The GSBA Blog


  • GSBA is looking forward to an engaging 2023 Legislative Session!

    by Gabriel Neuman, Policy Counsel and Government Relations Manager
    | Dec 29, 2022

    The upcoming State legislative session, starting January 9th, welcomes many new faces this session with many long-standing legislative members having retired. The House welcomed 24 new members, which includes two past legislators returning to the chamber. The Senate is bringing one new Senator, one returning Senator, and five House members moving over to the Senate. That’s a lot of new faces! The “red wave” that was expected in the elections did not come to pass, and in Olympia, Democrats picked up a seat in both the House and Senate:   

       2019 - 2022

    • House:41 Repulicans and 57 Democrats
    • Senate: 21 Republicans and 28 Democrats
        

        2023 - 2024

    • House: 40 Republicans and 58 Democrats
    • Senate: 20 Republicans and 29 Democrats

    Session Basics 

    This is the “long session” of the biennium, running 105 consecutive days beginning on January 9, and concluding on April 23 at midnight. The Legislature is fully back in person for the first time since 2020, but there may still be some changes ahead. We expect that remote testimony and virtual meetings with Legislators will continue, but the rules are not set yet. 

    T
    his will be a “budget year” where the Biennial Operating, Capital, and Transportation Budgets all need to be developed and passed. The Governor's budget was just released identifying his priorities for his cabinet agencies, and the Legislature takes over from here. 

    Leadership 

    Governor Inslee continues his term and with Democrats are in the majority in both Houses, Speaker of the House, Laurie Jinkins, and Senate Majority Leader, Andy Billig, and Chairs of all the committees will be Democrats. 

    Committee Changes 

    In the Senate, Sen. Derek Stanford will Chair the Business, Financial Services, Gaming and Trade Committee replacing Sen. Mark Mullet.

    In the House, Rep. Amy Walen, steps in as Chair of the Consumer Protection & Business Committee, taking over for Chair Kirby. Rep. Walen is a business owner and we’re excited to work with her in her new role, as well as returning Rep. Kristine Reeves as Vice Chair. Rep. Chris Corry is the ranking Republican with four freshman Republicans in a new 13 member committee.

    MK03168_Washington_State_Capitol_(Olympia)

  • Welcome Chris Marcacci as GSBA's Director of Marketing and Communications

    | Dec 20, 2022

    Beginning the week after Equalux 2022, GSBA welcomed Chris Marcacci as the new Director of Marketing and Communications. Marcacci comes to GSBA with more than 16 years of marketing and communications experience, most recently completing 13 years at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theater.

    Cropped HeadshotAs a marketing and communications professional, Marcacci has been a member of GSBA through his organizations since 2007, and has attended every Equalux since then. He was active with the GSBA Young Professionals with Pride, and having worked in circus arts and musical theater, he has always appreciated the connections to the local LGBTQ+ audiences. It was that connection to the LGBTQ+ community that drew Marcacci to the job at GSBA. “During the lock down, I really started thinking about what I wanted to do with my life professionally and realized that being connected to the LGBTQ+ community in Seattle would be far more fulfilling,” said Marcacci. He continued, “it has been a joy to come to work every day and spend time with likeminded people whose ideals really line up with mine.”

    Marcacci has hit the ground running and has some big goals for his time as Director of Marketing and Communications at GSBA. He says, “I am very excited to get the word out about all that GSBA can do for its members, and also spotlight our members even more. Members really are the heart  of GSBA , and marketing/advertising can be very tricky for small businesses. I hope I can assist them in any marketing needs they have, especially those who are CHBA members.” He continues with a message for CHBA and GSBA members, “We are here for you! We want to know what you are doing, whether that be job postings or community events, or just fun things you want us to know! Please drop me a line and keep me in the loop about whatever you have going on!”

    As far as favorite businesses in Seattle, Marcacci has a soft spot still for his former employer, Teatro ZinZanni. “It was the business that made my drop what I was doing and run away with the circus. All of us who worked there knew it was something very special, and we are all still great friends,” said Marcacci. “I am so excited they are back in town this year, even just for the holidays, and I hope they find a new permanent spot soon. We need that sort of zaniness in this city!” As for the Capitol Hill neighborhood, Marcacci enjoys the karaoke bar, Rock Box. “I have never sung karaoke, but I have some of the most talented friends in the world, and we all like to go there where they can serenade me with musical theater songs and pop hits like it is my own private concert.”

    Growing up in Silverdale, Washington since age 12, Marcacci attended Central Washington University with a double major in Housing Design and Sociology, with a minor in Family Studies. He also volunteered for more than 11 years with Market the Arts Taskforce, most recently as co-chair of the organization. When not at work, Rock Box, or supporting local musical theater, Marcacci can be found catching the latest Marvel movie or spending time with his eight-year-old puppy Waffles, a Yorkshire Terrier that Marcacci describes as “the light of my life and my everything.”

    Join us in welcoming Chris Marcacci to the GSBA family!  

