Celebrating 26 years
Reaching $2.7 million in Scholarships awarded since 1990
Presenting $410,000 to 55 extraordinary Scholars
Announcing the GSBA Guarantee
Raising a record $180,000
What an incredible evening!
Over 500 guests filled the Seattle Marriott Waterfront ballroom to hear our Scholars share their stories, dreams, and incredible accomplishments, all too often achieved under very difficult circumstances and without support. Through the power of video, beautifully produced byInterchange Media, each story came alive. This year, the entire night was Scholar-focused as past Scholars presented scholarships to new students. Our emcee extraordinaire was our very own 2013 Scholar, current Board member, and Starbucks partner, Danny Cords.
Special moments of the evening included hearing from 2003 Scholar Melissa Marsh, who shared her journey from hard times to being the impressive professional she is today. Then we had the presentation of the two newly endowed scholarships. It is an amazing tribute to honor someone's memory by creating a lifetime scholarship! Leslie Giblett presented the Giblett Family Scholarship to a student who is majoring in Political Science with the goal of representing the LGBT community in elected office. Carrie Carson presented the L. Robb Scholarship to Angela Tang, a fourth year GSBA Scholar and a student at Whitman College studying Economics.
We were thrilled that Glenn Johnson and Michael Melancon; Bob Rhodehamel and
Dana Snyder; Kent Thoelke, Shay Thoelke, and Richelle Monahan; Linda Barzalai; and Tina Podlodowski were all on stage to congratulate their scholars: Anne Bryson Doyle (Glenn Johnson and Michael Melancon Bright Horizon Scholarship), Veronica Beltran Leyva(Chester Podlodowski Scholarship), Victor Puoci (David Barzilai Memorial Scholarship), Scout Osborne (Rich Thoelke Scholarship), and Laura Yanez (Rich Thoelke Scholarship).
Hearing from our named scholarship donors, and from the recipients, created some very powerful moments that I know inspired many guests to think about leaving a legacy. If you are considering supporting a future LGBTQ leader, please don't hesitate to reach out to Mark Rosén, Stephanie Dallas, or me. We would love the opportunity to provide the GSBA Guarantee to even more deserving students next year.
Two corporate partners created new scholarships this year, as well. Kasey Essex presented the first Wells Fargo GSBA Scholarship to Rigoberto Garcia who is currently pursuing a degree in accounting at Seattle University; and Joe Whittinghill presented the Microsoft Scholarships toOlivia Barrell (Digi Pen Institute of Technology), Katherine Cavanaugh (University of Washington), and Julia Weaver (University of Washington).
The announcement of the GSBA Guarantee brought folks to their feet as we announced that,from this year forward, every Scholar will be guaranteed support for all four years of their undergraduate education as long as they stay in school.
The success of this year's dinner was due in large part to our Dinner Chair, Dena Levine and her outstanding Dinner Committee: Gen Bryant, Ryan Digges, Steve Gunn, Bob Rhodehamel, andLauren Mehl. Special thanks must also go to our Board Chair, Kevin Gaspari and Scholarship Fund Chair, Stephanie Dallas, and the entire GSBA Board who give countless hours to ensure the GSBA Scholarship Fund remains strong. Working alongside this extraordinary Board, is Team GSBA, our amazing GSBA staff. As VP of Development and Corporate Relations, Mark Rosén had a vision for this dinner and under his direction with support from the entire staff, the dinner was transformed. Add, Jessica Wootten's skill and talent in leading our 100 volunteers who read hundreds of applications and make the difficult decisions selecting these talented students, plus the incredible volunteers at the dinner, and you have a magical evening and a unique and life changing scholarship program.
Very special thanks to PwC, our Title Sponsor; Dinner Sponsors Carter Subaru and Goodwill; and the Voice of Scholarship, Interchange Media. Thank you also to all of our table captains who brought wonderful guests to fill the room; to our Supporting Sponsors Girlie Pressand Countryside Floral & Garden; our Media Sponsors Pacific Publishing, Puget Sound Business Journal, and Seattle Gay News; the remarkable volunteers; and Malcolm Smith Photographyand Dani Weiss Photography for capturing the evening in photographs. Big thanks also to the Seattle Marriott Waterfront for all the support they gave to this event and to their wonderful staff for taking such good care of us.
Demonstrating their continued support of the GSBA Scholarship Fund, our annual sponsors were well represented, including our Jewels, the businesses which invest in both the chamber and the Scholarship Fund: our Diamond Jewel Sponsors Wells Fargo and Microsoft; Emerald Jewels 1st Security Bank and Alaska Airlines; Ruby Jewel PwC; and our new Sapphire Jewels Carter Subaru and Comcast. Thanks also to our Annual Sponsors: Platinum Partner US Bank; Gold Partners BulkFR8, Outerwall, Pacific Medical Centers, Starline Luxury Coaches, and Whitepages; Silver Partners Amazon, Boeing, Everest University, Goodwill, Liberty Mutual, Precision Garage Door Service, RBC Wealth Management, Safeco, Starbucks, and UW Medicine; and our Bronze Sponsors CenturyLink, DML Insurance, Google, Group Health, Irons Brothers Construction, Mona Smith, Attorneys at Law; Nesteggg, Sound Fertility, Sound Publishing, Sound Transit, RD House, Verity Credit Union, and Vulcan Inc. We are so grateful for all your support.
The only bittersweet moment during the dinner was our farewell to Jessica Wootten, who is moving back to Indiana to be near family. The cheering and tears from our guests and scholars, as Jessica was presented with a poster signed by our scholars and her own Emerald Slipper, in honor of her success in raising important funds for the scholarship program, was an amazing tribute to the impact that Jessica has had on our Scholarship Fund. She will be missed!
If you were unable to attend this powerfully moving 26th Scholars Dinner,
it's not too late to join the celebration and to invest in the next generation of leaders by making a donation today.
Also, it was so exciting to see many guests ready to sign up as table captains for our over-the-top Scholarship Fund gala, the TASTE of GSBA on November 19, 2016
. Given, this event has sold out for the past five years, it is a good reminder to reserve your TASTE table now
Before I conclude my thanks to you all, I want to acknowledge the outstanding response from the business community to stand up against bigotry and intolerance by joining together and signing on to Washington Won't Discriminate,
our campaign created to ensure our antidiscrimination policy, which has been in effect for 10 years, does not roll back civil rights for our transgender community. VOTE NO ON I-1515!
If your business has not yet signed on to WA Won't Discriminate, please do so now. Certainly, weakening our civil rights laws does not reflect Washington State values, where we are proud of being a progressive and inclusive state.
For the future,
President & CEO