The GSBA Blog

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Business Leader of the Year: Ann Paris

    | Feb 13, 2017

    Ann Paris Photo
    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 Leader of the Year is Ann Paris, Paris Insurance Services.

    Ann Paris professional life started on the stages of Germany as an opera singer. She spent the next 27 years educating, counseling, advocating for and ultimately securing insurance coverage for her clients with disabilities, HIV/AIDS and who are transgender. This was music to their ears, as finally having insurance transformed their lives. The cornerstone of Ann’s business is a firm commitment to the well-being of her clients and their employees. She is an ardent advocate for her clients and takes on pro-bono cases when a client’s resources are limited. Ann’s compassion and persistence doesn’t stop with her commission; she never abandons a client, especially ones with serious chronic illnesses. In the late 1980s, Ann started pressuring insurance companies to provide life insurance policies for same sex beneficiaries. She has been an ardent advocate for the fair treatment of trans people by their insurance companies and their right to access health care. In her business, she advises trans clients as they transition, something she has personally experienced when her husband transitioned after they became a couple. Through Spirit of the Sound, Ann and her husband Randy spent many years and logged many miles traveling the state educating the progressive Christian community on the spiritual needs of LGBT individuals. They formed a panel of four – a gay man, a lesbian, a bisexual woman, and a transman, and shared stories and answered any and all questions.  Ann has been active in GSBA for two decades including serving on the Scholarship Steering Committee.

    GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards | Feb 16 | Seattle Marriott Waterfront
    Learn more about the Awards and Recipients here.
  • Keynote Speaker: Jonathan Capehart

    | Feb 10, 2017

    Jonathan Capehart
    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 36th Annual GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards Dinner Keynote Speaker is journalist Jonathan Capehart.

    Mr. Capehart is a member of The Washington Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog. He is also an MSNBC contributor, appearing regularly on "Hardball" and other dayside programs. Prior to joining The Post in 2007, Capehart was the deputy editor of New York Daily News’s editorial page from 2002 to 2005. He worked as a policy adviser to Michael Bloomberg in his successful campaign for mayor of New York City, he was a national affairs columnist for Bloomberg News from 2000 to 2001, and he was a member of the Daily News editorial board from 1993 to 2000. Mr. Capehart and the Daily News editorial board won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing for their series on the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

    GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards | Feb 16 | Seattle Marriott Waterfront
    Learn more about the Awards and Recipients here.
  • Community Leader of the Year: Dr. David Breland

    | Feb 09, 2017

    David Breland
    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 Community Leader of the Year is Dr. David Breland, Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Seattle Children's Hospital.

    Dr. David Breland joined the faculty at Seattle Children’s Hospital in the 2009 and is now Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine and became Clinical Director since 2015. His research interests include adolescent male health, depression, transgender youth and disenfranchised youth. He has authored many book chapters and research articles and is a national leader on these topics. He has been a champion of gender affirming care for the last six years and has recently opened the Seattle Children's Gender Clinic. This clinic is the only multidisciplinary clinic in our region for youth who are transgender or gender nonconforming. Only five children’s hospitals in the country have clinics dedicated to caring for young people with gender identity concerns. The Gender Clinic works to create best practices for children, adolescents, and young adults, working to coordinate care all in one location. As Clinic Director, David is committed to providing the highest levels of care to young patients who often struggle to navigate the healthcare system. He has been actively involved with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and has been the Co-chair of Project Alpha, a nationally recognized program in conjunction with the March of Dimes to teach young men about relationships and STDs. David is Board President of Seattle Counseling Services and a member of the Seattle Men’s Chorus for six years. He received Seattle Met Magazine’s Top Doctor Recognition in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

    GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards | Feb 16 | Seattle Marriott Waterfront
    Learn more about the Awards and Recipients here.
  • GSBA supports statewide tourism marketing campaign

    | Feb 08, 2017

    The GSBA Board of Directors, acting on the recommendations of the Public Policy Task Force and Public Policy Council, has voted to endorse HB 1123 / SB 5251 to establish an independent industry-led Tourism Marketing Authority for our state.

    Washington is currently the only state in the country without a tourism marketing program. Competing western states spend between $7-50 million per year. With our state’s incredible cultural and natural amenities, tourism is already our 4th largest industry, with visitors spending $21 billion each year, contributing $1.8 billion in state and local tax revenue and supporting 170,500 jobs. Tourism consumer marketing returns at least $25 in new visitor spending for each $1 spent, one of the largest returns on investment we could have. This effort will expand the benefits of tourism in rural and economically distressed regions of the state, and will generate tax dollars from out-of-state interests to help fund other state priorities.

