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, August 27, 2015

Rachael Reports - GSBA Takes NGLCC Conference by Storm!

From August 11-14, over 800 LGBT and allied entrepreneurs, business owners, corporate representatives and LGBT chamber leaders from across the country and around the globe descended upon Ft. Lauderdale Florida for the NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference.

Attendees take part in three days of symposia, panel discussions, development seminars and special events designed to generate business opportunities and build strong relationships with corporate champions and one another. 

I was fortunate enough to be one of those attendees along with GSBA President & CEO Louise Chernin and GSBA Board members Drew Ness and Jenny Harding. GSBA is a founding member of the NGLCC and we have sent representatives to this conference almost every year and even hosted it in Seattle in 2009. 

We were not the only GSBA representatives at the conference. Some of our small business members are very active with NGLCC including George Pieper of OutSmart Office Solutions and Elise Lindborg of ZippyDogs, both of whom are certified LGBT businesses. Both have been named Supplier of the Year by NGLCC, in 2012 and 2013, respectively. It was great to see them around the conference and watch them in action as they presented in breakout sessions, were matched with corporate procurement officers to discuss potential business or exhibiting in the marketplace.
Another GSBA member took center stage….literally. TomboyX was a contestant in the LGBT Biz Pitch, a fast-paced competition among three LGBT entrepreneurs selected to give their best 10-minute presentations on their company. They gain valuable feedback from an expert panel of angel investors, venture capitalists, and other business experts. Participants have the potential to continue their dialogue with the judges, and one lucky winner is awarded a $10,000 cash prize as well as a brand positioning package valued at $20,000. Co-Founder and CEO of TomboyX, Fran Dunaway, delivered a fantastic presentation complete with models showing of their top selling product, the boxer brief. Her knowledge, enthusiasm and overall great line of products paid off because TomboyX won the competition! Congratulations to Fran and her team for a great pitch.

Throughout the conference the breakout sessions are categorized for the different types of attendees. One of these tracts is for LGBT chamber leaders from across the country. Earlier this year, I submitted a proposal, along with the Co-Founders of Travel Gay Canada, to present one of these sessions on Tourism. Our proposal was accepted and along the way we added an additional presenter: the President & Co-Founder of the Argentina Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

Driving Economic Growth Through Tourism
Tourism plays an important economic driver for many communities and LGBTBEs. This session will highlight the importance LGBT tourism can have on a community, and how local and international LGBT Chambers of Commerce can work with their members, their tourism industry, and their destination marketing organizations to create value through increased visitation and tourism receipts. From the session, participants will receive concrete takeaways that they can use to grow business for their own Chambers, LGBTBEs, and communities.

I focused on what GSBA has been able to accomplish in the LGBT Tourism realm, how we promote our members in this industry and the successes and challenges of a Chamber-based Tourism initiative.  I was proud to highlight the diverse and generous support we receive from our Tourism sponsors and I emphasized the importance of creating strong partnerships with sponsors -- that our Tourism sponsors offer so much more than just a signed check.

And speaking of checks, a major highlight of the week was the $10,000 grant GSBA received from NGLCC and Wells Fargo. GSBA was awarded a grant to increase our efforts around LGBTBE certification. Read more about that here.

And on a personal note, in addition to thoroughly enjoying my experience presenting at the conference, I was a giggly fangirl for the keynote plenary on the 1st day of the conference. The one and only Suze Orman told her story of being an out lesbian in the world of finance and her rise to become one of the world’s leading authorities on the subject. She also spent time answering questions from the audience, often with no-hold-barred answers. Before she spoke, she took the time to pose for selfies. This fangirl, unfortunately, did not make it to the front of the ballroom fast enough. But it was such a thrill to hear her speak, I can overlook the fact that I did not get to post a #SuzeSelfie.

Scholarship Supporter: Tom Yetman

By John Wong

Dr. Thomas Yetman delivered babies in Michigan before moving to Seattle in 2006 to work for PacMed. Currently the CEO for Providence Medical Group NW Washington, Tom is passionate about education and supporting LGBTQ students.

When and why did you start donating to the GSBA Scholarship Fund?
PacMed was a Gold Sponsor of GSBA, and I was asked to host a table at the 2007 Taste of GSBA. I was struck by the mission of the Scholarship Fund and moved by the scholars’ stories, and began giving immediately. Education has been such a large part of my life and so essential to my career success. I believe that our community will succeed by helping all of our members to achieve their maximum potential. Helping our youth to complete their education is essential to this work.

Are there any particular scholar stories you found inspirational?
I am totally entranced by the stories of transgender people who I have met and in the media. As hard as it is to be gay or lesbian, I can only imagine the strength required to face the adversity that so many transgender people confront every day. I have so much admiration for those members of our community who have been able to be true to who they are and come out in this way. We have so much to learn from our transgender brothers and sisters.

Do you think LGBTQ students face more challenges to success in school/life than their heterosexual counterparts?
I do think that LGBTQ students face more challenges, because we have to deal with the world’s opinion of who we are and how we love. Being judged by a large portion of society has to affect one’s ability to learn and focus. Some parts of society are so ugly that it feels personal and that has to hurt at times. That is why it is so important to constantly send messages of love and support to our LGBTQ youth. They need to know that their family has their back and will always be there for them.

What would you say to someone is the most compelling reason to give to the GSBA Scholarship Fund?
Because the need is so great. And perhaps we have the chance to supporting the next Maya Angelou, the next Albert Einstein, the future Barack Obama when we support the GSBA Scholarship Fund. Who knows the wonderful things that society has been robbed of by not supporting some students in their educational aspirations?  Shame on us if we allow even one person with potential to wither and wilt for lack of education and opportunity.

