The GSBA Blog


  • Incubator: Summer 2021 Cohort

    by Levi Coffin, Business Training Specialist & Grant Manager
    | Jul 21, 2021
     

    Tiffany Kelly-Gray (she, her) has a background in finance and the vacation rental business. She currently owns and operates a vacation rental in the CD that I primarily operate on Airbnb.  She manage the listing, cleanings, remodels as needed and design. Is the current board chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Bertschi School,  actively engaging in strategic planning in order to move DEI initiatives forward. Tiffany also a Bachelors of Art from Seattle University in Digital Culture and Technology.

    Her business will be a group of vacation rentals in a rural location in western Washington, within 3 hrs drive from Seattle. The property should be no less than 5 acres. The property will allow farming, gardening, and the growth of small orchards.  The vacation properties would allow access to visitors for classes geared toward farming, seed to table, gardening as well as biodiversity. This is often referred to as agrotourism, this business would focus on teaching children about growing their own food, understanding their environment, and caring for small farm animals.  She is particularly interested in hosting Black farming classes and camps.


    Nick Albritton (he, him or they, them) brings authenticity, an open heart, and strategic leadership to his work with individuals and organizations. His professional background has traversed the non-profit sector ranging from Outdoor Education, Career Services for youth experiencing homelessness, and leadership roles within Washington States community college network. He is an engaging collaborator who has helped organizations prioritize their goals, restructure their programming, and innovate new solutions to chronic issues. Nick has a MS in Management and Leadership and is passionate about transformational, strengths-based leadership and effective change management. He is the owner of Rust and Revelry, an apparel company that designs inspiring and affirmational clothing for trans, non-binary, and queer folks. As a queer, transgender person – he knows how necessary and powerful it is to see yourself represented and celebrated in the world. He was recently published in The Born This Way Foundations collaborative book with Lady Gaga ‘Channel Kindness’. He has also facilitated Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Inclusivity Trainings, and served on the Board of Directors for Seattle Pride. In his personal time, Nick is an avid outdoorsperson who enjoys storytelling and poetry.

    Heron Consulting works with small businesses who are focused on social impact initiatives, creativity, education, art, leadership, community building, and way-making for a more inclusive, heart-centered world. Heron Consulting helps small businesses who need to: outline and finalize complex projects, create structure for/restructure processes, refine their programming, automate services or communications, and innovate new solutions. As a consultant, Nick takes the time to listen and understand the unique ecosystem of factors influencing your business. Through a collaborative process, he works closely with you to find solutions that are durable and bring value to your work in the world.


    Lesster Eduardo Munguia Nieto
    (he, him) is a photographer based in Seattle, Washington who specializes in photographing Interiors. He grew up in a small town in Honduras: one of those strange towns in the middle of the mountains, not unlike Macondo of One Hundred Years of Solitude. His interest in photography began with helping his mother shoot weddings at 9 years old. After studying Biology at UNAH, he moved to Seattle, Washington, to work in environmental restora8on with Earthcorps and later served as a program manager for Entre Hermanos, a Latino LGBTQ+ nonprofit. Throughout these different roles, he continued developing his craft of photography.

    Fishmoon Productions was born in January 2021 as a result of Lesster's passion for photography. This business offers production of Interior & Exterior Photography & Videography for Real Estate Agencies & Architecture firms; as well as production of commercial photography and videography for companies and nonprofit organizations.


  • Incubator: Spring 2021 Cohort

    by Levi Coffin, Business Training Specialist & Grant Manager
    | Jul 21, 2021
     

    Tara Morgan (they, she)  brings to barbering a lifelong passion for people and the revelations that can happen in our honest interactions. Tara spent 25 years in the field of fundraising and non-profits, including founding Seize The Oar Foundation (est 2013). Tara loves collaboration and small business and currently runs Vashon Flyer apparel and gifts, in addition to co-founding Steady State Media Network in 2020.

    C'Mon Barber, coming May 2021 will be a full-service barber, providing affordable haircuts, trims, shaves all in a gender-affirming space for all ages. Mobile and in-salon, zero waste and always classy.


    Ryan Riley
    (she, her) has 10 years commercial roofing experience. Started on the roof pushing a broom, moved up into project estimation, sales and management. Eventually became the general manager of a $1.5MM commercial roofing company. Began gender transition in Feb 2020 and registered the first trans owned roofing company in WA state in March 2020.

    NW Roofing Services is a high quality, value driven roofing company with equality-based ethics. Starting out with residential roof inspections, cleaning, maintenance and small repairs, moving into residential new and re-roofing projects and eventually entering and focusing on the commercial roofing sector.


    Lauren Moore (she, they) is a queer neurodivergent artist hellbent on restorative justice in Seattle. Social isolation in the chronic and mentally ill community is rampant so she created a floral pranking business that delivers flowers and custom audio tracks to folx in Seattle. In non-COVID times She curates quieter accessible events for deeper conversations to emerge. Her practice is inter-generational, intersectional, and raises reparations for Real Rent Duwamish. One of nine siblings from South Carolina, she understands that poverty excludes people from healthy pain management and often leads to a cycle of addiction. Lauren’s art harnesses color therapy, flowers and binaural audio to comfort survivors, include fellow mentally and chronically ill folx, and celebrate friendship. Her ASMR activations create safe spaces to deeply notice the body’s edges. As a survivor 3 years sober, Lauren believes art can heal our most traumatic experiences. Her relentless strength and solidarity come from deep listening, which is her favorite art.

    OK Bloomer is a flower pranking service that brightens the steps of Seattlites while celebrating friendship and intergenerational healing. Pranks are often kept anonymous and aim to surprise and delight seniors and folx experiencing chronic and mental illness, though all are welcome. Curated audio tracks and care packages are available additions to the floral surprise.


  • Understanding Your 2021 Primary Election Ballot

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Jul 20, 2021
     
    Ballots are due in the 2021 primary election on August 3, and there is a lot to consider! Cities and counties across Washington are holding local elections and as usual voters are also being asked to weigh in on ballot measures. GSBA is active on issue politics and often takes positions on ballot measures, however we do not endorse candidates.

    King County Proposition 1
    GSBA has endorsed the Best Starts for Kids levy renewal and encourages everyone to vote YES on King County Proposition 1.

    Seattle Mayoral Candidate Interviews
    With a large field of candidates running for Mayor in Seattle this year, the GSBA Policy Council decided to do pre-primary video interviews with candidates. With questions submitted by members and the Policy Council, the candidates were able to speak to some of the most pressing issues for GSBA members in Seattle. Policy Council members Denise Diskin and Eve Hwang, along with GSBA's Matt Landers, conducted these interviews during the second week of July. Each video is around 15-20 minutes long.

    GSBA Members Running for Office
    Every year we feature statements from GSBA members running for office. While we do not endorse candidates (and we have had instances of multiple members running for the same office), we welcome the opportunity for these individuals to share their platform with fellow GSBA members. For 2021, member candidates who have submitted statements include:

  • Member-Candidate Profile: Lance Randall

    by Lance Randall
    | Jul 19, 2021
     
    As a membership organization, we invite all our members running for elected office each year to submit a statement to their fellow members. GSBA is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates, and this statement should not be construed as an endorsement by GSBA, its Board, or its staff.

    Lance Randall, running for Seattle Mayor

    Seattle is known for its beauty, diversity and innovation around the world, which is why I chose to make the “Emerald City” my home. I believe that by working together we can create a more fair and sustainable future, but we have some challenges we must overcome first.

