The GSBA Blog

  • Member Spotlight: Q Card Project

    by Genya Shimkin, Q Card Project
    | Mar 26, 2018

    IMG_0180As a result of cultural homophobia and stigma, many LGBTQ youth struggle with bullying, violence, discrimination, and health disparities. Despite this, LGBTQ youth in our communities show us every day that they are smart and creative and resilient and powerful. Q Card Project exists to give them the tools and language they need to advocate for themselves in healthcare settings so they can live healthy lives. The Q Card is a simple and easy-to-use communication tool that lets youth fill in their name, pronouns, sexual orientation, gender identity, and any questions they want to ask a clinician. It also includes tips for clinicians on providing sensitive care to LGBTQ youth. Since the first printing in March 2014, we have shipped over 150,000 Q Cards to 35 states and four countries. In addition to youth themselves, who offer overwhelmingly positive feedback, adults love Q Cards too! Nurses, therapists, physicians, teachers, librarians, social workers, parents, and non-profit staff love that Q Cards are an easy way to signal that LGBTQ youth are welcome in their spaces. 

    Genya Shimkin and Pramila JayapalJoining GSBA has been hugely beneficial to me. As an “accidental entrepreneur” with a background in community-based public health practice, I had a lot to learn about how to run a business. In joining GSBA, I was welcomed into an incredible community of business leaders who care deeply about supporting and mentoring young business owners. Through the Financial Literacy Series, I have gained new skills for running my business, and at monthly Seattle Entrepreneurial Women breakfasts, I’m able to connect and learn from incredible women who share their expertise and insights to help me navigate entrepreneurship. I have learned so much since joining, and look forward to staying involved as my business grows.

    Genya Shimkin, Q Card Project

  • Member Spotlight: OUT There Adventures

    by Meridian Mayer, Senior Membership Services Manager
    | Mar 23, 2018

    OTA 3

    GSBA is excited to welcome Elyse and OUT There Adventures as one of our newest members! We asked Elyse to tell us a little about her organization and why she joined. 

    OUT There Adventures is a Pacific Northwest based 501(c)3 whose mission is to further bridge the gap between the LGBTQ community and outdoor recreation and stewardship. OTA operates year-round LGBTQ youth and adult adventures and youth summer multi-day expeditions in Washington and Northern California, program partnerships across the West Coast, Intermountain West and Midwest and co-organizes the annual LGBTQ Outdoor Summit. 

    Elyse Rylander is OTA's founder, Executive Director and Head Jane of All Trades, "As one of the largest LGBTQ outdoor education organization in the country, joining the GSBA and the world's largest LGBTQ and allied chamber of commerce will offer us many opportunities to get even more people OUT there. As new member we hope to increase awareness of our mission and our myriad ways to get outside, cultivate relationships with new program partners and investors, and also to serve as a conduit for others interested in branching in to work with the outdoor and conservation industries. In our opinion, the outdoors is the best place to explore our queer identities because after all, 'there's nothing straight about nature!'"

    Help us welcome Elyse and OUT There Adventures to the GSBA business community. To find out more about what they do and how to get involved, check out their website.
  • Member Spotlight: Four 28

    by Meridian Mayer, Senior Membership Services Manager
    | Mar 19, 2018

    Four 28 member spotlight 2Lara Creasy has been a hospitality professional for over 18 years, and she currently provides beverage management advice to the industry through her consulting business, Four 28. She is an award-winning mixologist and wine list creator, having directed beverage programs at some of the Southeast’s most respected and profitable restaurants, including JCT. Kitchen & Bar, The Optimist and State of Grace, before relocating to Seattle.

    Lara has extensive experience opening new restaurants, having successfully opened 11 within the last 8 years. Two projects, St. Cecilia and King + Duke, both in Atlanta, were named to’s “Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings of 2013 and 2014.” Previous project, The Optimist, garnered Esquire Magazine’s “Restaurant of the Year” Award in 2012. Lara has repeatedly earned the attention of the national media for her work, and her recipes and insights have appeared in such publications as Bon Appetit, Saveur, Southern Living, Imbibe, Wine Enthusiast, CNN’s Eatocracy, and Garden & Gun. She has also earned the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 8 times for 5 different restaurants.

    Lara is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, as well as a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW). She holds a degree in Culinary Arts from the Art Institute of Atlanta and a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism from the University of Georgia. 

    Over the years, Lara has been fortunate enough to tour the wine regions of Italy, South Africa and Spain, learn tequila production in Mexico, taste Bourbon samples from the barrel in Kentucky, and dine in some of the best restaurants from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon. Lara has placed in numerous cocktail competitions, both locally and nationally. Highlights include competing on a rooftop at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, and being crowned “Tomato Queen” for best cocktail at the inaugural Attack of the Killer Tomatoes Festival in Atlanta.

    "I joined [GSBA] on the recommendation of an active member [Dani Cone of Cone & Steiner], and I'm so glad I did! I was looking for a way to network with other professionals in Seattle in a non-threatening environment. I wanted to meet other people that were also interested in meeting other people, expanding their business opportunities and supporting our LGBT community. I've since learned about all of the benefits of membership, and I'm blown away by what a great organization this is. I'm very grateful for how welcoming everyone has been."