  • 2022 Small Business Pop Up and Annual Meeting Recap

    | Dec 14, 2022

    We hope everybody had an amazing time at our 2022 Small Business Pop Up and Annual Meeting! We welcomed over 100 attendees to McCaw Hall for this annual event to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year and do a little holiday shopping with some of our amazing members!

    Annual Meeting CollageVendors included Rori's BloomsConquer PeruMoTi MealsMacadons ManifestYourWill, Africa Mama, Tea Moss, Taswira, Nishe Rene, and Street Treats and it was hard to resist buying something from every single pop up! We got more than a little holiday shopping done, for our friends and family, and for ourselves!

    319431823_499268165559766_1944890483089673817_nAfter the pop-up market, everybody headed downstairs to the lecture hall where they were treated to a slideshow and video about the accomplishments of the past year, and the official announcement of the 2023 Board of Directors!

    And of course, it wouldn’t be a GSBA event without an amazing raffle with prizes from some of our amazing members including Seattle Storm, Intrigue Chocolates, Rubicon Float, The Pacific Northwest Ballet, an amazing gift basket donated by Iron Brothers Construction and a grand prize of 6 months of co-working space from Expansive!

    Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor Wells Fargo, our Pop Up sponsor Carter Subaru and our Host Sponsor McCaw Hall for making this evening possible!

  • Respect for Marriage Act passed by U.S Senate

    by Gabriel Neuman, Policy Counsel and Government Relations Manager
    | Dec 01, 2022


    On Tuesday, November 29th, the United States Senate signaled its support for the LGBTQ+ community by passing the Respect for Marriage Act, which codifies same-sex and interracial marriages into US law. This bill would require that all states recognize same-sex and interracial marriages performed in any other state; and recognize those marriages for consideration of federal benefits like Medicare and Social Security. It would not, however, require that individual states allow these marriages to be performed.

    Passed with bipartisan support, lawmakers secured essential Republican support to pass the bill with a 61-36 vote, superseding the minimum 60 required votes to avoid filibuster. The measure was first brought by the House this summer following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, which reversed the long-standing precedent of protecting abortion as a constitutional right. The LGBTQ+ community, marriage rights advocates, and Democrats worried that the reversal could call other decisions regarding civil liberties into question, such as marriage equality. This bill, once passed, will shield same-sex marriage from potential further erosion of the legal principles upon which Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark 2015 United States Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage, relies.

    "By passing the bill, the Senate is sending a message that every senator needs to hear," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., ahead of the vote. "No matter who you are, or who you love, you too deserve dignity and equal treatment under the law."

    This victory could not have been won without the diligent efforts of the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, Senator Rob Portman (Ohio), the first in his caucus to endorse same-sex marriage in 2013 and whose son is gay, said he initially felt less optimistic about the Senate’s ability to pass the bill, noting how many of his colleagues had “strongly held views” on the issue. However, months of negotiation between LGBTQ+ advocates, marriage advocates, and religious groups convinced 12 Republicans, in addition to all present Democrats, to back the measure. After years in which opposing same-sex marriage was the consensus position by legislators on both sides, and later, a rallying cry for many Republicans, the passage of this Act shows how quickly public opinion has changed on the issue and demonstrates the lasting power of our community.

    The bill now heads to the House, where it is expected to pass and land on President Biden’s desk.

  • GSBA Appoints Gabriel Neuman as New Policy Counsel and Government Relations Manager

    | Nov 13, 2022

    You already know Gabriel from his time working with GSBA members in the front office. Now, get to know him better as GSBA has appointed him the new Policy Counsel and Government Relations Manager. Read his message below.


    I have been with GSBA for three years. I started as the Office Administrator in October 2019 while I was in law school. I am now the new Policy Counsel and Government Relations Manager.

    I am looking forward to giving back to a community that has played such an integral role in my personal development. Navigating the professional world is hard – no one will argue with that. Doing it as a young trans man evokes its own unique questions and challenges, and I often leaned on my small slice of the LGBTQ+ community for support. I was thrilled to join GSBA, as I saw it as an organization that platforms the spirit of communal support to a larger scale of LGBTQ+ and allied business owners, employees, customers, and everyone in between. That’s why I am most excited about connecting with community. I look forward to cultivating trust and support in order to provide opportunities, safety, and growth for LGBTQ+ and allied people.

    If you had asked me in high school what I wanted my career to be, I would have answered with, “I would love to do public policy work for a community nonprofit.” I have proudly carried that goal with me through my undergraduate degrees in Political Science & Public Affairs, and my Juris Doctorate.  I see policy and advocacy as emblematic of the community using its voice to support itself. Policy advocacy is a beautiful way for folks from many different parts of a community to meet, collaborate, and interact with each other in a way they otherwise may not have—this is an engine of progress. I am thrilled to have an opportunity to have a part in building those integral partnerships.

    I have a ton of hobbies to keep me busy outside of work. I love to read, crochet, ride my bike, play the occasional video game, and dig in the dirt on my rooftop garden. I’ve been known to travel far and wide for concerts if the opportunity arises.

