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.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Rachael Recommends

Scouring the digital marketing blogosphere….so you don’t have to.

I am back. I hope you were able to glean some useful information or tips from last month’s recommendations. If there is a particular subject or social media platform you want to learn more about, please let me know. Now onto this month’s roundup…

Before reading anything about content – check out GSBA’s Tech Tuesday this week on this very subject. A great way to learn about a topic in an intimate setting. This week’s topic: Content Marketing.

5 Tricks to Producing Quality Content

Social Media
4 Tools to Help Find Where People Are Talking About Your Business Online

5 Ways Social-Media Marketers Get Their Message Heard

How to Measure Social Media ROI

Facebook Paper: Is It the Next Big Thing in Social/Mobile?

The New Facebook Ad Campaign Structure: Here is What You Need to Know

 Top 10 Things to Measure in Google Analytics

7 Time Management Tips for the Digital Age

5 Ways to Keep Email From Taking Over Your Life

Friday, March 28, 2014

Scholar Spotlight: Beyond the Finish Line with Darlene Palmer

A GSBA Scholar since 2010, we’ve seen Darlene Palmer overcome many obstacles. As a single-mother working to make ends meet while working towards her degree and facing numerous health challenges, Darlene has successfully managed to it all with grace and perseverance. Beyond perseverance, comes inspiration and drive. Darlene has spent the last year proving that she is strong, passionate and as fiery as they come.

Let’s go back to March 2011. Darlene had already received her first GSBA Scholarship and was doing well at Spokane Falls Community College. However, she soon found herself in an unthinkable position. Darlene had to undergo a complete knee reconstruction, which left her unable to walk for over 2 months. Determined to continue her education, she made it to Seattle for her scholarship interview in a wheelchair. Fortunately for Darlene, she was awarded a second GSBA Scholarship and began the process of rehabilitation. Finally after two long months of grueling physical therapy, she took her first steps. The pain she felt was excruciating, but she knew she needed to relearn to walk. She said, “I wanted to walk. I NEEDED to walk. I knew running would not be something I could try for at least 6 months, and really, I was perfectly fine with that. I just wanted to be functional again. I wanted to walk, step off a curb, climb stairs, stand in the shower, and be fully functional on my own.”

And that she did. Darlene stepped off that curb and walked, and walked, and walked… In fact, she’s addicted to walking. What started as 5Ks quickly turned into half marathons. Fast-forward to September 2013. On a whim, and with encouragement from her best friend, she signed up for her first half-marathon with only weeks to train. She knows it sounds crazy, she didn’t even have proper shoes but she did it, in Keen sandals. She walked. 13.1 miles and each step was a victory worth celebrating.

She continued to walk. Just 3 months after her first half and surgery to remove her gallbladder, she not only completed the Seattle Half Marathon in December, but also shaved an hour off of her previous time. The pride she felt was overwhelming. Through the pain of blisters, she pushed through and received her second half-marathon medal.

All this walking had her thinking about her upcoming birthday. She knew what she had to do—a third half-marathon. Darlene thought what a better way to celebrate her birthday than by signing up for the Phoenix Half Marathon. As she prepared for this race, just as in the times before she faced an obstacle. This time it was kidney stones. Again she endured pain and a hospital stay, but remained focused.

This race was different. For her, as a Hispanic, lesbian woman, it was political. Arizona has been known to have tough immigration laws and a government that nearly passed a legal LGBT discrimination bill. So as Darlene prepared for her birthday race, she declared, “I will do it as a minority in a state who can racially profile me and demand I prove my citizenship status. I will do it for people who are not able to walk out their door and feel safe from discrimination. I will do it without hiding any part of who I am, as that is what makes me great!”

And by now you know how the story goes. Darlene crushed the Phoenix Half Marathon and did so while wearing the Rainbow Flag. She said, “I will not be put back in the closet, but I will walk out and proud for all those in Arizona and elsewhere who were not able to be out.”

Darlene has set and exceeded her goals each time. She has already signed up for her next half and has big plans to continue on her path of physical fitness. Darlene is studying Human Development at Washington State University and will graduate with her bachelor’s degree in May 2015. In addition to school, she works as an in-home caretaker for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s and stays busy raising her 11-year old daughter and 9-year old stepdaughter.

To follow continue on this walking journey with Darlene, you can visit her blog of inspiration at

Thursday, March 27, 2014

GSBA’s first Corporate Advisory Board Created

by Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO

GSBA is proud to announce the creation of our first-ever, Corporate Advisory Board (CAB). The CAB was formed to bring our corporate members together to discuss and align on several topics that impact our corporate partners and members.