    Check out Four 28 on Tumblr: 

    four 28 member spotlight 3

  • Revive Affirmative Action in Washington

    by Tran Dinh, GSBA Extern
    | Mar 13, 2018

    “The state shall not discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”

    Despite Seattle’s progressive reputation, the city, as bound by Initiative 200 (I-200), is prohibited from having preferences based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public contracting, hiring, and education. Washington voters approved I-200 into law in November 1998. I-200 applies to all government entities and programs in Washington State, including public higher education institutions and Washington State’s Supplemental Certification Program (Plus 3).  With an anti-discrimination disguise, I-200 operates in a colorblind and ahistorical society where everyone is treated equally, regardless of the continuing pattern of violent and disparate treatment of underrepresented communities.


    In reality, I-200 significantly impacts Washington State’s ability to hire, contract, and educate underrepresented communities through race- and gender-based policies. For instance, in education, I-200 is not only a barrier that limits access to higher education for underrepresented students but also impedes schools’ ability to attain diverse faculty and staff. More specifically, the initiative impairs school districts’ ability to hire and retain diverse teachers and administrators in the pre-K through 12 system to meet the needs of the increasingly diverse population.


    Similar to public education’s hiring impairment, state agencies now lack the proper tools and incentives to meet their affirmative action goals. Originally, the Supplemental Certification or Plus 3 program implements race- and gender-based policies in state hiring. After the passing of I-200, the Plus 3 program has adapted to meet the parameters set by the law. In practice, the agency’s director of personnel is authorized to select the best seven candidates from employment registers or eligibility lists. The top seven candidates are “certified” to be considered for the open position. The Plus 3 program then allows three more candidates who belong to underrepresented groups to be added to the list for the hiring agency’s consideration. After the state’s affirmative action ban, Washington State’s population had a 4.1% increase in unemployment for African Americans as relative to whites.


    The adverse impact of I-200 is also deeply and widely felt in employment as well as the contracting sector. Between 1994 and 1996, African Americans represented 4.76% of available firms, but received only 0.33% of “construction prime contract dollars” and 3.16% of subcontractor dollars. I-200’s impact on women-owned businesses is similarly negative. The number of certified women-owned firms has declined to nearly half of what it was before I-200 was approved. Further, in the five years before I-200 came in effect, state agencies and higher education institutions spent 10% of their contracted and procurement dollars with certified women-owned firms. Today, that rate is 3%.


    GSBA works to cultivate a vibrant global economy strengthened through the full participation of diverse local communities. To attain this vision, GSBA has selected affirmative action as one of our legislative priorities. While there have been numerous attempts over the years to repeal or amend I-200, none have made it to the Governor’s table. This year, there were two bills in the House and Senate aimed at restoring affirmative action in Washington State. The 2018 legislative session having ended on March 8th, neither of the efforts to repeal I-200 passed this year. However, GSBA is committed to working with the community and organizational partners to restore equitable treatment of underrepresented groups in hiring, contracting, and education in Washington.

    Tran is a law student at Seattle University and is completing an externship with GSBA, focused especially on issues around I-200, minority business contracting, and economic justice.

  • Celebrating 2018 Legislative Victories

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy & Communications Manager
    | Mar 09, 2018

    2018 has been one of our most successful policy years yet! GSBA's advocacy work has grown tremendously over the last few years, most especially with the addition of a contract lobbyist in Olympia. The change in control of the state Senate also contributed to a more favorable legislative environment for many GSBA priorities.

    We are celebrating huge victories for the LGBTQ community with the banning of conversion therapy, an effort led by Sen. Marko Liias and Rep. Nicole Macri. This multi-year effort finally succeeded, with GSBA board member Danny Cords' personal testimony presented to legislators. Sen. Jamie Pedersen succeeded in pushing through a reform to the Uniform Parentage Act, which strengthens protections for LGBTQ parents and non-biological parents, as well as allowing for compensated surrogacy while protecting the woman acting as surrogates. In contrast to the last few years, we did not even need to fight off any efforts to roll back our anti-discrimination laws.

    After several years of strong lobbying, a statewide tourism marketing campaign finally passed both houses of the legislature. GSBA worked closely with the Washington Tourism Alliance and Visit Seattle to pass this legislation, which will create significant economic opportunities for small businesses in the tourism industry across all of Washington State. For the sake of our small businesses that depend on an open internet to do business, GSBA supported the first state-level net neutrality bill in the country.

    Several important bills focused on gender inequities succeeded. The Equal Pay Act protects workers from practices that perpetuate inequality and allows workers to discuss and inquire about pay without retaliation. The Reproductive Parity Act requires insurers to cover abortions if they also cover maternity care.

    Continuing our advocacy on gun control efforts as a major concern to both the LGBTQ and business communities, we were pleased to have a ban on bump stocks. Initiative 940, which GSBA endorsed in the fall of 2017, was successfully passed by the legislature to make historic changes in the use of deadly force by police.  We applaud our many civil rights partners for the victory of the Washington Voting Rights Act and many other pieces of successful legislation that make voting more accessible and fair in our state.

    While we had a successful year, there are still efforts which we must continue next year. Pro-LGBTQ bills like an anti-bullying law for trans students and an effort to include LGBTQ curriculum in long-term care worker training both failed to make it out of committee. A repeal or reform of Initiative 200 once again did not make progress, although we are optimistic that the community's efforts are picking up momentum. Other efforts to reduce economic inequities remain with work to be done, including prohibiting the use of a prior salary in hiring.

