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.

Friday, June 19, 2015

In grief over the horrific violence in Charleston

Dear GSBA members and friends:

We offer our deepest condolences to everyone whose lives have been forever changed in the wake of the horrific murders at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

We grieve deeply for Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., Rev. Sharonda Singleton and Myra Thompson. We keep them and their families in our hearts, as well as all those across the country who are also victimized by this, only the latest heartbreak in a long history of systematic violence against the black community.

As one of the largest LGBT organizations in the Northwest, many of us have experienced no shortage of hate and violence, and we know all too well how an attack against even one person because of who they are can reverberate throughout an entire community. We all must stand up against those who are so infected with hatred and spite that they lose sight of our common humanity.

Our hearts ache for the mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends, colleagues and community leaders who were lost in Charleston this morning. Their lives mattered, and it is our responsibility to ensure that this tragedy is never repeated. For almost 35 years GSBA's mission has been to build equality for all. We remain committed to supporting all of our friends and neighbors, not solely the LGBT community. We encourage all our members to continually and consciously work to overcome the pervasive layers of discrimination that are faced every day by many in our society. Equality does not just arrive, it takes dedication and drive.

Louise Chernin
President & CEO

Press Release: Louise Chernin Appointed to Seattle Colleges Board

Longtime Business and Community Leader Appointed to Seattle Colleges Board
Seattle—Louise Chernin, president and CEO of the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA), has been appointed to the Seattle College District Board of Trustees by Gov. Jay Inslee, effective Aug. 1, 2015.
“The GSBA is the largest LGBT Chamber of Commerce in the U.S. and a well-known advocate for business and civil rights,” says Chancellor Jill Wakefield. “One of the things that makes Chernin and her organization special is their scholarship work. Since 1990, the GSBA has given more than $2 million to 450 LGBTQ students in Washington—many of the recipients being Seattle College students. Her combination of leadership, business savvy, community outreach, and commitment to education makes her an ideal member of our board.”

Chernin will serve as one of five members of the Board of Trustees. Appointed by the governor, trustees are responsible for overall policy and leadership of the colleges. They serve five-year terms and must be confirmed by the state Senate. Chernin’s term ends Sept. 30, 2019. She is replacing Courtney Gregoire, whose term has expired.
Prior to her 13-year career at GSBA, Chernin served as vice president for Shirley Bishop Inc.
She was recently appointed to the Seattle mayor’s Gender Pay Equity Task Force and currently sits on the mayor’s LGBT Task Force. She is also a board member of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

Chernin’s dedication and commitment to the community are widely recognized. She received the Leadership Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and has also been named one of Puget Sound Business Journal’s Women of Influence. In 2010, the Economic Opportunity Institute honored Chernin with its Aubrey Davis Award for Progressive Leadership, and in 2011, Rep. Jim McDermott honored her with his Community Leadership and Service Award. The Seattle Storm honored Chernin with its 2013 Inspiring Women Award, and in January 2015, the University of Washington Women’s Center honored her with its Women of Courage Award.

Chernin holds a B.A. in sociology and psychology from City University of New York.


About Seattle Colleges
The Seattle College District is Washington state’s largest college district, with nearly 50,000 students enrolled each year. It is composed of Seattle Central College, North Seattle College, South Seattle College, Seattle Vocational Institute, and four specialty centers. The district offers more than 135 workforce education and training programs that lead to bachelor’s degrees in high-growth industries, associate degrees in various disciplines, certificates in professional technical programs, and transfer degrees to universities throughout the United States.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

2015 Pride Omnibus

 This post will be continually updated throughout the summer.

Getting the Guide at Pride has been a Seattle tradition for over three decades. GSBA even organized the Pride Parade in the early 1980s. We continue to sponsor, attend and participate in Pride events across the Northwest. We welcome all of our members to drop in and say hi and to pick up the new 2015-2016 edition of the GSBA Guide & Directory.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

It's All Here

Last week your GBSA staff got up early to catch the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston en route to a few days in Port Ludlow. After a foggy 20 minutes crossing the tip of the Kitsap Peninsula and the Hood Canal bridge, we arrived to the glowing smile of Susan Windle, Senior Sales Manager at the Inn at Port Ludlow.

Susan had helped arrange a staff retreat for us, offering a perfect opportunity to get out of the city for a night and decompress after a long (but rewarding!) season of renewals, the next edition of the Guide, two galas, and more. She set us up in the Olympic Room and Andrew Suite, a separate area designed to hold
small conferences and comfortable retreats like ours. Led by the esteemed and fabulous Barbara Grant, we spent the next day and a half strategizing and developing plans for the coming year. Our meeting space had everything we could want (including some tremendous views) and Steven took care of us every step of the way.

