GSBA Vision & Mission

MISSION: To combine business development, leadership and social action to expand economic opportunities for the LGBT Community and those who support equality for all.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Meet Mandy

Mandy Domer joined the GSBA team two weeks before the TASTE as our Office Manager. Be sure to say hi to her when you come by the office.

Welcome Mandy! Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a Midwestern girl who moved to Seattle in 2010 and instantly fell in love with the Pacific Northwest. My closet is way too small for all my dresses and since Seattle has some of the best vintage stores in the country, it keeps getting smaller! I’m outgoing and love meeting new people so stop by and say hi!

What did you do before coming to GSBA?
I graduated with a BS in Fashion Merchandising from Kent State University and became the Brand Marketing Manager of a luxury furniture store in Cleveland right out of school. Once in Seattle, I became the Event and Marketing Manager at Rise n’ Shine (now Inspire Youth Project), a local nonprofit that provides support to children and teens affected by HIV/AIDS and at-risk youth who have faced abuse, neglect and homelessness, after volunteering with the organization for a year.

How was your first TASTE of GSBA?
The TASTE this year was amazing! Seeing a crowd of that many people come together for the same cause, have so much fun AND raise a record breaking $737,000 for the Scholarship Fund made it a very inspiring evening and I’m already excited to help make next year’s event even better!

What are you looking forward to doing here at GSBA?
I’m just really excited to be part of this diverse and amazing group of people that all have such a strong commitment to the support of the LGBT community.

What is your favorite thing about living on Capitol Hill?
The people and the energy in the neighborhood are my favorite in the whole city! There is always something to do, but my two absolute favorite things about living on the Hill are the bottomless mimosa at The Lookout and burgers at Linda’s.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Planned Giving - Using Your Head & Your Heart

By Sara Elward, Manager of Planned Giving at KCTS9 and member of the GSBA Scholarship Steering Committee. Republished from the Fall 2013 Perspective magazine.

Whenever you attend the Scholarship Awards Dinner or read a scholar profile in a GSBA publication, do you think, “These scholarship recipients are so amazing. I wish I could do more to support this program.” You can through a bequest in your will or trust.

Making a bequest is easy. If you are creating a will or trust or if you are revising an existing one, you can make a provision for the GSBA Scholarship Fund in one of several ways including a specific bequest, a percentage of your estate or a contingent bequest. You can also consult your attorney about adding a codicil or amendment to an existing will or trust as a way of making such a gift.

Making a bequest is revocable. You can change your will during your lifetime to reflect your changing circumstances. Making a bequest of a percentage of your estate means that regardless of the size of the estate, the people and organizations like GSBA which have been important in your life, will be part of your legacy.

You retain control of your assets during your lifetime. Many of us are concerned about outliving our resources and a bequest means that all of our resources are available to us during our lives. Because the gift is not made until after your death, you eliminate any worry that you are giving away resources you might need.

You may reduce your estate taxes. If you have a taxable estate (currently anything over $2 million in Washington state and about $5 million for federal taxes), any amount you give to a charitable organization is removed from the taxable estate amount.

Like you, I care deeply about creating future LGBT leaders, about the crucial role education plays in creating them and about the message that these scholarships send to the recipients: You are a valuable person with a promising future and we are here to support you. The excitement and gratitude that is expressed by scholar after scholar let’s me know that these gifts have impact, now and far into the future beyond anything I can imagine.

If you would like to create a legacy of caring and hope, please consider a bequest to GSBA. You might want to establish a scholarship or make a gift to the endowment. There are many ways to include GSBA scholarships in your estate and we will be happy to help you create the legacy you want to leave behind.

Including GSBA in your will or trust is an easy, revocable way to make a larger gift than you may be able to make during your lifetime and it ensures that your personal legacy of commitment to the future of our community will be carried on after you are gone.

Sara’s Tip: If you have already included GSBA in your estate, please let Jessica Wootten ( know as we would like to welcome you to the Rainbow Club which recognizes our legacy donors.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How Sweet It Was!