  • GSBA Launches Mid-to-Large Business Leader Roundtable

    | Nov 07, 2022
    Med-to-Large Business Leader Roundtable 1GSBA has launched a new business roundtable program aimed at convening mid to large-size business leaders. The objective is to discuss common challenges that are unique to mature businesses (5 years+ and annual revenues of $3MM+) and to address potential solutions.

    We want to hear from you about what keeps you up at night and what is necessary to elevate your business to another level of operation and growth.

    If you are a business owner or leader of a mid-size entity that fits this model and would like to learn more, contact Amy Burdick at amyb@thegsba.org. We will meet quarterly for lunch, starting in January, 2023.

    Thank you to Wells Fargo for supporting this program. 
    Med-to-Large Business Leader Roundtable 2
  • GSBA Welcomes Remi Tinerella to the GSBA Staff

    | Oct 27, 2022
    Remi Tinerella HeadshotHi! I'm Remi, the new Account Services Manager, and I'm super excited to be here. My pronouns are he/him. 

    I come from a background of office administration and customer service, and in 2019, I moved to Seattle with my partner. As two trans men, we were drawn to this beautiful city for its vibrant LGBTQ+ community. The pandemic put a damper on our exploration of that community, so I'm looking forward to the connections I will make through GSBA!

    My primary goal with GSBA is to foster positive relationships with our members. I hope to help our members get the most of their benefits and promote the opportunities that advance economic development for all of us under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. Part of what brought me to this organization was seeing the impact of its work to provide a marginalized community access to the resources necessary for success. As a queer man of color, GSBA's values of diversity and inclusiveness hold deeply personal meaning to me, so being here is a wonderful opportunity to be involved in fulfilling this organization's mission in a hands-on way. 

    At home, my partner and I live in an all-trans masculine household of ourselves and three close friends, alongside our resident feline landlords - Alduin, Carrots, Princess, and Rorschach. I'm a big fan of live music, particularly metal shows, and when I'm not seeing a concert I can usually be found playing video games, or recreationally engaging in creative writing or visual art. I love collecting books and magazines about and researching "retro" interior design and fashion, as well as the older styles that influenced it. History of many kinds is also an interest of mine; I'd have a hard time choosing just one era with something neat about it to name, though I'm enthusiastic about learning queer history in various different cultures, including our own!

    I can't wait to meet everyone. I'm looking forward to working with you all!
  • GSBA welcomes Stacy Harbour-Van Hoy to the team!

    by Stacy Harbour-Van Hoy
    | Oct 21, 2022

    Hello GSBA!

    Stacy Harbour-Van Hoy HeadshotI’m so happy to introduce myself to you as the new Scholarship & Education Program Manager.

    I’ve been creating and connecting youth to engaging and relevant programming all over Washington State for over 20 years now. Most recently, I was teaching 7th graders all about atoms, energy, and body systems. Previously, I facilitated several programs at the Museum of Flight, connecting students to aviation and aerospace through workshops, credited classes, meet & greets with folks in industry, and internships.

    Outside of the office, I’m a mom to two teens, Nico and Evan, an old dog, Cooper, and a bearded dragon, Lizard. I also volunteer as a coach and volunteer trainer for Seattle Derby Brats – a youth roller derby league serving the greater Seattle area.

    Basically, if it involves STEM or skating, I’m in!

    What brought me to the GSBA and the Scholarship Fund is the desire to do work that fills my heart. I find a deep sense of joy when I can be a support person that helps folks connect to resources. There can be a lot of barriers getting in the way, and I can actively chip away at those barriers to advocate for space and voice in various college and career pathways. As a queer parent of a trans child, GSBA speaks directly to me and my passions more than any other program I’ve come across.

    As I look to 2023, my first goal is to actively build professional and social connection within the scholar community, present and alumni. That can be attending an event together, participating in a lunch n’ learn or job shadow, sharing experiences navigating applications and interviews, or collecting resources (like summer internships!).

    I also look forward to leveraging existing relationships in the educational community to further grow folks’ knowledge of the scholarship in technical and trade schools, and into Coastal, Central and Eastern Washington. Knowledge is power, and I look forward to continuing to create opportunities for our scholars in post-secondary education across our state.

    Looking forward to working with, and hopefully meeting, you all soon!

    Email at stacyh@thegsba.org

    For a more personal check in, please make an appointment via https://calendly.com/stacyh-gsba/30min

  • GSBA Meets with the Washington State LGBTQ+ Caucus ahead of 2023 Legislative Session

    | Oct 12, 2022

    GSBA's Policy Counsel and Government Relations Manager Gabriel Neuman kicked off prep for the 2023 legislative season with a successful meeting of state legislators and LGBTQ+ community stakeholders. The LGBTQ+ Legislative Caucus meeting was an opportunity for our legislators to present their priorities to community organizations, groups, and nonprofits, and for our community to ask questions and raise issues. In attendance were Speaker Laurie Jinkins, Sen. Jamie Pedersen; Sen. Marko Liias; Sen. Claire Wilson; Sen. Emily Randall; and Rep. Nicole Macri.

