by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
On February 26, the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) continued its annual tradition with the 33rd GSBA Business and Humanitarian Awards Dinner at the Seattle Waterfront Marriott.
The GSBA Awards Committee Chair, Jeanne Barwick, welcomed the crowd of over 400 people at the event.
The Awards Dinner began with the 'Harley and Greg Show' (Harley Broe, CPA and Greg Serum, Your Man Friday).
'Our traditional kick-off for the evening helped explain how sometimes you may find borders in unlikely places and why equality should have no borders,' said GSBA officials in a statement sent to the organization's supporters on Thursday.
Gary Tucker, of Pacific Northwest Ballet, returned as emcee.
'We were thrilled to welcome Seattle Mayor Ed Murray to the stage, whose heartfelt words about GSBA and standing up before his community were joyously received,' said Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO.
'What an incredible group of leaders we had the privilege of honoring last night. Each of them contributes their part in making our community vibrant and strong,' said Chernin.
'We learned about the unique, welcoming and affirming business model of our New Business of the Year, Repair Revolution, from its owner, Eli Allison, who is making great strides to empower customers in the realm of auto repair.'
The first special recognition award was given to Anne Melle, who received the Voice for Social Justice award for her decades of service to the LGBTQ community through her work with Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).
Goodwill's Vice President of Job Training and Education, Barbara 'b.g.' Nabors-Glass, was well received when it was announced she had won the GSBA Business Leader of the Year award.
Linda Marzano, COO of Pacific Medical Centers accepted the Corporate Leader of the Year award recognizing Pac Med's work to provide culturally competent care to the LGBT community.
And the GSBA Nonprofit of the Year was Mary's Place, with Executive Director, Marty Hartman accepting the award for the integral work Mary's Place accomplishes for homeless women and their children.
The Community Leader Award was presented to Judge Anne Levinson (ret.) 'recognizing the decades of activism and public service that she has so selflessly given.'
The second special recognition award of the night honored the courage and memory of former Seattle City Council member, Cheryl Chow, who passed away almost one year ago after a battle with cancer. 'Lending us her insight as to what Cheryl would have said to the crowd was her wife, Sarah Morningstar,' said Chernin.
Once again this year, the recipient of the President's Award was a secret.
'Even I did not know who was going to receive the award until the name was announced,' said Chernin, adding, 'And now I know why. The surprise recipient is a de facto member of the GSBA family, my partner, Mary Klein, who our Immediate Past Board Chair, Mark Rosén reminded the crowd, has probably attended more GSBA events than anyone in the room - perhaps even combined.'
The final award of the evening went to the Business of the Year, 1st Security Bank, whose CEO, Joe Adams, accepted with a speech about why 1st Security Bank is a firm believer in equality for all.
According to Chernin, the President's Award was not the only surprise of the night.
BECU presented the New Business of the Year, Eli Allison of Repair Revolution with a $5,000 check and 1st Security Bank also presented a check for $5,000 to the Nonprofit of the Year, Mary's Place.
'Both recipients had no idea these checks were coming and the surprise on their face and gratitude in their hearts were truly some of the most memorable moments of the evening,' said Chernin. 'Thank you to both businesses for your generosity and recognition of these recipients.'
'One of the highlights of the evening was our Keynote Speaker, Ambassador Michael Guest (ret.), who spoke eloquently on the theme of the night - Equality Has No Borders,' recalled Chernin. 'There is perhaps no better speaker on this topic than our nation's first openly Gay, Senate-confirmed ambassador and co-founder of the Council for Global Equality. He urged us to keep in mind the awful reality that many LGBT people face in their daily lives around the world and that we must use our positions to speak up.'
The GSBA thanked the evening's sponsors: RBC Wealth Management, Seattle Goodwill and Wells Fargo. 'And thank you to our annual event sponsors,' said Chernin. 'From collateral materials to photos and flowers, GSBA can count on these small businesses to ensure every detail is taken care of: Ketcham Design, Girlie Press, and Team Photogenic.'
Chernin also said a special thanks to the Seattle Waterfront Marriott 'for going the extra mile in helping us put on the event.'
'The lovely music you heard before entering the ballroom was courtesy of Victor Janusz and Robertson Witmer,' said Chernin.
'It can sometimes take a small village to put on such a wonderful event,' she said. 'And GSBA is very fortunate to have such a talented and dedicated village. Thank you to all of our table captains, volunteers and the GSBA staff and Board of Directors.'
'Mark your calendars for our next inspiring night where we award our next generation of leaders: May 16, 2014 - the 2014 GSBA Scholarship Awards Dinner,' concluded Chernin.
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