    Our economy needs to recover from the effects of Covid-19, we need to address homelessness in a compassionate but firm way, we must ensure everyone is protected through comprehensive public safety and we must maintain and improve our transportation infrastructure.

    We can overcome our challenges with a leader that has a vision, a plan to solve problems, can build working coalitions and produce results. I am ready to be that leader.

    For 30 years I have worked as a political scientist, economic development practitioner and entrepreneur. I have held leadership positions with a U.S. Congressman, a State Senator, Mayors, businesses, non-profit organizations, public-private partnerships, and educational institutions. My background and experience make me uniquely qualified and prepared to be Seattle’s Mayor at this exact moment in our city’s history.

    As the country and world come out of the pandemic, we will search for a city modeling effectiveness, sustainability, equity, and accountability to its citizens. Seattle can be that model city. I want to leverage Seattle’s creativity and ingenuity to model a city where everyone can live freely, create, and prosper.

    I have pulled together a platform explaining my plan to address topics including dignity for the homelessness, economic rebound, revitalizing our music scene, rebuilding our infrastructure, public safety, and climate. This platform invests in our people, our culture, and our future. I trust that after you read it you support my campaign and elect me to be the change Seattle needs, “A Transformational Leader for a Transforming City.”

    Regards,
    Lance

    www.lancerandall2021.com


  • Member-Candidate Profile: Sara Nelson

    by Sara Nelson
    | Jul 19, 2021
     
    As a membership organization, we invite all our members running for elected office each year to submit a statement to their fellow members. GSBA is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates, and this statement should not be construed as an endorsement by GSBA, its Board, or its staff.

    Sara Nelson, running for Seattle City Council, Position 9

    I’ll cut to the chase: if you think things are going well in Seattle, I’m probably not the candidate for you. I’m Sara Nelson and I’m a progressive small business owner and I’m running because I believe Seattle has lost its way. As the only candidate in this race with experience in both the public and private sectors, I’ll bring the pragmatic and experienced leadership needed right now to meet our city’s challenges as we emerge from this pandemic. 

    I served for ten years as a Legislative Advisor for Councilmember Richard Conlin and I learned that good policy is made by paying attention to detail and reaching out as well as meaningfully incorporating input from the widest possible range of stakeholders. That’s especially true for small business owners and workers who can’t easily attend public hearings.

    I’m a GSBA member and co-owner of Fremont Brewing, a sponsor of GSBA’s Scholarship Fund. We were hit hard but we managed to retain all our employees and increased their wages to make up for lost tips. But I know many of you weren’t as fortunate.

    That’s why forging an equitable, long-term recovery is my top priority. We all know that small businesses are job creators and innovators and we make up the fabric of our communities. Hundreds of small businesses have closed and many more are on life support but City Council isn’t acting with enough urgency to help. It’s time for the missing voice of small business to City Council.

    Public safety is key to our recovery because rising crime (theft, property damage) poses significant cost burdens for small businesses and we’ve all read stories about businesses leaving town because employees don’t feel safe. Defunding the police by an arbitrary percentage won’t reduce crime nor end systemic racism in policing. We need to reform the police in a manner that keeps communities safe and holds officers accountable for all forms of misconduct -- and fund accordingly.

    My second priority is getting back to the main job of local government: adequately funding and delivering basic city services. Failing bridges, trash-filled parks, and limited library hours are the result of Council diverting General Fund dollars to ad-hoc initiatives.

    What will I do about homelessness? I’ll call for implementing a model works in other cities, based on individualized case management and a real-time, centralized database that service providers and City agencies access to ensure continuity-of-care and help individuals obtain the housing and services that meet their immediate needs.

    Voters have a clear choice this election and the stakes are high. They can vote for the same old ideological rhetoric and failed policies that have gotten us into the state we’re in now, or they can elect a candidate with pragmatic policy solutions to make Seattle a safe and livable city -- for everyone.

    I’m endorsed by the Seattle Times, Seattle Fire Fighters, Ironworkers, Plumbers and Pipefitters, and a broad range of community leaders. Learn more about my campaign for City Council Position 9 at: SaraForCityCouncil.com.


  • Member-Candidate Profile: Krystal Marx

    by Krystal Marx
    | Jul 19, 2021
     
    As a membership organization, we invite all our members running for elected office each year to submit a statement to their fellow members. GSBA is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates, and this statement should not be construed as an endorsement by GSBA, its Board, or its staff.

    Krystal Marx, running for Burien City Council, Position 7

    While running for office is, in itself, a monumental task, doing so as a bisexual woman has been a lesson in authenticity and opportunity. LGBTQIA+ elected officials have a unique set of responsibilities on our shoulders. We are the path-makers, the way-lighters and the example-setters for the next generation of LGBTQIA+ leaders, which means we have to not only run based on the issues of the office we seek, but with the knowledge that we are leading the way for a new generation. When I am re-elected to the Burien City Council, I am excited to work on building up LGBTQIA+ youth in the Highline School District by working working the Highline School Board, local youth organizations, and City Staff. It is not enough that we run and win, as queer people, but that we make sure the next generation can as well. 

    Krystal Marx, Candidate for Burien City Council (Position 7)

    www.krystal4burien.com

  • Member-Candidate Profile: Dow Constantine

    by Dow Constantine
    | Jul 19, 2021
     
    As a membership organization, we invite all our members running for elected office each year to submit a statement to their fellow members. GSBA is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates, and this statement should not be construed as an endorsement by GSBA, its Board, or its staff.

    Dow Constantine, running for King County Executive

    When COVID-19 arrived here – the first place in the country – I took swift, decisive action. We led with science and reason, saving thousands of lives. The New York Times reported that had America followed our lead, “the nation could have avoided more than 300,000 coronavirus deaths.”

    Now, as we emerge from the pandemic, I’m bringing that same clarity and resolve to the toughest challenges – homelessness, racial bias, public safety, climate action, and uniting our region for an economic recovery where everyone can thrive.

    In the pandemic’s wake is a new opportunity to rethink our economy, invest in our communities, and spur the kind of growth that empowers us all. I’m leading a bold economic recovery plan – investing millions into new jobs, community and small business support, and urgent action to deliver on this promise of a better future and a full, equitable recovery.

    Critical to this effort is supporting those who have long been left out. I was honored to receive GSBA’s Voice for Economic Justice award in 2016. I will tell you that my commitment to economic fairness, equity, and opportunity for all remains steadfast, and has been integral to the design and implementation of our recovery efforts.

    I recently announced and issued a Pro-Equity Contracting Executive Order with the distinct purpose of supporting minority- and women-owned businesses in King County. We are working to break down long standing barriers that have historically prevented and excluded underrepresented business owners from building and expanding their businesses.

    Beyond these efforts, we are taking bold, urgent action on the crisis of homelessness. Under my leadership, we are moving thousands of chronically homeless people off the streets this year, into housing with the services to restore lives. And, through Best Starts for Kids, we’ve kept 10,000 children and families safely housed. I led the process to create the much needed Regional Homelessness Authority, and through our collaborative approach, we are seeing the regional buy-in needed to ensure progress.