    Legislators came to the table eager to ensure that Washington State remains an equitable state for all. They highlighted the need for a safehaven bill to protect transgender individuals who come to our state in search of sanctuary from discrimination in their home state; capacity building for healthcare, including for QTBIPOC organizations and LGBTQ+ competent providers; increasing safety for trans folks under Washington’s name change laws; and working with our state’s educators to promote comprehensive sex ed and to increase privacy for LGBTQ+ students.

    The caucus also spent time discussing their priority of supporting access to reproductive care for Washingtonians and those visiting our state for sanctuary. Community groups also added their voice to the conversation. GSBA looks forward to continuing to collaborate with our legislators, community, and membership in these important issues.

    To learn more about the elected officials on the Washington State LGBTQ+ Caucus, or to contact members any of the members, visit https://senatedemocrats.wa.gov/lgbtq-caucus/ 

  • Rep. Jayapal introduces Trans Bill of Rights

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Aug 22, 2022
     
    Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) held an event last week in Seattle launching the Trans Bill of Rights, a bill introduced earlier this summer along with co-sponsors David Cicilline (RI-01), Marie Newman (IL-03), Mark Takano (CA-41), and Ritchie Torres (NY-15).

    This resolution would provide protections for transgender and nonbinary people, ensuring that they are not discriminated against or persecuted for their gender identity and expression. It comes shortly after the Supreme Court gutted Roe v. Wade, stripping many of their constitutional right to choose, and as the Court seems poised and willing to take on other hard-earned constitutional rights. 

    “As we witness Republicans and an extremist Supreme Court attack and roll back the fundamental rights of trans people across our country, and as state legislatures across the country target our trans community with hateful, bigoted, and transphobic attacks, we are standing up and saying enough is enough,” said Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Co-Chair of the Transgender Equality Task Force. “Our Trans Bill of Rights says clearly to the trans community across the country that we see you and we will stand with you to ensure you are protected and given the dignity and respect that every person should have.  We know that trans people, and  trans people of color in particular, face some of the greatest barriers in access to opportunity, services and resources, and facing some of the worst discrimination.  With this resolution, we salute the resilience and courage of trans people across our country, and outline a clear vision of what we must do in Congress in order to allow trans people to lead lead full, happy lives with the basic freedoms to housing, physical and mental healthcare, and employment without discrimination or a risk to their lives.”

    GSBA Vice Chair Eve was present at the launch event and shared how "It’s important to touch on the need for an equal standard across the country, so that trans people are safe and equal outside of the bubbles. Since many businesses in our area are supportive of their transgender employees, these laws support them in providing a reasonable expectation of how to hire and offer benefits to all their employees, and that their employees can engage in business travel safely too. We have an opportunity now ensure that a generation of young people can transition and prepare for their lives as adults free from much of the trauma that older transgender people have experienced and we are both thrilled and dedicated to be able to give them that opportunity."

    Video of the launch event can be seen on Seattle Indivisible's Facebook page, including speeches from Rep. Jayapal and leaders from Lavender Rights Project.


  • 2022 GSBA Leadership Immersion Weekend

    by Jeff Boyer, Senior Development Officer
    | Aug 15, 2022
    This past weekend was our annual Leadership Immersion Weekend for our GSBA Scholars. Due to lingering concerns about COVID-19, we opted to do it virtually again this year. 

    Seeing our scholars come together and host sessions, conduct interviews, ask important questions and share their knowledge and view of the world, makes me feel confident that our world is in good hands with our future leaders!

    Our sessions this year included:
    • Zine-Making in Queer History with Whit Fraleigh
    • Your Financial Journey - Credit Health with Rocky Fong
    • Leadership Selfie Collage with GSBA Scholar Alum Tiffany-Ashton Gatsby
    • The Power of Storytelling Through Burlesque with Mx. Pucks A’Plenty
    • Are Side Hustles Worth It? with US Bank Goals Coaches Tamara Clark and Marlie Love
    • Are You Financially Fit? With US Bank Goals Coaches Tiffany Fritchman and Kacey Lorenzen
    • Building Your Own Movement with Alex Mora from LegalizeThey
    • Navigating College Resources with Ruby Hayden
    • IN-Clued Sex Education with Emily Lerner and Michael Martinez from GLSEN
    • Money - What You Didn’t Learn Growing Up with US Bank Goals Coaches Kacey Lorenzen and Lisa Schuss
    • Self-Advocacy in the Face of Imposter Syndrome with GSBA Scholar Alum Alejandra Silva Hernandez
    • 2SLGBTQ2IA+ Social Justice Movements and Moments with GSBA Scholar Alum Astro Pittman
    • Mindfulness Practice through Horticulture Therapy with current GSBA Scholar Skylar Kaylen of The Curious Seedling
    • Interviews with Washington Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu and Jaimée Marsh.

