The 31st GSBA Business and Humanitarian Awards Dinner fit the theme of StandOUT. It was historical and magical and will be a night we all remember. As we stated over and over last night, certainly the small group of gay men who founded this wonderful organization could not have imagined that 31 years later we would be in a ballroom of over 500 members and guests and elected officials, with the Governor presenting the Keynote Address just three days after she signed a same sex civil marriage bill into law in the State of Washington.
Our history, and the number of people who dedicated their lives to LGBT Civil Rights was never more apparent than during the tribute we gave to one of our beloved members and the most gentle of leaders who recently passed away, Don Moreland. We took time to think of our dear friend as we viewed photos given to GSBA by his partner, Tad Ishikawa, who joined us for the evening. Don was a past recipient of the GSBA Leadership Award and he sat on our Committee which planned the Annual Dinner.
Our beloved Governor was introduced by three community icons; Senator Ed Murray, Representative Jamie Pedersen and Anne Levinson. From that moment on, it was hard to remain seated. Anne, Ed and Jamie mentioned some of the milestone achievements in our journey for equality which our Governor has championed starting when she was Attorney General. Hate crimes, anti-bullying, non-discrimination, family recognition, full inclusion for Trans Washingtonians - There is no question that Chris Gregoire's leadership has made an enormous difference in the lives of LGBT Washingtonians and that all of the citizens of our state are the better for it. One of the many surprises of the evening was when Anne asked everyone to please rise (although I don't think many of us were ever really sitting down) and join them in honoring our friend, Governor Chris Gregoire, with the GSBA Standout for Equality, Courage & Leadership award.
As a testament to the power of the evening, our Governor stayed until the end of the dinner to join us in honoring our awardees. She was gracious to each and every guest who just needed to come up to her to say thanks or even give her a hug. She seemed to understand the personal significance of the moment for so many of us and it felt that for her as well, it was also an achievement that represented her own personal journey.
Certainly, our honorees, each in their own way were eloquent and moving in their thanks to the Governor and to their community. We started with the "Harley and Greg Show" (Harley Broe, CPA and Greg Serum, Your Man Friday), to learn a bit about the theme of the evening. Thank you's to annual sponsors were graciously given by our three dinner sponsors: Neil McDevitt, RBC Wealth Management; Barbara "bg" Nabors-Glass of Seattle Goodwill and Patrick Yalung of Wells Fargo. Our fearless Awards Committee Chair, Jeanne Barwick of Mae's Phinney Ridge Café, thanked her wonderful Selection committee as our emcee extraordinaire, Gary Tucker, of Pacific Northwest Ballet, set the tone of excitement and expectation.
|PHOTO BY NATE GOWDY|
Our pride was already pumped up when the first award presented by Debbie Bird, Valley Medical Center and Charlene Strong of The Seattle Lesbian was given to Heather Purser of the Suquamish Nation. Our Board Chair, Mark Rosen, Salon Ciba then presented George Pieper of Outsmart Office Solutions with the President's Award and our favorite Lobby Bar guys, Curtis Bigelow and Paul Villa joined by Gary Collins announced Pie owned by Jessamy Whitsitt and Renee Steen is the New Business of the Year awardee. Next, Seattle Council President Sally Clark and Marcos Martinez of Entre Hermanos helped us honor the Hearing, Speech & Deafness Center and Susie Burdick as our Nonprofit of the Year. This year's Community Leadership Award, presented by George Hampton and Detective Kim Bogucki went to Heather Carter of Youth Suicide Prevention Program - who spoke from her heart as she challenged us to support the state's only program addressing the issue of LGBT youth suicide. And, then we heard from David Owen Hastings who introduced us to "The Pants", or Captain Smartypants -our wonderful and irreverent men's ensemble who sang a few numbers including a song written especially for our Voice of Social Justice honoree, Dennis Coleman, Artistic Director of the Seattle Men's and Seattle Women's Chorus. A hard act to follow unless you are Jennifer Moran of Carter Subaru and Carter Volkswagen and Glenn Johnson, Horizon Air who did a magnificent job introducing us to this year's Corporate Citizen of the Year, John Payes of Microsoft. But, the presenters and honorees alike kept stepping it up and Roger Nyhus (or was that Matthew Broderick) and Charlie Brydon paid tribute to our Business Leader of the Year, Stephen Sprenger of H&R Block. Could it really be possible that one person could sit on so many boards and still have a life? Before that question was answered we brought on Barbara Grant of Barbara Grant Consulting and Joe Fugere of Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizza to announce this year's Business of the Year, Cupcake Royale and Jody Hall. And, once again, we were on our feet, clapping for cupcakes and a small business which is the epitome of success, community, advocacy and philanthropy.
