The GSBA Blog

  • Member Profile: Christy Brooker

    | Dec 15, 2016

    By Christy Brooker, owner of Damask Tattoo and Laughing Buddha Tattoo & Bodypiercing.

    I started working at a tattoo studio right out of high school in 1997. I knew I wanted to be an artist, but the wannabe punk rocker in me didn’t want to work for The Man. I realized in my senior year that doing tattoos was a way to make living in art, be super cool, and probably popular.

    Despite my attempts over the years to look like a badass, I’ve been told by several people that I’ll never lose the innocent and friendly look that I was born with. Only time will tell.

    I worked at the studio in my hometown of Missoula, Montana for a few years. After completing a tattoo apprenticeship, I realized the town was way too small for the big dreams of my 21-year-old self, so I started planning my move to the big city!

    In 2001, I arrived in Seattle and tattooed at several amazing studios in the area before opening my own in 2009. Damask Tattoo was born out of my desire to create a tattoo studio that was warm, welcoming and friendly - a space with a vibe more spa than biker parlor. Damask calls upper Queen Anne home and is well known for being the all-women tattoo studio. But not everyone here is, or identifies as, women. We hold an inclusive environment with a feminine touch.

    When the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity arose to purchase the 20-year-old landmark on Capitol Hill, Laughing Buddha Tattoo & Body Piercing, I jumped at the chance! Laughing Buddha has always been a woman-owned studio, and we were excited to keep it that way. The people at Laughing Buddha are incredibly kind and welcoming. We’re planning a complete makeover coming in the new year and we invite everyone to come take a look.

    It’s very important to me to be a member of GSBA because I can’t possibly keep up with all the changes in laws or threats to equality that would affect us all. It makes me feel good to be a member of an organization that does and can. I am also a very proud member of SEW, GSBA’s Seattle Entrepreneurial Woman group. I look forward to meeting with SEW every month to gain inspiration and keep up with the latest changes in laws and business. It’s also a monthly reminder that we’re not alone and that there are other women business owners who are happy to help or just grab a cup of coffee and talk about the hilarity of owning a business.

    I feel incredibly lucky to live and work in Seattle. This is my home and will be for a very long time. During this season especially, I feel honored, humbled and blessed to curl up to the warmth of the Seattle people. This is such a beautiful and accepting city. It’s good to be a part of something bigger and know that we’re all working hard to keep Seattle inclusive and safe. Happy, whatever holiday, if any, you celebrate and I wish you a prosperous and joyful new year!

  • Ambassador of the Month: Tomo Uehara & The Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival

    | Dec 08, 2016


    By Tomo Uehara. Tomo has been a GSBA ambassador since 2015 and is a Financial Services Professional with New York Life.


    It had been nearly three and a half years since I last visited my family in Okinawa, Japan. This time, I was feeling differently to be home than ever before.


    I moved to the U.S. in 2008 with two suitcases, seeking new opportunities. I left everything behind to start a new life in the dream land, or at least that’s what I thought. However, the first few years of life in the US did not go as I planned. I struggled a lot to find my path, struggled financially, and lost my motivation. Even more, I started losing my identity. “Why am I here?” “Who am I?” “Who is this Tomo?” My optimistic personality helped me get me back on my feet, and things are going well now and I even became a U.S. citizen in June 2014, but I never could have imagined such difficult transition in my new life.


    Now, fast forward to October 2016. Back to my homeland for 11 days. As always I had an amazing time with my family and friends. But this time was different and I was about to rediscover my heritage and identity.


    Over 110 years ago, many Okinawans migrated to Hawaii and South America to look for a better life. They worked very hard in hopes of creating a better life for themselves – just as many other immigrants to the Americas did. Even as more than a century passed, these Okinawans passed their traditions and pride of being Okinawan onto succeeding generations.


    Every five years, Okinawan government hosts its largest international event -- the Worldwide Uchinanchu (Okinawan) Festival -- offering thousands of overseas Okinawans an opportunity to return to their roots. Even though it was my first time attending, as the newly elected President of the Okinawa Kenjin Club of Washington State, I led a group of 150 PNW Okinawans to attend this event.


    During this five-day event, I met so many Okinawans from different parts of the world speaking languages like Portuguese, Spanish, English, Chinese, German, and French. Most of them did not even speak Japanese, as they were in their second, third, or even fourth generation abroad. For some of them, it was their very first time visiting their ancestors’ homeland.


    While I grew up on Okinawa myself, almost everything was a new experience to many of them. They were searching for their ancestors’ roots, meeting their long-lost relatives, and feeling the Okinawan breeze.  What amazed me was that these people born all around the world were so proud to be Okinawan. I almost felt ashamed that they felt more “Okinawan” than I did. These younger generations were filled with pride and a strong identity with a culture that they may never have been able to experience firsthand. I told myself that the hardships of my own migration were nothing compared to those who migrated over 100 years ago.


    IMG_7461As I walked down Kokusai Street in Naha City with my fellow Washington Okinawans (in Seahawks colors!), tens of thousands of people cheered “Welcome home!” to all of us. I have never felt so overwhelmed, and being home was much more than just seeing my family and friends. I am so proud to be Okinawan! Now it is my turn to pass on these great assets to next generation!

  • Letter from Uber on Rideshare Regulations

    | Dec 05, 2016

    GSBA has not yet taken any position on the issues mentioned below. As a matter of policy, GSBA does not weigh in on matters of unionization. Uber is a member of GSBA and has asked that we post this letter for our membership to see.

    We’re reaching out to our community partners about the City’s plans to deny thousands of drivers the right to vote on their future, which puts local jobs at risk and could make it difficult for rideshare companies like Uber to continue operating in Seattle.


    The City has just released draft rules to implement a law that enables the Teamsters to represent rideshare, for-hire, and taxi drivers. These rules give a minority of drivers the power to make decisions for everyone. They also offer no protections for driver privacy or protection from harassment or retaliation from the union.


    Uber respects and upholds the right of drivers to decide whether they want to be represented by a union. We believe every driver should have a voice in that decision. We hope you’ll support our effort to let the City know the current approach is not right. The deadline for public comment is Tuesday, December 6 and there are several ways you can get involved:


    1. Take a minute to hear the perspective of Debra, a local Uber driver-partner.
    2. Visit to learn more and reach out to the City of Seattle.
    3. Let @CityofSeattle know that #EveryDriverCounts and share on Twitter and Facebook.
    4. Sign up to join the Drive Forward Community Advisory Committee.
    5. Sign up to attend a public hearing at City Hall on December 6 at 1:30 p.m.
    6. Forward this email to your network and urge others to speak up for Seattle drivers.

