Politico Magazine's "50 thinkers, doers and dreamers who really matter in this age of gridlock and dysfunction." Recently he has made headlines as one of the most prominent voices for sanctuary cities. Read more of his official bio here.

    Nelson_145x135Dean Nelson, and Whistler Pride and Ski Festival

    Dean has 11 years experience in LGBT travel and tourism as the producer of world class events including the annual Whistler Pride and Ski Festival; founder and executive producer of the 2010 Pride House at the Olympic Winter Games; and contributor and mentor for the 2012 Olympic Summer Games (London) Pride House, 2014 Olympic Winter Games (Sochi) virtual Pride House campaign, and the 2014 FIFA Women's World Cup Pride House. In 2016, Dean was awarded the Distinguished Alumni: International Human Rights Leadership Award from Thompson Rivers University for a decade of campaigning LGBT visibility in Travel and Tourism. He is a past board member of Travel Gay Canada and Vancouver Pride Society.

    Norwalk_145x135Tom Norwalk, Visit Seattle

    Tom Norwalk is President & CEO of Visit Seattle, the private, nonprofit marketing organization that promotes Seattle as a destination for international and domestic leisure travel, meetings and conventions. Norwalk oversees more than 60 employees in the organization’s main Seattle office as well as sales offices in Washington, D.C. and Chicago. He is responsible for all of the bureau’s operations, sales and marketing, finance and budget management and business development.

    Nyhus_145x135Roger Nyhus, Nyhus Communications

    Roger has advised numerous business and government leaders around the world since founding his firm in 1994. He excels at strategic public relations, public affairs and advocacy for innovative organizations and their leaders.
    In 2010, Roger was named Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Seattle Business Association, and Nyhus Communications earned the Seattle Mayor’s Small Business Award in 2009.

    Olson_145x135Karen Olson, Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass

    Karen Olson is the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass. Karen has the honor of working with some of the region’s top destinations to connect visitors with the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. She leads an amazing team of marketing, sales, and guest service specialists to turn guests into fans and moments into memories.

    Robinson_145x135Tim Robinson, Visit Spokane

    Tim Robinson is the Senior Director of Marketing & Communications at Visit Spokane, the official destination marketing organization for Spokane County, Washington. Tim joined Visit Spokane in 2013 as Director of Public Relations & Communications. Prior to working in the travel industry, Tim was a TV reporter and anchorman in Seattle (KING 5), Sacramento and Reno.

    Thornhill_145x135Curtis Thornhill, Apt Marketing Solutions

    Curtis Thornhill is the CEO of Apt Marketing Solutions, a firm that brings enterprise marketing practices to businesses of all sizes. Apt Marketing was named to the 2016 Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies and was profiled in Adweek magazine. Curtis frequently speaks and writes about improving the impact of technology, data, and processes in marketing.

    Trimiew_145x135Jason Trimiew, Facebook

    For nearly two decades, Jason has worked at the intersection of the marketplace and social impact in international microfinance, venture philanthropy, and community and economic development. In 2016, Jason joined Facebook to launch the company's first supplier diversity program and create more opportunity for diverse-owned firms do business with Facebook and the people and communities that Facebook connects. Prior to joining Facebook, he designed and led the community impact initiatives for Super Bowl 50, resulting in more than $20 million in grants for Bay Area nonprofits and contracts for local businesses. Jason was formerly a Managing Director at REDF and is the founder of Trimiew Strategy Group, a consultancy that helps clients develop, implement, measure, and scale products and programs that produce results for good.

    YarceBeto Yarce, Ventures

    Beto Yarce is an immigrant from Guadalajara, Mexico who moved to Seattle 14 years ago. He is the Executive Director for Ventures, a nonprofit organization that empowers individuals with limited resources and unlimited potential to improve their lives through small business ownership. Beto is passionate and inspired by the mission and for the opportunity to support other entrepreneurs with their dreams and helping them create their vision in a business.

