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    GGBA Member Spotlight: Dawn Ackerman of OutSmart Office

    By Magdalena Rodriguez–

    Dawn Ackerman, the Immediate Past President of the Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA), is the CEO of OutSmart Office, the first and only LGBT “Tier One Supplier Diversity Partner” of Office Depot/Max. The company was also named the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) 2012 LGBT Supplier of the Year for its commitment to supplier diversity. OutSmart Office continuously works to procure their goods and services from other minority owned business enterprises. Here, Ackerman shares more about her life and work.

    Magdalena Rodriguez: Describe your business and its mission and values.

     Dawn Ackerman: OutSmart Office is a full-service office design company. We work closely with our clients to create an office environment that they love! Our services include:

    1. office design & space planning;
    2. tenant improvement (construction, paint, flooring) & move management;
    3. procurement and installation of furniture, fixtures, equipment, supplies, art & signage.

    Magdalena Rodriguez: Why did you decide to create your business?

     Dawn Ackerman: We have been in the office products business for over 20 years and enjoy getting testimonials like this from our clients:

    “My office is now my favorite place to be, thanks to OutSmart Office Solutions. I’ve been proud of my business for years, but I wasn’t thrilled with our space as I did not feel that the physical presence of the office reflected the stellar work we were doing for our clients. I engaged Dawn Ackerman to come evaluate what could be done and I love the result. She took the time to analyze how we use the offices so that she could make practical recommendations that really improved our work flows. She spent time with me to get a sense of my style, then used what she had learned to propose a design that blew us away. She was flexible with me on my price points and delivered on time. Our office is a beacon of style and sophistication that my staff and my clients all rave about. Thank you Dawn and OutSmart for taking my office to the next level!”

    Magdalena Rodriguez: Do you have any specific policies in place that benefit the LGBT community?

     Dawn Ackerman: OutSmart Office is a 100% owned and operated LGBT company. We have been certified as an NGLCC LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) since our inception. We work with LGBT owned companies and nonprofits nationwide and help them to create phenomenal workspaces.

     Magdalena Rodriguez: Why did you decide to join the GGBA?

     Dawn Ackerman: I moved to San Francisco in 2010 and knew that the best place to start to build my business here was with the GGBA. OutSmart Office is also a member of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (LAGLCC) and the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA).

    Magdalena Rodriguez: How has the GGBA helped your business so far?

     Dawn Ackerman: Ninety percent of our business comes from the relationships we have built through the GGBA, GSBA and NGLCC.

     Magdalena Rodriguez: What has been your biggest reward and satisfaction during your journey as an entrepreneur? 

     Dawn Ackerman: As entrepreneurs and leaders in the LGBTQ business community, the members of the OutSmart Office team get great satisfaction out of helping businesses be successful. In our roles as designers and consultants, we are able to help our clients grow their businesses by creating a productive environment that they love to work in and that makes a statement about who they are to their clients.

    As leaders in the community, we get to share our experience and knowledge of what it means to be a successful LGBT owned business with others and help them to leverage the opportunities that our business organizations have created for them.

    Magdalena Rodriguez: What was your biggest disappointment and/or nerve-racking situation?

     Dawn Ackerman: It is always disappointing to spend days or even weeks on a bid or RFP (Request for Proposal) and then to lose, but you can’t stop trying.

    Magdalena Rodriguez: What is the most important lesson that you have learned, being an entrepreneur? 

     Dawn Ackerman: You should always be looking for new ways to differentiate yourself and to add value to what you can offer to your clients. You should never stop trying to be better at what you do.

    Magdalena Rodriguez: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of starting their own business?

     Dawn Ackerman: First, make sure you know how to read a Profit & Loss Statement and understand the basics of cashflow. You would be surprised at the business owners I have met that do not. Then you need to have a clear idea of what your business is all about and why you are doing it. You also have to be prepared to fail before you succeed.

    For more information:

    Magdalena Rodriguez is the Co-founder and Director of GPSGAY Inc. mobile app and website—available in Spanish, English and Portuguese—for the LGBTQ community, 


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    GGBA Calendar

    Business of Pride
    Tuesday, June 11
    5:30–8:30 pm
    Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco
    757 Market Street
    Info and tickets:

    June Make Contact
    Tuesday, June 18
    5:30–7:30 pm
    Goorin Brothers
    1612 Stockton Street
    San Francisco
    GGBA members and SFCDMA members: FREE
    Non-members: $25


    Be a Part of the Solution: Join the GGBA & Volunteer

    Support LGBT businesses, throughout the Bay Area and beyond by bringing you enthusiasm and skills to the Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA)! Being a GGBA member and volunteer is an ideal opportunity to become more deeply involved with the chamber. You can help to guide the chamber’s continuing success while building deeper business relationships with your fellow GGBA members.

    The GGBA is the world’s first LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, and is now one of 65 around the globe advocating for positive economic, social and political change for LGBTQ businesses to prosper, create jobs and to have economic equality. Its mission is to champion opportunity, development and advocacy for the LGBTQ & allied business community.

    The GGBA empowers small business entrepreneurs and professionals by creating opportunities for marketing, networking, procurement and referral-based business growth. The chamber also collaborates with other nonprofits and engages with business and civic leaders to support policies that foster a more inclusive and welcoming business community, thus creating greater opportunities for its member businesses. If you are an LGBTQ or allied business person looking for a place to make sincere connections that can lead to greater success and a sense of community, the GGBA is the place for you. We encourage you to visit the GGBA’s next event to see for yourself. For more details: