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.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Your B&O Taxes at Work

GSBA is excited to announce a new partnership with the City of Seattle’s Office for Economic Development under its Grow Seattle program. Through your membership in GSBA, and if you have a City of Seattle business license, you are eligible for up to 5 hours of business consulting at no charge with an executive certified business coach. Your consultation can include, but is not limited to, budgets, leadership, business development, marketing, writing job descriptions and beginning a business plan. These are your B&O taxes at work! This is a very valuable resource, especially for new or struggling businesses who want to grow and stay in Seattle. 5 hours may seem brief, but it can get you on the right track to grow your business.

If you are interested, please contact Matt Landers and he will put you in touch with the City staff in charge of this program. This program is offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.

GSBA Members Dining Out for Life

As usual, there are many GSBA member eateries participating in LifeLong's annual Dining Out for Life event, this coming Thursday, April 30. Make sure to eat breakfast, lunch and/or dinner at one of these establishments, as portions of the proceeds will go toward helping fight hunger and illnesses such as HIV/AIDS. By dining out, you made a huge difference.

Golden Fork Restaurants - Donating 50% of their revenue from the day to LifeLong:

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Meet Mark, Our New Director of Programs & Fund Development

5 Questions with Mark Rosén
Our new Director of Programs and Fund Development is a face that most of you will recognize. We are very excited to welcome him in this new role with GSBA!

Welcome, Mark! What did you do before joining the GSBA staff? 
I had a long career in the beauty service industry and was a salon owner for over 20 years. During that time I had the opportunity to travel and teach nationally with several major product companies, including as a global educator with the Aveda Corporation. The most important lesson I learned in my salon career was the value of building relationships, which is part of what I bring to my new role at GSBA. 

You aren't actually new to GSBA. How were you involved with the organization before 2015? 
I’m a longtime GSBA member (over 17 years) and supporter of the GSBA Scholarship Fund. My salon was named Business of the Year in 2005. I had the honor of serving as Board Chair for three years and also as Scholarship Chair. I've served on just about every standing committee and have loved the opportunity to connect with so many great GSBA members. One of the most fun things I can add is that I spearheaded the return of the GSBA Briefcase Brigade, which was an early Pride Parade tradition. I can proudly say that I am the most uncoordinated member of the brigade, having made it to the front page of the Seattle Times with the caption “Members of the GSBA Briefcase Brigade attempt to stay in step”!

What are some of your favorite memories as past Board and Scholarship Chair or as a member?
My favorite memories all revolve around the successes we have seen with the growth of the Scholarship Fund! Every year I've met incredible scholars and hear their moving stories. I've had the honor of supporting some of our past scholars as they prepare to present at our events, and I've been thrilled to see new donors come on board with the same passion I share for supporting our future leaders. Of course there’s also the thrill of raising the Pride flag and the Equality Washington flag on the top of the Space Needle! 

This is a new role in the office. What are you looking forward to most?
I’m most looking forward to exploring how we can continue to grow as an organization to offer our members the most value with our programs and use our voice to advocate for important business and social issues, as well as seeing the continued growth of our Scholarship Fund and its important mission of creating future leaders.

You helped organize the Wine District at the TASTE of GSBA. What are some of your favorite Washington wines, wine experiences, or winery members?

As a Washington wine geek, I have loved connecting my wine-making friends with the GSBA! It’s been a thrill to have them see the importance of what we do as an organization and support us through their participation. TASTE of GSBA has definitely become a great Washington wine event, and I loved hearing from Bart Fawbush of Bartholomew Winery that our guests are the most knowledgeable wine enthusiasts of any event he does. We now have winery supporters from all over the state, with a lineup last year that included so many favorites: Laurelhurst, Nota Bene, Fidelitas, Elsom, El Corazon, Va Piano, Bartholomew, Goose Ridge and more! That’s a pretty amazing list! 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

GSBA Scholarship Founders' Breakfast

Recently we had the opportunity to gather a few of the visionary early members responsible for establishing the GSBA Scholarship Fund 25 years ago. The creators and benefactors of our Founders’ Scholarship, Bob Dlugosh and Don McKee, opened their lovely home for us on a Saturday morning. We heard stories of the first scholarships and talked about the vision and hopes for the future of the Fund. We heard from Rita Smith, who continues to volunteer as a scholarship interviewer, about the need for the scholarship at a time when it was highly risky for a young person to come out in high school. There were no available LGBT options for assistance in attending college and many of our early scholars faced the challenges of having zero support from family or community. Recognizing that need was the impetus to create the Scholarship Fund.

We heard how that continues to be a need today and the importance of the Fund in helping fill that need.  Michael Auch shared the significance of the first large bequest to the Fund from the estate of Richard C Rolfs. This was the first major gift of its kind locally and as such it “represented the LGBT community taking pride in itself in a way that had not happened before and therefore opened the door for more giving.”

Everyone spoke of their pride in having helped create something that they did not imagine could grow to give out its two-millionth dollar and to help support so many future leaders in such a significant way. Perhaps the most wonderful moment came when founder Dave Brown encouraged us all to “think about a time in the future when the Fund is $100 million.” Visionary then, and visionary now!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

CWU and GSBA Partnership Invests in the Education of LGBTQ and Allied Students

March 17, 2015

ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Central Washington University and the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) have established a new waiver match agreement that invests in the education of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied students.

Under the new partnership, every GSBA Scholarship Fund recipient who enrolls at CWU will receive a tuition waiver match up to $2,500 from the university. The tuition waiver is renewable each year a student attends CWU and continues to receive scholarship support from GSBA.