  • Inclusion Riders

    by Louise Chernin, President & CEO
    | Mar 05, 2018

    “I have two word to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider.”

    Frances McDormand in her acceptance speech for best actress Oscar last night urged more A-list actors to stipulate in their contracts that diversity be reflected across the entire production of a film.

    GSBA has believed that equality is good business for over 37 years now. Having a social justice mission has been core to our mission since we were started and long before most of the business community began to think of terms like “corporate social responsibility.” In working to advance economic opportunities for the LGBT community, we believe that it is essential to fight for equity along gender and racial lines. That is why one of our legislative priorities for the last several years has been the repeal or amendment of Initiative 200, which has hampered the ability of the state government to work with certified women- and minority-owned businesses. That is why we fight for the expanding recognition of a business certification for companies that are 51% or more owned and operated by LGBT people. We know that women, minorities, and LGBT people have earn less than average. We know that our communities have been excluded consciously and unconsciously from fully participating in the economy. In fact, this year we have seen fierce attacks against the LGBT community by those who would deny us the ability to adopt, to buy a cake or flowers, or to be employed at all.

    We are pleased at the number of small businesses and corporations who understand the value of creating a diverse supply chain. We still have room to grow. While we generally see our local governments as strongly supportive of LGBT rights, there has been a surprising reluctance to acknowledging the economic disparities faced by many in the LGBT community. False stereotypes of the inherent wealth of a community supposedly made up of double-income-no-kids households persist, even at when a lesbian household is still made up of two women, when gay men earn significantly less than straight men, bisexual people face tremendous socioeconomic barriers, and the transgender community has simultaneously some of the highest rates of education and the highest rates of homelessness. Each of these factors is multiplied when combined with any number of intersectional identities, especially including race.

    As we continue to fight for a vibrant global economy strengthened though the full participation of diverse local communities, we ask all our members, neighbors, and colleagues to take a look at their own businesses. Are you cultivating a diverse workforce? Do you have a diverse supply chain? Are you helping build equity across our entire community? Do you bring your values with you when you are doing business? Please join us in doubling down on this commitment this year, and taking a conscious look at how we can increase visibility, celebrate diversity, promote inclusiveness, and build future leaders.

    For equality,
    Louise Chernin

  • Member Spotlight: ProjectCorps

    by Ilona Lohrey, Director of Membership, Outreach, & Engagement
    | Feb 27, 2018

    shelleyProjectCorps, a consulting company perched between the gap of business and technology, prides themselves in hiring talent who are free to be their authentic selves on the job and in the office. As a woman-owned business, they have held true to this belief for the past 16 years. Their working environment is a collaborative beehive full of smart people who want to get up in the morning to make a difference!

    Like their approach to talent, ProjectCorps also has a different take on how they provide consultancy services. They serve organizations from visionary start-ups to Fortune-50 companies across a wide variety of industries, including financial services, healthcare, retail, and the public sector. This allows them to bring cross-industry, good practice, best fit perspective to enrich all of their client engagements. Instead of simply sending consultants from a specific “industry vertical”, they focus on broad experience across multiple, relevant industries to drive approaches that are the best fit for the customer. Working side by side with clients, they focus on achieving results with speed, predictability, and control in a manner appropriate for the culture of the organization.

    Above all, ProjectCorps respects that ideas and solutions emerge from diverse points of view. President & CEO Shelley Gaddie says that she is “rooted in the belief that leadership is grounded in integrity and humility, forged by experience, and communicated through behavior.” Chief Operating Officer Paul Tripp echoes this by stating “I want to get up in the morning believing that I am going to make a difference. I joined ProjectCorps because they put this belief into action.”

    paulProjectCorps joined GSBA because they see the organization as forward thinking and as advocates of growth and abundance for the whole of the community and our allies. They are firm supporters of LGBTQ business enterprise certification through the NGLCC – the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and believe that wider recognition is long past due. Shelley adds “Becoming certified celebrates and honors who we are as individuals, people, groups and organizations. We look forward to linking arms with other GSBA and NGLCC members to continue to affect positive change within the Puget Sound region and beyond.”

    ProjectCorps is a brand-new GSBA Pearl Sponsor, investing equally in the chamber and the Scholarship Fund. Learn more about ProjectCorps.

  • Member Spotlight: Ravishing Radish

    by Meridian Mayer, Senior Membership Services Manager
    | Feb 22, 2018

    ravish radishLisbet Halvorsen started Ravishing Radish in 1993 because she loves parties and making each event special. She lives on Bainbridge Island and commutes every day on the Washington State ferries with her Vespa to Capitol Hill.

    Her food philosophy is simple — the culinary team works tirelessly to create locally-inspired and hand-crafted menus that bring together flavor, beauty & function. Whether it's formal affair or an intimate gathering, they consider the planning process a collaborative effort to ensure that the food is a centerpiece of an event. They also have a full-service design and floral department that creates everything from simple table arrangements to large installation pieces. Their bartending team is also creating new and seasonal libations to accent our food and add a fun twist to our events. They love being a one-stop shop for their clients and being able to make each event not only delicious, but beautiful and cohesive.

    Lisbet adds that "Everyone at Ravishing Radish appreciates the diversity that Seattle offers, and we felt that joining the GSBA is a great way to connect with similarly minded businesses and people."

