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    GGBA Message from Leadership: It’s About Time!

    By Michael Gunther–

    Can you imagine running your business entirely with volunteers instead of employees? I would venture to say your business might have a challenging time building a long-term sustainable model. I would also be so bold as to say that the consistency of services and the growth of your business would be impacted. In fact, most organizations would eventually fold, or never reach their full potential.

    Well, this suggests the converse may also be true: Hire an amazing team and your organization will grow and your services will improve while also building a foundation for long-term sustainability. With this notion in mind, the Board of Directors of the Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA) are proud to announce that we have hired our first full-time Executive Director in over a decade. And not just any Executive Director, but an individual with experience building and advocating on behalf of numerous LGBTQ+ organizations over decades.

    Terry Beswick has experience reimagining and rebuilding organizations like the Castro County Club and the GLBT Historical Society. He has experience reshaping and reestablishing solid foundations for the groups he worked for that allowed them to thrive and strive for their full potential. On top of that, he has advocated for our community with organizations from the Human Rights Campaign to the White House. He brings a solid track record of building teams, membership, and supporters that allow an organization to excel and fulfill their missions.

    The GGBA will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2024 and I am confident that, with Terry’s leadership, we will be celebrating renewed success in achieving our Five Year Vision.

    In preparation for an Executive Director’s arrival, we began crafting a plan that envisioned what the organization could become with a team of employees, volunteers, and supporters to drive the plan. So, with Terry now aboard, here are the major strategic initiatives we are focusing on over the next five years:

    Goal #1: Become the Community’s Premier Business Association

    The GGBA will collaborate with other chambers, especially LGBTQ+ and other minority chambers (e.g., Latinx, Asian, Black), to share resources and support. We will elevate our transgender businesses and work to create new opportunities for trans businesspeople throughout the Bay Area. We aim to become the “go to” for trans business support and resources.

    The GGBA’s website and social media platforms will become renowned for informative content that provides local LGBTQ+ businesses with answers to questions, resources to grow their businesses, and more. GGBA’s social media presence will be active and informative, giving GGBA the ability to become influencers in the business association arena. A new GGBA app, available to members, will provide highly engaging, exclusive content.

    Goal #2: Build Up Assets, Staff, and Volunteers

    Strengthening the organizational structure and attracting top-tier professional staff will give the GGBA the clout to achieve our goal of becoming the premier business association.

    Purchasing our own building in the Castro will give GGBA the opportunity to sustain our long-term growth while building our employee team, with an Executive Director at the helm.

    Building a solid relationship with the GGBA Foundation, with grant funding from the foundation earmarked for education and business development, will further GGBA’s mission. GGBA will successfully graduate more than 150 businesses through our “Grow the Bay” incubator program.

    The board will transition to a governing board with working staff, and the advisory board will be activated to engage with the staff and membership. The board of directors will include 21 active members who exemplify the full diversity of the Bay Area.

    Goal #3: Create Engaging and Educational Events

    GGBA will launch a quarterly sponsor event to enable our membership to engage with our corporate sponsorship pipeline. Additionally, a national retreat will provide GGBA members the opportunity to connect with other LGBTQ+ business associations across the country to share ideas, resources, support, and make key connections. A 50th anniversary celebration will be hosted in 2024 to celebrate GGBA’s successes in achieving the goals of our Five Year Vision. GGBA’s signature Make Contacts events will be enhanced to ensure at least 50% of GGBA members are attending and providing valuable networking opportunities.

    We will also institute a mechanism to quantify the revenue members can attribute to their GGBA membership.

    Goal #4: Get Political

    GGBA will elevate its community presence by being a go-to business association for local elected officials. Consistent access to local politics enables GGBA to pursue its mission on behalf of the membership. Political involvement by GGBA staff, members, and board will also elevate GGBA’s capacity to create meaningful positive change.

    Goal #5: Expand Successful Sponsorships and Memberships

    Aiming high for dream sponsorships will enable GGBA to further its mission and achieve its goals. A total of 50 new sponsors will be attained within the next five years.

    Areas for sponsorship expansion include nightlife, restaurants, and promotions. Dream sponsors include all prominent corporate entities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Membership numbers will consistently top 1,000, and GGBA will become the largest LGBTQ+ chamber in the nation.

    I realize these are lofty goals. But think what a 47-year-old organization could create with a committed team, elevated sponsors, energized volunteers, and engaged members. We will have the ability to truly better the Bay Area for our wonderfully diverse community, enhance the next generation of LGBTQ+ business leaders, and build the collective wealth of our member businesses. With this opportunity, we can truly create a more prosperous and equitable future for ourselves and our entire LGBTQ+ family.

    It’s about time!

    Michael Gunther is the President of the board of directors of the Golden Gate Business Association. He is the Founder and Senior Consultant with Collaboration Business Consulting at

    Published on November 4, 2021