As a chamber, GSBA’s core membership continues to be our small business members. Our 26-member Board of Directors includes 16 small business owners, two public employees, four independent agents of larger companies and four employees of large corporations. Clearly, the leadership of GSBA continues to strongly represent the interests and concerns of small businesses. However as larger companies engage with GSBA, how do we leverage those relationships to increase value for all members?  GSBA’s work with corporate partners offers us the opportunity to talk about workplace culture for LGBT employees. Our relationship provides LGBT employees opportunities to volunteer and attend events within their community. GSBA encourages corporations to work with each other and our small businesses. One major focus is for our corporate members to learn about and support the GSBA Scholarship Fund.  Is there potential for named scholarships, internship or mentorship opportunities? 

We are delighted that the Chair of our new Corporate Advisory Board is former Board member, Mitch Evans, Regional Manager, Starbucks.  Mitch is proud to welcome the following founding members of the GSBA’s first-ever Corporate Advisory Board:

Joe Adams, CEO, 1st Security Bank
Desi Bailey, Chief of Staff, Group Health 
Karen Bryant, CEO, Seattle Storm 
Louise Chernin, CEO, GSBA
Martha Davis, Owner, City Lights Sign Company, GSBA Board Chair
Gladys Gillis, CEO, Starline Transportation
Ada Healy, Vice President, Vulcan Real Estate
Jonathan Hensley, President, Capital Benefit Services
Paul Hollie, Director of Safeco Foundation
Steve Kutz, Managing Director and Regional Executive, JPMorgan Private Banking
Gordon “Gordy” Prouty, Publisher, Puget Sound Business Journal
Mike Sebring, Senior Vice President & Regional Manager, Union Bank
Kevin Spratt, President, Precision Garage Door
Jeff Wolf, Member Attorney, Williams Kastner

Linking small businesses and our nonprofit members to our corporate members demonstrates GSBA’s commitment to create community through business connections. We are in the process of assembling a Small Business Advisory Board as well as a Tourism Advisory Board - stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

WBA Conference Post-Game. We Won!

by Jerome Bader, Blue Guardrail; WBA 2014 Co-Chair

“Everything you do should move your mission forward.” 

Quoted from Louise Chernin during the 2014 Western Business Alliance Conference that Seattle hosted last weekend, this statement became the pseudo mantra for more than 50 leaders that visited Seattle to learn, build relationships, network and enjoy Seattle hospitality from a very GSBA point of view. Chambers from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Texas and California inspired three wonderful and exhausting days of invigorating conversation, engaging presentations and friendship building. Many times I was awestruck by these amazing people knowing that they represent thousands of local businesses, jobs and millions of dollars in economic impact. Many of these talented individuals work tirelessly as either full-time volunteers, part-time staff or some combination and do this work because they are passionate about equality and making their communities smarter, better and more prosperous.

Sally Clark: engaging your elected officials
Our days were spent in dialogue around public policy, marketing, tourism, membership, board development, supplier diversity and so much more. We invited local experts such as John Rubino and Lynn Parker from GreenRubino, Seattle Councilmember Sally Clark and Michael Mattmiller from Out & Equal as guest speakers. 

We engaged the incredible wealth of knowledge from GSBA staff members Rachael Brister, Matt Landers, Scott Walden, and of course Louise Chernin who literally wrote the book on LGBT Chambers of Commerce. I HAVE to shout-OUT to Mona Smith who not only co-chaired the conference but lead the charge for our public policy discussions…and can I just say, Mona rocks! We also engaged superstar GSBA members like Rene Neidhart (Seattle Renaissance Hotel),  Kirsten Weiss (SAFECO Insurance), David Hernandez (New York Life), Drew Ness (1stSecurity Bank) and Jenny Harding (New Chapter Weddings & Events).  

Panel on how to build relationships with sponsors
We had speakers from all over the West such as Lance Kissler of the INBA in Spokane, Matt Skallerud from Pink Banana Media and Jimmy Flannigan who is now running for Austin City Council. Michael Sestak and Paul Weubbe from SRCC (Sacramento), Jason Holstein from GGBA (San Francisco) and Michelle Burkart from GSDBA (San Diego) as well as Laura Lara from LBGLC (Long Beach) and Marquita Thomas from LAGLCC (Los Angeles).

Our evening events didn’t give anyone a chance to sit still. Packed with wonderful bites, great wine and over-the-top atmosphere our generous GSBA members pulled out all the stops! Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle City Council President Tim Burgess, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott and Tom Norwalk President of VisitSeattle all stopped by to make our WBA friends feel right at home. A HUGE and special thanks goes to Seattle Renaissance Hotel, 1st Security Bank Different, the very cool TRACE @ The W Hotel, Sazerac and Poquitos as well as New Chapter Weddings for the champagne and strawberries and of course, the Seattle SpaceNeedle for our closing brunch.  

