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GSBA unveils new office at open house
GSBA unveils new office at open house
"I think everybody there felt that this was a collective community accomplishment," said Louise Chernin, executive director of the GSBA

by Robert Raketty - SGN Staff Writer

The Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA), a chamber of commerce for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community and its allies, held an open house on Friday, September 7, at their new offices on Capitol Hill, located at 400 East Pine Street in Seattle. A standing-room-only crowd filled the third floor suite from just before 4:30 p.m. until nearly 8 p.m.

In addition to GSBA members past and present, several political, community and city leaders were in attendance. Seattle City Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen, Sally Clark and Peter Steinbrueck and Acting Director for the Seattle Office of Civil Rights, Julie Nelson, were among them.

"It was very heartwarming," said Louise Chernin, executive director of the GSBA. "It was very moving for those of us who worked on moving the office. People were very personally invested in having the GSBA have more of a presence in the community.

The GSBA had shared on office in North Seattle for the last 26 years. Chernin believes the move better aligns the organization with the reality of its membership, which is located throughout the city and beyond, while recognizing the recent historical heart of the LGBT community.

"I think everybody there felt that this was a collective community accomplishment that the GSBA has this wonderful presence in this great neighborhood up on the Hill," she said. "Even more than we are up on the Hill, this is a location that really links downtown and Capitol Hill, because our members really are everywhere."

A committee of members, headed by Bob Blackburn with Coldwell Banker Bain, was organized a couple of years ago to help the association chart a course for its 25th year and beyond. One recommendation was to establish an office of its own. A feasibility study was commissioned to look into the costs and infrastructure needs of a new office. Once the plan to move had been approved, the GSBA raised money to finance the move through its "Good Fortune 500 Club."

"Many donors came forward and did give $500 or more," said Chernin. "We are going to put something on the wall thanking them for investing in our good fortune so that we could continue investing in the good fortune of our members."

GSBA Member and Windermere Real Estate agent Larry Woods-Palmer helped the GSBA to locate the new office. Jerome Bader, also a member, coordinated the space renovation and infrastructure installation. Many other GSBA members came forward or were hired to supply the furniture, technology infrastructure, art, or construction.

"Once we found [the office space], members truly came forward to just provide all kinds of wonderful things," said Chernin. "It was an amazing collaboration of people that came forward."

Half joking, Chernin said that the move was such a success that every time she arrives at the office, she encounters a "virtual traffic jam" in the reception area. "People drop by every day," she said. "So many members who used to call, now just drop-by instead."

Established in 1981, the GSBA is now the nation's largest LGBT and allied business chamber of commerce.

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