The Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) is a Seattle, WA based LGBT and Allied chamber of commerce. The majority of the organization's membership is small businesses located throughout the Puget Sound area. A handful of large corporations are members including Microsoft, Wells Fargo, Washington Mutual, Safeco Insurance, and American Family Insurance.

Vision, Mission & Values[edit | edit source]

In recent years the Board of Directors revised the guiding principals of the organization to more accurately define its role within the LGBT and greater community.

  • Vision: A vibrant global economy strengthened through the full participation of diverse local communities.
  • Mission: To combine business development, leadership and social action to expand economic opportunities for the LGBT Community and those who support equality for all.[1]
  • Values:
    • Exchange Ideas
    • Increase Visibility
    • Work Collaboratively
    • Celebrate Diversity
    • Promote Inclusiveness
    • Invest in Future Leaders

History[edit | edit source]

The GSBA was founded in 1981 [2] for the purposes of visibility and to create a unified voice for the lesbian and gay business community. At the time of its incorporation the Board of Directors consisted of 9 men. Since its inception, the Board of Directors has grown to 25 positions and the membership reached 1,000 in 2006. The following year the GSBA opened its first independent office in Seattle's Capital Hill neighborhood.

Women Leaders[edit | edit source]

In the organization's second year (1982), accountant Harley Broe became the first woman elected to the Board of Directors. The first female Board President was Mary Kay Wright, elected in 1986. GSBA's first female Executive Director, Louise Chernin, still serves that position.

Founding The WBA & NGLCC[edit | edit source]

In 1992, GSBA formed the Western Business Alliance in partnership with the Greater San Diego Business Association and the Camelback Business Association of Phoenix. The year 1997 saw the WBA bring together 21 LGBTA organizations from Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada), in the north to Tijuana, Mexico in the south. With the establishment of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in 2004 (for which GSBA was a founding member), GSBA's current Executive Director, Louise Chernin, was appointed to chair the Council on Chambers and Business Organizations (CCBO). The following year, the WBA voted in favor of folding into the NGLCC’s CCBO structure as the Pacific Regional Council.

Political Influence & Social Activism[edit | edit source]

As noted below, GSBA does take a stance on social and political issues that effect their membership.

  • In 2006 when efforts were undertaken to repeal Washington's non-discrimination law through public referendum. GSBA stood alongside other organizations in support of Washington Won't Descriminate, a group opposing the referendum.[3]
  • GSBA was out in full force for Equality Day 2007. Their participation in lobbying state congressional offices played a role in the passage of Washington's first same-sex partnership legislation.

Gay Wedding Show[edit | edit source]

GSBA was the presenting sponsor of the first Gay Wedding Show in 2004. Held at Seattle's Swedish Cultural Center, the event hosted 50 vendors and was the first of its kind in Seattle.[4]

Scholarship Program[edit | edit source]

In 1990, two teachers saw a need for LGBTA students who needed financial assistance with higher education expenses. At the time it was the nation's first LGBT and Allied Scholarship Fund. Six years into the program the organization granted five scholarships totaling $10,000 after reviewing 140 qualified applications.[5] In 1998, Richard C. Rolfs (a Wenatchee-native and longtime gay rights activist) bequests $200,000 to the GSBA Scholarship Fund establishing an endowment in his name. By 2001, the program was granting more than $50,000 each year in undergraduate scholarships.[6] By 2004, a cumulative 171 individual scholarships totaling $365,000 had been granted.[7]

  • Vision: Diverse leaders who have the vision, compassion and capability to solve global issues and secure human rights for all.
  • Mission: To invest in the education of a diverse group of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Allied students who have the capacity and vision to be the next generation of leaders working to create a better world for all.

Events[edit | edit source]

GSBA holds an array of monthy and annual events. Their three largest events are held annually. Each of these three are formal evening functions.

Awards Dinner[edit | edit source]

The "Business & Humanitarian Awards Dinner" is generally held in March and honors business leaders in various areas such as Business Person of the Year, New Business of the Year, Employee of the Year, etc.

At the 2008 event GSBA honored Anne Levinson, Ginny Gilder, Lisa Brummel and Dawn Trudeau (Force 10 Hoops, LLC) with the Collaboration for Social Change award. In a sale approved by the WNBA in late February the same year, Force 10 Hoops became the new owner of the Seattle Storm. The recent change in ownership of the team will allow them remain in Seattle in the event the Seattle Supersonics move to Oklahoma City.[8]

Scholarship Dinner[edit | edit source]

The "Scholarship Awards Dinner" honors the current group of recipients with their Scholarship Awards. Undeniably the most moving of all GSBA events, this dinner is where each current scholar is given the opportunity to speak and express themselves after receiving their award. The 2008 Dinner was held on May 9 at The Westin Seattle. In front of a sold out crowd of more than 350 members, donors, scholars (past and current), and their guest/families, the GSBA Scholarship Fund awarded $137,000 to 37 undergraduate students. The event was host to two celebrity presenters including 3-time Olympic Gold Medalist, 3-time WNBA MVP, and recent addition to the Seattle Storm, Sheryl Swoopes,[9] as well as former University of Washington Huskey/NFL player, David Kopay,[10] who after his retirement from professional football came-out in 1975.

Taste[edit | edit source]

The "Taste of GSBA" is the organizations gala event of the year. With attendance of approximately 500 people including notable political figures, performance artists, and the occasional local celebrity, this event tops them all. The "Taste" (as it is simply referred to by its planning committee) is the single largest source of financial support for the GSBA Scholarship Program. Not only is it a showcase of member restaurants and caterers, it also is home to both a silent and live auction.

Seattle Pride[edit | edit source]

GSBA participates each year in Seattle's Gay Pride festivities. In 2006 graphic designer Andrea Rouleau designed a giant birthday cake float to celebrate GSBA's 25th anniversary.[11] That year Seattle's Pride events were a topic of tension within the community due to a decision made by some of the event's organizers to move the parade from Capitol Hill's Broadway to 5th Avenue downtown and the festival from Capital Hill's Volunteer Park to Seattle Center.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Philadelphia and other towns outdo Seattle in going after $56B gay tourism market, Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle), Friday, January 25, 2008
  2. GSBA timeline - GSBA website
  3. Effort to repeal state gay-rights law gathers momentum from pulpit, Seattle Times, Wednesday, May 24, 2006
  4. Booming wedding industry poised to tap into growing market for gay marriages - Seattle Times, Friday, March 26, 2004
  5. $10,000 In Scholarships Awarded - Seattle Times, Thursday, May 09, 1996
  6. Business group issues scholarships for gay students - Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Thursday, May 3, 2001
  7. $175,000 In Scholarships Available For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual And Transgender Students And Their Allies -, October 12, 2004
  8. WNBA Approves Sale of Seattle Storm to Local Owners - WNBA press release, February 28, 2008
  9. Indiana game thread; SWOOPES TO START? - Storm Blog, Saturday, May 10, 2008
  10. GSBA Blog - Blogger, Sunday, April 27, 2008
  11. Gay pride events multiply - Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Friday, June 23, 2006

External links[edit | edit source]

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