by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Staff Writer
The Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) honored 10 recipients at the 2009 Business and Humanitarian Awards Dinner on February 17 at the Grand Hyatt Seattle.
Success is not only measured in terms of wealth or extensive budgets, said GSBA officials. It is often a reflection of values and a commitment to give back to the community. For nearly 30 years, the organization's Business and Humanitarian Awards has celebrated the nexus of equality and diversity in business along with the spirit of philanthropy and volunteerism. It is in that spirit that the GSBA proudly announced this year's recipients of the Business and Humanitarian Awards.
This year's honorees are as follows: Business of the Year, Wave Link Music, Brian Dale; Business Leader of the Year, Roger Nyhus, Nyhus Communications; New Business of the Year, Poppy, Jerry Traunfeld; Corporate Citizen of the Year, Glenn Johnson, chief financial officer and executive vice president, Alaska Airlines; Community Leadership of the Year, Joyful Freeman, American Friends Service Committee GLBT Youth Program; Community Leadership of the Year, Representative Jamie Pedersen, Washington 43rd District, attorney at law, K&L Gates; Nonprofit of the Year, Legal Voice, Lisa Stone; President's Award, Scott Aitken, Scott Aitken Photography; Special Recognition, Voice for Social Justice, Charlene Strong; and Special Recognition, Advocate for Social Justice, Perkins Coie LLP.
"Each year, the GSBA honors those leaders who are role models and who inspire us all to do more for our communities," Louise Chernin, executive director of the GSBA, told SGN. "I just loved the spectrum of this year's awardees. They ranged from the smallest one-person business to a large company, from activists to a major corporation."
Chernin told SGN that each recipient is worthy of our respect and support, and it is GSBA's honor and pleasure to take one evening to put the spotlight on each of the outstanding 2009 GSBA Business and Humanitarian Award recipients."
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell made brief remarks at the dinner, while Judy Dlugacz, pioneer and president of Olivia Music and Olivia Cruises, provided the keynote address. Gary Tucker from the Pacific Northwest Ballet emceed the event.
"What's most important is that the community works together and supports each other," Dlugacz told the dinner's attendees. "Education and money are the great equalizers. Having economic power can change everything."
There was a time, Chernin says, "many of us remember too well," when it was not easy for the LGBT community to get attention (or the right kind of attention) from our elected officials. "Now, at the GSBA Business and Humanitarian Awards Dinner, elected officials proudly sat at nearly every table," she said. "GSBA was delighted to have Senator Cantwell deliver opening remarks and we're so pleased that U.S. Congressman Jim McDermott, Washington State Senator Joe McDermott, King County Councilmember Jan Drago and Seattle Councilmember Tom Rasmussen were on hand to present awards to honorees."
Charlene Strong, one of this year's awardees, said that events like the GSBA Business and Humanitarian Awards Dinner are helpful because "it is important to find a voice so that people understand our struggles and pain."
"This is how things move forward," she said.
"What I love is that we take the time to say 'thank you' to those members and community leaders who go the extra mile to give back," Chernin told SGN. "From the early 1980s to now, GSBA continues to take notice and acknowledge the businesses that are successful, the nonprofits that continue to take care of us, the leaders who have the courage and vision to further equality and social justice, and the volunteers and philanthropists that somehow find a few more hours and precious dollars to invest back in the community."
At the end of the day, Chernin told SGN, the GSBA is about the LGBT community as a whole. "It is no wonder that when we talk about each other, the word most often used - sometimes with a wink and a smile, but always with pride - is 'family.'"
With over 1,000 members, GSBA is the largest business chamber of commerce of its kind in the U.S. More than just a chamber, GSBA is a vibrant community organization with a broad and diverse membership base. Since 1981, GSBA's mission has been to combine business development, social action, and leadership to expand economic opportunities for the LGBT community and those who support equality for all. For more information about GSBA, visit www.thegsba.org.
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