    Ravishing Radish

  • Louise Shares Story with Will to Change Podcast

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy & Communications Manager
    | Feb 20, 2018

    GSBA President & CEO Louise Chernin had the opportunity to sit down with Jennifer Brown as part of her The Will To Change podcast. GSBA had the pleasure of welcoming Jennifer to Seattle as the keynote speaker for the Business & Humanitarian Awards Dinner on February 15 at the Seattle Waterfront Marriott.

    About Jennifer Brown:
    Jennifer Brown is an award-winning entrepreneur, dynamic speaker, and author and diversity and inclusion expert. She is a passionate social equality advocate committed to helping leaders foster healthier and therefore more productive workplaces, ultimately driving innovation and business results. Informed by more than a decade consulting to Fortune 500 companies, she creates a compelling case for leadership to embrace the opportunity that diversity represents along with empowering advocates at all levels to find their voice and be a driving force in creating more enlightened organizations.

    About The Will To Change:
    Everyone has a diversity story- even those you don’t expect. Get ready to hear from leading CEO’s, bestselling authors and entrepreneurs as we uncover their true stories of diversity and inclusion. The Will To Change is hosted by Jennifer Brown- Jennifer is an award-winning entrepreneur, dynamic speaker, and author and diversity and inclusion expert. She is a passionate social equality advocate committed to helping leaders foster healthier and therefore more productive workplaces, ultimately driving innovation and business results. Informed by more than a decade consulting to Fortune 500 companies, she creates a compelling case for leadership to embrace the opportunity that diversity represents along with empowering advocates at all levels to find their voice and be a driving force in creating more enlightened organizations.

  • Support Immigration Policies That Strengthen & Keep Families Together

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy & Communications Manager
    | Feb 09, 2018

    GSBA was invited to add our names to this letter by our partners at OneAmerica and the National Immigration Forum. We proudly added our name in support and urge our members and colleagues in the business community to join us.

    Dear Members of Congress:

    We the undersigned business leaders write to support immigration policies that strengthen and keep families together. As Congress considers a legislative solution to address the situation of undocumented individuals who were brought to American as young children, we urge you to keep the solution as narrow as possible.

    We gratefully contribute to the economy and help create jobs. We are committed to ensuring that the U.S. economy remains the strongest in the nation. We support having a robust process to ensure that we have an immigration system that meets our nation’s 21st century needs that is separate from the issue of the DACA recipients. While we support the current effort to fix our immigration system, we urge Congress to maintain policies that strengthen families.

    We value our American and immigrant workers. Our workers are the backbone of our companies and without them we cannot run our businesses and fully compete. We need to be able to recruit and retain talented and qualified employees so that we can continue to grow the American economy. We also need to be able to compete with other companies, including those in other countries.

    For businesses that recruit potential employees from other countries, we believe that they see their ability to bring their families with them as an added benefit and helps with our recruiting. At a time when we compete with other countries for talent, we cannot afford to lose out because our immigration policies are more restrictive.

    Immigration policies that allow families to stay together are beneficial to our country. Family based immigration accounts for about two-thirds of the total number of immigrants who come to the U.S. each year. Family-based immigrants bring different levels of work skills but in recent years almost half (48 percent) of recent immigrants had a college degree. Family members can help immigrants integrate and navigate the job search process allowing them to enter the workforce more quickly. We know that our employees who have family support are better, more reliable employees.

    We thank you for your service to our country and are ready to work with you to pursue immigration policies that benefit employers and American workers.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Azusa Pacific University
    Chase Marketing Group
    Chinese Community Center Inc.
    Downtown Alliance
    Evangel University
    Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association
    Greater Seattle Business Association
    Greenville University
    Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
    ICN Foundation of Grand Rapids
    Idaho Dairyman's Association
    ImmigrationWorks USA
    North Bay Leadership Council
    Northwest University
    NYS Restaurant Association
    Salt Lake Chamber
    San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce
    San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
    Santa Cruz Area Chamber of Commerce
    SC Test Prep
    Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
    Texas Border Coalition
    University of the Southwest Whitworth University

  • 10 GSBA Members Named to Mayor's Business Council

    by Matt Landers, Public Policy & Communications Manager
    | Feb 05, 2018

    Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the formation of the city's Small Business Advisory Council. GSBA has long been advocating for the creation of this body to increase the voice of small businesses in the policy-making process.

    The Small Business Advisory Council will create City-wide strategies to promote the interests of Seattle’s small businesses and develop specific recommendations in the following areas:

    • Identification of issues that impact small businesses and their workers across the city, to explore how programs, resources, tools and services can be improved.
    • Evaluation of the impacts of city actions including construction projects, permitting processes, parking practices and fees, regulations, signage, licensing, and changes in zoning.
    • Recommendations on policy issues such as alternative financing options, improved permitting processes, and tools to support commercial affordability and community business ownership.
    • Providing input to strengthen and expand programmatic support, such as consulting and financing resources needed to help small businesses remain competitive and grow in an ever-changing environment.
    GSBA is proud to see a fantastic list of small business owners that reflect a diverse range of sectors, demographics, and geography. We are particularly proud of the ten GSBA member businesses who have been named to this council for the inaugural two-year terms:

    • Co-Chair Joe Fugere, Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria
    • Co-Chair Taylor Hoang, Cyclo Corp., Ethnic Business Coalition
    • Co-Chair Tracy Taylor, Elliott Bay Book Company
    • Joey Burgess, Queer/Bar, Grim’s Provisions and Spirits
    • Elise Lindborg, ZippyDogs LLC
    • Molly Moon, Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream
    • Linda Morton, Terra Plata (GSBA board member)
    • Kamala Saxton, Marination
    • Gail Stringer, Hawaii General Store
    • Beto Yarce, Ventures (GSBA board member)
    In addition to the business owners, two city councilmembers will serve as ex officio members: Lisa Herbold and Teresa Mosqueda.

