Greater Seattle Business Association

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Greater Seattle Business Association
GSBA logo1.jpg
Formation 1981
Type Chamber of Commerce
Legal status Non-Profit, 501(c)(6)
Scholarship Program, 501(c)(3)
Purpose The Four Pillars of GSBA: Business Development, Community, Advocacy, Philanthropy
Region served
Puget Sound, Washington
1,000 (approx)
Louise Chernin
Key people
Drew Ness
Board President
Main organ
Board of Directors [1]
12 full-time employees
100-200 annually

The Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) is a Seattle, Washington-based lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), and allied chamber of commerce. The majority of the organization's membership are small businesses located throughout the Puget Sound area. The association's mission is to combine business development, leadership, and social activism to expand economic opportunities for the LGBT community and allies.[2]


The GSBA was founded in 1981 for the purposes of visibility and to create a unified voice for the lesbian and gay business community.[3]

Regional activities[edit]

In 1992, GSBA formed the Western Business Alliance in partnership with the Greater San Diego Business Association and the Camelback Business Association of Phoenix. In 1997, the WBA brought together 21 LGBT-and-allied organizations—from Vancouver, British Columbia, in the north; to Tijuana, Mexico, in the south. With the establishment of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in 2004 (of which GSBA was a founding member), GSBA's current executive director, Louise Chernin, was appointed National Chair on the Council on Chambers and Business Organizations (CCBO), a position she held for four years. The following year, the WBA voted in favor of folding into the NGLCC’s CCBO structure as the Pacific Regional Council.[4]

Gay Wedding Show[edit]

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.[5]

National recognition[edit]

In November 2008 GSBA was awarded "Chamber of the Year" by the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) in Washington, D.C. recognizing its leadership among more than 45 other regional LGBT and Allied chambers.[6] In 2009, GSBA played host affiliate chamber to NGLCC's Sixth Annual Out for Business Conference, held in Seattle. That year GSBA received the "Community Outreach Award" for its scholarship program.[7]


Same-sex marriage in Washington State is a primary goal of the organization, however it undertakes many public policy issues through its Legislative Agenda.

Marriage equality[edit]

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 Discriminate, a group opposing the referendum.[8] After passage of three separate domestic partnership bills in the Washington State Legislature access to full marriage is still denied to Washingtonians.[9] In 2009, enough signatures were obtained by put Referendum 71 on that year's general election ballot. This referendum would have overturned the state's third and final expansion of domestic partnership law passed by the legislature earlier that year. GSBA was a leading voice of 282 coalition partners of Washington Families Standing Together, the organization that lead the campaign to approve Referendum 71.[10]

Candidate Forum[edit]

Every September the organization holds a debate-like program, The GSBA Candidate Forum.[11] The event is billed as "the region's only LGBT candidate forum". The forum has featured candidates from local races such as city/county councils to larger office including Washington State Governor and US House of Representatives.[12]


In 2009, then mayoral candidate Mike McGinn was criticized for his "rude" treatment of GSBA staff members while attending that year's event.[13] Subsequently, he won the 2009 election.

Scholarship program[edit]

In 1990, two teachers saw a need for LGBT and allied 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 had granted five scholarships totaling $10,000.[14] In 1998, Richard C. Rolfs (a Wenatchee-native and longtime gay rights activist) bequested $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.[15] By 2010, a cumulative 350 or more individual scholarships totaling in excess of $1,000,000 had been granted.

Record breaking[edit]

In May 2010, at the Annual Scholarship Awards Dinner, GSBA gave out its one millionth dollar ($1,000,000) in cumulative scholarship grants. The following November the primary fundraising event for the program, The Taste of GSBA smashed all previous records, grossing $345,000 from the dinner auction.[16][17] More than $130,000 of the gross was direct donations to the fund.


The association holds a variety of monthly and annual events—the three largest of which are formal evening functions, held annually.

Participation in Seattle Pride[edit]

The association participates each year in Seattle's Pride festivities. In 2006 graphic designer Andrea Rouleau designed a birthday cake float to celebrate GSBA's 25th anniversary.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ GSBA Board & Staff - GSBA website
  2. ^ Philadelphia and other towns outdo Seattle in going after $56B gay tourism market, Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle), Friday, January 25, 2008
  3. ^ GSBA timeline - GSBA website
  4. ^ INBA – Spokane’s LGBT business chamber working to get to the next level -, May 20, 2011
  5. ^ Booming wedding industry poised to tap into growing market for gay marriages - Seattle Times, Friday, March 26, 2004
  6. ^ The Insider: Network Strong - Seattle Post-Intelligencer, November 16, 2008
  7. ^ NGLCC's Sixth Annual Business & Leadership Conference a Great Success! Archived 2011-08-04 at the Wayback Machine. - NGLCC Press Release, June 25, 2008
  8. ^ Effort to repeal state gay-rights law gathers momentum from pulpit, Seattle Times, May 24, 2006
  9. ^ Same-sex marriage in Washington Same-sex marriage in Washington - Wikipedia
  10. ^ Coalition partners - Washington Families Standing Together, campaign website
  11. ^ - GSBA & ERW host 2010 candidate forum - Seattle Gay News, September 24, 2010
  12. ^ - Gregoire & Burner at GSBA Candidate Forum - Republicans play hide-and-seek - Seattle Gay News, September 5, 2008
  13. ^ Extra Fizz: McGinn and the GSBA - Publicola, October 8, 2009
  14. ^ $10,000 In Scholarships Awarded - Seattle Times, Thursday, May 09, 1996
  15. ^ Business group issues scholarships for gay students - Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Thursday, May 3, 2001
  16. ^ GSBA gala dinner and auction raises record $345,000 - Seattle Gay News, November 19, 2010
  17. ^ GSBA Scholarship Fund - The Seattle Foundation, nonprofit organization profiles
  18. ^ Gay pride events multiply - Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Friday, June 23, 2006[dead link]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°36′55″N 122°19′35″W / 47.615278°N 122.326329°W / 47.615278; -122.326329