Each year, the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) honors those individuals and businesses who incorporate philanthropy and volunteerism into their business model and who are “walking the talk for equality” at its Business & Humanitarian Awards Dinner.
GSBA has announced the following recipients of the 34th annual Business & Humanitarian Awards.
Business Leader of the Year: Linda Derschang
Linda Derschang brightens the Seattle food scene with six unique and outstanding restaurants and bars: Oddfellows Cafe & Bar, Bait Shop, Tallulah’s, Linda’s Tavern, King’s Hardware, and Smith. Her decades of business in Seattle are matched by her decades of dedication to the community. She is deeply committed to supporting organizations that promote gender equality, independent art, global literacy and sustainable living. She is proud to provide support to numerous non-profits that embody these values through financial donations, volunteering and business activism. Additionally, she sources many of her restaurants’ ingredients from local and sustainable sources, and three of her restaurants participate in Meatless Mondays, which promote healthier eating and better nutrition.
Derschang’s focus on her local community includes supporting arts organizations like the Vera Project, 12th Avenue Arts and KEXP. Her commitment to national and global issues includes supporting reproductive rights groups NARAL and Planned Parenthood, global literacy initiatives like Room to Read and Lifelong.
Derschang has a simple and effective business statement, “We create spaces for people to eat, drink, and get together. We appreciate simple, lovely food. We work with an amazing group of creative and passionate people. We love our community and participate in it as much as possible.” That formula has created a group of successful businesses that are fully engaged in their community, and has earned Linda the title of the Queen of Capitol Hill from the Seattle Times.
Business of the Year: Holland America
For nearly 143 years, Holland America Line has not only built a reputation of delivering extraordinary vacation experiences, but has also established itself as an outstanding corporate citizen. Their legacy of cruise travel is one of expanding minds and hearts with experiences of the many cultures that enrich this planet. Both at home and abroad, Holland America’s employees and guests have touched and have been touched by people and places in ways that affirm their interconnectedness as a global community. The company and its employees are committed to numerous social issues through direct contributions, in-kind shipboard events, fundraising drives, and reduced-fare cruises for auction fundraisers.
Holland America Line has supported many natural disaster relief efforts such as after Typhoon Haiyan with employee donation drives and company matching donations, and was recently presented with the Healthy Community Corporate Champion Awards for Global Giving by the Puget Sound Business Journal and the Seattle Foundation. Their corporate value of embracing diversity was evident when over 20 years ago, they were the only cruise line willing to work with the lesbian travel company, Olivia. Those values continue today and are demonstrated by their diverse workforce, their commitment to nonprofits, their proud sponsorship and support of the Seattle Pride Parade, Seattle Men’s and Women’s Chorus, Human Rights Campaign, and their LGBT gatherings offered on every cruise. As well, Holland America Line strives to be a good corporate citizen by working endlessly to support sustainable communities and a sustainable environment.
New Business of the Year: Urban Animal
Urban Animal is a local, independent veterinary practice on Capitol Hill. Pioneering a new model of veterinary care, they provide economically priced services with the flexibility of a walk-in/drop-in care clinic. In 2012 Dr. Cherri Trusheim started this innovative model with her wife Taya and their close friend and veterinary technician, Robert Oatman. Since then they have expanded to almost 20 employees in two short years. Their highly skilled staff provides a compassionate and frank attitude toward caring for cats and dogs, and they offer a range of treatment options to fit every budget.
Urban Animal works with the Seattle Humane Society to provide pet care services to pet owners living with HIV/AIDS. They donate regularly to the Doney Clinic, which provides veterinary services to homeless and low-income pet owners. Urban Animal’s long-term goal is to create a non-profit arm to serve low-income individuals, and they are working towards that goal with The Rainy Day Fund (named after Cherri and Taya’s beloved dog, Rainy) which accepts donations to provide care for patients in need.