    Above all else, we must continue striving to create welcoming communities for every neighbor, especially our LGBTQ+ community. My record on this is clear: I organized to pass Referendum 74 for marriage equality; worked with legislative leaders to enshrine state protections for the LGBTQ community; achieved global milestones in the fight against HIV/AIDS; and made King County the largest county in the nation to track the number of contracts awarded to LGBTQ entrepreneurs, designating LGBTQ-owned small businesses as minority-owned businesses, and created an LGBTQ category in our small business directory.

    Across my tenure as Executive, GSBA and King County have been strong partners, working together to deliver on our shared values. As I seek re-election, it is with a commitment to continuing those efforts. The time is now to build a more inclusive, welcoming and prosperous economy, community, and future for us all – let’s get to work.

    You can learn more about my campaign or get involved at DowConstantine.com. Thank you for your support.



  • Member-Candidate Profile: Lacrecia "Lu" Hill

    by Lacrecia "Lu" Hill
    | Jul 16, 2021
     
    As a membership organization, we invite all our members running for elected office each year to submit a statement to their fellow members. GSBA is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates, and this statement should not be construed as an endorsement by GSBA, its Board, or its staff.

    Lacrecia "Lu" Hill, running for Spokane City Council, District 3

    I am Lacrecia “Lu” Hill (she/her) I am a lightly melanated mixed race, Black and white, queer, able-bodied human living in the inland Northwest, Spokane, WA. This region is the traditional ancestral unceded territory of the Spokane and First Nations that have and continue to be stewards and protectors of the land and water. 

    I love Spokane, four generations of my family have called Spokane home. I was born into the most economically depressed zip code in the state 99207. This experience deeply shaped my belief in economic opportunity for all. I am running for Spokane City Council District 3, because the path I was able to access for opportunity is becoming more narrow and for some in our community is nonexistent. We have to have humans able to address our housing crisis, public safety, and the economy. 
     
    I have spent my career being a servant leader and ensuring others see the leader in themselves. I am committed to the growth of a regional-based economy and the significant role small businesses play. I believe that we must implement the quadruple bottom line; people, planet, policy, and profit. As we strengthen our regional economy we must ensure that folks are not left behind and more LGBTQIA2+ and BIPOC humans are guiding these policies and conversations.

    I have served Spokane through the non-profit, philanthropic, and business sectors. I worked for Boys & Girls Clubs for over 7 years,  in Vegas, Rural Oregan, and right back home to Spokane. I have raised millions of dollars and engaged families to create health and safety through programs and community initiatives. In 2014, I was recruited by Empire Health Foundation. I worked closely with Better Health Together to addressing houselessness through low barrier supportive housing and community health workers. In the last four years, I became an entrepreneur in the Cannabis industry and built out a production & extraction facility, developing top brands in the state, and annual revenue of $3 million. I know it will take public/private partnerships to address our housing, economic, and public safety realities here in Spokane. I am here for it! 

    I have spent my career Listening, Facilitating & Educating. I enjoy bringing diverse stakeholders together, reviewing data, developing budgets, listening to find solutions, and making hard decisions. I could not think of a better use of my experience, time, and skills than to serve my neighbors and extended neighbors in district 3. 

    I own a consulting business (Wake the Culture/LMH Consulting) and I am a Yoga Teacher (The Wake Yoga). I have a BA in Psychology and an MBA. I currently serve as board president of Spectrum LGBTQIA2+ Center, I also represent Spectrum on the Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition. I am on the INBA (Inland Northwest Business Alliance) board, as well as the WA State LGBTQ+ Commission’s economic development committee. Most recently, I have worked with a group of humans to establish the first Black chamber of commerce in Spokane. I have the lived and professional experience that Spokane City Council needs!

    www.LuforYou.com



  • GSBA Endorses Best Starts For Kids Levy Renewal

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Jul 12, 2021
     
    The GBSA Board of Directors has endorsed King County Proposition 1 (Best Starts for Kids), and encourages GSBA members to vote YES on the upcoming August ballot.

    Learn more about the levy and its programs.

    This is a renewal of an expiring levy passed in 2015, also endorsed by GSBA. This measure maintains and expands programs that support kids as they grow with high quality childcare, homelessness prevention, and social and emotional youth development programs. Prevention and early engagement is the most effective, and least expensive way, to ensure positive outcomes for our kids and community. We also must support children and youth of color to overcome racial injustice and have the best opportunity to thrive.

    The renewal of this levy will allow King County to maintain and expand effective programs that put children and youth on a path toward lifelong success. Investments include Prenatal-5 family support, preventing youth and family homelessness, and community-driven partnerships through Communities of Opportunity that address emotional growth, early engagement with youth, and racial and social equity priorities.

    The levy invests in out-of-school time programs for ages 5-12, transitions to adulthood for teens 14-24, and builds up to four school-based health centers across the county. It also creates a new child care subsidy to make child care more affordable for more than 3,000 low-income families and ensures that child care workers, through a Wage Project, earn a living wage for their essential work.

    The levy imposes a property tax of 19-cents per $1,000 assessed value (up from 14-cents in the expiring levy). 

    GSBA strongly supports this ballot measure because of the proven success of the previous effort, and the strong and transparent tracking provided by King County. The strong emphasis on equity in education match core values of GSBA. Additionally, GSBA has been the recipient of funding from the Communities of Opportunity program (as part of the Transgender Economic Empowerment Coalition) and we understand the significance and importance of these social equity programs.

    Other supporters of the levy renewal include a unanimous vote by the King County Council, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, King County Labor Council, El Centro de la Raza, API Chaya, Seattle Children's Hospital, Legal Counsel for Youth and Children, CISC, Washington Association for Infant Mental Health, West Side Baby, Treehouse, Moms Rising, and more.

  • Member-Candidate Profile: Andrew Grant Houston

    by Andrew Grant Houston
    | Jul 08, 2021
     
    As a membership organization, we invite all our members running for elected office each year to submit a statement to their fellow members. GSBA is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates, and this statement should not be construed as an endorsement by GSBA, its Board, or its staff.

    Andrew Grant Houston, running for Seattle Mayor

    I’m Andrew Grant Houston (he/him), also known as “Ace”. I am a queer, Black and Latino architect, environmental advocate, and housing activist living on Seattle’s Capitol Hill.

    I am running for Mayor of Seattle because, after years of advocating for more housing at all income levels, we’ve seen little change while worsening wildfires highlight the urgency of our homelessness, housing, and climate crises. We need action, and we need it now. 

    I am an entrepreneur with my own architecture practice, House Cosmopolitan, focused on creating places where people belong. This, along with my membership in the GSBA, are important to me as I have always had to fight to make space for myself in an industry dominated by straight, white men. So now, through my work and my advocacy, I make space for others where none was made for me.

    Over the years, we’ve watched Seattle’s historically LGBTQ+ Capitol Hill price out so many in our community. Often, that means that all of the creativity and uniqueness that we bring to the city, through our small businesses and our art, are pushed out. That’s why I will invest additional funds and resources into building more subsidized cultural spaces, including music venues and art galleries—and, of course, housing. When we build more permanently affordable housing, artists and creatives are able to afford to live in our city and contribute more of their time and energy into making Seattle a truly unique place. To be sure our small businesses can not only stay but thrive, I will implement commercial rent control. We know it works. Rent control protects small businesses from rental price gouging by scheduling reasonable and gradual increases, promotes neighborhood stability, and makes sure Seattleites can stay in Seattle.

    But we need to make sure that everyday people, customers, are taken care of, too. Prioritizing people and economic vitality are not at odds. I will pay people a living wage, build affordable housing across every area of the city, and make it easier for people to reach what they want and need through transportation improvements, so everybody wins.