    Brooke Steger
    General Manager, Uber PNW
  • Special Message from Your LGBTQ Community Leaders

    | Nov 09, 2016

    Despair, sadness, and shock are what so many of us are feeling this morning.
    How did our country, even with all its faults, elect a new leader that has campaigned with such total disregard for so many that make up the fabric of our nation? For so many of us who represent the breadth of differences that strengthen the country -- our LGBTQ families and friends; the differently-abled; racial, ethnic, and religious minorities; and all women -- today is a hard day. We need to acknowledge the profound kick in the gut we all feel and then, as we have always done, we will continue with more fervor than ever, persevere in our work to challenge discrimination and promote equality for all.
    In Washington State we still have a lot going for us. We have an amazing network of organizations that provide us with care and safety. We have elected leaders on the city, state and federal levels who will fight harder than ever for all of us. Yesterday we re-elected and elected decent, principled people to represent us and we successfully passed important initiatives such as increasing the state's minimum wage, a new gun safety measure, and a comprehensive regional mass transit system.
    Seattle's LGBT executive directors meet regularly to ensure that in challenging times we know who to turn to, and in joyous times how to come together to celebrate. This morning's meeting left us compelled to reaffirm our commitment to each of you and our community as a whole. Whatever your needs, we will be there for you. Whether you turn to film, music or the arts to heal and enrich your life. Whether you are searching for health care or struggling with mental health or addiction challenges. Whether you need safety from sexual, physical or emotional abuse. Whether you are looking to support underfunded nonprofits or are building a vibrant and economically healthy community as an entrepreneur. Your community stands ready to support you as we all continue our journey to be your voice for equality and to safeguard your civil rights as LGBTQ people. 
    If you are feeling emotionally overwhelmed or scared or sad, remember to reach out to talk with a friend, co-worker, or family member to share your feelings. If you need help, call Seattle Counseling Service's 24-Hour Crisis Line at 1-866-427-4747 for emotional support and care.
    We are family, we always have been, and we are stronger together.
    For equality,
    Danni Askini, Gender Justice League
    Connie Burk, The NW Network
    Louise Chernin, GSBA (Greater Seattle Business Association)
    Gary Davis, Companis
    Barbara Ebert, Lifelong
    Kris Hermanns, Pride Foundation
    Ann McGettigan, Seattle Counseling Service
    Jason Plourde, Three Dollar Bill Cinema
    Luis Fernando Ramirez, Entre Hermanos
    Steve Smith, Seattle Men's Chorus/Seattle Women's Chorus
    Fred Swanson, Gay City: Seattle's LGBTQ Center
    Josh Wallace, SASG (Seattle Area Support Groups and Community Center)
  • GSBA Letter on Proposed Seattle Head Tax

    | Nov 04, 2016

    GSBA sent this letter to the Seattle City Council in response to a proposal to implement an employee headcount tax to fund the Office of Labor Standards.

    Honorable Councilmembers,

    GSBA, one of the largest chambers in Washington with over 1,200 members, has supported the creation of an Office for Labor Standards and was a champion that this office be independent from the Office of Civil Rights. Given the importance to economic health of small business in our city, GSBA feels it is essential that this funding come from the city’s general fund and we applaud that the Mayor’s budget proposal shows that the City’s general fund can indeed readily address a much-needed expansion of the office.


    The current proposal by the City Council to fund the Office for Labor Standards with a head tax on businesses of all sizes is the surest way to discourage growth and give a disincentive to businesses considering expansion. The increase in fees would range from several hundred dollars per year to hundreds of thousands of dollars. For small businesses, increasing taxes on an already fragile existence in this increasingly expensive city could push them out of business or put a curb on any expansion. This increase would come as businesses in our city have consistently invested in what is best for this city and our communities. We already generate 50 percent of the tax revenue for the City of Seattle’s general fund and have been waiting for the city to do its part to demonstrate its support for our business community.


    GSBA believes in businesses investing in their employees and treating them right. That is why we are a proud supporter of Initiative 1433 to raise the minimum wage and implement paid sick and safe time at the state level. We have been a good-faith partner to the City as Seattle proposes and implements additional labor standards every year, even as the concerns and realities of small businesses are dismissed at nearly every turn.


    The cost of living and the cost of doing business is rising fast for Seattle, partially through the growth we are currently experiencing and partially through the intentional work of the City. While each individual policy might not have a significant impact, the cumulative effect is piling on our businesses, especially for the smallest businesses which anchor our neighborhoods and communities. A head tax on businesses makes it harder for businesses to increase their staff – the opposite of what should be the City’s goal.


    As you continue your deliberations, we strongly urge you to support the Mayor’s proposal for continuing to fund the Office of Labor Standards through the general fund. Implementing our city’s labor laws does not require a separate funding source but a clear commitment of support that the City of Seattle understands that everyone benefits from a healthy business environment and therefore, funding for this vital office be supported by Seattle’s General Fund.


    For equality,

    Louise Chernin, President & CEO

  • Member Candidate: Dan Shih

    | Oct 30, 2016

    GSBA has several members on the ballot this year. GSBA does not endorse candidates for elected office, but we are pleased to offer them a chance to speak to their fellow members.

    Dear fellow GSBA members,

    DanShihHeadshot1I’m Dan Shih, candidate for state representative in the 43rd District.  As an openly gay legal professional and a father of three girls in a two-dad household, I am deeply thankful for the GSBA’s advocacy over the last thirty-five years on behalf of our community.  Our district has a history of electing great leaders, and I hope to continue the tradition and to be a champion for LGBTQ equality and the concerns of businesses and professionals in our community.

    I’m honored that SEAMEC has given me its highest rating for leadership on LGBTQ issues.  I have been a dedicated advocate for our community through my work at QLaw to make the legal system fairer for LGBTQ people, as a board member at the ACLU of Washington advising on our civil rights projects, and as a volunteer attorney for Lambda Legal.  While we have made amazing advances in recent years, there is still work to do—for example, helping LGBTQ youth in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, protecting our LGBTQ elders, and ensuring equality for our transgender friends.

    As a working parent, I know how challenging it is to work a demanding job and provide for one’s family while making time for parenting and serving one’s community.  I also understand how hard it is to run a business.  I saw my parents struggle to make a success of their own small business.  Before starting my law practice, I was a business consultant and helped manage several companies.  Now, as an attorney, I know the challenges of running a professional practice.  I will be a representative who takes into account the unique difficulties that small businesses and professionals face and who works to find creative solutions that help working people while understanding the needs of employers.

    I am honored to be endorsed by The Seattle Times, which described me as the candidate who “has the disposition and talent to be a diligent, creative, workhorse lawmaker.”  I was also the sole candidate to receive an “Outstanding” rating from the Municipal League for being “a path-finding and respected leader” who “brings knowledge and creativity to issues facing the office.”  In addition, many get-things-done leaders have endorsed me, including State Senator Jamie Pedersen, former Mayor Norm Rice, and former Governor Gary Locke.