“The partnership between CWU and GSBA is an important step in closing the opportunity gap in higher education for LGBTQ and allied students—a group who are all too often underserved by traditional support systems,” said Louise Chernin, GSBA President and CEO. “GSBA applauds CWU for taking a leadership role in breaking down barriers for LGBT and allied students to be able to attend college.”

CWU is among the top 50 LGBT-friendly universities in the nation as recognized by Campus Pride, a leading nonprofit that encourages safe campuses for LGBT students. And in 2014 CWU was a recipient of the INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award. The HEED Award recognizes colleges that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. Only 83 institutions were honored nationwide, and CWU is the only four-year university in Washington to receive the award.

GSBA scholarships support a diverse group of students who have the capacity and vision to be the next generation of leaders and create a better world. Over the past 24 years, the GSBA Scholarship Fund has awarded $1.9 million to more than 300 LGBTQ and allied students from Washington. The fund is poised to award its two millionth dollar and celebrate its 25th anniversary when it presents $350,000 to 44 students at its annual awards dinner in May.

GSBA scholarship applications are online in October and are due in January. A team of business and nonprofit leaders, former scholars and community members choose the award recipients.
GSBA is the largest business chamber of its kind in the United States. With more than 1,100 members, it has been advocating for equality in business for nearly 34 years.

Media contacts: Scott Wade, CWU VP for University Advancement, 509-963-1494,

Rachael Brister, GSBA VP of Marketing and Tourism, 206-363-9188,

Your Chamber Working for You: 2015 GSBA Endorsements

In keeping with our commitment to invest in transportation and tourism and remove barriers as well as increase access to employment, the GSBA Board of Directors, with input from Public Policy Task Force, has endorsed the following pieces of legislation recently passed or currently pending in Olympia:

Funding for High Capacity Transportation Service (SB 5128)
GSBA joins a wide spectrum of Puget Sound region business, nonprofits and citizens of all kinds in calling for the Legislature to give Sound Transit the authority to run a ballot measure to fund expansion of our regional transit system (referred to as Sound Transit 3). To support our rapidly growing population, we must ensure that our employees can get to their jobs, that our customers can reach our businesses and that our products can move efficiently throughout the region, supporting high capacity transportation is essential to our economy and our livelihoods.

While the Board endorsed SB 5128 specifically, the Sound Transit authorization may appear in modified form as part of other legislation during the negotiation process.

Long Term Funding of Statewide Tourism (HB 1938, SB 5916)
Washington is the only state without a tourism office, and our beautiful, vibrant home is missing out compared to our neighbors who recognize the incredible value of tourism marketing: $18.7 million in Alaska, $14.2 million in Montana, $13.7 million in Oregon, $8 million in Idaho, and a whopping $48.9 million in British Columbia. Zero in Washington.

With our Travel Gay Seattle initiative, increasing funding for LGBT tourism has been a GSBA priority for years. Even small investments in tourism marketing have returns well above what is spent.  This bill establishes a system to collect annual fees from businesses in five tourism industry sectors most impacted by tourism (lodging, food service, attractions, transportation and retail), which will be used to implement a long-term, sustainable statewide tourism marketing program. The tourism industry, led by the Washington Tourism Alliance, helped craft this system and we are proud to join our partners across the state to increase our investment and bring more visitors to our wonderful home.

[Click here to learn more from the Washington Tourism Alliance]

Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity (CROP) Bill (HB 1553)
Many Washingtonians who have criminal records and have paid their debt to society face tremendous barriers in reentering the workforce. They are legally prevented from getting a professional license in Washington State and face automatic rejection from many employers. Without work, they cannot afford to provide for themselves and their families and face a greater likelihood of recidivism. At some point, we have to open the door to opportunity and allow people to move on with their lives so they can contribute fully to our community and economy.

The Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity (CROP) bill is intended to remove barriers to occupational licenses for qualified applicants with a criminal history. An individual has the ability to go to a judge, show that they have complied with all the terms of their sentence (incarceration, counseling, anger management, etc) and that they have led a law-abiding life and are in good standing for a certain number of year. The judge can sign the certificate attesting to the individual’s rehabilitation and then they cannot be denied an application for an occupational licensed based on their criminal history alone provided they are otherwise qualified and suitable for the license.

GSBA first supported this bill last year, and we continue to support this bill because it deals with employment and has a particular resonance for the LGBT community, with our disproportionate LGBT youth homeless population. Those who have fully completed their sentencing must be allowed the opportunity to move on and reenter society rather than be forever ostracized.

[Click here to learn more about CROP from Columbia Legal Services]

Youth Equality and Reintegration (YEAR) Act
The YEAR Act builds on 2014’s Youth Opportunities Act which allows juvenile court records to beouseHouse sealed for those who have completed requirements of sentencing and probation and have paid all legal fees and restitution. Washington remains one of only a few states that does not automatically seal juvenile records. The YEAR Act gives former juvenile offenders with limited financial resources the ability to have their records seal just like those who can afford to pay the penalties and fees. Judges will have the discretion to determine the appropriate course of action regarding financial obligations, such as substituting a monetary penalty for community service. Class A felonies, violent crimes and sexual crimes are not eligible for sealing.

GSBA voted to support this bill for similar reasons as the CROP bill. With LGBT youth disproportionately represented among the homeless population, our community should be particularly concerned with juvenile justice system. Homeless youth are unlikely to have the financial resources to pay the financial obligations in full, whereas many middle class juvenile offenders can have the costs covered by their families. They often face charges for crimes of survival and need to be able to pay their debts and be offered a second chance.

[Click here to learn more about the YEAR Act]