Corporate Leader of the Year: Space Needle
The Space Needle is the most recognized landmark in Seattle, but more than that, it should also be recognized as an exemplary community leader in this region. They support a myriad of organizations and community projects, with a particular focus on education, the arts, and philanthropy. The Space Needle’s charitable mission is to invest in innovative ideas and approaches that elevate our collective future. They are committed to raising and providing financial and in-kind support to individuals, organizations, and causes at the forefront of transforming the future and sustainability of local communities through education, innovation and entrepreneurship. Everyone knows they raised the Pride flag and Marriage Equality flag which helped create national awareness for LGBT civil rights. Beyond that, the company, based on feedback from their LGBT employees, has sponsored free legal and tax advice forums for their same-sex couple employees, bringing in CPAs and attorneys to help their employees understand the new tax codes and laws particular to their status. The Space Needle is truly looking to the future, and have incorporated green and other sustainable practices into their business model.
Community Leader of the Year: Rev. David Strong, AIDS Housing Association of Tacoma
One word is all you need to describe Rev. David Strong: service. Strong serves as the Executive Director of AIDS Housing Association of Tacoma, as well as pastor of the Spirit of Christ Community Church that he founded in 2012. He also serves as a bishop in the emerging, progressive, independent Catholic movement, and serves on the UW’s Nonprofit Management Advisory Board. Previously, Strong served as pastor for two other churches in Seattle, served on the boards of the Pride Foundation and Multi-Faith Works, HIV Prevention Planning Group for the Washington Department of Health and was one of the founders of the Religious Coalition for Equality that was so instrumental in helping to advance LGBT civil rights in this state. Strong took over AIDS Housing of Tacoma in 2006 and has strategically redirected the organization to meet the new challenges of living with HIV/AIDS. Strong is a truly optimistic individual, full of hope and joy for people, and the mark he wants to leave on this world is knowing that he loved and was loved by people from every walk of life.
Special Recognition: Voice for Equality: Jen Self, PhD, MSW, Q Center, University of Washington
Jen Self’s secret identity is that of renaissance queer with a kick ass jump shot. A therapist and anti-oppression educator since 1996, Self’s re-invented her queer activism through scholarship, program leadership, and teaching at the University of Washington, completing an MSW and a PhD in social welfare. Self’s kickass-ness drove her to establish the Q Center at UW in 2005, a queer resource, community, education, advocacy, support, social, and celebration center. Self has worked relentlessly at the center to improve the lives of LGBT students, and spends a great deal of her time providing one-to-one services for students, dealing with everything from suicide intervention and crisis intervention to mentoring and resource referral. Self and the Q Center’s efforts have resulted in many policy changes around gender neutral and trans-inclusive policies at UW. In fact, UW was named one of the top 25 universities in the country for LGBT students.
Self believes that social and economic justice was and is rooted in resistance of domination and a love ethic. Self believes that love and light are not only the center of the universe but also the core concepts of sociopolitical justice, not to mention a winning combination for the Q Center. One of her favorite quotes is from Desmond Tutu, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
Nonprofit of the Year: Ingersoll Gender Center, Marsha Botzer
Since 1977, Ingersoll Gender Center, a volunteer-run organization, has supported thousands of transgender people in their growth and well-being. As the longest running transgender support system in the nation, they have created and shared their peer support model and advocacy expertise with organizations around the world, and have worked tirelessly to promote understanding, awareness, and acceptance of gender diversity. In addition to peer support groups, the center also advocates for transgender inclusiveness on the local, state, and national levels, and provides training resources to employers, healthcare providers, and other organizations wanting to better understand transgender needs and issues. In a country and a world that has not treated its gay and lesbian individuals fairly, our transgender brothers and sisters have endured even harsher discrimination and more severe economic disempowerment. Ingersoll Gender Center is addressing this issue and is committed to helping transgender people build economic stability through gainful employment or business development. Their STEEP program, Seattle Transgender Economic Empowerment Project, is a component of their ongoing support group offering, and is co-facilitated by a peer facilitator and a professional vocational counselor working together to provide support, referrals, and options.
Founder Marsha Botzer, a tireless advocate for the LGBT community, continues to serve the center and says, “The only way for us to win the rights and common securities we seek is to work together. I am so proud that gender identity issues are now fully and wholly a part of our mutual goal.” As Robert Ingersoll used to say, “The time to be happy is now!”