    I hope to earn your vote!  To learn more, please visit my website at or my Facebook page at

    Yours truly,
    -Dan Shih

  • 21 Years Out in the Heart of Madison Valley

    | Oct 28, 2016
    baasKarrie Baas, owner of Baas Framing Studio & The Madison Art Collective has been a member of GSBA since 1995.

    Karrie started picture-framing in 1984 in Anchorage, Alaska.  She and her wife of 30 years moved to Seattle in 1989 and Karrie enrolled at Cornish College of the Arts. After graduating in 1995 she found her space at the corner of Madison and 27th Avenue to open her own shop. Baas Framing Studio is proud to employ 3 artists.

    "I feel so lucky to have found GSBA in 1996. Soon after I opened my doors, a friend told me about GSBA and I joined right away. Having GSBA and its members in my personal and professional life has helped me in many ways. While moving to Seattle I promised myself that I would be proudly Out. I have never been closeted in my business and I feel my connection to other LGBT businesses has been such a gift."

    Next month they will celebrate 21 years in the heart of Madison Valley. Baas Framing Gallery would like to invite all GSBA members to join them for a celebration on November 10th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for an exhibition of Rebecca Allen's colorful landscapes & Curtis Yu's fabulous ceramics.
  • Member Candidate: Nicole Macri

    | Oct 28, 2016
    GSBA has several members on the ballot this year. GSBA does not endorse candidates for elected office, but we are pleased to offer them a chance to speak to their fellow members.

    Dear Friends and Colleagues at GSBA,

    I have spent my life providing solutions to problems many have considered intractable -- including how best to address affordable housing, homelessness, and the needs of people living with mental illness and addiction. My partner Deb and I have lived on Capitol Hill for more than a decade, and I am thrilled to be running for the State Legislature to put my experience to work for our community. With your help, I will be a champion for the people who live, love, play, earn their livings, and make their homes in the 43rd District.


    As the Deputy Director for the Downtown Emergency Service Center in Seattle, I am responsible for providing housing and services to 9,000 chronically homeless adults annually and overseeing a budget of $41 million and 550 employees. As President of the Board of Directors of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, I have helped to expand affordable housing across our state and champion policies that protect renters and homeowners from discrimination and displacement.

    These experiences have earned me the sole endorsements of over 30 current and former local elected leaders, including State Representative Brady Walkinshaw, who currently holds this seat, Mayor Ed Murray, seven Seattle Councilmembers, former Mayor Mike McGinn, former King County Executive Ron Sims, and many state legislators.

    I am also pleased to include Equal Rights Washington, The Stranger, the LGBT Victory Fund, EMILY’s List, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, and Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest among my endorsements.

    This is a dynamic time in our region. I believe the State can be a better partner in helping ensure Seattle and all communities in Washington thrive. Together, we can make sure that no one experiences the dangers and indignities of not having a home or of enduring discrimination for who they are; that all students get a good education and can attend college without being mired in debt; that our environment is protected today and for generations to come; and, that the important role that small businesses play in the vibrant neighborhoods of our district is protected and upheld.

    This seat in our legislature holds a great distinction. It has been held by an LGBT individual since 1987, the longest streak in the world. Thanks to strong leadership by our past representatives, this seat has been historically significant in the fight for LGBTQ civil rights in our state and across our nation. I take the responsibility of carrying on this important legacy very seriously, and look forward to continuing this trend. As your representative, I will work to ensure that LGBTQ people are free from discrimination and have safe access to spaces and services, and to close the gender pay gap by ensuring equal pay for equal work and establishing paid parental leave.

    Throughout my career, I have shown that with determination and collaboration, we can solve tough problems in ways that make things better for all of us. I got into this race because I know we can take that experience and determination to Olympia to expand opportunity and equity for people across this state. As your legislator, I will work to ensure the future can be brighter for everyone in Seattle and across our state. In short, I will work for you. I look forward to earning your vote.

    Please visit my campaign website and Facebook page at and

    Thank you,

    Nicole Macri
    Friends of Nicole Macri

  • Ambassador of the Month: Randy Card

    | Oct 26, 2016

    Randy Card is a Business Banking Manager with First Financial Northwest Bank.

    Randy CardI joined GSBA about six years ago and found that this organization plays a huge part in our Greater Seattle market. They support our local communities, help our local businesses and advocate for our LGBT community. I’m currently an ambassador and member, and serve on the Membership, Outreach, and Engagement (MOE) committee. The most rewarding part of my involvement with GSBA is new people, and building lasting relationships.

    I work for First Financial Northwest Bank as a Business Banking Manager in Mill Creek, with more than 24 years of service in Retail Banking. I specialize in Business Relationship Management and Business Development in the Snohomish County and Greater Seattle Market. The best part of my job is meeting with amazing people and building relationships, both on the client level and employee/peer level. I am an active volunteer with various organizations and support many of our local nonprofits.

    Other things I enjoy are: being with my husband and Rosie (our German shepherd) and spending time with friends and family. My hobbies include cooking, traveling, enjoying the outdoors, nightlife, and anything our beautiful Pacific Northwest has to offer. If you interested in what GSBA has to offer and how it can best serve your business, or if you are looking for a new fresh outlook in financial needs please don’t hesitate to contact me.

    GSBA ambassadors promote the role of GSBA in the community by welcoming new members, encouraging current members to maximize their membership and assisting in increasing engagement of new and existing members. For more information about becoming a GSBA ambassador contact Ilona Lohrey.

  • Your Investment at Work: Nick La Berge

    | Oct 26, 2016

    NLB 2My name is Nick LaBerge (he/his/him), and I am a second-year scholar from Tacoma.  I am a student at Claremont McKenna College, a small liberal arts college in Southern California.  Although I have not yet declared my major, it will likely incorporate a combination of science, economics, and philosophy.

    My friends and family wholeheartedly accepted and supported me when I came out to them as gay in high school.  For this, I consider myself extremely lucky.  The support of these valued allies helped make my high school experience positive, yet it could only do so much for my sense of belonging.   I only had a handful LGBTQ peers and one or two LGBTQ adults that I could look up too, which I found lonely and discouraging.  This changed drastically after I was awarded a scholarship by the GSBA.  I took my mom to the scholar’s dinner, where we were met by hundreds of successful and supportive LGBTQ adults.  The entire night, I felt on the verge of crying with joy; joy that such a large room could be filled with people who accept me, joy that my future could possibly be as bright as any of the people I met, joy that I would be able to go to my dream college, joy that I belong.  That dinner (despite me having been scheduled to speak at the very end with terrible stage-fright) is one of my most cherished memories.