What could be sweeter than announcing that the TASTE of GSBA, Sweet Charity,  raised over $727,000 to support our LGBTQ and allied scholars. There was magic in the air as our 820 guests were welcomed with champagne by 100 outstanding volunteers including the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence selling Emerald Tickets, PFLAG, Quake Rugby, Delta Lambda Phi, UW’s Rainbow Grads,  scholars and  members selling Celebrity Chef table raffles. Within minutes guests were mingling with each other; saying hi to Mayor Murray, Councilmembers Sally Clark and Tom Rasmussen, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, Tacoma Councilmember Ryan Mello and enjoying signature cocktails by Tutta Bella; small plates by our caterers: Amato Catering,  Cameron Catering, Ray’s Boathouse, Manhattan, Taylor Shellfish,  Barrio, Urbane, Two Tartes Catering and FigTree Catering and popping balloons for one of our restaurant gift certificates. No sooner did you start enjoying those luscious small bites when you realized you had not yet started sipping from wine being poured by Bartholomew, Elsom, Fidélitas, Goose Ridge, Laurelhurst Cellars, Nota Bene, Port Gardner Bay Winery and Va Piano.  Oh, and somehow you still managed to bid on those wonderful auction items and the incredible wines in the wine section, including a full wine cellar with over 100 wines –just for you and your closest, ( soon to be happiest), friends.

As the hour struck 7:30, you were ushered to your seats by more wonderful volunteers, to enjoy a performance of a dance number from Sweet Charity performed by actors from the 5th Avenue’s Production of A Chorus Line. What a glorious way to settle down for some serious bidding. Of course, we first had to pick our Emerald Ticket and our Celebrity Chef’s Raffle which made for some very happy guests. Huge thanks to our talented and generous celebrity chefs: Tamara Murphy of TerraPlata, Jerry Traunfeld of Poppy and Rumi Ohnui of Cassis. Thank you also to the Westin Hotel staff for the outstanding job of taking care of us while our Auctioneer Extraordinaire, Laura Michalek and our Emcee Elisa Jaffe kept the evening lively and the bidding high. Of course, the extraordinary bidding was inspired by our Scholar, Nyka Tucker, who touched us to the core sharing her story and dreams and the power of your gifts to change worlds and make dreams come true. With barely time to catch our breath, our TASTE Chair, Kent Thoelke came on stage and completed the story about the power of giving. After that, it was impossible not to raise that paddle high and often (yes, some donors gave at many different levels). Staying with a wonderful tradition, Michael Melancon &Glenn Johnson started the evening with a $25,000 bid; and after some very exciting $10,000 and $5,000 bids, our TASTE Chairs Kent Thoelke & Kevin Gaspari donated $25,000 and three other amazing donors, Ernie, Sandy and Glenn added to that to make a $50,000 match at the $1,000 level resulting in a night at which the Fund-A-Scholar raised $279,000. It’s hard to believe there was more to come; more bidding, a wine frenzy with sommeliers April Pogue and Lee Spires and a breathtaking array of trips, food experiences, tickets to the Ellen Show which had some wild bidding and then two more performances by our talent from the 5th Avenue Theatre. Team Photogenic already has the photos online - you can view and order prints here.

Weren’t able to attend the TASTE? You can be a Scholarship Fund Donor by making a gift online.

So many people made this night so successful, but we must start out and acknowledge the amazing vision and hard work by our two Chairs, Kent Thoelke and Kevin Gaspari and their talented committee Monica Ackerman, Allan Aquila, Dena Levine, Drew Ness, Chris Nishiwaki, Mark Rosén, Lee and Van Spires and Jason Staats.  Supporting this committee every step of the way, with his expertise around all things auction is our Events Manager, Scott Walden and a stellar GSBA staff: Rachael Brister, Amy Burdick, Rachel Chernin, Mandy Dormer, Matt Landers, Aaron Rindt, Alysa Rosen and Jessica Wootten .

GSBA could not ensure all funds raised the night of the TASTE go to the Scholarship Fund, if it weren’t for the generous support of the evening’s TASTE Sponsors. Huge thanks to our Presenting Partner: 1st Security Bank; Marquee Sponsors: AlaskaAirlines, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Outerwall, Precision Garage Door Service; Vulcan, JPMorgan Chase and SVEDKA; our Premier Sponsors: Sound Community Bank and Thorny Rose Wines;  Supporting Sponsors: AA Party Rentals; Aria Style, Choice Linens, Girlie Press, Reliable Movers, Team Photogenic; and West Coast Draperies; Silent Auction Sponsors: Morgan Stanley, Kasala and Alaska Airlines.