  • Washington State Dept. of Revenue launches new tax filing sysytem

    by Greater Seattle Business Association
    | Feb 02, 2018

    On March 19, 2018, the Washington State Dept. of Revenue will launch My DOR as the secure portal for all online services. Businesses and tax professionals will be able to access all their tax and business licensing accounts using their SecureAccess Washington (SAW) login. There will be a new look for the online excise tax return, reseller permit application, tax credits application, and bill pay. The Department will retire its existing online service portal, My Account/e-File, and taxpayers will begin filing electronically and accessing their tax accounts in My DOR.

    • To help prepare businesses and tax preparers, Revenue will host a series of free live webinars starting March 7. Continuing education credit is also available. A complete schedule is available on
    • For additional information and frequently asked questions, visit

  • Black History Month

    by Tristen Gardner, GSBA Development Officer
    | Feb 01, 2018

    GardnerTristenWe celebrate Black History Month to remember the important contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout our nation’s history and the groundbreaking work members of our Seattle community do and have done to secure land, address the housing crisis, preserve local black culture, and enrich our local economy. We also use this time for contemplation, the exchange of experiences and ideas, and shared advocacy initiatives. We are all connected to the rich, complex history of our nation, and by celebrating Black History Month everyone can engage in the tradition of acknowledgement, inclusion, and community building.

    The History of Black History Month
    As a Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson believed that truth could not be denied and that reason would prevail over prejudice. His hopes to raise awareness of African American’s contributions to civilization was realized when he and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925. The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The response was overwhelming: Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort..." Learn more here.

    Black History Month Events
    I am honored to be living in a city whose community is doing so much to celebrate our local Black History and celebrate our community members who do so much for us. While I am hoping to attend many of the events going on this month, here is what is currently on my schedule. I hope you'll join me!

    Blacks In Tech Hackathon | Feb 02-04 | Facebook Seattle
    Hackathons provide a space for self-expression and creativity. People with technical backgrounds come together, form teams around a problem or idea, and collaboratively code a unique solution from scratch.

    A Book with No Pages | Feb 06 | Jacob Lawrence Gallery (UW)
    C. Davida Ingram's residency project focuses on venerating pioneering Seattle black artists: Jacob Lawrence, Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence, James Washington, and Barbara Earl Thomas. Ingram is a conceptual artist known for making subversive social inquiries. She is passionate about beauty and social justice, and her primary muses are race, gender, and social relationships. Her process includes dialogues with community organizers, artists, and healers considering black radical imagination and deeper dreaming of solidarity in the Trump era.

    Through the Eyes of Art | Feb 10 | MoPop
    A wonderful opportunity to learn about the intersections of activism and sports!
    Panelists include: Donald Watts, former UW basketball player; Mario Bailey, former UW wide receiver; and Joey Thomas, former Green Bay Packer and current Garfield High School football head coach.

    Uncovering the History of Seattle’s Black Community | Feb 13 | MOHAI
    Historians Mary Henry and Jacqueline E.A. Lawson share their work documenting the history of Seattle’s black community. This is an opportunity to learn about the Central District as it was in the mid-20th Century, as well as the significant African American leaders who have shaped our region.

    State of Africatown 2018 | Feb 17 | Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute
    The 5th annual State of Africatown will feature presentations on the accomplishments of the last year, as well as vision, opportunities, and challenges facing the African American and African Diaspora community in 2018 and beyond. Learn more Africatown's achievements in 2017 here.

    How Minority Men and Tradeswomen Won Justice on the Jobsite | Feb 21 | MOHAI
    Civil rights and labor activists in the '60s and '70s broke down barriers for women and workers of color and opened a pathway to long inaccessible jobs. UW Labor Archivist Conor Casey will share how Seattle workers fought for justice on the job through the lens of the historical collections that document this history.

    Resilience in the Black Community: What gives us strength?  | Feb 24 | Mount Zion Baptist Church
    This event is close to my heart as HIV and police violence have huge impacts on the Black community. Here, you will be able to hear the amazing Dr. Michele Andrasik and Seattle's Chief Carmen Best discuss our resilience. 

    Complex Exchange: Figuring Black Futures Today | Feb 28 | NAAM
    This event features presenters and practices that reference black experience and lives of people of color from a local context. A series of conversations with Seattle community members from a variety of disciplines features photographer Zorn B. Taylor, musician Eva Walker, and Jaebadiah S. Gardner, Founder and CEO of Gardner Global. Chieko Phillips will moderate.

  • How the EU's General Data Protection Regulation could affect your U.S. business

    by Tonya J. Gisselberg
    | Jan 30, 2018

    Tonya-J.-GisselbergHow could a regulation enacted in the European Union (EU) have anything to do with businesses in the US?
    Read on to learn how the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is broad enough to impact even small U.S. businesses that have customers in, or market their products or services to, EU residents. Violation of the GDPR carries with it hefty fines which are intended to be “effective, proportionate and dissuasive.” The EU is serious about enforcing the GDPR. It’s important for U.S. business owners to learn about the GDPR and become aware of the risks for failing to comply with the GDPR.

