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:
José 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.
Tyler 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.
Toni 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.
Alicia 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.
Levi 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.
Zenovia 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.
Alyssa 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 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.
John 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.
Julio 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."
Crystal 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.
Deaunte 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."
Liz 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 Stephens (she/her)
City of Seattle
"Native of Seattle, ensuring all I do is for the growth and honor of BIPOC LGBTQ communities."
Roz 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.
Tara 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!"