GSBA also thanks, for ongoing support, our 2014 Annual Sponsors. Thank you to our Jewels: Diamond: Microsoft; Emerald: 1st Security Bank; and our Ruby Jewel: PwC. Our Platinum Sponsor: Liberty Mutual & Safeco Insurance. Gold Sponsors:  American Family Insurance; PacMed; Regence and Wells Fargo. Silver Sponsors:  Alaska Airlines, Boeing, Carter Subaru, Seattle Goodwill, Group Health, New York Life. Precision Garage Door Service, Starbucks, RBC Wealth Management, US Bank Bronze Sponsors:  Avanade, Carpet Liquidators, CenturyLink, DML Insurance, Overlake Reproductive Health, Mona Smith, Attorney at Law; Google, Irons Brothers Construction, Vulcan and White Pages. Travel & Tourism: Amtrak, Port of Seattle, Visit Seattle, Space Needle (happy birthday Karen), Renaissance Seattle; King County, Sheraton Seattle, Sound Transit. Guide Sponsor: BECU; Marketing Partner:  Green Rubino and our Community Health Partner – Gay City

Your chamber, GSBA, would not be the largest LGBT chamber in the US with a nationally recognized Scholarship Fund if it weren’t for you, our amazing members, generous donors and a progressive business community. You understand that Equality is Good Business. You are committed to diversity and equality in business. You know the power of education and the importance of supporting the next generation of leaders. You are our heroes. Thank you.

With your commitment and your  talented and visionary Board of Directors led by our Chair Martha Davis and the incredible leadership of the Scholarship Fund led by our Scholarship Chair, Mark Rosén, we can look forward to a successful 2015.

For equality,
GSBA President & CEO

P.S. 2015 is the 25th Anniversary of the GSBA Scholarship Fund! Mark your calendars now for the May 15 Scholarship Dinner, the night you get to meet the students and hear their stories and the 2015 TASTE of GSBA on November 21 –the party you will never want to miss!

2015 New GSBA Board Members

EDITED 12/11/2014.

At the December 10 annual meeting, the membership accepted the 2015 Board slate as approved by the Board of Directors of the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) at their December Board meeting. The members new to the Board in 2015 will be:

Marci Flanery (CPA, Flanery CPA)
Marci Flanery is a CPA specializing in the taxation of individuals and their related small business entities. Marci’s tax practice is centrally located close to the Westlake, Denny, SLU, and Capitol Hill neighborhoods of Seattle.  In the off-season Marci currently splits her time between Seattle and Lopez Island.

Marci became a CPA in 1984 and worked in the Kansas City and Seattle Offices of Arthur Andersen & Co.  After teaching accounting for 8 years at the University of Kansas, Marci moved to Nashville, TN to earn her PhD in Cognitive Psychology from Vanderbilt University. After graduate school, Marci completed her post-doctoral work in the Neuroimaging of Memory and Cognition at Johns Hopkins University before moving to California and returning to the practice of public accounting.
Before starting her own tax practice, Marci worked in the San Francisco office of one of the city's premier tax firms specializing in the taxation of registered domestic partners (RDPs). During this time, Marci was responsible for tax planning and tax return preparation for hundreds of California RDP and Same-Sex Married couples. Marci has written a Guide to RDP Taxation and teaches for the Washington and California State Society of CPAs on this topic.

Marci is a licensed CPA in Missouri, California, and Washington with 30 years of experience as a tax consultant specializing in individual and small business tax preparation and planning. Marci is currently accepting new clients to her Seattle practice.

Freya Johnson (Architect, Stephen Sullivan Designs)
Freya is an Architect with Stephen Sullivan Designs.   Stephen and Freya have worked together for nearly nine years, specializing in high-end residences, many of which have been built in Seattle but others as far away as the Shetland Islands of Scotland.  Her career fulfills her passion for people by allowing her to delve into people’s lives, learn their habits and ultimately design around their specific needs and uniquely individual personalities.  Each person is a treasure, each project a learning opportunity and almost every day showing up for work equals personal growth and fulfillment. 

She became involved with GSBA through volunteering to review scholarship applications.  She had come out to herself as a transgender woman two years prior, and had only recently begun presenting as herself in public.  Still she had been struggling with self-acceptance as well as an overwhelming fear of losing her career, stability and relationships.  The scholarship applications told stories of bravery; stories of light on the other side of bold and brave decisions; stories of commitment to change and fights against oppression.  Through the review process she found the self-acceptance, pride and bravery she needed to move forward through transition.  She was also inspired to effect change where she feels it is needed most, in the workplace, and/or prospective workplaces, of transgender individuals. 