Why do you continue to donate?
Because the need continues to be there. I will do what I can as long as there is even one LGBTQ student who needs to complete their education.

Your story is one of coming out later in life. You've seen a lot of scholars in their teens and early 20s come out as LGBTQ. What message do you have for them? 
Be true to yourself. You are supported by a large crowd of LGBTQ family members who love and support you. Never be afraid of owning your truth. There is great power in your truth. Your honesty and integrity will be a beacon to the world that LGBTQ is only one aspect of who you are. Your success in your career and your relationships will be the sign to the rest of the world that we are to be taken seriously and that our contributions are just as important and valued as any other member of society. When our culture sees people as people and not in terms of “gay” or “straight” we will have arrived at the society that we are meant to have. You are making that day closer by your proud and honest lives.

As a donor and philanthropist, what would you like your legacy to be?
He gave when the need was there. He supported for his family and community by loving and caring for them. He worked hard to be true to who he was and his life enriched those around him. In every way he endeavored to be honest and embraced his truth with vigor and enthusiasm. He made a difference.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Speaking of Women's Rights: Inextricable from LGBT Rights

By David Ward, Legal & Legislative Council with Legal Voice and Chair of the GSBA Public Policy Task Force.
I’m a gay man who works for Legal Voice, a non-profit organization in Seattle that advances women’s rights in the Northwest.  The issues I focus on include gender-based violence, family law, and LGBT rights.  Sometimes, I’m asked why a women’s rights organization would make LGBT rights a core part of its mission, which Legal Voice has done since the 1980s.  And the answers show how closely intersected the women’s rights and LGBT rights movements are – or should be.

First, both movements challenge gender stereotypes.  The women’s rights movement fights the idea that women and men should act in certain ways based on their gender and that their roles in society should be defined (and limited) by their gender.  The LGBT rights movement challenges the same gender stereotypes – like the idea that a marriage should only be between a man and a woman, or that men should be “masculine” and women should be “feminine.”  Because such gender stereotypes often find their origins in religious doctrine, both movements must fight against allowing religion to be used as a license to discriminate under the law.  

Both movements also must focus on ending gender-based violence and harassment.  Violence against woman and violence against LGBT people are both the result of a culture that permits violence against “others” to be normalized.  When a trans woman is murdered or a gay man is attacked on the street, it is often because the attacker feels a privilege over a person who is marginalized in our society. The same is often true when women are harassed on the street, sexually assaulted, or victimized by domestic violence. 

The two movements are also linked in our efforts to protect bodily autonomy – the right to control your own body.  In the women’s rights movement, this includes the right to decide whether to have an abortion.  In the LGBT rights movement, bodily autonomy includes the right to decide how to express oneself sexually, as well as the right to have a body that matches your gender identity.  To achieve bodily autonomy, the women’s rights movement must fight for insurance coverage for abortion care, while the LGBT rights movement must fight for insurance coverage for transition-related care for transgender community members.

These are just some of the reasons why the women’s rights and LGBT rights movements are so closely linked – and why both movements should support each other and work closely together in our common fight for equality.

Monday, August 24, 2015

CB 118455 – All-Gender Restrooms Ordinance

This letter was submitted to the Seattle City Council on August 10. The bill passed unanimously.

Dear Councilmembers:

On behalf of the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA), we are writing to express our strong support for CB 118455.  This important legislation will help ensure that transgender and gender nonconforming people have safe and equal access to restroom facilities in City buildings and other places of public accommodation in Seattle.

CB 118455 will advance this goal in a cost-effective manner by:
·         Providing that single-occupant restrooms in City buildings and places of public accommodation may not be restricted to a specific sex or gender identity, and must use appropriate signage to indicate that such facilities are designated for use by any person.

·         Explicitly specifying that when places of public accommodation have gender-specific restrooms or other gender-specific facilities, individuals have the right to use the facilities that are consistent with their gender identity or expression.

·         Updating and clarifying the definition of the term “gender identity” in the Seattle Municipal Code.
As the nation’s largest LGBT and allied chamber of commerce, the GSBA strongly supports this effort to protect the civil rights of transgender and gender nonconforming individuals.  These protections are also good for Seattle businesses.  They will help ensure that transgender and gender nonconforming people – a large and growing community in the Seattle area – will be able to patronize Seattle businesses without fear that they will be denied access to appropriate restroom facilities.  As a result, we would expect this ordinance will promote increased patronage of Seattle businesses by transgender and gender nonconforming customers.

Thank you for your consideration of our views and for the Council’s leadership on this important issue.


Jay Petterson                                                                          David Ward
Public Policy Chair, GSBA Board of Directors                        Chair, Public Policy Task Force                              

Thursday, August 20, 2015

New Board Member: John Sternlicht

John Sternlicht was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) at the August meeting.

John is the Executive Director of the Economic Development Association of Skagit County (EDASC), a nonprofit membership roganization dedicated to promoting and enhancing the economic vitality of Skagit County. He also currently serves on the international Economic Development Council's Board of Directors. He previously served as Economic Development Advisor to King County Executive Dow Constantine, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for the Commonwealth of Virginia and as the first General Counsel and Policy and Legislative Director of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

John spent his childhood in Rhode Island and North Carolina, and has a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, focusing on Western Europe and Latin America, and studied journalism and communications at the Université de Fribourg before earning a law degree from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He practiced law in North Carolina and Virginia and earned his certification in economic development from the International Economic Development Council in 2001.

Sternlicht has been married to James Finley, Seattle University’s head volleyball coach, since 2010. Together they have three grown sons.