Of course, as much as we all love staff retreats, the best part came after the work was done. Some of us chose to quietly relax on our balconies overlooking Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, watching the river otters scamper down the banks into Ludlow Bay and bald eagles swoop down just feet away. Others enjoyed very refreshing happy hour cocktails on the sunny porch of the Fireside Restaurant

Seven courses of the best Northwestern cuisine
However it was the incredible dinner that was the crowning event of the evening - we were treated to a seven-course feast with wine pairings, presented to us by Anne Sackett, Inn at Port Ludlow’s highly acclaimed Cellar Master who is currently studying for the level 2 sommelier. Curated by Anne, Fireside's wine list received the 2014 Washington State Grand Wine Award. From crostini, soup, salmon, blueberry granita, asparagus with egg mimosa, the tenderest beef, and a heavenly chocolate mousse, each course was a pure delight. And considering the sheer number and variety of allergies across the staff, it was nearly a miracle that the kitchen under Chef Dan Ratigan was able to sate us all. The menu was a bounty of locally sourced riches and was a unique experience for many of us around the table.

A nice view to wake up to
The rooms, too, were beyond compare. With some of the most comfortable mattresses we have ever slept on, not to mention the fireplaces in every room. A coworker adds “My favorite thing was the fireplace in the rooms and the HUGE tub with bath salts! For a high-strung person who isn’t usually able to relax, I was able to do so in just one day there.” Coffee makers in each room, and small private balconies to read the paper (or check Facebook) in the morning as the early morning mist clears to reveal the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. And, really, we’re all Northwesterners here… a day of fog can soothe our souls, and there is no better place to experience it than along Ludlow Bay.

And, we’re almost ashamed to admit it, but if you just can’t quite unplug while away for the weekend, the wireless connection was excellent.

The Inn at Port Ludlow is a luxurious place to rest at the end of the day, but also offers convenient access to many other attractions of the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas. From the Resort at Port Ludlow’s famous golf course (named “Most Scenic in the World” by Esquire) and 300-slip marina (including kayak and skiff rentals), to the abundant hiking opportunities around the eastern slopes of the Olympic Mountains, to the exceptional wildlife viewing, there is no shortage of options for any taste. Several members of the GSBA staff were able to extend their stays into the holiday weekend and enjoyed visiting nearby Port Hadlock and Port Angeles, as well as the wineries on Bainbridge Island.
For both a fabulous work retreat and a relaxing personal getaway, it’s safe to say that the GSBA staff unanimously and enthusiastically recommends the Inn at Port Ludlow.

This is serious work, people.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The most successful GSBA Scholarship Dinner ever!

Celebrating 25 years
Reaching two million dollars in scholarships awarded since 1990
Presenting $350,000 to 48 outstanding students
Raising a record $200,000
It all made for a truly amazing evening!  We heard stories from our  scholarship Founders and early champions in a moving video created by InterChange Media (included below). We brought this visionary group on stage for Michael Auch to present the Richard C. Rolfs Scholarship and Bob Dlugosh & Don McKee to present the Founders' scholarships. Mayor Ed Murray welcomed our guests and touchingly reminded us of other early scholarship champions who have passed. During the evening, we were saddened to hear of the continuing challenges of poverty, violence, and lack of family support which so many of our scholars face. Our keynote address, given by GSBA's first four-year Scholar, Laramie Smith, was incredible. Laramie shared the story of her journey, from being disowned by her family as a teenager, leaving her with no hope of being able to attend college, to the difference that four years of scholarship support from GSBA meant to her, knowing she had the backing of an entire community. Today Laramie has a PhD and just last week was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. There was not a dry eye in the room when Scholarship Chair Stephanie Dallas came on stage with an impassioned plea that opened our hearts and compelled us to give generously.

Thank you to all of our table captains who brought wonderful guests to fill the room at the Waterfront Marriott. Chaired by Allan Aquila and Scholarship Dinner volunteers Ryan Digges and Steve Gunn and our Scholarship Fund staff led by Mark Rosén and Jessica Wootten, we were able to create an evening that powerfully connected our past to our future. Other highlights of the evening included two announcements from Board Chair Martha Davis: the first about the launching a new Leadership Matching Fund, and the exciting news that GSBA has committed to fund every returning undergraduate scholar. With your continued support, both of these commitments will make a huge difference in the lives of LGBTQ and allied students.