We left the conference energized for the future and inspired by each other. We left knowing that as an alliance we are stronger together and that none of us are alone in this. 
Reception at the Seattle LGBT Visitors Center & 1st Security Bank Different

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spotlight on the YWCA

In 1894, the YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish was started by a small group of pioneering women. Their goal was to ensure the safety of girls leaving rural homes and moving to the rough and tumble frontier city of Seattle. Back then, the YWCA gave young women dime lunches and offered depot matrons to escort them through Pioneer Square.

In the 120 years since then, the YWCA has grown in both size and scope. It now provides a wide array of services that meet the needs of our diverse community. Housing, employment, youth leadership, and more – in 2013, these services touched the lives of more than 49,000 women, men and children.

While these programs meet the essential needs of individuals on a daily basis, the YWCA also has a vision for our community and is working to create a place where ALL people can live with dignity – free from violence, racism and discrimination.

Improving the health of underserved communities is an important part of that vision. This includes homeless and low-income women, minority women, and LGBTQ individuals, who often face health disparities linked to social stigma and discrimination. People of all genders and sexualities deserve access to the resources they need for optimal wellness.

Here are a few of the ways the YWCA works to protect the well-being of people in our community:

Rainbow Women’s Health Fair
This Pride Weekend event has provided Seattle’s LBTQ community with access to health care information and services since 1997. Now led by the YWCA, women and transgendered individuals can find free mammograms, pap tests, massage, nutrition, safe sex resources, and more. Find the Rainbow Women’s Health Fair on Saturday, June 28 from 1 to 5 p.m., at the All Pilgrim’s Church (500 Broadway East). [More]

Women’s Health Outreach
A team of advocates provides peer outreach, education, free mammograms and other health services to a diverse community of women with limited resources, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Frequent community-based mobile health screenings empower people with the tools and information they need to protect and maintain their own well-being. [More]

A sisterhood of women facing HIV together, BABES offers peer support, advocacy, education and outreach to all individuals who identify as women. Through phone calls, support groups and an annual retreat, this program reduces isolation, promotes self-empowerment, enhances the quality of life and serves the needs of women facing HIV and their families.  [More]

None of this work would be possible without the support of dedicated individuals, organizations and businesses in Seattle and beyond. Please visit our website to learn more about the YWCA and find out what you can do to support the well-being of all people in our region. For our most recent news, event updates and more, follow @YWCAworks on Facebook and Twitter.

Workplace Wellness Works

By Mary Kay O’Neill, M.D., M.B.A.
Executive Medical Director for Regence BlueShield in Washington.   

Employer-sponsored wellness programs have been gaining in popularity over the past decade, as more and more companies are investing in the health of their workforces. Currently, however, the value of these programs has been called into question.

A recent New York Times article cited a report conducted by the nonprofit RAND Corporation, proclaiming that wellness programs geared towards changing lifestyle behavior through approaches like weight loss and stress management don’t result in any net financial savings for employers.

This conclusion contradicts my own experience. Having worked directly with businesses to encourage healthy behaviors among their employees for the past 12 years, I have observed that wellness unequivocally results in better health for employees and an improved bottom line for employers.

I’ve had the good fortune to be able to work with hundreds of employers and employees to adopt healthier behavior, and this experience has yielded one absolute truth: the most successful wellness programs thrive because the organization promotes a holistic culture of healthy behavior. This requires buy-in from leaders who drive the company culture and truly walk the wellness walk. 

One local example of the impact of workplace wellness is Regence. Through our parent company, we conducted a five-year realized study of our own in-house wellness program, and found that it ultimately yielded a return on investment (ROI) of $1.78 for every dollar spent. Savings Regence saw included $9.2 million in reduced medical and disability costs; a 26-percent reduction in disability claims; and 3.05 fewer hours per employee in unplanned absences.

Other studies, including one from Harvard University, have estimated ROI at $3.27 or more in reduced medical costs for every dollar spent. And more organizations, including ours, are shifting from participation-based programs to outcomes-based programs that more effectively incentivize changes in behavior with the goal of better health. 

While reports like RAND’s cast skepticism on workplace wellness programs, I’d like to respectfully challenge employers to look beyond this recent headline. Talk to your colleagues about their experiences with wellness, and ask your employees if wellness-related benefits and activities are important to them. While not every benefit can be qualified in dollars and cents, I’m confident that the attractiveness and effectiveness of these programs can have a positive impact on your bottom line.