The hugging and celebrations continued while we were enjoying the gifts given to each attendee from Tutta Bella, the Seattle Women's Chorus, then a surprise drawing for one table to attend a performance of the Pacific Northwest Ballet and another little sweet on the way out from Cupcake Royale.
Our ballroom was a knockout with centerpieces by Rusty Blackwood Design. All our collateral was designed by Matt Ketcham of Ketcham Design and printed by Girlie Press. There was a great team of photographers from Team Photogenic ensuring that we will all get to download some great photos of the evening. And, for the first time, with support from InterChangeMedia Art Productions, the entire event was videotaped. And, thank you to the Waterfront Marriott for going the extra mile in helping us put on the event.
It took a cast of many to create this successful evening starting with our Business and Humanitarian Selection Committee of Jeanne Barwick, Chair, Mae's Phinney Ridge Cafe; Allison Beezer, Seattle Portfolio Co; Curtis Bigelow and Paul Villa, Lobby Bar; Debbie Bird, Valley Medical Center; Harley Broe, CPA; Gary Collins; Elaine DuCharme, Attorney At Law; Barbara Grant, Barbara Grant Consulting Group; George Hampton, Seattle King County Public Health; David Owen Hastings, David Owen Hastings Design+Fine Art; Joseph Irons, Irons Brothers Construction; Michelle Johnson, Legal Voice; Marcos Martinez, Entre Hermanos; Beth Reis, Safe Schools Coalition; Greg Serum, Your Man Friday; Mona Smith, Attorney At Law.
In addition to our evenings sponsors, GSBA annual sponsors also play a huge part in our ability to do so much for our members. Thanks to our Platinum Sponsors: Safeco Insurance and Liberty Northwest Insurance; Gold Sponsors: American Family Insurance, Avanade, Microsoft, Regence and Wells Fargo; Silver Sponsors: Alaska Airlines; Boeing; Carter Subaru and Carter Volkswagen; Group Health; New York Life; Precision Garage Door Service; RBC Wealth Management; Seattle Goodwill; Starbucks; US Bank and our Bronze Sponsors: BECU, Irons Brothers Construction; Mona Smith, Attorney At Law; Pemco Insurance; Toyota of Seattle and Honda of Seattle.
|PHOTO BY NATE GOWDY|
And, we love our table captains who bring such fantastic guests. Of course, we had wonderful volunteers helping everywhere. Special thanks to Debbie Mock Vaughn, Darin Rosellini and Gerod Rody for handling all the technical details for the evening. And, of course, there is our stellar staff, who are the ingredients for the success of our events: Rachel Chernin, Matt Landers, Joshua Rumley, Jessica Swetin, Conrado Tapado, Jessica Wootten and most especially our Program Manager, April Thanos. And, of course, your outstanding Board of Directors who give countless hours keeping GSBA and our community strong. We so appreciate you all!
Last night we celebrated, today we must get active. Please have your business endorse marriage equality by going to: Washingtonunitedformarriage.org/business
Let's ensure marriage equality remains the law in Washington State.
P.S. The strength of GSBA comes from a strong membership base. Please take a moment to renew your membership in GSBA today! Not a member, join online at thegsba.org