    At the end of the day, we need transformative change. As a project manager with experience leading multimillion-dollar jobs, I have the knowledge necessary to get things done. My vision of Seattle makes it one of the most vibrant, sustainable cities in the world; a city where no one has to sleep outside, where local businesses and culture thrive, and where orcas start to visit once again. In order to do that, we must center our most marginalized first and, with my experience and background in mind, we will do just that.  No more empty promises.

    Seattle, I will act. And I would be honored to have your support in this race for Mayor of Seattle.

    Andrew Grant Houston (“Ace”)



  • SCOTUS Rejects Arlene's Flowers Appeal

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Jul 07, 2021
     
    On July 2, the Supreme Court of the United States denied review of the Arlene's Flowers case involving a same-sex couple turned away from a flower shop because they are part of the LGBTQ+ community. This decision lets stand the Washington State Supreme Court's unanimous ruling that there is no license to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.

    Read more from ACLU, who represented Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed in their suit.

    GSBA joined amicus briefs with several of our member businesses and business associations both for the original case in 2015 and then again in 2019.

    A big thanks to our members and partners who helped organize these briefs and who signed on to oppose discrimination, including:

    Attorneys: Davis Wright Tremaine, Perkin Coie, and ACLU of Washington

    Associations: Broadway Business Improvement Area, Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County, Inland Northwest Business Alliance, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Tabor 100

    Businesses: Adrift Hotel, Amazon, Brooks Sports, Inc., Chachalounge LLC, Elliott Bay Book Company, Expedia Group, Group Health Cooperative, JOWW LLC (dba Percy's Co), Kaiser Permanente Washington, Microsoft, Modern Housing LLC (dba Ace Hotel Seattle), Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream LLC, Northwest Polite Society LLC, Pike Pine Diner LLC, RealNetworks, Inc., Recreational Equipment Inc, Salesforce, Shafty's LLC (dba Grims), Sugar Pill Inc, Wide Open Inc, Zillow Group, 98point6 Inc.


  • Member-Candidate Profile: Ryan Calkins

    by Ryan Calkins
    | Jul 07, 2021
     
    As a membership organization, we invite all our members running for elected office each year to submit a statement to their fellow members. GSBA is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates, and this statement should not be construed as an endorsement by GSBA, its Board, or its staff.

    Ryan Calkins, running for Seattle Port Commission

    In my first term on the Seattle Port Commission, I’m proud to have led with the priorities and values that align and expand the Port’s mission as one of our region’s key economic development drivers. Through inclusion, opportunity, and bold innovation, we’ve created jobs, supported local businesses and workers, as well as made significant strides in the battle against climate change.

    The Port of Seattle has a huge impact on Seattle's economy, including nearly $1 billion dollars in annual revenue, a vibrant airport, healthy seaport, and booming tourism industry. With this economic influence, the Port has the power to support communities and essential workers most impacted by the pandemic and be a key driver of small business development in the Greater Seattle area. We need leaders committed to those goals.

    Through ongoing large-scale construction projects, hundreds of retail opportunities, and resources to support the training of the next generation of business leaders, the Port of Seattle can and must work to ensure that the Seattle community is employed and moving forward coming out of the pandemic.

    Additionally, I’m working so many of these new and high-paying jobs – in maritime, aviation, clean energy, and more – are available and marketed toward those who have been left out in the past, especially communities of color, LGBTQ+ communities, and low-income communities. To meet those goals, I have worked tirelessly to launch and promote our region’s new Maritime High School, connecting students to new opportunities in Port-aligned industries.

    As someone who works directly with small businesses now, I understand the challenges facing new entrepreneurs and difficulty in securing work with large government agencies. That is why I’ll continue to work to expand the Port’s efforts to make sure contracts are awarded to local small businesses, not just large, out-of-state conglomerates.

    Beyond just economic development, the Port of Seattle is also in a unique position to help tackle climate change. Since I was elected, I have acted on the belief that Ports can do more to improve sustainability, serving on the Port’s Energy and Sustainability Committee and leading efforts to make the Port of Seattle the nation’s most environmentally sustainable port.

    Our investment in sustainable aviation fuels at SEA and for complete decarbonization of the Seattle central waterfront are truly innovative. We have also become leading advocates for important ideas like the statewide Low Carbon Fuel Standard. We must continue this nation-leading work.

    As the Greater Seattle area continues to grow, the importance and relevance of our Port will continue to expand. During this coming election cycle, we have the opportunity to elect leaders with the integrity and experience to hold the Ports true to the interests of Seattle citizens. I hope to earn your vote.

     

    Ryan Calkins is a Seattle Port Commissioner, GSBA member, and consultant and coach at Ventures, a charitable organization that supports low-income entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses in the Puget Sound area. Learn more at www.ryanforport.com.


  • Community reactions to Fulton v. City of Philadelphia decision

    by Matt Landers (he/him), Director of Public Policy & Government Affairs
    | Jun 17, 2021

    This morning the Supreme Court of the United State unanimously decided in favor of Catholic Social Services in the Fulton v. City of Philadelphia case.

    While this decision is a disappointment, interpretations from LGBTQ+ legal experts are relieved that it appears to be a relatively narrow ruling that is hopefully limited to some of the specific circumstances of this one case, rather than a blanket ruling in favor of anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.

    The case originated when Catholic Social Services sued Philadelphia for refusing to give an exemption that would allow it to deny same-sex couples applying to be foster and adoptive parents. Philadelphia argued that an agency contracting for public services must comply with the city’s anti-discrimination laws. The Supreme Court’s ruling was decided based on the finding that Philadelphia’s contract did authorize an exemption and also the that the City had granted exemptions to other providers in the past.

    Regardless of the interpretation of this ruling, it reinforces the urgency of passing the federal Equality Act to ensure that strong anti-discrimination protections are available for LGBTQ+ people across the United States. You can learn more about the Equality Act in this community event organized by QLaw Association, QLaw Foundation, the Washington State LGBTQ Commission, and GSBA.

    Some of the reactions to today’s ruling from LGBTQ+ legal experts include:

    Lambda Legal
    “Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is troubling but, importantly, it refused to give a free pass to people or agencies that want to discriminate against LGBTQ people for religious reasons and is limited to the specifics of Philadelphia’s foster care system. Instead, the Court validated the City’s ‘weighty’ interest in the equal treatment of LGBTQ prospective foster parents and foster children. The only reason those interests did not carry the day was due to the specifics of the City’s contract. Because the Court decided the case on contract-specific grounds, the City can address the situation by rewriting its contracts.”

    “Any rationales that allow contract agencies to discriminate harm all children in care who need family foster homes if they cannot safely return to their parent or parents. LGBTQ foster children, the data shows, constitute almost one-third of all children in the foster care system and are over-represented in group homes and facilities because of a lack of foster homes. These children have a critical need for a foster care licensing system that welcomes everyone. Today’s ruling is concerning because it may give governments pause or cause confusion regarding nondiscrimination requirements in contracts.” 

    National Center for Lesbian Rights
    “Properly understood, today’s decision is a significant victory for LGBTQ people,” said Shannon Minter, NCLR Legal Director. “The Court ruled in favor of Catholic Social Services, but on the narrowest possible ground, based on language in the City of Philadelphia’s contract that authorized individualized exemptions for any provider. The Court did not change the current constitutional framework, which permits governments to enforce antidiscrimination laws that prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people even when doing so may have a disparate burden on those who hold certain religious beliefs. As a result of today’s decision, those who feared the Court might create a sweeping new religious exemption to such laws can breathe a sigh of relief.”