    The GDPR embodies the philosophy of data stewardship. Businesses are caretakers of other people’s data and have an obligation to handle the data responsibly. U.S. businesses that embrace the data stewardship philosophy, going beyond doing the minimum to comply with the GDPR, have the opportunity to turn their GDPR efforts into a market place differentiator that matters to consumers.

    This article focuses on businesses that deal directly with consumers. Businesses that deal only with other businesses also have many obligations under the GDPR. The GDPR applies to all entities, including nonprofits and non-governmental organizations, that come into contact with personal data from EU residents.

    What is the GDPR?

    The European Union General Data Protection Regulation provides the most extensive personal information protections in the world. The U.S. protects personal information according to sectors, such as health care and financial services, but does not protect personal information across the board. In the EU, people have a fundamental right to protection when their personal data is processed. Processing includes any operation that is performed on personal data, such as collection, recording, organizing, structuring, storing, adapting and the list goes on. It’s safe to say that the definition is broad enough to cover any use or possession of personal data. The GDPR generally applies to the processing of personal data of EU residents, with limited exceptions.

    Let’s take a minute to discuss what personal information is. Many Washington State business owners may be familiar with Washington State’s definition of personal information in the data breach context: An individual’s first name or first initial and last name, in combination with a Social Security number, a driver’s license or Washington identification card number or an account, credit or debit card number plus information that would permit access to an individual’s account.

    The GDPR speaks in terms of “personal data,” not “personal information,” a distinction without a difference for the purposes of this article. The GDPR defines personal data as “any information relating to an identified and identifiable natural person; an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person.”

    Clearly, the EU definition for personal data is much broader than the Washington State definition for personal information. Only one factor is required to identify a person under the GDPR. A name is not required for data to be classified as personal data. Information which is not considered personal information in the U.S. can be considered personal data in the EU. U.S. business owners should understand how the GDPR defines personal data so that they can determine whether they are collecting personal data from EU residents.

    The GDPR takes a risk-based approach to protecting personal data. “The likelihood and severity of the risk to the rights and freedoms of the data subject should be determined by reference to the nature, scope, context and purposes of the processing. Risk should be evaluated on the basis of an objective assessment, by which it is established whether data processing operations involve a risk or a high risk.” Businesses are required to identify risks related to processing personal data and to take appropriate actions to mitigate those risks.

    Which businesses must comply with the GDPR?

    The GDPR applies to U.S. businesses that either 1) offer goods and services to people residing in the EU, regardless of whether a payment is required or 2) monitor the behavior of people within the EU.

    Offering goods and services to people residing in the EU requires more than having a website that can be accessed anywhere in the world. The GDPR applies when a business envisages offering goods or services in one or more EU countries. Other factors considered in determining whether the GDPR applies are making the website available in languages spoken in the EU, making the goods or services available in currencies used in the EU and mentioning other EU customers on the business’ website.

    Monitoring the behavior of people within the EU includes tracking them on the Internet. Even if your business does not offer goods or services to people residing in the EU, if your business uses the Internet to track people residing in the EU, the GDPR likely applies to your business. If your business’ tracking includes profiling an individual so that decisions or predictions can be made about that individual, the GDPR is even more likely to apply to your business.

    What does the GDPR Require Businesses to Do When Processing Personal Data?

    This section describes some of the GDPR’s major requirements, but does not include an exhaustive list.

    The GDPR requires businesses to comply with personal data processing principles.

    • Lawful, fair and transparent processing;
    • Purpose limitation. Data collected for one purpose cannot be further processed for an incompatible purpose;
    • Data minimization. Data collected shall be adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary for the processing purpose;
    • Accurate. Data shall be accurate and kept up to date;
    • Storage limitation. Data shall be kept in a form which permits identification of people for no longer than is necessary for the purposes of the processing; and
    • Integrity and confidentiality. Data shall be processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security.

    Processing is lawful under the GDPR only when the individual gives consent, the processing is necessary for the performance of a contract, the business that controls the data has a legal obligation to process it or processing is necessary to protect the vital interests of the individual or another person, plus two other situations that are not relevant to this article.

    The consent requirements are strengthened by the GDPR, compared to previous EU law. Consent must be freely given and as easy to withdraw as it is to give. The business owner must be able to demonstrate that the individual gave consent. Consent requested for one matter must be clearly distinguishable from other matters. The request for consent must be presented in an intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language.

    The GDPR enumerates individuals’ rights in the categories shown below. These rights place corresponding obligations on businesses in processing individuals’ personal data:

    • Transparent information, communication and modalities for the exercise of the rights of the data subject. Requires concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible communications to be made to individuals regarding data processing.
    • Information to be provided where personal data are collected from the data subject. A business must provide an individual with certain information when the information is obtained from the individual.
    • Information to be provided where personal data have not been obtained from the data subject. A business must provide an individual with information on personal data processing even when the business did not collect the information directly from the individual.
    • Right of access by the data subject. An individual has the right to obtain from a business confirmation of whether personal data concerning that individual is being processed, and, if so, access to the personal data, the purposes of the processing and other information about the processing.
    • Right to rectification. An individual has the right to get the business to correct inaccurate personal data.
    • Right to erasure (‘right to be forgotten’). An individual has the right to get the business to erase personal data about her.
    • Right to restriction of processing. An individual has the right to get the business to restrict processing of data about her.
    • Notification obligation regarding rectification or erasure of personal data or restriction of processing. A business must communicate to the individual that the business has corrected, erased or restricted the data processing according to the individual’s exercise of her rights.
    • Right to data portability. An individual has the right to receive her personal data in a commonly used, machine-readable format and has the right to transmit that data to another business.
    • Right to object. An individual has the right to object to processing data about her.
    • Automated individual decision-making, including profiling. An individual has the right not to be subject to decisions based solely on automated processing, including profiling, which produces legal effects concerning her or significantly affects her.