    A big thank you to each of our presenters this year, we couldn’t have done it without you! 
     


  • Meeting with the General Services Administration

    by GSBA Staff
    | Aug 15, 2022
     
    GSBA Interim President & CEO Ilona Lohrey recently met with the Administrator Robin Carnahan of the federal General Services Administration (GSA) to discuss government contracting and small business opportunities. This comes on the heels of the GSA entering into a partnership with NGLCC to advance equity and supplier diversity in federal contracting, namely enhancing access to GSA contracting opportunities for LGBTQ+ owned small businesses. The GSA provides centralized procurement and shared services for the federal government, managing over $75 billion in annual contracts.

    8.10.22 Administrator Carnahan visit to R10 GSA - Industry Partner RoundtableGSBA shared concerns that many small businesses find multiple barriers to accessing government contracts, requested data, and documentation. Additionally, there are many challenges around firm fixed-price contracts with the possibility to adjust for inflation. These barriers affect the ability of business owners to pay higher wages and retain good employees. Additionally, larger companies are often the main or Tier 1 contractor, and small minority owned firms only get access to tiers 2 or 3, or at the subcontractor level.

    Administrator Carnahan shared that the infrastructure act passed earlier this year means that the federal government has a lot of funds available for projects that will especially benefit those in construction-related industries. This presents a unique moment for small businesses to grow in the construction industry, and the General Services Administration wants to invest! With the Inflation Reduction Act, there are also new efforts to ensure sustainability for small businesses coming into effect.

    Joining GSBA at the event were partner organizations such as Business Impact NW, the Minority Business Development Agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center.

  • The Guide to GSBA

    by Ilona Lohrey, Interim President & CEO
    | Aug 04, 2022
     
    GuideCover2022GSBA is proud of its 41 years of service to the LGBTQ+ business community. As the interim President & CEO, I am committed to leading this organization that works tirelessly towards achieving economic and educational equity.

    In this year's Guide to GSBA you will find stories of some of our incredible members across Washington State, as well as the myriad ways GSBA helps support our community, grow small businesses, and fight for LGBTQ+ rights. There is a small print run of this publication that you may have seen over the last few months, but it is primarily a digital document, unlike the iconic GSBA Guide & Directory that you are familiar with from the last 40 years. We have included a listing of our members at the time of publication at the back of this Guide, and you can always find up-to-date listings at theGSBA.org.

    We hope that you will take a few moments to learn more about our members featured here, as well as the ways that GSBA can help to grow your business, improve your workplace, and connect you with the LGBTQ+ community. We have more programs directly supporting our workplaces than ever before, from our LGBTQ+ inclusion trainings to the new Business Academy to free one-on-one business consulting. We bring policymakers from every level - city, county, regional, state, and federal – directly to our members to understand your perspectives and needs. The GSBA Scholarship & Education Fund is stronger than ever, and we are establishing new ways to support the whole student in their educational path. Travel Out Seattle is spreading the word of our state’s magnificent attractions as tourism starts up again after a difficult few years. And while our membership is statewide, our special commitment to our home neighborhood of is deepening every day through the Capitol Hill Business Alliance.

    As we begin this period of recovery from the pandemic, we ask you to make a commitment to actively patronize GSBA members and cultivate our local LGBTQ+ economy and community.


  • Issaquah Welcomes GSBA

    by Joey Chapman, Director of Membership & Programs
    | Jul 28, 2022
     

    GSBA gathered with new and enthusiastic partners in Issaquah to connect the city with our statewide work. We were joined by Mayor Mary Lou Pauly, President of Issaquah Highlands Council and Arts Commissioner Kimberly Kapustein, economic and equity staff from the City of Issaquah, the Greater Issaquah Chamber of Commerce, Visit Issaquah, Village Theatre, Olympic Hot Tub, and Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria. Tutta Bella were the perfect hosts for these conversation.

    According to GSBA Member Christy Garrard, Director of Business Development for Visit Issaquah, "This continued journey will help to ensure Issaquah is an inclusive destination and place to do business for the LGBTQ+ community. Convening leadership from government, business, and the arts builds equity-centered relationships."

    IssaquahGSBA Interim President & CEO Ilona Lohrey adds "This gathering shows community in action to create a more inclusive environment and equity through business. We have the perfect opportunity to take cohesive action to a better future for business and community for all."

    In collaboration with our Visit Issaquah and local chambers and leaders, GSBA looks forward to holding a day of LGBTQ+ Workplace Inclusion Training and Networking in October of 2022 (date TBD) in Issaquah. We found great success during the spring in Kitsap County, welcoming the community together to engage in this type of greater learning. We know that our time in Issaquah will be well spent!