    “This narrow ruling allows governments to continue to prohibit discrimination not only against LGBTQ foster and adoptive parents but also against LGBTQ parents who are often wrongfully separated from their children by discriminatory child welfare practices that unfairly target parents who are poor, LGBTQ, disabled, or people of color,” said Cathy Sakimura, NCLR Deputy Director and Family Law Director. “Today’s decision preserves the critical ability of governments to prohibit such rampant discrimination, which is an urgent need.”

    Transgender Law Center
    #SCOTUS decided in favor of Catholic Social Services because Philadelphia allowed for exceptions to non-discrimination provisions in the City’s contracts, not because the Court believes that the City does not have the right to enforce their non-discrimination laws. This is a win.

    We know that the foster care system has never been safe for many of us, especially Black people, people of color & TGNC people. We must ground this decision and impacts in the racist history of the child welfare system that has long been used as a tool to enforce White Supremacy.

    We will continue to fight back against any harms committed by the state and organizations using public money to discriminate. But we know that the State will not save us. As we fight constant attacks from the religious right, we know that true power exists within our community.

    Centerlink
    “This case is an important reminder of the countless ways that LGBTQ Americans, people of color, women, people of minority faiths and others still face discrimination across our country,” said CenterLink CEO Denise Spivak.  “That’s why CenterLink is calling on Congress to pass federal nondiscrimination protections such as the ones outlined in the Equality Act. Because no one should have to live in fear of discrimination simply because of who they are."

  • Senator Maria Cantwell Talks Economic Recovery With GSBA Members

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Jun 07, 2021

     
    You can watch the recorded video of this roundtable here.


    On Thursday, June 3 ten GSBA small business members participated in a roundtable discussion with Senator Maria Cantwell, moderated by GSBA Board Member Linda Di Lello Morton of Terra Plata. Representing Washington State since 2000, Senator Cantwell is currently the Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and she also serves on the committees for Small Business & Entrepreneurship, Energy, Finance, and Indian Affairs. This means that the input of Washington small business is particularly important to her position.


    Senator Cantwell started off the meeting reiterating her focus over the last year - getting dollars out the door to help small businesses weather and emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. She touted two of the most important federal programs this spring - the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund - that dealt with two of the sectors most severely impacted by the pandemic. She mentioned that she hopes to get Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg out to Washington in the near future to talk about infrastructure, which is critical to our fast-growing region. Senator Cantwell acknowledged that one of the critical bills that the Senate had not yet passed was the federal Equality Act, and she expressed hope that it would soon follow in the footsteps of the legislation on anti-Asian hate crimes that was passed last month.


    When the discussion was turned over to the panelists, Eli Allison of Repair Revolution kicked off the group sharing how their business brings rare diversity to the automotive sector, and how any recovery must include underrepresented groups like women, LGBTQ+ people, and BIPOC individuals. Eli stressed how we cannot have infrastructure without a representative workforce in the trades, and shared how there is a severe shortage of qualified workers in many trade sectors. 


    Sean Brownlee of Mount Vernon-based rope manufacturer Ravenox elaborated on the similar issues for manufacturers, compounded by rising costs and inflation. Over the last year, his raw materials have had a 25% increase in cost, a 40% increase in shipping costs, and faced significant delays in shipping due to a shortage of shipping pallets and containers. He had founded his company with the goal of bringing manufacturing back to America, but the turmoil in the global economy is threatening his business. Dani Cone of Cone & Steiner reiterated the challenges with supply chain logistics at the moment and how she has seen the impact on her small vendors.


    Both Nicole Johnson of Sound Therapeutic Acupuncture and Jordie Neth of Rain City CPAs warned about the crushing effect of educational debt on small business owners. Nicole talked about how high interest loans prevent her from reinvesting back into her practice and hiring new employees, while Jordie shared how high debt scares away those who might otherwise be interested in careers that require professional degrees like CPAs, attorneys, and auto technicians. Senator Cantwell shared how she was working with Senator Elizabeth Warren to cancel federal student debt, cracking down on predatory for-profit financing, and how understanding the impacts on small businesses was critical in how the federal government should address the problem.


    Reflecting a common concern that GSBA has heard across our membership, Danielle Hulton of Ada’s Technical Books and Fuel Coffee in Seattle shared how her employees have been able to take advantage of Washington State’s great paid family leave program, but that they end up not returning to work because of the inability to find affordable childcare. Senator Cantwell said that this is one of the many examples of how the pandemic exposed a number of pre-existing crises across our society, and that the federal government needed to do more to keep parents in the workforce and have opportunities, whether through tax incentives or ways to drive down the costs of childcare.


    Omari Salisbury of Converge Media shared his experiences as a Black-owned small media business, saying the adage “when America sneezes, the Black community catches a cold.” The pandemic laid bare a lot of huge disparities that already existed, particularly in healthcare and business outcomes. When trying to stay afloat during 2020, Converge Media like many small businesses, applied for grants and loan programs, but was denied or found the application process was too onerous for a struggling entrepreneur. Luckily, he did receive a GSBA Ready for Business grant this spring. Senator Cantwell responded saying that COVID also showed us how we need to have a diversity of representative local media voices like Converge who can provide trusted and accurate information. She expressed an interest in expanding the pandemic programs to support diverse media and to build what Omari referred to as a level playing field for all small businesses.


    With his perspective as a certified public accountant, Jordie Neth also shared concerns about staffing levels at the IRS not keeping pace with the increasing complexity of the federal tax code. Numerous tax credits, loan forgiveness, employee retention credits, and other incentives are important, but difficulties arise when there is no one to answer the phones and take questions on how to correctly implement them.


    Ashley Martinez of Ashley’s Pub in Bremerton ended the discussion on a positive note. While she was wary of PPP loans at the start of the pandemic, she ended up receiving support from the City of Bremerton as well as GSBA’s Ready for Business fund, and then from the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund. She particularly wanted to acknowledge the importance of the ability for women, minority, and veteran owned businesses to apply first to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. With these grants, her business is looking optimistically to the summer as Washington State continues its reopening plan.

     
  • Get Loud and Proud with Broadcast’s Specialty Pride-Themed Coffee

    by Mark Van Streefkerk for Broadcast Coffee
    | Jun 01, 2021

    thumbnail_Photo May 25, 6 23 44 PM

    GSBA Member Broadcast Coffee, a proudly Gay-owned cafe and coffee roster, has some special Pride-themed offerings coming soon. The company recently added special T-shirt and sweatshirt options to their retail selection. Printed on a rosy-pink 100% organic cotton garment, the shirts and sweatshirts feature a bold rainbow above their recognizable triangle logo. But the real treat is on its way. (Photos by Jesse Penico)

    Slated to debut in June, Broadcast has a limited supply of Loud and Proud coffee, an Anaerobic Zambian Natural coffee that packs a powerful fruity punch. Broadcast owner Barry Faught doesn’t mince words. “It’s a gigantic strawberry bomb in your mouth,” he said. 

    The Loud and Proud coffee is sourced from Zambia, an underrepresented country in specialty coffee. The anaerobic process means the coffee is processed in  a similar manner to wine—”Much like wine, they put the coffee into a vat and suck out all the oxygen which gives it dimensions and flavors that not a lot of coffees have right now,” Faught explained. “It’s a natural process, so it uses a lot less water. It’s more sustainable.”