She adds, "It is an honor to be given the incredible opportunity to serve on the GSBA Board, which I see as a platform to be a voice for the trans community."

John Rubino (President, GreenRubino)
John is President of GreenRubino—a Brandidextrous™ agency where advertising, branding, media, digital, social and PR go hand-in-hand. More than 30 years of experience, growth and results have established GreenRubino as one of the Northwest’s most successful and respected agencies. 

As recognized marketing leaders, John and his agency serve top regional, national and international clients. Those clients include Delta Dental, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Microsoft, Snoqualmie Casino, Washington State Wine, Seattle Children’s and Columbia Bank—just to name a few.

GreenRubino is the only marketing agency in the Puget Sound Business Journal to appear in 4 industry lists for the top 25 companies (Advertising, Graphic Design, Public Relations and Web Development)—and has repeatedly been included in various publication’s Best Places to Work lists such as Seattle Business, Puget Sound Business Journal and Advertising Age.

John is very active in the community and currently serves on the Board of Governors for the World Trade Center Seattle and was the immediate past President of the Board of PAWS. He has been recognized as a PSBJ Top 40 Under 40 and was a 2010 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist.

John lives with his husband, Doug, and chocolate lab, Copper, in Leschi.

Alisha Valavanis (President, Seattle Storm)
Alisha Valavanis was hired as Chief Operating Officer of the Seattle Storm on June 18, 2014, and elevated to President on Oct. 1, 2014. In this role, Valavanis oversees all business-related and basketball operations. Valavanis comes to the Storm with a strong involvement in women’s basketball, both as a former player and coach, uniquely blending with her experience in athletics business operations.Valavanis, 37, joined the Storm from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was an Assistant Athletics Director of Development.

Valavanis’ impressive coaching resume spans over two decades. She got her start in 2002 as the women’s basketball head assistant coach at California State University, Chico. In her four years as an assistant coach, the program made four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, highlighted with a 2006 Final Four appearance. She then moved on to the University of the Pacific in 2006, joining the women’s basketball program as an assistant coach. She was elevated to associate head coach prior to the 2008 season.

A native of Valparaiso, Ind., Valavanis graduated from California State University, Chico, in 2000 with a B.A. in communications, focusing on public relations. She then earned her M.A. in physical education with an emphasis on athletic administration in 2004.

Lettering in women’s basketball at Chico from 1995-99, Valavanis graduated as Chico’s all-time three-point leading scorer. A two-year captain from 1997-99, Valavanis ended her playing career in 1999 with numerous conference and NCAA recognitions.

Valavanis is recently married to Kai Felton, a women’s basketball assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Barbara Wilson (Government Affairs Officer, Vulcan Inc)
Barb Wilson has spent over two decades developing and managing policy and public affairs efforts for nonprofits and public agencies in the Seattle area. She currently oversees government affairs and community relations efforts at Vulcan Inc., the investment and project management firm founded by Paul G. Allen and Jody Allen. In this role, she works with Vulcan teams on a broad range of projects, including the company’s South Lake Union redevelopment project, the innovative Stratolaunch air-launch system, and the Allen Institute for Brain Science. 
Before joining Vulcan, Barb worked for 10 years as the Executive Director of the Seattle Planning Commission, where she was responsible for overall operations and advised city officials on urban planning and development issues. Prior to that, she was a program manager for National Wildlife Foundation, worked on regional outreach and advocacy initiatives for the Northwest Energy Coalition and Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, and developed field strategies for Hands Off Washington.

Barb holds a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Washington, and a bachelor’s in political science from University of California, San Diego. She serves on numerous boards and committees including the Mayor Ed Murray’s Advisory Committee, Transportation Choice Coalition, Downtown Seattle Association’s Policy Committee, Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s Policy Leadership Group, the Executive Committee of Civil Alliance for Sustainable Economy, the Chinatown International District Business Improvement Association, and South Lake Union Chamber of Commerce.

She lives in West Seattle with her wife and son, and in her free time enjoys doing CrossFit, exploring Seattle’s food scene, and spending time with friends and family.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

GSBA Meets with Congressman Adam Smith

On October 20 GSBA members from the 9th congressional district met with Representative Adam Smith at the offices of the Northwest Network of BTLG Survivors of Abuse.