  • Scholar Spotlight: Maksym Dedushko

    by Maksym Deduschko, Past GSBA Scholar
    | Jul 19, 2022
     
    My name is Maksym Dedushko, and I am a past GSBA Scholar. I was born and raised in Chernihiv, Ukraine where my family has lived for generations. At the age of sixteen, I came to the U.S. to study as an exchange student. With the help of GSBA's scholarships and network, I successfully finished a B.S. degree in Chemistry and Molecular Biology and a Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Washington in Seattle.
     
    From the end of February to April, my hometown Chernihiv was under siege for more than five weeks. Being a regional center and located an hour away our capital, the Russian army attempted to occupy Chernihiv and to open a direct route to Kyiv. However, since the Ukrainian armed forces were able to halt Russian advances on every occasion and never let them in, the Russian forces resorted to bombing the city into the ground.
     
    MD - hotelMy hometown has suffered an unimaginable destruction from aerial bombardment and long-range missile strikes from Belarus. During the first two weeks of invasion, countless residential and private buildings - our historic cinema, a new mall, most police stations, gas stations, oil depots, the city’s football field, a central hotel, two marketplaces, schools, general hospitals and an oncology hospital, and my kindergarten - have been hit and destroyed by rocket attacks and plane bombs. The fourth floor of my sister’s apartment building was hit by four rockets in late March (shown in local video news here), blasting her front door inside her apartment and shattering all the windows. Rocket strike resulted in the entire upper floor burning and damaging the roof. Although the building is now officially condemned, my sister and her boyfriend, along with other residents, still live there. My sister mother-in-law’s house was hit by multiple rockets, with only a single wall now standing. My aunt’s apartment building was hit by a missile rocket as well.
     
    MD - FatherWeeks before the war and during the invasion, I have pleaded with my family to leave and offered assistance for them move to Western Ukraine, but everyone has refused. My parents told me that Chernihiv is their home, and they will fight for it. My dad joined a volunteer territorial defense battalion on the fourth day of invasion. My mom volunteered by donating blood, buying food, and helping prepare Molotov cocktails with our neighbors. My cousin’s husband and his dad also joined another volunteer battalion. On March 4th, he died under the rubble of a collapsed high school that was bombed by a Russian plane. My cousin is now a widow with two small children. Over the next two days, Ukrainian forces were able to shoot down all the Russian planes that were raiding Chernihiv. One of the planes fell into a house where grandparents of my sister’s boyfriend lived. While his grandmother made it out of the house, his grandfather burned alive in his house.  
     
    For the last two weeks of March, the Russian army has been focusing on blockading and suffocating the remaining population. About 130,000 people were left in the city out of the total of 285,000. During that time, no one in the city had electricity, water, heat, gas, internet, or cellphone connection. My family members would later tell me that they have spent most of the time hiding in the cellars, venturing into city on foot to find bread and water whenever it was possible. My mom and our neighbors cooked food on campfire in front of our home. My mom tells me that in one way, cooking together with neighbors while watching out for any sound of shelling has made them become closer to one another. 
     
    MD - SIL houseNevertheless, The Russian army has failed to take any major cities in the north of Ukraine and has left the Chernihiv, Kyiv, and Sumy regions at the beginning of April. I have never felt so much relief after more than a month of constant terror and fear for the lives of my family. Since then, my dad’s volunteer battalion has been absorbed into the regular Ukraine armed forces. He is now stationed somewhere by the Belarusian border where they dig trenches, fortify roads, and train daily. He has also received higher grade defensive gear and weapons supplied by the U.S. On top of that, my dad says they are regularly being visited by the Ukrainian armed forces who were trained by the US and NATO forces. They conduct NATO and the U.S. level training and drills such as urban warfare and urban tactical troop movement. In their free time they play soccer games to unwind and not dwell over the war constantly. Russia continues to shell our villages by its borders and launch rockets deep into our region. 
     
    Since early May, I have started a GoFundMe page to raise funds to support my family members as they try to rebuild their lives with the war still raging in the east and south. Now that the siege of Chernihiv is over, almost everyone in my family finds themselves without jobs or money to survive in a city that has been 70% damaged or destroyed. Moreover, this fund has already helped my cousin, her parents, and parents-in-law to retrieve the body of her cousin from a mass grave, where he was buried after the plane bombing, and give him a proper burial. Please feel free to share it with friends and family who might be able to help as well. I have been providing updates there as well, including the pictures of people who are receiving support and the kind of food this fund has allowed my parents to buy.
    Thank you for allowing me to share my family's story.

  • EQUALUX is right around the corner

    by Jeff Boyer, Sr. Development Officer
    | Jul 05, 2022
     
    Sitting here writing this right now, I absolutely cannot believe it’s already July—can you? That means EQUALUX is right around the corner, and we are beginning to plan. Can you help us out?
     
    If you’ve got a second home, timeshare, item from your business to promote, or any great idea—we want to talk! Here is the link to donate an item to the event.

    Last year we had an Olympic Hot Tub, Alaska Airlines tickets, international and domestic trips, fine wine, a Salvador Dali lithograph, a Holland America cruise, a trip on a 70’ racing sailboat, paella for eight at Terra Plata, an original Steve Jensen piece, Russell Wilson signed jersey, glasses from Cooper’s Optique, a Precision Garage Door opener, massage sessions, gift cards, and so much more!
     