    For every bag of Loud and Proud sold, Broadcast will make a $3 donation split betweenthumbnail_Photo May 25, 6 05 57 PM two LGBTQ+ organizations: the Lambert House, a non-profit that offers support and programming for LGBTQ+ youth in Seattle, and The Community Center in Boise, where a new Broadcast cafe will open later in June. Also coming in June is a limited run of Broadcast Pride stickers. Sold for $2 each, all profits from the stickers will be split between the two organizations. Throughout the Broadcast’s 13-year history, they’ve donated to many other LGBTQ+ organizations, including Camp Ten Trees, Seattle Counseling Service, Seattle Frontrunners, GSBA, and more. 

    “I think what the Lambert House does is awesome,” Faught said. “The Lambert house has been an underdog as far as where folks donate money to. Sometimes [I think it] is overlooked. I really think it’s important to bring some focus to them.”

    Loud and Proud is ideal for a pour-over, or brewed with a home coffee maker. It’s perfect on its own, or with milk or plant-based alternatives like oat milk. Expect to see it featured as batch brew at any of Broadcast’s Seattle locations, where you can also purchase it by the bag—on Roosevelt Way in the University District, at Yesler Way in the Central District, and at Temple Pastries on S. Jackson St.—as well as through their online store

    thumbnail_Photo May 25, 5 53 58 PMThis isn’t the first time Broadcast released a designated coffee to raise funds. At the onset of the pandemic last year, $5 from every sale of Broadcast’s Gimmie Shelter blend went to an employee fund. Staff could request funds for financial emergencies, or to help offset reduced hours during that challenging time. “That was really successful, we were able to take care of our staff in a time of need,” Faught reflected. 

    As a Gay-owned company with a significant number of LGBTQ+ staff and management, Broadcast is known for being an inclusive work environment for queer, transgender and nonbinary individuals. Faught and management make it a point to ask for pronouns, and use gender-neutral language when addressing customers. This inclusive environment is baked-in to the culture at Broadcast, and Faught said it’s simply because they hire LGBTQ+ people who bring those values with them. 

    At the end of June, Broadcast will bring that same inclusivity to a new cafe in Faught’s hometown of Boise, opening right across from a new city park.

    “We are a mission-driven company, and our mission is to better the lives of people in the world,” Faught emphasized. “It’s something that we’ll never stop working for.”

    Follow Broadcast Coffee on Instagram at @broadcastcoffee, and be on the lookout for the Loud and Proud debut at the beginning of June. 


     
  • Redefining the barbering & salon industry with Shear We Go

    by GSBA Staff
    | May 14, 2021

    As the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the early spring of 2020, “the haircut” became a political rallying point at re-opening protests across the country as most salon and barbering businesses were unable to safely operate under new health regulations. But for GSBA Member and Ready for Business Fund - Round 2 grant recipient Dawa Goes-Behind, owner of Shear We Go, the donning of gloves, aprons, masks, and meticulous sanitizing was an easy adjustment.

    rs=w_1300,h_800“I think COVID-19 is going to change barbering, tattooing, and the nail industry. It’s gonna change the way we care for each other, and I’m excited about that, because I’ve always been approaching it like this,” said Dawa. “I’ve always worn gloves and my suspenders. I want my service to be comfortable for people, where you’re safe and in your own world, and I’m almost in the background.”

    Established in 2016, Shear We Go is an on-demand mobile barbering service based in Bellevue and operating across the greater Seattle area. Since Shear We Go is a mobile business, it’s one that’s particularly accessible, as many elderly, disAbled, and immuno-compromised customers have found in-home barbering safer during the pandemic.

    “Even as barber shops began reopening across our region, my dad was weighing the decision to go out for this service. Was it worth the increased risk? With my Dad's age and health in mind, I was concerned as well. Lucky for us, we found Shear We Go,” reads one Yelp review. “Shear We Go is all that is advertised and more. We were able to easily book an appointment (haircut and beard trim) online. Dawa traveled to my dad's home, set-up everything up, took proper precautions, and gave my dad awesome service.”

    Not only does Shear We Go meet the customer at their home, but the business servicesrs=w_1300,h_800 (2) all genders, hair textures, and folks of all backgrounds and ages - from three years old to 93. Shear We Go can also provide group cuts and trims for the whole family. Shear We Go’s mission of accessibility comes from Dawa’s love of connecting with folks from all walks of life, a practice he honed during his eight-year military career which was then followed by five years as a social worker, serving as a high school counselor and case worker for unhoused veterans.

    “I love being around people and learning from them,” he said. “Coming into barbering, I was like ‘Wow, you can really get to know people on a personal level.’ In business, there’s also a level of social engagement and organizing that I learned as a social worker... And to be a Queer, Indigenous, Black man, there’s a lot there that I can bring to the table for my business, and culturally, in connecting with people. It allows me to have what I like to call a ‘social satellite,’ to be able to tune-in to people’s frequencies and see where they’re coming from.”

    rs=w_1300,h_800 (3)Though Dawa provides cuts for everyone, one group that commonly uses his services tends to be elderly white cisgender men. While Dawa says he and these clients might not always have much in common culturally or politically, he says they share an appreciation for the craftsmanship and attention to detail of the traditional barbering services Shear We Go provides - and that his tactical attire is always a great ice-breaker for these clients, often also military veterans themselves.

    “When folks see the tactical gear, the shiny clippers, and gold sheers, and how I clean up - there’s a respect that comes with that,” he said. “It’s this DIY experience that people respect, but it has to be visceral, so everyone sees what’s happening in the background. When these guys see the attention to detail, it really relaxes them.”

    As a vigorous goal-setter, with Dawa’s lofty 100-year business plan, he’s looking to scale Shear We Go into a franchise with several barbers across the region - eventually operating with an app similar to Uber or DoorDash where users can hail a barber to their home or office, similar to how one would hail a ride or order delivery. He’s also continuing to bake his own values into the foundation of his business having recently connected with Cocoon House, a Snohomish County-based nonprofit that provides shelter for unhoused youth and works to end the cycle of homelessness. Dawa is interested in creating an apprentice program for unhoused or at-risk youth to learn barbering, various employment skills, and grow financial and social stability - a program which would allow him to use his experience in social work.

    For now, Dawa is most focused on getting the word out about Shear We Go, especially to those who still would benefit from a safer grooming experience, such as people living in senior and assisted living communities. As one of the 66 BIPOC-, LGBTQ-, and/or women-owned small businesses to receive a grant from the second round of the Ready for Business Fund, Dawa plans on using his grant to help market his business.

    You can learn more about Shear We Go and book a cut here. You can also follow Shear We Go on Facebook and Instagram.


  • 16 volunteers read nearly 3,000 Ready for Business Fund applications

    by GSBA Staff
    | May 06, 2021

    When GSBA and Comcast Washington expanded the Ready for Business Fund's footprint across the state by opening eligibility to BIPOC, LGBTQ, and/or women-owned small businesses across Washington with the program's second round of funding, we knew we would receive a sizable number of applicants. But as the application period came to a close, we couldn't help but pick our jaws up off the floor with the 2,994 business owners who submitted applications. These businesses were considered for a grant alongside the 400 applicants who previously applied during the program's first round of funding last summer. 