    With our commitment to marketing our region as an LGBT-friendly destination, GSBA enthusiastically supports this effort to support our small businesses, communities around the entire state, and generate funding for a wide range of priorities.

    Track the bill here.
    More information from the Washington Tourism Alliance | FAQs

  • Community Leader of the Year: Aidan Key

    | Feb 08, 2017

    Aidan Key
    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 Community Leader of the Year is Aidan Key, Gender Diversity.

    Through hard work, strong leadership, and community organizing since 1982, Aidan Key has brought Seattle to the forefront of support for the trans community. The positive impact of programs he has founded for teens and children is unparalleled. As an educator, author, speaker, and organizer, Aidan’s work has helped countless families with trans children, professionals working with trans patients and clients, and trans adults. He wrote the chapter on trans youth in the landmark Trans Bodies, Trans Selves manual. In 2001, building on the work of earlier transgender pioneers, Aidan founded the Gender Odyssey conference, then in 2007, the Gender Odyssey Family conference for families with transgender children, and GO Professional Seminar for professionals and providers. Aidan has the largest network of support groups in the nation at Seattle Children’s Hospital for parents of transgender and gender non-conforming children. These groups are now an integral part of the new Gender Clinic at Seattle Children’s founded by Dr. David Breland. To support the work of all these trailblazing trainings and support groups, he founded Gender Diversity: Education and Support Services and serves as the organization’s director. He was named an inaugural member of the Trans 100 Awards in 2013 and helped Three Dollar Bill Cinema launch the Seattle Translations Film Festival. Aidan is a past GSBA scholar and has been a member since 2008

    GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards | Feb 16 | Seattle Marriott Waterfront
    Learn more about the Awards and Recipients here.
  • Special Recognition - Voice for Economic Justice: Dow Constantine, King County Executive

    | Feb 07, 2017

    Dow ConstantineThe 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 Special Recognition - Voice for Economic Justice is awarded to Dow Constantine, King County Executive

    West Seattle native Dow Constantine has a strong record of public service, working as an intern and legislative assistant before being elected himself as a Representative and then Senator from the 34th District. Appointed to the King County Council in 2002, he was then elected as King County Executive in 2009. He has focused on instilling a culture of performance that changes the way King County does business, while forging partnerships with residents, cities, employees, and other County leaders to craft real, sustainable reforms. Dow led the County’s efforts to enroll nearly 200,000 uninsured residents in affordable healthcare, has been a strong champion of regional mass transit, and is an outspoken advocate for environmental protection. One of the focuses of his second term as County Executive is building equity and opportunity. With that in mind, in August 2016, Dow signed an executive order making King County the largest county in the country to track the number of public contracts awarded to LGBT-owned businesses. Within weeks, LGBT businesses and nonprofits gained access to and won contracts from King County. As he signed the order, County Executive Constantine stated, “We are once again putting King County at the national forefront of social change and justice. We are stronger when we reduce barriers to opportunity so everyone can fully participate in our economy. By supporting local LGBT entrepreneurs, we are making progress toward a just, equitable society.”

    GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards | Feb 16 | Seattle Marriott Waterfront
    Learn more about the Awards and Recipients here.
  • New Business of the Year: 701 Coffee

    | Feb 06, 2017

    Sara Mae Brereton and Rachel Brereton, Co-Owners
    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 New Business of the Year is 701 Coffee.

    701 Coffee opened its doors two years ago in the Central District as a community-oriented and inclusive gathering place for the neighborhood. Owners Sara Mae and Rachel Brereton wanted to be the kind of business they preferred to patronize, one where all customers are treated with respect and compassion. Many of their customers are LGBT and some are homeless. Having experienced homelessness themselves, they knew what it felt like to be turned away, treated as invisible. As a result, they’ve served many homeless youth on the house, no questions asked, no judgments made. They were proud to have worked their way out of being homeless, into being business owners and wanted to “pay it forward”. Within a year of opening, construction on 23rd Avenue nearly shuttered the shop. The massive roadwork along this vibrant arterial had a devastating financial impact on all of the business in the path of construction – most of them minority owned neighborhood small businesses. With the grit it takes to work your way out of homelessness while raising four children, the Breretons led the community action effort in 2016, demanding compensation from the City of Seattle for losses resulting in $685,000 (approximately $25,000 per store) paid to the businesses impacted by the construction. Still holding strong at 23rd and Cherry, their innovation continues as they launching a second venture, homemade cashew cheese.