    If you’d like to be a part of our planning committee this year, please shoot me an email at JeffB@theGSBA.org!
     
    Also please save the date for this year’s shindig, November 19, 2022 at the Westin Seattle. Details will soon follow, but we want you to have the date blocked off now! 

  • Rep. Adam Smith Visits GSBA Members

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | May 23, 2022
      
    Olympic Hot Tub Rep SmithEarlier this month, Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) visited GSBA member Olympic Hot Tub at their Auburn showroom. Rep. Smith shared his perspectives on the federal infrastructure bill, including focuses on needed apprenticeships, workforce investments, and supply chain challenges. He urged a path to citizenship for immigrants to fill needed jobs across the country.

    Participants shared how supply chain issues have been exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including resources like neon and aluminum, and how they have also been able to support local Ukrainian communities in Washington State. The Congressman also spoke to how the war will also impact food supplies in many regions of the world, potentially causing additional instability. 

    With income inequality across King County, Rep. Smith pointed out the significant need to grow the economy along with the job skills that go with it. This includes a pressing urgency to build more housing everywhere for all income levels, and for the infrastructure to tackle the crises of homelessness and public safety.

    Constituents in the 9th district can contact Rep. Smith's office via his website.

    A big thanks to the Olympic Hot Tub for hosting the meeting, and for proving a delicious lunch from Marination for everyone to enjoy!

  • Inaugural CHBA Hill Talk with Councilmember Mosqueda

    by Ahi Martin-McSweeney, CHBA Program Manager
    | Apr 28, 2022
     

    CHBA Mosqueda

    CHBA (the Capitol Hill Business Alliance, a program of GSBA) held our very first in-person Hill Talk event last Thursday! A big thank you to Steve Jensen Gallery for hosting us in their beautiful space. Hill Talk is a quarterly event that focuses on bringing civic engagement opportunities directly to Capitol Hill; connecting those who do business to decision makers and resources. We aim to empower our community to advocate for their top priorities and strengthen the collective voice of Capitol Hill.

    For our inaugural event, we welcomed Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda to speak to her priorities and answer some questions posed by CHBA members. As one of Seattle’s two at-large representatives, Councilmember Mosqueda has always showed an interest in Capitol Hill as one of the densest (and liveliest, if we do say so ourselves) parts of our city. She opened the evening by talking about her family’s small business – Tasty Tacos in Des Moines, Iowa - and how she experienced first–hand how entrepreneurship can lift a family’s economic situation and work with the community around them.  

    Around encampment sweeps and the Seattle's approach to the housing crisis, Councilmember Mosqueda reiterated that we need to get people inside, but that offers of shelter are hollow when there is only 1 bed for every 4 people who need it. She suggests that signs for encampment clearings not be put up until the City is sure that it has beds available for each and every person in the camp, and to make sure that the proper outreach happens prior to a clearing. She mentioned that there was funding for RV safe lots in last year’s budget, however they were never implemented. There has been some success with funding from both the Jump Start tax as well as federal ARPA dollars that has already acquired over 400 housing units so far with acquisition of former hotels and apartment blocks. Above all, she said, what the city needs is “housing, housing, housing!” 

    When asked to expound on the Jump Start program which she created, Councilmember Mosqueda shared her vision of how this revenue stream is intended to support small business. GSBA helped negotiate the small business supports within Jump Start, which dedicates 15% of its revenues specifically to economic resiliency. The Councilmember hopes to see this funding support activation of storefronts, support for cultural events, the arts, food vendors, and more. It can also be put towards immediate relief projects, like addressing vandalism.  

    Perhaps the biggest topic in neighborhoods across the country right now is public safety. As we hear from our CHBA members, there is a particularly nuanced way of approaching public safety concerns in Capitol Hill, recognizing both the need for safety as well as understanding that there are other ways beyond traditional policing that would be more effective. The Councilmember shared her ideas for complimenting a traditional safety model with new approaches, including moving certain work (such as addressing mental health crises) away from uniformed police to workers who are better trained to handle those circumstances. She mentioned investments in programs such as Choose 180 and Community Passageways, as well as funding restorative justice options, LEAD, and mobile service options for mental health treatment and for victims of domestic violence. She acknowledged that a lot of funding for some options is not yet deployed, and that the City needs to keep working to ensure that money is getting directly to the community faster. 

    Streetscapes have long been an area of passion for the Councilmember, and she has spoken for years about the possibilities for dense walkable neighborhoods like Capitol Hill. Above all else, she stated that the foundational question is what do residents and small businesses of a neighborhood want to see in their own space? Options like Barcelona-style superblocks would always need strong community feedback before implementation, and have never been envisioned to block off vehicles for delivery and local traffic.  