    Through Claremont McKenna College, I was awarded a fellowship for the summer.  As an Appel Fellow, I had the unique opportunity to pick-my-own-adventure for an experience that would culminate in a meaningful writing project.  I chose to spend my summer in Buena Vista, Panama volunteering for the non-profit organization Cambio Creativo.

    Cambio Creativo is a small non-profit organization dedicated to the underserved community that formerly resided in Coco Solo--an abandoned and dilapidated US Navy facility.  This community was recently moved to government subsidized housing in Buena Vista, where they must re-learn to survive.  Cambio Creativo focuses much of its energy on the children of this community.

    On school days in Panama, I tutored local youth (ages 7-18) in English, Spanish, math, and science in an after school program. I additionally helped with the the small organization's website and record-keeping.  On the weekends, I taught an english vocabulary building class for all ages.

    NLB 1One highlight of my experience took place during one of my tutoring sessions with a young woman named Maria.  She is 18 years old, recently married, and soon likely to be starting a family.  She has a particularly hard time with chemistry homework, and I was nervous that its complexity would limit my ability to help her on account of my limited Spanish fluency.  We decided to save it for last.  She was learning how to find the empirical and molecular formulas of a molecule based on the percentages of each element's mass within the molecule--something that I remembered enough of from high school.  We slowly went through each step of the problems, until she could do them on her own.  She was excited that she could feel confident for her upcoming quiz, and I was thrilled to have made a measurable contribution.

    I lived with an amazing host family for the entire 8 weeks I stayed in Panama, and my host brother was my best friend.  I went with him to community events like bingo fundraisers for the local church, traditional dancing performances, and community beach outings.  Also, I worked in the communities "centro," where lots of youth spent their free time.  There, I played ping pong, chess, or sometimes just talked with members of the community.

    Although my stay in Panama was relatively short and I was working in a field that I am unlikely to pursue professionally,  I think I learned more this summer than I could have learned in any corporate setting.  I learned about another culture and another way of life.  I grew fluent in Spanish, I made friendships that will continue for years, and grew close with a small community that I think about often and that I hope to visit again soon.  In a lot of ways, this summer experience reminded me why organizations like the GSBA are so necessary, as it highlighted the importance of education, friendship, community, and family.  I learned that the best experiences are not always the easiest or the most enjoyable, but the reward for leaving my comfort zone can outweigh the initial cost of discomfort. And while I learned all of this, I was also reminded that there is so much that needs to be done to support underserved communities around the world.

    Thank you so much, GSBA, for supporting me as I strive to learn as much as I can and expand my worldview.

  • 7th Congressional District: Pramila Jayapal

    | Oct 25, 2016

    This year GSBA is extending our Candidate Forum programming to our blog and asking select races to answer a series of questions from our Public Policy Task Force. GSBA does not endorse candidates for office. Both candidates in this race have been sent an identical questionnaire.

    Senator Pramila Jayapal, running for the 7th Congressional District

    pramilaBoth candidates in this race talk about making the 7th District a national leader. What is unique feature of the district that can serve to address a national problem?
    We live in one of the most progressive districts in the country, which affords us the opportunity to lead on progressive issues. We also live in an area that is known for its innovation and tech industries, and the importance we put on taking care of our environment. Living in a city where so many people have a passion for activism allows us the space to build the movements necessary to create change. My work bringing people together in Seattle across progressive organizations and across the aisle to pass legislation on controversial demonstrates how I have the skills to champion these issues at the national level. I built movements with Seattle communities on issues such as immigration, climate, and police accountability.  In addition, the ability to increase federal resources to address challenges that not only Seattle but major cities across the country are facing, such as transportation, infrastructure investment, homelessness and housing, are absolutely top priorities on the national agenda and we will have to work hard in a divided Congress to bring those solutions right here to the District. My work to build coalitions both here and nationally is the reason that I have garnered the endorsements of so many different sectors, as well as 20 members of Congress who will be absolutely essential to hitting the ground running.

    The 7th is the single most trade-dependent district in the country. The Port of Seattle alone generates over 216,000 jobs, $9 billion in personal income, and nearly $900 million in state and local taxes. How will you work to support the economy of the 7th District in Congress?

    Trade is extremely important to the region.  You can no more stop trade than you can stop migration, nor is either desirable.  It is precisely because the 7th is the most trade-dependent district in the country that we must craft trade policies that foster a healthy economy, one in which both local businesses and workers thrive and that guarantees protections to our shared environment and public health.

    House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said it best when she said we must ensure that civil society is at the center of any trade agreements, not investors.  I will work to ensure that our trade policies are negotiated in the interest of communities across the 7th District by ensuring that both labor and environmental voices are at the table along with businesses.  I do not support the Trans Pacific Partnership because it undermines worker and environmental protections, undermines local jurisdiction over those very protections at home, and gives too much power to multinational corporations, including around patent protection extensions that would limit the ability to provide essential life-saving drugs at affordable prices to those around the world who need them the most.

    It is precisely because of my strong support from so many different sectors of the community, and my commitment to ensuring that the 7th Congressional District is a leader on crafting trade policies that benefit our state and our country that I believe I can play a unique role in ensuring we have fair trade agreements that benefit our economy, our environment, and our workers.

    The 7th District has one of the highest percentages of LGBT people in the country. How will you address the particular needs and priorities of our community?
    I have been a long-time ally of the LGBTQ community and will continue to fight for full LGBTQ rights and work to include voices from LGBTQ communities in coalition-building on a broad set of relevant issues ranging from anti-discrimination in employment to health equity.

    As a grassroots activist with One America, I pushed for LGBTQ equality by joining the coordinating committee of the Washington United for Marriage campaign. I brought together LGBTQ and immigration rights movements in the battle for marriage equality. Broadening the movement helped us create an even greater impact for change.

    In Congress, I plan to join the Congressional Equity Caucus to pass the Equality Act and Every Child Deserves a Family Act and Every Child Deserves a Family Act. These pieces of legislation would establish protections against discrimination for LGBTQ people in employment, education, housing and adoption, among others.