    The rights of individuals to the protection of their personal data are not absolute, but must be balanced against other fundamental rights. Fundamental rights include the respect for private and family life, home and communications; the protection of personal data; freedom of thought, conscience and religion; freedom of expression and information; freedom to conduct a business; the right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial; and cultural, religious and linguistic diversity.

    The GDPR requires businesses to keep extensive records of processing personal data. Businesses with fewer than 250 persons are relieved from these obligations in many instances, but each business must still keep sufficient records to fulfill its obligations to individuals according to the rights listed above. For example, all businesses are required to respond to individuals’ requests to correct or erase their data or move their data to another business.

    Other GDPR requirements include data protection by design and default, secure data processing, data protection impact assessments in some situations and a 72-hour timeline for notifying authorities of a data breach.

    What are the Penalties for Failing to Comply with the GDPR?

    The GDPR enables supervisory authorities in the EU to impose administrative fines of up to 20,000,000 EUR or 4% of total worldwide annual turnover (gross revenue), whichever is higher, for violating the GDPR. The EU starts enforcing the GDPR on May 25, 2018. Many U.S. companies are scrambling to try to comply with the GDPR by that date.


    While many U.S. companies are scrambling to comply, there are still many business owners that are unaware of the GDPR and unaware that the GDPR could apply to their business. It makes sense for all U.S. business owners to determine whether the GDPR applies to their operations, and, if so, to make conscious decisions about implementing the GDPR’s requirements into their operations. Those businesses that aspire to provide their consumers with more protection than minimum compliance requires may be able to turn their GDPR compliance efforts into value added programs that matter to consumers.

  • Bringing your voice to Olympia

    by Matt Landers, GSBA Public Policy & Communications Manager
    | Jan 26, 2018

    GSBA staff, board, and scholars joined Equal Rights Washington for their annual LGBTQ lobby day in Olympia on Tuesday, January 23. This annual event elevates the common agenda of our whole community and reminds legislators that LGBTQ Washingtonians are an important constituency. Many of our partner organizations were present as well, including the Washington SAFE Alliance, Gay City, Ingersoll Gender Center, and UTOPIA Seattle.

    GSBA was able to meet directly with Representatives Clibborn, Orwall and Van De Wege, and Senators Liias and Keiser. We also were able to share our priorities with the offices of Representatives DeBolt, Hansen, Kagi, Macri, Orcutt, Sells, Senn, and Senators Chase and Saldaña. This is one of the busiest legislative sessions in memory, with over 1,000 bills submitted in the first two weeks alone, according to Senator Jamie Pedersen. With the Democrats taking control of the Senate with a one-vote majority, there is a lot of pent-up energy for progressive priorities.

    Luckily, that means that there are several LGBTQ priorities that appear to be moving swiftly and successfully through both houses of the legislature, with strong committee support and bipartisan majorities. GSBA shares ERW's priority bills - banning conversion therapy, updating the Uniform Parentage Act, preventing bullying of trans students, training long-term care workers on the LGBTQ community, and expanding healthcare to trans people and other women who previously lacked access. Additionally we could share our economic priorities such as creating a statewide tourism marketing fund, supporting the equal pay act, and establishing uniform statewide regulations. (Read more about our priority bills here.)

    Lobby Day is an invaluable and easy way to get involved with your legislators. ERW provided an excellent training to volunteers on how to speak with policymakers, how to talk about the specific priority bills, and provided additional educational opportunities throughout the day. GSBA strongly encourages those who are able to join us at future events in Olympia and in Seattle. We are proud to represent your voice, but it's even stronger when you can join us and take part in the civic process!

    Download the 2018 GSBA Legislative Agenda

  • A business voice for equal pay

    by Matt Landers, GSBA Public Policy & Communications Manager
    | Jan 25, 2018
    GSBA's mission is to combine business development, leadership and social action to expand economic opportunities for the LGBT community and those who support equality for all. We know that LGBT people across the board earn less than straight men, with even greater disparities when intersected with gender, race, and other factors (National LGBTQ Task Force, Center for American Progress, Williams Institute). For that reason, GSBA is supporting the Equal Pay Opportunity Act (HB 1506, SB 5140) and HB 1533 which would prohibit employers from seeking job applicants' wage and salary history or requiring that the wage or salary meet certain criteria.

    As an organization concerned with the economic opportunities of the LGBT community, we know that using a prior salary to set a future one serves only to perpetuate disparities and discrimination. Employees should be paid according to the work that they currently do, not according to the work they did at another establishment.

    As a business organization, GSBA also wants to ensure that the regulations put in place are realistic and actionable, and not detrimental to the workplace. When first approached about the Equal Pay Opportunity Act several years ago, we had certain concerns about HR staff requirements and privacy of employee data. We want to thank bill sponsor Representative Tana Senn for hearing those concerns and addressing them in subsequent versions.

