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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 24, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 08
GSBA Business and Humanitarian Awards honor leadership, philanthropy
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GSBA Business and Humanitarian Awards honor leadership, philanthropy

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

On February 16, the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) honored Seattle-area businesses and individual leaders, and celebrated business performance and contributions to the community at the 31st annual GSBA Business and Humanitarian Awards Gala at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront.

Louise Chernin, GSBA executive director, said the businesses and community leaders recognized are role models who stand out in their professions. She said each of them 'understands that their success is an opportunity for them to invest their time and resources to give back to their community.'

'These are visionary leaders with great integrity and an unwavering commitment to equality,' she said.

The award recipients are: Pie (Jessamy Whitsitt and Renee Steen), New Business of the Year; Stephen Sprenger (H&R Block), Business Leader of the Year; Cupcake Royale (Jody Hall), Business of the Year; John Payes (Microsoft), Corporate Citizen of the Year; Hearing, Speech & Deafness Center (Susie Burdick), Nonprofit of the Year; Heather Carter (Youth Suicide Prevention Program), Community Leader of the Year; Dennis Coleman (Seattle Men's Chorus/Seattle Women's Chorus), Special Recognition - Voice for Social Justice; Heather Purser (Suquamish Tribe), Special Recognition - Voice for Social Justice; and George Pieper (OutSmart Office Solutions), President's Award.

The event, which took place from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., was emceed by Gary Tucker from Pacific Northwest Ballet and featured Washington Governor Chris Gregoire as keynote speaker.

Chernin told supporters the dinner was 'historical and magical' and 'will be a night to remember.' Certainly the small group of Gay men who founded the organization 'could not have imagined that 31 years later we would be in a ballroom of over 500 members and guests and elected officials, with the governor presenting the keynote address just three days after she signed the same-sex civil marriage bill into law in Washington state,' she said.

'As a testament to the power of the evening, our governor stayed until the end of the dinner to join us in honoring our awardees,' said Chernin. 'She was gracious to each and every guest who just needed to come up to her to say thanks or even give her a hug. She seemed to understand the personal significance of the moment for so many of us and it felt that for her as well, it was also an achievement that represented her own personal journey.'

'Our history, and the number of people who dedicated their lives to LGBT civil rights was never more apparent than during the tribute we gave to one of our beloved members and the most gentle of leaders who recently passed away, Don Moreland,' Chernin said in an email to GSBA supporters days after the event. 'We took time to think of our dear friend as we viewed photos given to GSBA by his partner, Tad Ishikawa, who joined us for the evening. Don was a past recipient of the GSBA Leadership Award and he sat on our committee which planned the annual dinner.'

Chernin asked supporters to 'ensure marriage equality remains the law in Washington state.'

'Last night we celebrated, today we must get active,' she said. 'Please have your business endorse marriage equality by going to www.washingtonunitedformarriage.org/business.'

For more information on the Greater Seattle Business Association, visit the group's official website, www.thegsba.org.

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