    Thankfully, we had 16 community leaders and small business advocates step up to the plate to serve on our selection committee. Each volunteer reviewed over 100 applications and made the truly difficult decisions in selecting our 66 grant recipients. GSBA thanks each member of the selection committee who donated their time and skills to this effort.

    Meet the members of the Ready for Business Fund, Round 2, Selection Committee:

    selection committee headshots_joseJosé Vazquez (he/him)
    Director of Programs for Ventures Nonprofit

    Born and raised in a small town in Zacatecas, Mexico, Jose is a graduate of the University of Missouri-KC where he holds a B.A. in premedical studies and an M.Ed. in Educational Administration. He is a Board of Directors member at Entre Hermanos Seattle where he has served as President and Vice President. He also serves as Diversity and Inclusion Director for the Emerald City Softball Association. His passion for education drives his need to help others, especially BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities. He is very involved with the Seattle LGBTQIA+ volleyball, softball, and kickball leagues and uses those opportunities to connect players to resources in the area.

    selection committee headshots_tylerTyler Mesman (he/him)
    Coordinator – Board and Special Projects at Forterra
    At Forterra, Tyler works with the Board of Directors to coordinate organizational strategy, manage work plans and execute special projects across the organization. Prior to Forterra, Tyler worked as a fundraiser and consultant for Democratic campaigns and progressive ballot initiatives across Washington. His proudest achievements were helping approve comprehensive, inclusive sex education for Washington’s youth and working with a historic BIPOC-led coalition to pass statewide police reform and accountability measures. Outside of work, you can find him testing new recipes in the kitchen, checking a book off his list, camping near an alpine lake, or showering affection on his two flat faced kitties.

    selection committee headshots_toniToni Baumann (she/her)
    Volunteer / Senior Marketing Professional
    A Seattle area resident since 1998, Toni has volunteer experience with Habitat for Humanity, United Way, and Big Brothers / Big Sisters. Expanding to work with LGBTQ organizations is a purposeful step during this time of social unrest and injustice; she is excited to help organizations access needed capital through the Ready for Business program.

    selection committee headshots_aliciaAlicia Crank (she/her)
    Chief Development Officer for AtWork!

    Alicia Crank is the Chief Development Officer at AtWork!, a highly supportive and innovative conduit between people with disabilities and employers in the community. Prior to this role, she was a leader in major fundraising and partnership roles at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish, CityYear Seattle and Washington Business Week. A Detroit native, Alicia held several leadership positions in corporate banking, education, business and the nonprofit sector in Silicon Valley. Having moved to Greater Seattle in 2014, she is now one of only a few women of color in corporate philanthropy. Alicia has served on several boards and commissions centered around equity and inclusion, and currently serves on City of Edmonds Planning Board as well as Vice Chair of the Snohomish County / Paine Field Airport Commission.

    2018GSBAStaff-EliLevi Coffin (they/them)
    Business Training Specialist and Grant Manager at GSBA

    They received their BA from the University of Minnesota in Political Science and Gender, Women, Sexuality Studies. As young, white, queer & trans professional they strive to show up as a resource and advocate for their community supporting QTBIPOC entrepreneurs and business owners. Levi has a deep passion for creating engaging, transformative, and educational spaces that center BIPOC, Queer, and Trans equity.

    selection committee headshots_zenoviaZenovia Harris (she/her)
    Chief Executive Officer at Kent Chamber of Commerce

    In 2019 Zenovia was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer for the Kent Chamber of Commerce, becoming the first African American CEO to lead the chamber in its 70+years. Her role serves as the spokesperson for the business community in Washington's sixth largest and one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country. Zenovia is a certified diversity professional who served as the President for the Washington Diversity Council Advisory Board. She also currently serves on the Board of Directors for Goodwill of the Olympics & Rainier Region. In the last decade, Zenovia has worked in higher education, sales and marketing, and has owned her own businesses.

    selection committee headshots_alyssaAlyssa Pizarro (she/her)
    Strategic Partner & Diversity Officer, Business Impact NW

    “I believe we are stronger together. Coming from an organization that provides training and lending to small businesses, it is an honor to be part of a community process that uplifts businesses, particularly those most impacted by COVID, putting BIPOC, LGBTQ and women-led businesses first, with the GSBA.”


    Laura CliseLaura Clise (she/her)
    Founder & CEO of Intentionalist

    Laura is the founder and CEO of Intentionalist, a Seattle-based social enterprise that makes it easy to #SpendLikeItMatters and support small businesses and diverse communities through everyday decisions about where we eat, drink and shop. Laura can sing and/or order ice cream in more than ten languages, and proudly serves on the IslandWood and Athlete Ally board of directors.

    selection committee headshots_johnJohn Matthews (he/him)
    Co-Founder of Oak Fern Web Development

    John is a Seattle-based entrepreneur with nine years of local startup experience. He lives in North Seattle with his husband Roan. John co-founded Oak Fern Web Development in 2015 to make intuitive, unique, and intelligent digital magic a reality for local business owners.



    julioJulio Cortes (he/him)

    Senior Communications Officer at City of Everett  
    "I'm the Senior Communications Officer at the City of Everett and also manage our City marketing efforts. The pandemic has had a devastating effect on our economies and businesses of all kinds are feeling the impact. Now more than ever we must come together and show empathy and support to our business community. I look forward to playing a role in the economic recovery efforts led by this team." 

    crystalCrystal Gamon (she/her)
    Senior Property Manager at Urban Renaissance Group
    Born and raised in Seattle, Crystal has an emotional connection to the community and deep desire to help it thrive. Crystal can often be found volunteering her time with several local organizations and lending her voice to advocate for those in need. Crystal and her wife currently reside in Mill Creek with their three daughters.




    deaunteDeaunte Damper (he/him, they/them)
    NAACP King County LGBTQ Chair

    "With so many things impacting our community I’m honored to be joining GSBA and Comcast stepping forward to provide the Community with this resource."




    lizLiz Dunn (she/her)
    Owner of Dunn & Hobbes, LLC

    Liz is the owner of Dunn & Hobbes LLC, a local real estate development and property management company. Liz is passionate about supporting other entrepreneurs; more than half of her retail and restaurant tenants are women-owned, BIPOC-owned, or both, and she is an active angel investor in tech, alternative energy, cannabis and consumer-facing companies.

    dominique_28Dominique Stephens (she/her)
    City of Seattle

    "Native of Seattle, ensuring all I do is for the growth and honor of BIPOC LGBTQ communities."





    rozRoz Edison (she/her)
    Owner of Marination/Super Six 

    Roz is the co-owner of Marination and Super Six. When she is not serving as the "Director of Many Things" for her company, she enjoys travel, spicy food, and a nice, long Law and Order marathon.



    selection committee headshots_taraTara Jensen (She/Her)
    Data Operations Manager at Quantum3 Group, LLC 

    "I have been wanting to get more involved in the LGBTQ community and luckily I have a great contact in Ilona Lohrey (GSBA VP of Membership & Programs) to get me started. I work in Kirkland at Quantum3 Group, LLC, and play softball with Rain(bow) City Softball. I am involved in the LGBTQ community in a limited way and given our current climate, I would love to do more!"
  • Meet the 66 recipients of the second round of the Ready for Business Fund

    by GSBA Staff
    | May 03, 2021

    Sixty-six extraordinary BIPOC, LGBTQ, and women-owned small businesses across Washington have received $2,500 grants from the Ready for Business Fund, GSBA's small business recovery fund co-founded with Comcast Washington. In addition to the financial support, these businesses will also receive a complementary first-year GSBA Membership, free consulting, and support services. 