    Yaeger_145x135Ken Yeager, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors

    Ken Yeager has been a pioneer for LGBTQ rights in Santa Clara County for nearly four decades. In 1984, he co-founded a four-county LGBTQ political action group called the Bay Area Municipal Elections Committee after coming out in the OpEd pages of the San Jose Mercury News. Shortly thereafter, he was appointed as the first chairperson of Santa Clara County's AIDS Prevention Task Force. Upon his election to the San Jose Community College District in 1992, he became the first openly gay elected official in the County. Ken then served six years as a San Jose City Councilmember and has served on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors since 2006. In 2008, Ken became a Deputy Commissioner for Civil Marriage and has since solemnized over 100 same gender unions. In 2015, he created the Santa Clara County Office of LGBTQ Affairs, the first county-level office dedicated to serving the unique needs of LGBTQ residents.

    Learn more about the LGBT Economic Summit here.



  • Paid Family Leave is coming to WA

    | Mar 01, 2017
    Paid family leave is coming to Washington!

    What precisely that will look like is still under negotiation. There were multiple proposals in the Legislature this year, although none of them made it out whole. The final product will be the result of negotiations between the caucuses in Olympia. There is also discussion from Seattle Councilmember Lorena González about establishing a Seattle-specific policy should the statewide policy not succeed.

    The United States is one of only eight countries in the world without a national paid family leave policy. Only 14% of the US workforce is covered by a paid family leave plan. The Family and Medical Leave Act provides 12 weeks of job protection - but not pay - for some employees of companies with more than 50 employees.

    What is paid family leave (PFL) in Washington?
    While policies vary greatly across the United States, there have been several constants across all the proposals in Washington this year. They have included paid leave for qualifying circumstances such as: a new child, the serious illness of a family member, and exigency for military leave.

    How is PFL funded?
    Proposals in Washington all have the program funded as a payroll tax administered by the Washington Employment Security Department. Proposals differed in whether the tax would be payed by the employees themselves or by a joint 50-50 contribution from both employees and employers. This tax would be pooled together for all workers in the state to access

    What are the proposed benefit levels of PFL?
    Proposals in Washington have varied in the amount of leave provided from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. Other jurisdictions have offered 4 weeks (Rhode Island), 6 weeks (California, New Jersey, San Francisco), 8 weeks (DC), and 12 weeks (New York State). The percentage of pay recieved while on leave varies across the country from 45% to 70%, while proposals in Washington range from 67% to 90% of average weekly wages, with additional provisions for those employees with incomes below statewide average weekly income.

    Are the jobs of employees on leave protected?
    All Washington proposals include provisions for protecting the jobs of those employees whose paid family leave. Some proposals included exemptions for businesses with 8 or fewer employees.

    More Information
    Economic Opportunity Institute
    National Conference of State Legislatures - Reports on Paid Family Leave
    Spokane Public Radio: Family leave proposals get hearing in Washington Senate
    Q13 FOX - New bill fights for 6 months of paid leave
    Trish Stroman: Paid Family Leave Doesn't Just Benefit Employees
  • Amy Woidtke: Making Space For You

    | Feb 24, 2017
    Amy-Woidtke-Logo-V002Amy is the Seattle time-saving, clutter busting organizer & assistant fiercely committed to guiding busy, growth-oriented LGBTQ and Allied professionals, who are serious about delegating and getting organized, to achieve transformation in their mental, emotional and physical space through Home and Office Organizing, Move Management and Lifestyle Maintenance. Clients experience increased freedom of time and energy so they can focus on broadcasting their brilliance and have more fun!
    This year, Amy has launched into public speaking and writing a book on making space for you.

    Her services combine that which she loves most: Making a difference in the quality of the lives of others, empowering change through intentional action and organizing spaces to create functional, feel-good launching pads.

    In this time of increased pace and demand on every day life, it's become even more crucial - and challenging - to make space for ourselves through self-care, decreasing overwhelm and streamlining our energies so we can live our best lives. Amy's services give clients that much needed “fresh air” in their mental, emotional and physical spaces. Clients literally call her their lifesaver.

    AW website 2.2016When she's not kicking butt for clients, Amy loves to spend time with family, including her partner Sebastian, their daughter, granddaughter and adorable handicapped kitty Merkat, whom they call their own personal superhero...she doesn't let two goofy back legs keep her down! Amy also loves movies, crafting, dancing, doing yoga and being in community. 