    I am so proud to have the endorsements of national and local LGBTQ leaders and organizations.  SeaMec gave me a top ranking in the primary election, ranking me higher than my opponent in the general election, Brady Walkinshaw.  I have won the dual endorsement of Equal Rights Washington for my longstanding work on LGBTQ issues.  I also have been endorsed by numerous local and national LGBTQ leaders including (Organizations for identification purposes only): Locally:  Danni Askini, Sarah Toce (Editor in Chief, Seattle Lesbian), Cuc Vu (Director, City of Seattle, and former Director of Diversity at Human Rights Campaign), Ray Corona (Commissioner, LGBT Commission, City of Seattle), Rita Smith (LGBTQ Leader); and many others.  Nationally: Gautam Raghavan (former LGBTQ liaison to President Obama); Mara Keisling (Executive Director of National Center for Transgender Equality) and Rea Carey (Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force).  For a full list of endorsements, please see the website:

    Based on your skills and interests, in which Congressional committees do feel you would be most effective?
    I currently serve on both the Health Care and Transportation committees in the State Senate and I would like to continue to serve on those two committees, as well as Judiciary (which covers both criminal justice and immigration policy).  I have deep experience in health care, having fought for a single payer healthcare system that ensures access for all and having worked on expanding health care for families here and around the world through my work at PATH for many years, as well as locally on reproductive rights.

    I also have been extremely privileged to serve on the Transportation Committee at a critical time, helping to ensure the best possible transportation infrastructure package that puts $15 billion into our transportation infrastructure in this state over the next ten years, creating 200,000 jobs across the state.  My work on the committee was essential to ensuring that we did not allow for false choices around the environment and transit, and to modernize our transportation infrastructure while also promoting jobs and transitioning to a clean energy economy. As a State Senator on the Transportation Committee, I used transportation as as a pathway to promote jobs and reduce carbon emissions by investing in Washington State’s electric vehicle infrastructure and pushing for $5.25 million in pre-apprenticeship programs for women and people of color.

    My work on criminal justice and immigration policy reform has a long track record, and I look forward to bringing that experience to bear on Judiciary.

    Where is HIV on your policy agenda?
    I got my start in Seattle more than twenty years ago, working for an international public health nonprofit. While there I helped implement health programs that expanded access to health care for women and families with a focus on preventive care through vaccine programs, diagnostics and lowering the costs of drugs to treat diseases. HIV/AIDS was a very important part of all this work.  The loan fund that I was the director of at PATH funded many activities around HIV, including education and prevention through contraceptive social marketing program in Indonesia to prevent transmission; vaccine development; and other forms of education, prevention and treatment resources. I am committed to working for health equity for all communities. I have a track record as a grassroots activist and State Senator of working to expand health care access for women, families, and underserved communities with a focus on preventative care. In addition to supporting access to health care for people with HIV, the federal government must also invest in HIV research and development to combat and prevent the disease, and education programs to fight the stigma associated with HIV, while stressing the continued need for prevention and safe-sex.

    It is also essential that we invest in more treatment and research, including both domestically and globally when less than half of the people who need antiretroviral therapy are receiving it. In 2015 there were over 2 million new HIV infections worldwide, adding up to a total of over 36 million people living with HIV.

    I would support increased funding to combat HIV on a global scale and push to make America lead the way in achieving the 90-90-90 targets (90% of people with HIV to be diagnosed, 90% of the diagnosed to receive HIV treatment, and 90% of people receiving treatment to have an undetectable viral load) laid out by the United Nations and the World Health Organization, which scientists have said is necessary in order to bring the spread of HIV under control.

    Click here to see Brady Walkinshaw's responses.

  • GSBA Board Member: Jen Jimenez

    | Oct 25, 2016

    Jen JimenezWelcome to our newest member of the GSBA board of directors!

    Jennifer Jimenez is a certified nurse midwife and co-owner of Eastside Women's Health Center in Kirkland, WA. After receiving two bachelor's degrees and a master's from Columbia University in New York City; Jennifer started her Midwifery career caring for the underserved community in the Bronx where she caught hundreds of babies. She then went on to join a group of elite providers in Manhattan where she honed in on developing new skills to care for high risk population. All throughout her 20 year career, she has dedicated her life and craft to social justice and high quality healthcare with special focus on the LGBTQ community. She now continues her dedication at the health center where she and her colleagues serve the community with family building, gynecology, lactation, acupuncture and massage therapy services.
  • Member Candidate: Cathy Moore

    | Oct 25, 2016

    GSBA has several members on the ballot this year. GSBA does not endorse candidates for elected office, but we are pleased to offer them a chance to speak to their fellow members.

    160708ROSAMOOREC_029-2Dear fellow GSBA members:

    For too many, the promise of “justice for all” is out of reach. I am running for King County Superior Court to change that. With 20 years of experience working to remove barriers to justice in the legal system and community, I know how important it is to have judges who are committed to making the justice system work for everyone.

    Rated “exceptionally well-qualified” and “well-qualified” by local bar associations, I am the only candidate in this race with judicial experience in King County Superior Court. 

    As a judge and commissioner pro tem in King County Superior Court for six years, I made the difficult judgment calls in family, juvenile and mental illness courts - the courts experiencing the highest growth in cases. As a tribal court judge, I kept defendants in Drug Treatment Court on track to success, reducing recidivism and the need for incarceration. And, as an administrative law judge with the Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings, where the majority of cases involved unrepresented low-income individuals, I diligently conducted full and fair hearings providing equal justice regardless of income level.

    Over the course of my career, I have provided thousands of hours of free legal representation to those unable to afford an attorney, managed a legal services program for survivors of domestic violence, served as a consumer rights advocate for indigenous peoples targeted by predatory lenders, and served as an advocate for abused and neglected children as well as youth in foster care. As an elected member of the Board of Governors of the Washington State Bar Association, I developed a funding source that continues to fund free legal services to those unable to afford an attorney. As elected Chair of the Seattle Human Rights Commission, I worked to bring greater transparency and accountability to the disciplinary process for police officers.

    I have ten years of litigation experience as a former public defender and family law attorney as well as experience as a mediator and restorative justice facilitator.

    My endorsers include Washington State Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu, Justice Steven González and Chief Justice Barbara Madsen. I am endorsed by local and county Democratic organizations, labor unions, state and local representatives, women’s groups, attorneys and a host of community leaders.

    I know that unequal access and racial disparity are undermining the fair and impartial administration of justice. I believe judges have a responsibility to ensure that the courts are accessible, fair, and equitable for everyone. If elected, I will ensure access, equity, and fairness in the court. Please support me on November 8th in the effort to make justice for all a reality in King County Superior Court!

    To learn more visit my website and Facebook page:
  • The Business of Pot

    | Oct 19, 2016

    Biz of Pot“Washington is a pioneer. Our companies and brands will lead the way.”

    Jody Hall of The Goodship Company and Cupcake Royale emphasized the first-in-the-nation status that our state, along with Colorado, holds in the world of recreational cannabis at GSBA’s Business of Pot event. Conversations among panelists and the audience returned again and again to both the serious business around this newly legal industry as well as how to make it better for everyone.