    GSBA extends a heartfelt thank you to all the organizations and generous individuals who contributed to the program's second round of funding, including Comcast Washington, - who contributed $100,000 - T-Mobile, BECU, DoorDash, 1st Security Bank, Harborstone Credit Union, Puget Sound Energy, Seattle Foundation, Symetra, and Verity Credit Union.

    The recipients of the grants are:

    - A Clear View (Spokane)
    - A Step Ahead Bilingual Learning Center (Bellingham)
    - Abundant Living Senior Services (Marysville)
    - Adra Boo, LLC (Seattle)
    - Anywhere But Here Travel, Inc. (Lynnwood)
    - Ashley's Pub (Bremerton)
    - Avant Gardenz (Port Angeles)
    - Blue Cactus Press (Tacoma)
    - Bluebird Coffee (Lynnwood)
    - Booltina II (Lynnwood)
    - Cafe Argento (Seattle)
    - Chubby Bunny Farm (Arlington)
    - Community Acupuncture Project (Seattle)
    - Compass Acupuncture Tacoma (Tacoma)
    - Conscious Eatery (Seattle)
    - Converge Media (Seattle)
    - Distant Worlds Coffeehouse (Seattle)
    - Eli's House Cleaning (Walla Walla)
    - Fabulous Nails Spa (Tacoma)
    - Family 1st Consulting Services, PLLC (Tacoma)
    - Family Home Childcare (Seattle)
    - Funtastic (Seattle)
    - Guerrilla Films, LLC (Seattle)
    - Hunniwater, LLC (Edmonds)
    - Inclusive Data, LLC (Seattle)
    - Intersections Festival (Burien)
    - Inter-Tribal Beauty (Spokane)
    - Intrigue Chocolate Co. (Seattle)
    - ISATOURPROPERTIES (Lynnwood)
    - JAMIL (Seattle)
    - Kalkaal Childcare (Burien)
    - Keysight Consulting (Everett)
    - Kiddie Cover Daycare (Everett)
    - King's Books (Tacoma)
    - Latin Market (Renton)
    - Lia's Garden (Snohomish)
    - Lil Red's Takeout & Catering (Seattle)
    - Lucky Teriyaki (Seattle)
    - Mac Fashion House (Seattle) 
    - MBG Unlimited (Seattle)
    - MEND Seattle (Seattle)
    - My Sweet Little Cakes (Seattle)
    - Off the Rez (Seattle)
    - Olympic Cleaning & Beyond (Olalla)
    - Open Arms (Seattle)
    - Pink Moon Farm (Eatonville)
    - PointOneNorth Consulting, LLC (Burien)
    - Ravenox (Mount Vernon)
    - Ritual (Seattle)
    - Roda Food, LLC (Snohomish)
    - Satisfied Palate (Seattle)
    - Northwest Relationships (Tacoma)
    - Seattle Spartans (Everett)
    - Shear We Go, LLC (Bellevue)
    - Skeleton Coast (Seattle)
    - Spotlight Dance Center (Renton)
    - Sundus Family Childcare (Seattle)
    - Sunny Days Childcare (Kent)
    - Sure to Rise Bakery (Cashmere)
    - Sweet Krazy Corn (Seattle)
    - Taste of Peru (Gig Harbor)
    - The Barber Lounge (Fife)
    - The Confectional, LLC (Seattle)
    - West Coast Prep Basketball Academy (Kent)
    - Yang Farm (Mountlake Terrace)
    - YAY NOVELTY, LLC (Sedro-Woolley)



  • Commitment to equity represented in diversity of GSBA Scholarship Fund cohort

    by Jeff Boyer (he/him), Sr. Development Officer, GSBA Scholarship Fund
    | Apr 26, 2021

    Not everyone loves to see stats and numbers, but they are an important marker to makeed63b4e6-75f2-4728-ab1f-c0402284b0e4 sure we are truly meeting our mission of advancing equity for all. Here are some important pieces of data from your newly selected 2021-2022 GSBA Scholar Cohort:

    • 240 eligible applicants applied
    • 55 applicants were interviewed for 17 open cohort spots
    • Average scholar age is 23
    • Average GPA is 3.62
    • Average award amount is $8,333 per year, renewable up to four years through the GSBA Guarantee
    • 52% are the first in their family to attend college
    • 44% are second-generation Americans
    • 33% have lived below the federal poverty level
    • 31% have experienced homelessness
    • 26% are from a rural town in Washington
    • 20% have a disability

    Screen Shot 2021-04-23 at 9.10.41 AMThese numbers represent our efforts to level the playing field for students with marginalized backgrounds and identities, ensuring that LGBTQ future leaders from all walks of life receive the support they need to obtain an education.

    Are you ready to meet them?! We look forward to introducing them to you at our second virtual Scholars Celebration at noon on Friday, May 21st where we will officially award $500,000 in scholarships; taking us over $5 million invested in LGBTQ and allied students since the GSBA Scholarship Fund was founded in 1991. 


  • Welcome Ahi Martin-McSweeney, Capitol Hill Business Alliance Program Manager

    by GSBA Staff
    | Apr 21, 2021

    AHIHaving worked parallel to GSBA for years, Ahi Martin-McSweeney (they/them) is excited to join the team as the Capitol Hill Business Alliance (CHBA) Program Manager. Ahi first encountered GSBA from behind the oyster bar their former employer, Taylor Shellfish, had donated to EQUALUX – Taste of GSBA a few years ago, and was intrigued by the organization’s role within the LGBTQ community. From that moment forward, they knew GSBA was an organization they would continue to engage with, and began serving on GSBA’s Young Professionals Advisory Council.

    Ahi is thrilled to begin this transition from a career in hospitality operations, to a new chapter in community-focused work and business development. Looking forward to leveraging their skills and experiences to further the goals of the Capitol Hill business community, Ahi is driven to help revitalize the neighborhood’s economic landscape in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    After graduating from San Jose University in 2007 with a BA in Child & Adolescent Development, Ahi became the “dreaded California transplant” and relocated to Seattle. They briefly explored creative work in graphic design, before focusing on career development with Starbucks. Through several years of supervisory and management roles, they were given the opportunity to participate in Starbucks community engagement events such as Bumbershoot, UW Husky games, and the annual shareholders conference.

    It was through these large-scale events that Ahi discovered their love for catering and special event management, which led them to join the Taylor Shellfish team as Catering Manager. Over their time in this role, they fostered relationships with local communities, and oversaw the catering operations expansion and the opening of three new restaurant locations.

    Having lived in Seattle for 14 years, Ahi has strong ties to the city’s unique neighborhoods. They perceive the city, and particularly Capitol Hill, as being instrumental in their personal development, and are proud that their career path has remained closely intertwined with the neighborhood.

    Ahi is a devoted mother to a rambunctious preschooler, and spends as much time as possible encouraging her to take life by the horns. Ahi and their child enjoy adventuring through Seattle’s park system, dipping into Lake Washington and the Puget Sound, and frequenting (pre-pandemic) their local eateries. Through it all, Ahi still finds spare time for other extracurricular activities and activism; including presiding over the Camp Ten Trees Board of Directors and participating as an owner/member of Rat City Roller Derby. 

    GSBA members and Capitol Hill community members can reach Ahi here.