    CHBA is working hard to provide meaningful programming and connection opportunities to businesses in the neighborhood. Up next is Community Conversations on Thursday, May 19 at 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM. Community Conversations are virtual events in which we discuss current topics and events impacting the business community. May's event will center around the unique needs of businesses with daytime hours of operation, from foot traffic to street traffic, and creative marketing tactics folks can use to leverage residential neighbors as a strong customer base. If this is your business, we invite you to join us! If you’d like to understand how to support these businesses better, we invite you to join us too! 


  • Masterclass with Lewis Rudd of Ezell's Famous Chicken

    by Toraya Miller, GSBA Training & Consulting Manager
    | Apr 25, 2022
     
    For the second edition of GSBA's quarterly Masterclass program, a part of the GSBA Business Academy, we welcomed Lewis Rudd of Ezell's Famous Chicken to share his entrepreneurial journey.

    First and foremost, Lewis advised participants to follow their dreams and filter their love into their business. He shared about his upbringing in East Texas with ten brothers and sisters  and how having an intentional journey toward being the best guided him throughout his whole life.

    Ezell's first location was opened on February 3, 1984 as a family-owned business. Now they have 325 employees across 18 locations, including their first international store in Dubai! Especially relevant in 2022, what has always kept Lewis awake at night is labor challenges and supply chains. He has navigated economic ups and downs by "always carrying a bag of solutions" and relying on having great partners and lasting relationships. Lewis urges other entrepreneurs to be proactive. Prior to the pandemic, 85% of Ezell's orders were already to-go orders, and he understood that he needed to partner with third-party delivery apps such as Doordash to sustain his business. He has even managed to open three new locations during the pandemic, always asking that his team provide food that is "fresh, good, and fast."

    While Ezell's is a Seattle icon now, it was not so easy to get started. Lewis shared how funders were not open to lending to Black-owned businesses or not willing to support the business plans from Black entrepreneurs. Building critical relationships and mentors, as well as having plans in place to overcome these challenges, was vital to building up Ezell's into the model that it is today.

    To give back to the community and offer resources that he was never able to take advantage of when he was just starting, Lewis and his siblings started the Raising Up Black Business (R.U.B.B.) initiative, to celebrate and lift up Black-owned establishments. This grant program was named, in part, in memory of his grandmother rubbing medicine on his skin when he was sick to help him feel better. In partnership with Doordash, Rudd’s R.U.B.B. will offer no-strings-attached business grants to 20 Black-owned businesses and organizations in the Pacific Northwest to help fund sustainability, operations, growth, and success.
  • 2022 Legislative Recap

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Mar 21, 2022

     The Washington State Legislature has finished on time, passing 303 bills and three budgets (supplemental operating, capital, and transportation). While only 60 days long, by many accounts this was one of the toughest sessions in memory. 303 out of 1049 bills were enacted this year, meaning just 29% of bills introduced were passed.  GSBA's legislative agenda was a bit of a mixed bag this year - we had a number of endorsed bills that did not make it through the process, but several more that did.

    Small Business
    With economic recovery still at the top of our mind, GSBA is pleased to see the success of bills to delay the Washington Cares Act (HB 1732), create the Equitable Access to Credit Act (HB 1015) to fund community development financial institutions, and add clarification to the Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave Act (SB 5649).

    One bill that showed up very late in the session was SB 5980, which exempts small businesses with revenues under $125,000 from the state business and occupation (B&O) tax starting January 1, 2023. This bill also raises the monthly B&O credit amount from $35 to $55 for non-service businesses, and from $70 to $160 for service businesses.

    LGBTQ+ Issues
    Unlike in many other states this year, the few anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in Washington made no progress and did not receive any hearings. Instead, we saw the passage of legislation that exempts the sensitive details of transgender people (and others) in the prison system from public disclosure (HB1956) as well as a bill that automatically waives fees for low-income people seeking a name change (HB 1961). We are disappointed that a bill mandating coverage for infertility treatments, including those often used by LGBTQ+ families, did not pass this year.

    In the budget, funding was authorized for the LGBTQ senior housing project going up on Capitol Hill (managed by GenPride), and a study on including fertility treatments in insurance coverage (separate from the bill that would have authorized it outright). While the bill to mandate Medicaid coverage of and exempt from pre-authorization all FDA-approved medications for HIV/AIDS did not pass, the funding was successfully added to the budget and so the desired outcome was still met. 

    For more information about LGBTQ+ legislation this year, join our Civic Engagement Series on Monday, April 18 at 5:30pm.

    Safety & Policing
    There were several major achievements in gun control legislation this year, include a ban on high capacity magazines (SB 5078) and closing the so-called ghost gun loophole (HB 1075). Additionally, HB 1630 prohibits armed intimidation by banning open carry at public local government meetings, school board meetings, and elections-related offices.

    Additionally, HB 1735 clarifies the use of force standards regulations passed last year for police officers across Washington. It clarifies when police can use force, and reiterates that they are required to help transport people to mental health treatment. This bill was supported by police and community advocates alike.

    You can find more details about any of these bills at leg.wa.gov.