    Hosted by Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes/Dsquared Company at their Melrose Market Studios and sponsored by Leafly during the arrival of the big fall windstorm, guests came prepared to network and to build solid business connections. From growers to producers to retailers, and from financing to marketing to legal assistance, every facet of the industry was represented. We had long-time members like Sally Schultz, a commercial mortgage lender who has expanded her business to include 502 financing, and brand-new members like Vela, a hypermodern extraction lab and store.

    A superstar panel of experts, moderated by longtime GSBA member Jody Hall, discussed the economic impact, opportunities, and challenges of Washington’s cannabis industry. Alison Holcomb of the ACLU was the author of Initiative 502 which legalized recreational cannabis in Washington in 2012. “My vision for I-502 was always for it to be the first brick thrown through that window,” she explained. “The work isn’t done, and there are still more bricks to be thrown, but that first hole is there with cracks spreading across the glass.”

    Sam Méndez of the Cannabis Law & Policy Project discussed the tremendous revenue that Washington has raised with the highest excise taxes on cannabis projects – significantly higher than any other state, but still slightly less than we levy on alcohol. Over $180 million in excise taxes have generated funds for prevention and funding for various state agencies, but an increasing proportion is being added to the general fund to make up for significant shortfalls elsewhere, such as education funding. As with the gold rushes of eras past, Sam said that “Lots of people are dreaming of riches,” but that very few will actually achieve them in this competitive landscape.

    Dockside Cannabis Director Oscar Velasco-Schmitz, another longtime GSBA member, argued for a stronger distinction between medical and recreational uses. He also added that the most promising entry into the cannabis industry is through ancillary services such as marketing, design, and legal. Meg Owen, Senior Digital marketing Manager at Leafly described their tremendous growth in many of those various services that Oscar described. Describing itself as the “Yelp of pot” Leafly is the world’s largest cannabis information resource and does nearly everything except handle the product itself. Leafly has an extensive cannabis business development program that assists aspiring entrepreneurs reach the largest audience, create targeted marketing campaigns, and connect with resources for every step of the way.

    DSC00714The end of the panel raised several complex but deeply important questions about the industry. “How can we build an industry that lives up to our values?” Holcomb asked. Hall said that her companies were trying to institute intentional policies to hire people from groups disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs and to give them equity in those businesses. An audience member brought up the devastating impact that the War on Drugs has had on communities of color, while many of the biggest beneficiaries of legal cannabis are white people who also have easier access to capital. Méndez urged that Washington belatedly follow the example of Oregon’s legalization process, which included the automatic expunging of past cannabis convictions.


    UW School of Law - Cannabis Law & Policy Project
    GSBA Cannabis Members
    Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Board

  • Secretary of State Kim Wyman

    | Oct 12, 2016

    This year GSBA is extending our Candidate Forum programming to our blog and asking select races to answer a series of questions from our Public Policy Task Force. GSBA does not endorse candidates for office. Both candidates in this race have been sent an identical questionnaire with the exception of the final question.

    Secretary of State Kim Wyman

    Kim-Wyman1. Voter participation is declining in Washington. What specifically can the office of Secretary of State do to re-engage the voting population?
    Washington currently leads the national average in voter turnout. Voter turnout is on the decline nationally, but Washington’s turnout is consistently above the national average. As Secretary of State, my office has been working to engage voters in multiple ways. We work with youth education program that engage K-12 and college students in our state’s history and government, and help them develop an interest in civics. I also have pushed for bills in the legislature that would increase voter engagement, like automatic voter registration and pre-registration for 17-year-olds. These solutions would increase voter participation in Washington.

    2. Do you believe reforms are needed in the initiative and referendum process?The initiative and referendum process continues to work as the framers intended over 100 years ago. Many petitions are filed, few qualify for the ballot and even fewer become law. It’s incredibly important to defend people’s right to file an initiative, which was designed as a ‘relief valve.’ We’ve seen many important initiatives in recent years. Any restriction made against one person’s ability to file initiatives can be used against any other person. For that reason, I would be very careful before advocating to restrict anyone’s right to file or sign an initiative or referendum.

    3. How can the Secretary of State’s office streamline the permitting and licensing process for small businesses and nonprofits?
    My office has completed the upgrade necessary to start a one stop portal for businesses in Washington and we will be installing this fall. We will continue working with other state agencies (as opposed to government agencies) to simplify business filings, including creating a portal to connect our office to other filing agencies, like the Department of Revenue.

    Once online, this portal will cut down on wait time and allow business owners to handle all of their permitting needs in one place. My office has also streamlined the permitting process for small businesses and charities, reducing wait times from weeks to days or even hours. I’m proud of the work we’ve done in my first term.

    4. With the recent discovery of privacy lapses in the state’s voting system, how is your office working to secure voters’ personal information?
    We have successfully defended Washington’s elections against cyberattacks. My office has worked closely with both federal departments and county election offices across the state to ensure our system is safe. While there was a small design flaw in our online registration system, no sensitive voter information was ever exposed, nor was the system hacked. Our elections are secure, and my office has been working for quite some time with local, state, and federal agencies to ensure that voters’ personal information is secure.

    My office has been working with the Department of Homeland Security to identify potential weaknesses and threats, and to develop responses. Additionally, my office regularly consults with experts on cybersecurity to make sure we are anticipating attacks, not merely defending against them.

    Click here for Tina Podlodowski's responses to these questions.
  • Tina Podlodowski for Secretary of State

    | Oct 07, 2016

    This year GSBA is extending our Candidate Forum programming to our blog and asking select races to answer a series of questions from our Public Policy Task Force. GSBA does not endorse candidates for office. Both candidates in this race have been sent an identical questionnaire with the exception of the final question.

    Tina Podlodowski, running for Secretary of State


    1.       Voter participation is declining in Washington. What specifically can the office of Secretary of State do to re-engage the voting population?

    The Secretary of State’s office needs to do so much more. My first act in office will be to perform a 39 county audit of the election system. Let’s identify who isn’t participating, and then use strategies that are designed to engage that particular population at the local level. For example, the Makah Tribe votes at 98% in tribal elections, 17% in statewide elections. Why? Lack of the drop box on the reservation, a problem they Identified 10 years ago and still hasn't been fixed. In my visits to all 39 Washington counties to talk to voters, I've collected hundreds of these stories. Let's fix these issues, and add in the "big" policy issues of postage-free ballots, same day registration, automatic voter registration, pre- registration for 16 and 17 year olds, and, finally, pass the Washington State Voting Rights Act.

    2.       Do you believe reforms are needed in the initiative and referendum process? 
    Yes, absolutely. When we started the initiative and referendum process in 1912, no one envisioned the rise of Tim Eyman, his billionaire backers, and his abuse of of the system. I would lead a joint review of the entire process with Attorney General Bob Ferguson and a bi-partisan panel to propose legislative fixes to the process (and if that fails, perhaps an initiative!).