    Amy feels GSBA membership is important because it helps us to be easily found and in service to our LGBTQ and Allied community in the greatest ways possible. The GSBA offers an established platform for building connections and business, deepening relationships and giving back in a fun, friendly, feel-good environment which keeps on giving - just like the Energizer Bunny! She had the time of her life at the Taste being a walking greeter and dishing out compliments to all the fabulous attendees.

    Amy is friendly, resourceful and well-networked. She loves to give a super connection as much as she loves to receive one. If you see her out and about, don't be shy about introducing yourself! To learn more, visit
  • Winter Policy Update

    | Feb 15, 2017
    GSBA has been very active this winter, serving as your voice on LGBT civil rights and small business issues across our region.

    We have hosted small business round tables with Seattle City Councilmembers Tim Burgess and Kshama Sawant, in partnership with the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce. Dozens of our members were present at these events and were able to speak one-on-one with their elected representatives about the realities and challenges facing small business owners in Seattle.

    Continuing our work with the Office of Labor Standards, GSBA held its first workshop for small business owners on understanding the City of Seattle's six labor laws. We will continue to offer these events throughout the year along with our partners on the outreach and education grant. We worked hard to get the voice of our members to City Council when the head tax was proposed -- and defeated -- in January. On February 15 GSBA testified to City Council in support of the proposal to provide a dedicated funding source for the Office of Labor Standards through existing B&O tax revenue. This solution was drafted by Councilmember Burgess in consultation with both business and labor representatives.

    In Olympia we have greatly increased our presence on the ground by hiring a contract lobbyist. GSBA is actively involved in fighting to repeal Initiative 200, add a small business perspective to negotiations around paid family leave, ban assault weapons, support a statewide tourism marketing agency, and ban conversion therapy.

    We are actively working with our federal delegation - both Democrats and Republicans - to express our concerns relating to the change in administrations. We remain extremely worried about the status of LGBT anti-discrimination orders, about the safety of our undocumented students, attacks on women and minorities, and the general threats to our economy that could be severe with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. At the end of the month we will be convening a meeting with Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and leaders of the LGBT community to talk about ways in which we can work together.

    Most pressingly, we are actively working to relaunch the Washington Won't Discriminate campaign. While I-1515 failed to gather enough signatures last summer, our opponents are back with an even harsher effort to rollback our anti-discrimination laws and specifically target the transgender community with Initiative 1552. GSBA continues to lead the business community in fighting back to preserve our civil rights for the LGBT community.

    If you would like to get involved in GSBA's advocacy work, contact Public Policy Manager Matt Landers.
  • GSBA Supports AG's Campaign to Ban Assault Weapons

    | Feb 15, 2017

    The GSBA Board of Directors, acting on the recommendations of the Public Policy Task Force and Public Policy Council, has voted to endorse HB1134 / SB5050  which would ban the sale of assault rifles and high-capacity (more than 10 rounds) magazines. This legislation was proposed from the office of Attorney General Bob Ferguson. This legislation is similar to laws passed in Connecticut and New York, both of which were upheld as constitutional by the US Supreme Court. This legislation grandfathers current gun ownership, as well as exempts use by police and military. Existing weapons would not be required to register, but they are required to be safely and securely stored.

    GSBA has a long history of supporting gun control bills as an issue of importance to both the LGBT community and to small businesses. Most tragically shown in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, the LGBT community remains a target of violent acts of hate. Businesses and organizations, including several of our members and friends in the Seattle area, have been victims of gun violence as well. After all, what bank employee hasn't had a gun in their face at some point? Year after year, GSBA members overwhelming continue to support gun control measures like this one and we are proud to stand with our partners to make a safer society for us all.

    Track the bill here.

    WA Leg - HB 1134
  • Business of the Year: ZippyDogs

    | Feb 14, 2017

    Photo of Elise and Kelli of ZippyDogs
    The GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards honor businesses and business leaders who are successful, exemplify the highest standards of their profession, promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, demonstrate leadership and invest time and resources into their community.

    The 2016 Business of the Year is ZippyDogs, founded by Elise Lindborg and Kelli Henderson.

