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posted Friday, November 19, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 47
GSBA gala dinner and auction raises record $345,000
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GSBA gala dinner and auction raises record $345,000

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

The Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA), the nation's largest LGBT Chamber of Commerce, announced that their annual TASTE of GSBA benefit dinner and auction brought in a record-breaking donation total. According to GSBA officials, the November 13 event raised more than $345,000 to support scholarships for LGBT and allied students.

More than 600 business and nonprofits leaders and elected officials attended the TASTE of GSBA gala, held at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel's Metropolitan Ballroom.

TASTE showcased member restaurants and caterers, featured a silent and live auction, a sit-down dinner with celebrity chefs Tamara Murphy (formerly of Brasa and soon with Terra Plata), Jason Stratton of Cascina Spinasse, and Poppy's Jerry Traunfeld. The 5th Avenue Theatre performed music from Guys and Dolls.

'As professionals, business leaders, and members of the Seattle community, we recognize the value of an investment in the next generation of leaders,' said Louise Chernin, GSBA executive director. 'GSBA is committed to helping today's students become tomorrow's leaders. The TASTE of GSBA has always been our signature fundraising event showcasing member restaurants and caterers, providing a stage for business-supporting philanthropy and raising funds to support the education of LGBT and allied students.'

GSBA officials confirmed that notable donations included a matching donation from President and CEO of Horizon Air Glenn Johnson and Michael Melancon. The donation from Johnson and Melancon will establish an endowment through the GSBA Scholarship Fund with the goal of supporting an annual scholarship for a UW student in perpetuity.

Donors John Wong and Greg Combs pledged an additional $10,000 to benefit students. Wong serves on the GSBA Board of Directors and is a former president of GSBA.

'Investing in future LGBT and allied leaders is an investment in all our futures,' said Wong and Combs in a joint statement.

Signed photographs by world-renowned artists Annie Lebovitz and Robert Mapplethorpe were available in the live auction at TASTE. The two photographers alone raised more than $15,000 for GSBA's Scholarship Program.

The GSBA Scholarship Program is available to students of any age who are Gay, questioning, come from Gay families, or are allied straight students committed to working for civil rights in the LGBT community.

The GSBA Scholarship Fund started in 1990 in response to Lesbian and Gay students finding themselves in great financial need with no other means of support. Because of their sexual orientation, these students were often discriminated against in school, may have lost family support, and experienced bullying by their peers. As a marginalized group, these students may not have received financial aid from more traditional sources.

From that insight, teachers Mary Ann Bailey and Linda Bakken, who are also GSBA members, founded the GSBA Scholarship Fund, the first scholarship fund created by a business chamber in the United States.

To date, the GSBA Scholarship Fund has awarded over 350 scholarships totaling more than $1 million to Washington state undergraduate students. Awards range from $3,000 to $10,000 and provide significant support to students who often have little support from other sources. In addition to financial support, acceptance and encouragement from business and professional leaders, the GSBA provides strong positive role models for LGBTQ and allied youth.

Students interested in learning more about GSBA's Scholarship Fund can visit http://thegsbascholarship.org/facts.php for program history, eligibility requirements, and for application information.

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