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

  • In Memoriam: Anna Melle Hilgermann

    | Feb 06, 2017

    Dear GSBA Members and friends,

    Anna Melle HilgermannIt is with great sorrow that we let you know that Anna Melle Hilgermann, a great Pioneer in LGBT rights died early Monday morning, December 26, 2016.

    It wasn’t that long ago that GSBA honored Anne with a Special Recognition, Voice for Social Justice Award.

    To learn about Anne’s deep commitment to social justice is to learn about our history. Anne Melle was a lifelong activist for social justice, long before she even knew what that meant. She has spent the majority of her life helping parents understand and accept their gay kids, as well as helping gay kids understand their parents.

    Long into her 90’s, Anne continued on with her work as a board member of Seattle Out and Proud, the organization that puts on Seattle’s Pride Festival.

    Anne's involvement with the LGBT community started years before her own two gay sons came out to her. In the 1960's her hairdresser (who had a gay son) asked for Anne's support and go with her to a Parents of Gays meeting in Chicago. (This group was organized by the pioneering homosexual rights Mattachine Society years before PFLAG was established.) Moved by the wrenching stories she heard Anne quickly became a skilled meeting facilitator. Thus she began a lifelong effort to help parents understand and accept their LGBT kids, LGBT kids to understand their parents, and to fight hard for full rights for all LGBT people as if they were her own grandchildren.

    Parents of Gays incorporated with PFLAG in the early 1970's, and Anne began her 40-year association with PFLAG. She continued working in Chicago until moving to rural Maine where she encountered a very different set of issues confronting LGBT people. After 15 years Anne moved to Seattle where she has worked continually at Seattle PFLAG. In 2007 she received recognition from National PFLAG for her outstanding service to PFLAG and LGBT communities across the country. Besides her PFLAG work Anne has served with much pleasure for several years on the board of Seattle Out and Proud, the organization that puts on Seattle's Pride Parade and related activities.

    Aware of other people facing all sorts of discriminations and inequalities, Anne has worked on many non-LGBT projects over these same years. These included co-founding a food bank, volunteering as a public school teacher's aide, teaching women how to better manage their finances, collecting clothing for children of battered women, and providing emotional support for elderly folks at a nursing home.

    Anne was always ready to respond to any need and help as many people realize their full potentials and help build a community that treats all people with kindness, dignity, and equality. We will miss you Anne but are forever grateful to you for your commitment and love you gave so freely to the LGBT community.

    -- Louise Chernin, President & CEO, GSBA
  • GSBA to host first-ever LGBT economic summit

    | Feb 02, 2017



    The Greater Seattle Business Association will host the Western Business Alliance’s first-ever LGBT economic summit on Thursday, March 16 to address economic factors and policy agendas that affect LGBT and allied businesses and communities in the western U.S. and Canada.

    The full-day summit, Working Together for Shared Prosperity, will explore topics such as: leveraging the power of LGBT businesses; tourism on the West Coast; maintaining Left Coast politics in the post-election era; working together to promote diverse supply chains, a case study by the insurance industry; unlocking the power of bringing marginalized communities together; and homelessness. Through keynote presentations, panel discussions, and break-out sessions, attendees will share information, provide critical input to regional challenges, and form lasting relationships with LGBT and allied business leaders from Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, and British Columbia.

    Event information:
    Date:  March 16, 2017
    Time:  8:30am - 7:00pm
    Location:  Renaissance Seattle Hotel
    Address:  515 Madison St, Seattle, WA

    Learn more about the LGBT Economic Summit here.

    The Western Business Alliance, formed in 1992, is a coaltion of LGBT and allied chambers of commerce located on the west coast of the United States and Canada. WBA chambers are committed to expanding economic opportunities for the LGBT and allied community by promoting equality through business. Through cooperation and sharing best practices, our chambers are integral to the economic health of our region and proudly connect the more than 3000 businesses we represent located throughout the West Coast.

    Desert Business Alliance (Palm Springs, CA)
    Golden Gate Business Alliance (San Francisco, CA)
    Greater Seattle Business Association (Seattle, WA)
    Inland Northwest Business Alliance (Spokane, WA)
    Lambda Business Association (Las Vegas, NV)
    Long Beach Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (Long Beach, CA)
    Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (Los Angeles, CA)
    LOUD Business of Vancouver BC (Vancouver, BC)
    Portland Area Business Association (Portland, OR)
    Rainbow Chamber of Commerce of Silicon Valley (Sunnyvale, CA)
    Sacramento Rainbow Chamber (Sacramento, CA)

  • 2017 Committee Chairs

    | Jan 27, 2017

    Get to know GSBA’s committee chairs for 2017:


    Bryan Adamson | Public Policy Task Force

    The Public Policy Task Force is open to all GSBA members and meets monthly to discuss current public policy issues of importance to the LGBT and small business communities. Chair Bryan Adamson is a member of the GSBA Board of Directors and teaches consumer protection law, mass media law and policy and civil procedure at Seattle University. He was an Amicus Advisor in the U.S. Supreme Court cases Hollingswoth v. Perry and Grutter v. Bollinger which asserted the unconstitutionality of California's Proposition 8 and the constitutionality of the University of Michigan affirmative action program, respectively.