    ZippyDogs is a true Puget Sound LGBT business success story. Founded by Elise Lindborg and Kelli Henderson in 2000, Zippy Dogs is a proud LGBT leader-of-the- pack in helping companies reach their business goals through the creative use of promotional products.  They offer more than 800,000 items at their built-green world headquarters and are experts in made-in-the-USA and eco-friendly products. When Zippy Dogs was launched, the first organization they joined was GSBA and they used several GSBA members to help get their business going. In 2011, Zippy Dogs became a certified LGBT business enterprise through the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), through which both Kelli and Elise received scholarships to attend the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. From 2013–2014, they were recognized as the NGLCC supplier of the year. Elise and Kelli now share their expertise with other LGBT business owners by teaching workshops on how to successfully become part of a supply chain. They have given back to the LGBT community in many other ways including donating product and dollars to dozens of LGBT organizations, in addition to sponsoring CenterLink’s annual Executive Director Summit. Elise and Kelli’s vision is to continue to help other companies grow their businesses while growing their own as well.

    GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards | Feb 16 | Seattle Marriott Waterfront
    Learn more about the Awards and Recipients here.
  • Nonprofit of the Year: YouthCare

    | Feb 14, 2017

    Melinda Giovengo
    The GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards honor businesses and business leaders who are successful, exemplify the highest standards of their profession, promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, demonstrate leadership and invest time and resources into their community.

    The 2016 Nonprofit of the Year is YouthCare, led by President and CEO, Melinda Giovengo, PhD.

    Established in 1974, YouthCare’s mission is to build confidence and self-sufficiency for homeless youth by providing a continuum of care that includes outreach, basic services, emergency shelter, housing, counseling, education and employment training. During the 1990s, YouthCare made a commitment to provide LGBT-specific programming. LGBT youth are overrepresented in the youth homeless population and, with up to 40 percent self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning, many of them kicked out of their homes for being who they are. YouthCare has a 12-space queer and gender neutral housing program where LGBT youth can stay for up to 18 months. YouthCare staff are trained and supported to understand, advocate and teach about the inequities for youth.  YouthCare’s Orion Center is one of only five programs in the nation that provides transitional housing and education (including life skills) with the goal of helping homeless youth find their way back to school and into jobs, plus providing 24-hour drop-in services including access to food, showers, laundry, and social services. Executive Director Melinda Giovengo is published on issues surrounding homeless youth and speaks locally and nationally on youth homelessness. She is highly regarded for her expertise and her passion.  

    GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards | Feb 16 | Seattle Marriott Waterfront
    Learn more about the Awards and Recipients here.
  • Corporate Leader of the Year: John Zmolek

    | Feb 13, 2017

    Photo of John Zmolek
    The GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards honor businesses and business leaders who are successful, exemplify the highest standards of their profession, promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, demonstrate leadership and invest time and resources into their community.

    The 2016 Corporate Leader of the Year is John Zmolek, President and CEO, Verity Credit Union.

    A fitting title for John Zmolek could be Chief Community Enhancement Officer, because Verity Credit Union’s mission of enhancing the community and the lives of its members is what excites John the most.  Since becoming CEO in 2014, John has increased the credit union’s membership by 10 percent after many years of flat growth.  He believes that when you focus on the mission of improving communities, individual success will follow.  Verity employees are as motived as he is – 89 percent recently surveyed stated that they are motivated to fulfill the mission.  John came to Verity in 1986 as a board member, then joined the staff as CFO in 1990, and served in several executive capacities during his rise to CEO. Over the years, Verity has been an outlier in their field. During the housing crisis, 70 percent of their refinanced loans were successful when the industry standard was under 50 percent. Under John’s leadership, Verity adopted an advocacy policy and became the only credit union in the country to sign onto the amicus brief of the United State v. Windsor case and the only credit union in the state to become a business coalition partner of Washington Won’t Discriminate in 2016. Verity has been a generous sponsor and supporter of numerous GSBA activities and events such as Young Professionals with Pride. They are also a committed supporter of the Pride Foundation and participate in the SPD Safe Place program.

    GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards | Feb 16 | Seattle Marriott Waterfront
    Learn more about the Awards and Recipients here.