  • Review of Hate Crime Prevention, Response, and Reporting in Seattle

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing
    | Jan 23, 2018

    Reported hate crimes and incidents in Seattle have increased 230 percent since 2012, and the city is now focusing on a phased approach to improving accuracy in documenting and responding to future cases.

    The city auditor’s office has created a report that analyzes the past five years of data regarding hate crimes and incidents in Seattle. Race was the biggest factor in the 1,126 incidents reported between January 2012 and November 2017 -- POC being the primary victims -- followed by 722 incidents involving LGBTQ community members.

    The auditor’s office published its Phase One report reviewing hate crime prevention, response and reporting in September 2017. Its January Review of Hate Crime Prevention Response and Reporting in Seattle makes nine recommendations in the following categories: reporting, training, using data, city coordination, and regional coordination.

    A future Phase Two audit will include analysis of cases, a socio-demographic analysis by the University of Washington and a review of prevention efforts. Seattle University will be studying the affect of hate crimes on indirect victims by convening student focus groups to determine the “ripple effect."

  • Mayor Durkan Announces $1.4 Million to Support Seattle’s Small Businesses

    by Kamaria Hightower
    | Jan 23, 2018

    Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced the award of $1.4 million in funding to support small businesses owned by historically disenfranchised communities in Seattle, including immigrants and refugees, people of color, women, veterans, people with disabilities, and the LGTBQ community.

    “Our small businesses are an economic engine in Seattle, and they create the rich texture and culture of our neighborhoods and our entire City,” said Mayor Durkan. “These investments from the City of Seattle are focused on making sure our small businesses have the tools they need to thrive, to create good-paying jobs, and to keep building economic opportunity.”

    Awarded through the City’s Office of Labor Standards’ (OLS) Business Outreach and Education Fund, the funding supports local organizations’ outreach, education and compliance assistance efforts to Seattle’s small businesses in those communities, helping ensure they have the tools they need to fulfill their responsibilities under Seattle’s labor laws. This includes City laws such as: Minimum Wage, Wage Theft, Paid Sick and Safe Time, Fair Chance Employment, Secure Scheduling and the Hotel Employees Health and Safety ordinance.

    Recipients of the funding will emphasize outreach to employers not typically served by traditional methods: businesses owned by low-income and historically disenfranchised communities, including immigrants and refugees and people of color, as well as women, veterans, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community. Grant recipients will engage and build relationships with local small businesses through a range of activities, including holding workshops, direct outreach, providing linguistically appropriate information, and offering ongoing support to business owners in neighborhoods across the City on issues like recordkeeping compliance and economic development.

    The City has selected five organizations and partnerships to receive funding for a two-year (24 month) period estimated to begin the first quarter of 2018 and end in the first quarter of 2020.

    Recipients include the Seattle Business Education HUB ($164,050), founded by Felix Ngoussou, who also owns Lake Chad Cafe, both in the Central District; the Latino Community Fund ($282,966); the Ethnic Chambers of Commerce Coalition ($565,960), which includes a number of chambers representing Asian-owned businesses, as well as the Greater Seattle Business Association; the Ethnic Business Coalition ($275,590), and Ventures ($111,434).

    Seattle has approximately 36,500 businesses with fewer than 50 employees, and small businesses account for more than half of all jobs in Washington State. Seattle’s small businesses employ nearly 200,000 people in the City.

    For more information about the Office of Labor Standards or the Business Outreach and Education Fund, contact Business Liaison Darius Foster at 206-386-1238, email or visit

  • Three Essential Financial Statements

    by Jason Dittmer, Director of Marketing
    | Jan 22, 2018

    Accurately tracking financial data is not only critical for running the day-to-day operations of your small business, but it is also essential when seeking funding from lenders or investors to take your business to the next level. 

    In addition, keeping tabs of your finances can help ensure your products and services are priced right, identify what your margins are, determine your cash flow and make filing taxes easier.

    Here are three basic financial statements that are important for your small business:

    1. Balance sheet: This statement provides an overall financial snapshot of your small business. As an equation, it looks like liabilities + owner’s equity = assets. The two sides of the equation must balance out.

    2. Profit and loss statement: A profit and loss statement - also referred to as an income statement - enables you to project sales and expenses and typically covers a period of a few months to a year.

    3. Cash flow statement: This statement highlights how much money is coming in to (cash inflows) and going out of (cash outflows) your business. Cash inflows include cash sales, accounts receivable collections, loans and other investments. Equipment purchased, expenses paid, inventory and other payments are considered cash outflows.

    Read this full blog at

  • Ambassador Profile: Toraya Miller

    Toraya Photo - Photo2"I’ve been in the banking industry for over 20 years and my passion is helping customers and organizations reach their success. Whether that’s through strategic planning or connecting them with business partners to reach their goals.

    GSBA proudly serves a community that advocates for small businesses, nonprofits, and supports community relationships and I am honored and extremely excited to be an Ambassador. I’ve enjoyed connecting members and future members of GSBA with invaluable resources, shared experiences, and networking opportunities. I’m passionate about valuing diversity, equity, and reinforcing GSBA’s mission throughout all communities. Celebrating milestones and overcoming challenges as we help build generations of leaders.

    My employer, First Financial Northwest Bank, is a proud GSBA sponsor!"