    3.       How can the Secretary of State’s office streamline the permitting and licensing process for small businesses and nonprofits?
    Start by implementing the one stop business portal that my opponent promised when she ran in 2012 and hasn't accomplished. This would bring the databases of SoS, Revenue, Licensing and L&I (to start) in one easy to use site. Then, I intend to propose a cross-agency LEAN process that includes paralegals and small business people (true "power users" of the systems) to create a work plan to systematically streamline various siloed processes, and fix out-of-date ones. Finally, let's bring some of the best and brightest together in out tech community to look at usability and user interfaces and how those impact diverse customer audiences.

    4.       Many of your strongest calls to action earlier this year were to cancel the late primary election and use the money saved to pre-pay postage on general election ballots. There are valid concerns about the expense of an effectively meaningless primary election, but the alternative caucus system has dramatically lower turnout and significant barriers to participation. Would your priority be to save the state money or to increase voter participation?
    Both! First off, we've outgrown the caucus system and it should be retired. But our primary system is broken as well - we cancelled the 2004 and 2012 presidential primaries, and the August primary date for local and statewide races does not serve voters well.

    In a year with a presidential primary, we spend $11.5M in taxpayer dollars twice, for the two different primaries (presidential and State). Let's look at both moving up (an earlier date) and combining into one election date - I am confident there's a solution that saves money, eliminates confusion, and increases turnout.

    Click here for Kim Wyman's responses to these questions.
  • The GSBA Guarantee

    | Oct 03, 2016
    As we head toward fall, students will be starting or returning to school and another academic year will begin. GSBA has just celebrated awarding 25 years of scholarships to our future leaders and this year we awarded the largest amount of scholarships in a single year, $410,000.00. This most recent class of 55 scholarship recipients has just begin this school year knowing they have the support of our members, our community, and our business leaders who have given so generously to make such significant and positive changes for each of these scholars.

    GSBA has made a deeper and more impactful level of commitment to our scholars by ensuring that we provide scholarships throughout our students’ four years of undergraduate school. Our goal is to support them from the start of school until graduation. We want to expand economic opportunities for our graduating scholars as they become our future members and business leaders. It is no longer about just getting students into college; it’s about getting them through college.

    GSBA is committed to supporting students beyond the dollar. Financial barriers are one of the major reasons students do not graduate from college. By significantly decreasing and in most cases eliminating this barrier, GSBA has opened doors for students to focus on one of the biggest factors related to a student’s ability to persist through to graduation, feeling connected to a community. Not only to their campus community, but to a community of people like them who believe in their abilities and know they have the power to be successful change agents within their community.

    To support their continued growth and development over the next few months we will be exploring the development of both a leadership program for our current scholars and an alumni program for past scholars. The models for these two efforts are still being developed, but will be implemented in the near future to guarantee the success of our scholars.
  • 7th Congressional District: Brady Walkinshaw

    | Sep 30, 2016
    This year GSBA is extending our Candidate Forum programming to our blog and asking select races to answer a series of questions from our Public Policy Task Force. GSBA does not endorse candidates for office. Both candidates in this race have been sent an identical questionnaire.

    Representative Brady Walkinshaw, running for the 7th Congressional District

    Both candidates in this race talk about making the 7th District a national leader. What is a unique feature of the district that can serve to address a national problem?

    We live in one of the most innovative, economically vibrant, forward-looking parts of our country. Because of the national relevance of our community in the central Puget Sound, our 7th Congressional District is a district that can and should lead over the long-term. With an effective and dedicated federal partner, our District can model what it means to grow an urban center with equity and environmental sustainability.

    As urban centers have grown and led the way on innovation, they’ve also become increasingly unequal and struggled with the lack of federal partnership on issues from environmental sustainability to homelessness to transportation to small business development.  

    In Congress, I’ll be the federal partner to our community so that we can tackle the immediate issues we face both at home and nationally.  This means reinvestment in a mental health system that we’ve systematically divested from for over 40 years.  This means a federal response to homelessness.  This means ensuring that Seattle receives the federal transportation support over the long-term to innovate on areas from high-speed to rail to basic infrastructure. And finally, this means that we lead the way in the shift to a low-carbon economy. There are 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives but there is only one, whose job is to serve our home in the Northwest.  As we build long-term leadership in Congress from our home, our innovation and our values in the Northwest can move to our country’s mainstream.

    The 7th is the single most trade-dependent district in the country. The Port of Seattle alone generates over 216,000 jobs, $9 billion in personal income, and nearly $900 million in state and local taxes. How will you work to support the economy of the 7th District in Congress?

    We do live in the most trade dependent Congressional District in our country.  Our maritime industry alone generates 30% of Seattle’s tax base.  I’m running for Congress exactly because of these aspects of the Northwest.  Our employers – large and small – in Seattle and the central Puget Sound contribute to a region that is poised for growth for a long time to come.  

    In the State legislature I have been a partner to groups like the Washington State Convention Center to support the expansion in Downtown Seattle. I’ve worked with employers and the GSBA to pass important criminal justice reforms that create employment opportunities for people as they reenter society after incarceration.  I’ve worked to secure important transportation investments right here in the central Puget Sound in the State’s Transportation Revenue Package.  And, I’ve worked alongside arts and cultural institutions in our community from the construction of the new Burke Museum of Natural History to the renovation and expansion of Pike Place Market.  We need a federal partner who will be locally focused and who’ll work alongside our community to support our growth.

    In Congress, I will continue this record of partnership.  With a long-term partner, we’ll be able to make investments in our community that support our economic growth and tackle equity.  I’ve promoted these values on our campaign, for example, by designating a staff member solely to small business outreach.

    Federally, I will support minimum wage policies, paid family leave, affordable childcare tax credits, and other policy measures that will extend policies that are already in place in Seattle and work to move these into the country.

    The 7th District has one of the highest percentages of LGBT people in the country. How will you address the particular needs and priorities of our community?
    Our community is what first inspired my involvement in politics and public service. This is an area where our District can lead. I will always show up for our community, and that’s been my approach in Olympia. Representation from our own community in elected office is vital to advancing and protecting our rights and our priorities. I would be the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress elected from Washington State and the first LGBTQ Latino member of Congress nationally.

    I’m honored to have the support of the Congressional Equality Caucus, several LGBTQ members of Congress, including Fmr. Congressman Barney Frank. Locally, our LGBTQ colleagues in the Washington State Legislature support our campaign: State Sen. Marko Liias, State Rep. Laurie Jinkins, State Rep. Christine Kilduff, State Rep. Joan McBride, and State Rep. Jim Moeller. Our campaign is supported by numerous leaders across our LGBTQ community.