    Carrie Carson | Scholarship Steering Committee

    The Scholarship Steering Committee provides strategic direction and oversight of the GSBA Scholarship Fund and its subcommittees. Chair Carrie Carson is a member of the GSBA Board of Directors and Senior Associate at Point B Consulting. In 2016 she established the endowed L.Robb Scholarship in memory of her wife Lori. Carrie was previously the Board President of Three Dollar Bill Cinema.

    Rob Hampton | Tourism Advisory Board

    The Tourism Advisory Board works to create and execute tourism initiatives that promote our region as a top LGBT business and leisure travel destination. Chair Rob Hampton is a member of the GSBA Board of Directors and is Senior Vice President of Sales & Services at Visit Seattle, the private, nonprofit marketing organization that promotes the Seattle as a destination for international and domestic leisure travel, meetings and conventions. He previously served in similar roles at the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, Visit Jacksonville, and Experience Columbus. Visit Seattle is a GSBA Travel & Tourism Partner.

    Dena Levine | Membership, Outreach & Engagement Committee

    The Membership, Outreach & Engagement (MOE) Committee is charged with delivering excellent member benefits and programming to the membership for the purpose of both retaining current members and cultivating new members. Chair Dena Levine is a member of the GSBA Board of Directors and is the owner of DML Insurance Services, an independent insurance agency that helps all types of businesses and individuals find the perfect coverage at an affordable price. She has also chaired the West Seattle YMCA Partners with Youth campaign and served on the Board of City Year Seattle. DML Insurance is an inaugural Pearl Sponsor of GSBA, supporting both the chamber and the Scholarship Fund.

  • Sloth around. Feel better.

    | Jan 25, 2017
    By Lynn Bondi, owner of Sloth Around Community Acupuncture.

    Take a slow, deep, breath.  Pause, and then release it.  What do you notice? Were your thoughts with your breath, or racing to complete your mental “to-do” list?  At Sloth Around Community Acupuncture, we believe in slowing down.  We believe in being present.  We even believe that sloths may have something to teach us about health and healing.  By slowing down, by noticing, by moving with intention, the sloth teaches us how to live life on life’s terms, and how to awaken to the profound beauty that exists in the mundane. This perspective underlies how I run my clinic, and how I approach healing in general.

    sa2-sloth-nobg-orange-l-2Community acupuncture is rooted in a deep sense of ‘togetherness.’  Although each patient receives a personalized treatment specific to what they need, treatments occur in a communal room.  This connection is very important to me.  In a group setting, individuals become part of something larger.  There is something  profound about the shared intention in a room collectively harnessing each individual’s healing capacity. Your Illness might be isolating, but your healing doesn’t have to be.  

    Because I approach health from a community perspective, I also believe that health and wellness are impacted by both individual and societal factors.  Structural inequalities, like unequal access to healthy food, or being regularly targeted by microaggressions, lead to undesired health outcomes.  Treating the individual without addressing the root cause of inequality falsely places the burden of health struggles on individuals.   At Sloth Around, we believe in addressing those barriers to health through partnering with local community organizations who have justice and social change as their goals.  Through partnership, we collectively work to undo systems which undermine a person or community’s natural tendency towards health and wellness.  

    We offer all of our services at a sliding scale rate of only $20-50 per treatment.  Healthcare is only as effective as it is accessible.  We believe that affordable, accessible, and empowering healthcare is a basic human right and I am both proud and grateful that I get to be part of offering that to my community.  

    I joined the GSBA and became LGBTBE certified because of my strong belief in community.  Not too long ago, my own family went through a major health crisis which culminated in my wife receiving an organ transplant.  Despite the difficulty, I was frequently overjoyed by the very best of people coming out, coming together, and offering support.  The financial and emotional backing to be able to open Sloth Around came from friends, family, patients, and sometimes even strangers. My clinic was opened from a position of extreme gratitude. My hope is that everyone who comes to Sloth Around experiences the care that springs from this gratitude. 

    Sloth Around.  Feel Better.