How wonderful it was to hear about the scholars who received our named scholarships this year. Bob Rhodehamel & Dana Snyder presented a Future Ribbons Scholarship to Kelly Hill who is pursuing her graduate degree in AIDS Research; Glenn Johnson & Michael Melancon presented the Bright Horizon Scholarship to Jazmine Perez; and Linda Barzalai spoke eloquently and poignantly about the "still small voice" inside all of us and how this voice honors the memory of her son David. The connection between past and future was everywhere; with past scholars seated around the room, including past Chester Podlodowski Scholars at Tina's table. A wonderful video with four past scholars -- Ryan, Arianna, Morgan, and Linda -- talked about the impact receiving a scholarship had on their lives, which made us all reach for the tissues. Kent and Shay Thoelke shared connections they have made with their new scholars demonstrating the joy and fulfillment their family has gotten by establishing a scholarship in memory of their father and husband, Rich Thoelke.

A very special thank you to PwC, our Title Sponsor, and RBC Wealth Management, our presenting sponsor, as well as our evening's sponsors: Alaska Airlines, Carter Subaru, Microsoft and Seattle Goodwill. Thank you also to Team Photogenic for capturing the evening through photographs, Girlie Press for all the print collateral, and to FunFrames Photo for adding a bit more fun. Big thanks also to the Marriott Waterfront for all the support they gave to this event and to Janiece Haug for her donation of wine.

Demonstrating their continued support of the GSBA Scholarship Fund, our annual sponsors were well represented, including our Jewels, the businesses which invest in both the Chamber and the Scholarship Fund. Our Diamond Jewel Sponsor: Microsoft; Emerald Jewels: 1st Security Bank and Alaska Airlines; Ruby Jewels: PwC and RBC Wealth Management. And our Annual Sponsors: Platinum: US Bank;  Gold sponsors: American Family Insurance, Outerwall, Pacific Medical Centers and Wells Fargo; Silver sponsors: Boeing, Carter Subaru, Safeco, Liberty Mutual, Seattle Goodwill, Starbucks and UW Medicine; and, our Bronze sponsors: Argosy Cruises, Carpet Liquidators, CenturyLink, DML Insurance, Google, Group Health, Irons Brothers Construction, Mona Smith, Attorney at Law, Overlake Reproductive Health, Verity Credit Union, Vulcan and Whitepages. We are so grateful for all their support.

Also, how exciting to see so many guests ready to sign up as table captains for our over-the-top Scholarship fundraising gala, the TASTE of GSBA on November 21, 2015. Given, this event has sold out for the past four years, it is a good reminder to reserve your TASTE table now.

If you were unable to attend this powerfully moving 25th Anniversary Scholarship Dinner celebration, it's not too late to join the celebration and invest in the next generation of leaders by making a donation online today. If you are already a donor, we hope you'll consider giving another 25% this year, in recognition of our 25 years of supporting the education of our students.

For the future,
Louise Chernin
President & CEO 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

5 Questions with Victoria Odell

A big welcome to our new Business Development Manager! We are very excited to have Victoria in the office with us. She can be reached at

Welcome, Victoria! Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I originally hail from New York and made the move to Seattle in 2002. My heart belongs to NY so I visit my family, my old neighborhoods, and try to attend the US Open (tennis) every year. I love the game, be it playing or watching. I am so passionate about tennis I became a board member of the Seattle Tennis Alliance, the largest LGBT tennis organization in the Puget Sound. We need more woman members so please contact me if you’re interested in hearing more! Food, wine, travel, and biking are the pillars of my leisure time. Nothing beats a great meal, with a well-crafted Washington wine, after a great ride, with the occasional intercontinental adventure for good measure. 2016 Olympics, here I come!
What did you do before coming to GSBA?

Prior to GSBA I was primarily focused in sales and marketing roles within the hospitality industry.  In hospitality, I focused on business development and client services with such organizations as the Sorrento Hotel, Columbia Hospitality-Talaris Conference Center, as well as my own company Seattle Swirl. Any organization I have been professionally associated with has become a GSBA member, if they weren’t already.

What are you looking forward to most in this role?

I have been a GSBA member since 2008, a past board member, and I am excited to be an integral part in helping the organization grow and flourish. As the business development manager, I look forward to engaging with existing members and “to be” members. I am also looking forward to growing the travel and tourism initiative, as my previous experience lends itself to this program.

What are some of your favorite memories from the Board or as a member?

Getting to know fellow board members are some of my most cherished memories. It was an honor to be on a board with such an impressive group of people. The education and experience I gained from such a talented and dedicated group of people has been invaluable to me personally and professionally.  What had to be most thrilling memory, was being invited to raise the Pride flag on top of the Space Needle for the first time in 2010. 

What are you looking forward to this summer?

I am mostly looking forward to all the upcoming Summer events in the Seattle area and beyond. Fremont's Solstice Parade and Fair, Pride Festivities, Tamara Murphy's event Burning Beast, and of course the US Open.