    In the State Legislature, I’ve translated these values to results. Last year, I worked to secure state funding to improve the experience of LGBTQ youth in the foster care system. As Vice Chair of our Early Learning and Human Services Committee, I worked alongside Rep. Ruth Kagi to pass the Homeless Youth Act. I’ve openly supported the certification efforts for LGBTQ majority-owned businesses and I would support these designations in Congress for federally awarded contracts.

    In Congress, I will stand up and lead for our community. We need to pass the Equality Act, we need to prevent discrimination in the workplace, we need to ensure that healthcare coverage provides for all members of our community, we need to tackle youth suicide and homelessness, and we need continue to build our representation across the country in places where LGBTQ equality lags far behind.

    Based on your skills and interests, in which Congressional committees do feel you would be most effective?
    I would be interested in serving on the Committee for Transportation and Infrastructure. As we look to the future of our region, we are in immediate need of partnership.  Transportation and Infrastructure plays an essential role in addressing issues from housing and homelessness to climate change.

    Where is HIV on your policy agenda?
    I was pleased to join so many others at Lifelong’s End AIDS Walk again this year.  The federal government needs to move forward a strong agenda to end HIV/AIDS.  Research institutions right here in the Puget Sound will be critical to achieving this. Specifically: We need to provide sustained federal funding through NIH and NSF to support institutions right here, like the Hutch, to deliver on the innovative research programs that are already making strides.  There are many important innovations that can come from the Northwest to either develop a vaccine or find other cures.

    The ACA was an important step to support people living with HIV/AIDS to have continued coverage and stability while moving between employers.  We need to ensure that future federal healthcare policies provide coverage for people living with HIV/ AIDS.  At home, institutions like Bailey Boushay have been at the forefront of providing care, especially for the complex cases.  We need to ensure that federal medicaid reimbursements meet the needs of providers in our own community so we can continue to provide the levels of care that are necessary.

    Finally, we need to continue to work to end stigma. I would join a handful of my colleagues in Congress to call for an end to the 30-year federal ban on blood donations from men who’ve had sexual contact with men within the past 12 months.  Our healthcare policy decisions should be guided by science and not stigma.

    Click here to read Pramila Jayapal's responses.
  • GSBA Helps Shape Mayor's Commercial Affordability Recommendations

    | Sep 29, 2016

    On Wednesday, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee released recommendations to help ensure Seattle remains an affordable and equitable place for small businesses. The Committee, which was made up of small business owners, developers, and members of the arts and music communities developed recommendations that build upon Mayor Murray’s continued focus on affordability in Seattle, including increasing the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour and addressing housing affordability and livability through HALA.

    These recommendations include many suggestions that have been of concern to GSBA members in the Small Business Advisory Council, the Seattle Entrepreneurial Women affinity group, and the Public Policy Task Force. GSBA Public Policy & Communications Manager Matt Landers and GSBA member Dennis Comer (Brown Sugar Baking) participated on the committee.

    “Affordability is vital to Seattle’s future. Whether it is ensuring people can make a living wage, afford to live where they work or start a business, we must address affordability from every direction,” Mayor Ed Murray said. “Seattle’s small businesses are what make Seattle a city we love to work and live in. As the city grows, we must maintain the uniqueness and high quality of life made possible by small businesses today.”

    “I want to thank the Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee for their work and their recommendations,” Brian Surratt, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, said. “The recommendations will be instrumental as we work to fulfill Mayor Ed Murray’s goal for an affordable Seattle.”

    The committee’s recommendations were the culmination of collaboration between small businesses and developers.

    “The interests of small business owners and developers really are aligned,” committee member and local developer Liz Dunn said. “Developers who think strategically about the neighborhoods they are working in, understand that creating space which is attractive and affordable for small businesses is an essential ingredient for good development and for creating long term value for residents and property owners.  Building spaces that feel like they belong in a neighborhood, and add character to it, create a pedestrian-friendly experience and a true sense of place.”

    “Pioneer Square is a neighborhood that demonstrates how growth and small businesses can thrive together while preserving the arts and the historical legacy of the neighborhood all while paving the way for the future,” Karen True, Director of Business Development for the Pioneer Square Alliance, said. “The balance between new development in Pioneer Square and the interests of small business was a model as we developed our recommendations. I’m pleased the committee recommendations include tools for small business owners as well as property owners and developers.”

    “As an immigrant and a small business owner, it is important to me that Seattle remains a place where anyone can start a business who has a good idea,” Solomon Dubie, owner of Café Avole, said. “The Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee worked hard to recommend ideas that will keep Seattle affordable for small businesses.”

    Click here for video and the original press release.

  • Your Investment Full Circle - Elliat Graney-Saucke

    | Sep 29, 2016
    bw_elliatElliat Graney-Saucke is a local filmmaker, educator, cultural worker, curator and researcher. As a GSBA Scholarship recipient in 2004, she has found herself coming full circle and back to the GSBA as a young working professional in the arts and cultural sector.

    An honors student and GSA club member in high school in Olympia, Elliat ended up quitting high school in the 11th grade. This was largely due to increasing complications with social and familial dynamics in relation to her queer sexual/gender identity. While deeply engaged in creative arts community organizing within LGBTQ community in Olympia and Seattle, she didn't envision herself returning to formal education. That is, until she learned about the GSBA and Pride Foundation scholarship funds.

    Being accepted as a scholar due to her strong innovations in queer youth cultural organizing validated not only her intelligence and capability but also her queerness, fulfilling a sense of being seen and valued as a whole person. With a scholarship covering a full year of tuition at Seattle Central College, she went from holding a GED to being a college student. Elliat completed her BA in Cultural Studies at Goddard College in Vermont.

    In 2009 Elliat moved to Germany based on her cultural research and feature documentary project "Travel Queeries." Berlin became her home base while completing her BA, and then as she pursued a Masters in UNESCO World Heritage Studies at the Brandenburg University of Technology. In 2015, Elliat returned to Seattle to complete her second feature documentary "Boys on the Inside," an 8 year project about 'boy' identity in women's prisons in Washington State, as well as to develop her production company and creative practice in the Seattle and national arts community. She is currently on the steering committees for The Seattle Documentary Association, S.A.L.T. (Seattle Arts Leadership Team - Office of Arts and Culture), and Next Gen National Arts Network, as well as teaching film around Seattle and working as a critical consultant in media with the National Performance Network.

    Reconnecting with the GSBA plays an important role in professionalizing the arts leadership and media work she is currently cultivating. Coming home, not only to the Pacific Northwest, but also to the organization that believed in her as a young queer woman, putting her back on the path of gaining degrees in higher education, is a beautiful and exciting thing.