The group discussed the frustrating lack of progress on a federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and the problematically broad religious exemptions within the current version. Rep. Smith admitted that the issue was not being addressed by this Congress, but that there was “no place for religious exemptions” in the bill. He agreed that taking people out of the job pool hurts our whole society, adding that “The strongest societies are those that discriminate the least.”

GSBA President & CEO Louise Chernin urged the Congressman to be wary of the increasing attempts by conservative groups and legislators to pass further so-called religious exemptions laws that would allow them to circumvent existing anti-discrimination bills. Monisha Harrell of Equal Rights Washington added that the religious exemptions clauses were of concern to many groups beyond the LGBT community, including women, racial minorities, and people who are divorced, among many others. Congressman Smith agreed and described them an example of religious fanaticism here in the United States. He stated that he wants "to be a voice where it is still needed, as much for healthcare as for gay rights,” listing areas that needed more attention, including equality and protection for the transgender community. He specifically mentioned the need to address wrongful discharges of transgender people serving in the military and continuing benefit inequities.

With the recent example of California’s opening of the utility contracts process to LGBT-certified businesses, George Pieper of Out Front Office Solutions informed the group and the Congressman about the need to proactively advocate for LGBT inclusion in minority contacting fairs and decisions.

Our hosts at the Northwest Network celebrated the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which was the very first federal protection based on sexual orientation or gender identity. They asked how we could build on that hard-fought success and extend it. The Congressman congratulated the group for effective advocacy in recent year, but again acknowledged that the party in control of the House of Representatives does not take up any legislation that they do not want to take up, meaning that probably there is little effective advocacy to be done on LGBT issues in the next term.

However, Rep. Smith urged the whole group to think long term, especially about how we address the critical issue of people being turned off government and civic engagement. He asked how progressives in general can prove once again that government does and can do good, as well as a broader narrative of what progressive politics are and how they can build a more just society. As always, advocates need to identify constituents of legislators who need to be convinced and have them share their personal stories.

You can find more information about Congressman Smith and contact his office here. He is the Ranking Member on the House Armed Services Committee.

Getting Married, Giving Back

Supporting LGBTQ nonprofits through local wedding registry
by Gina Grappone

Puzzles, books, Legos, art supplies, backpacks and socks. What do all these things have in common? They are on Bret Tiderman and Kevin Moser’s wedding registry.

When they got engaged on Christmas Eve last year, Bret and Kevin knew that their wedding was an opportunity to give back to the community that supported them as they built their life together in Seattle. Since moving here in 2004, both men have been involved in various LGBTQ organizations, including the GSBA, Lifelong care teams, and the Human Rights Campaign. As they met and fell in love, this work became even more important to them as a couple. 

In planning their December, 2014 wedding, Bret and Kevin thought their gift registry would be the perfect vehicle for sharing what’s important to them and giving back to their community. When they learned about the local gift registry website, a GSBA member business, a light bulb went off. Bret and Kevin created an entirely charitable registry. It’s filled with nonprofit donations, as well as physical items requested by the organizations. "We loved the idea of giving resources to the organizations that matter to us, while at the same time bringing sales to local, independent businesses in Seattle. It's a win-win for everybody involved."

GSBA partner organizations Lambert House and Lifelong are among the beneficiaries of this unique registry. The GSBA Scholarship Fund is also on Nearby.

“I’m so moved at the complex situations LGBTQ youth face on a daily basis,” Bret says. “They are at such high risk, and deserve every fighting chance at having a safe place to go and people to care about them, even if it's not their own families. The staff and volunteers of Lambert House do everything they can to provide that, and I believe in what they do.” The books, journals, art supplies, CDs and book bags from Bret and Kevin’s will all go to Lambert House.

Kevin describes their support for Lifelong, an organization that not only provides support and essentials for members of the community already affected by HIV/AIDS, “but works equally as hard to create awareness and move us towards an end to the epidemic. Those types of goals are not achievable without a lot of help. Our wedding registry is just one way for us to support the effort." Socks for the youth sock drive and household supplies are on the gift list for Lifelong.

The day after Bret and Kevin take their vows, they’ll sit among family and friends and open all their gifts. Later, they’ll head to Lifelong and Lambert House, armed with piles of books, CD’s, art supplies and socks—and the love and generosity of an entire community.

For more information about creating a local registry or wishlist, or becoming a participating business or nonprofit on NEARBY, contact Gina Grappone at