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    Meet GGBA’s New President-Elect: Gina Grahame

    By Magdalena Rodriguez–

    Gina Grahame, the Founder and CEO of the Grahame Institute of Strategic Communication, was recently elected President of the Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA). When Grahame takes office next month, she will become the association’s first out transsexual president—a milestone in GGBA’s near 45-year history. Grahame also serves as a Communication Coach at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and is a member of the Board of Advisors for the Transgender Advisory Committee of the City and County of San Francisco.

    We encourage you to follow the work of Grahame, who is a dynamic speaker and LGBTQ community leader.

    Magdalena Rodriquez: Please tell us about yourself. Who is Gina Grahame?

    Gina Grahame: There are so many ways to answer that question. I’m a three-time entrepreneur with a professional history as a keynote and motivational speaker, B2B salesperson, actor, spokesperson and professional development coach. I’m transgender (transsexual, to be specific), and I’m happily involved in a lesbian relationship with my partner, Susan. And I’m just a kid from the North Side of Detroit who’s been lucky enough to live in San Francisco for 13 years now. All are equally true.

    Magdalena Rodriquez: What made you run for the board of the GGBA? Why would others want to serve?

    Gina Grahame: It’s a bit embarrassing to say now, but when I was first approached about joining the GGBA, my initial reaction was, “I don’t think it’s for me.” In my mind, I associated a chamber of commerce with The Elks Club or The Moose Lodge; something better suited to my dad in the 1960s. But then I learned about the organization and the important part it has, and continues to play, in the lives of LGBTQ small business owners and their allies. Understanding that, I was honored and excited to be considered for the board.

    As to why others would want to serve, there are many reasons. The best bookends would be for the personal satisfaction you’ll get from helping others in the community to achieve their business goals. And for the personal growth and expanded community you will become part of.

    Magdalena Rodriquez: How has being a GGBA board member positioned you for the role as President-elect?

    Gina Grahame: Being a board member has given me the opportunity to meet and learn about so many individual members and their businesses. They’ve been very open to sharing what the GGBA means to them, what they get from being a member, and what they’d like to see the chamber do more of that would enhance their business life.

    Additionally, being a board member has helped to make me a better team player. The Board is an all-volunteer, working board, meaning that every board member is just as passionate and focused as I am. To advance one’s personal agenda, you need to build consensus, to work together.

    Magdalena Rodriquez: Under your leadership, how will you achieve the GGBA’s goals during 2020?

    Gina Grahame: I’ll strive to continue the strong leadership that I’ve experienced in the current and recent presidents, Audry deLucia and Dawn Ackerman, respectively. My overriding goal for the upcoming year is to make the chamber integral in the daily business lives of our members. Fortunately, this is a goal shared by the rest of the board as well.

    Magdalena Rodriguez: Tell me about the Grahame Institute of Strategic Communication (GISC).

    Gina Grahame: The GISC is focused on helping high-performing business professionals to be more effective communicators. We specialize in Biz Pitch coaching, Building Executive Presence and Storytelling as part of sales and leadership development. Services are delivered in 1:1 and Small Group sessions. Key projects include my current roles as a Communications Coach at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and as the defacto trainer of Executive Presence at a top tier tech company.

    The GISC is the culmination of my professional and personal experiences and aspirations. As a communications coach, I’m able to draw on my experiences as a keynote and motivational speaker, in B2B sales across a variety of verticals, as an actor on stage and film, as a spokesperson, and as an entrepreneur who’s pitched and received VC funding. My gender history is also a key asset as I accomplished most of these when male and again after transition, as female. This gives me understanding, insight and credibility with virtually every audience, regardless of professional title, age, gender and sexual identity.

    Magdalena Rodriguez: Why was it important for you that the Grahame Institute of Strategic Communication is a member of the GGBA? How has it helped your business?

    Gina Grahame: Because the GGBA has played such an integral part of its creation. I view my GGBA membership as a symbiotic relationship; I continue to learn from, and be inspired by, my fellow members. And I’ve also been able to give back to members by hosting a strategic communications workshop series based on a 20-lesson strategic communication program that I created called “Stand Up. Speak Out!”

    Our current President, Audry deLucia, is fond of saying: “The role of the GGBA is not to get you business; our goal is to make you a better businessperson so that you can get more business.” What I’ve learned at GGBA hosted seminars and informal networking events has expanded my vision and upped my professional game. The GGBA also opened the door of the NGLCC, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Attending their annual conference—seeing nearly 1,000 certified LGBTBE’s (business enterprises), and so many top companies that were there to increase their supplier diversity pipeline—filled me with awe. I am proud to be an out LGBT businessowner, and I’m proud to be a member of the GGBA.

    For more information about the Grahame Institute of Strategic Communication:

    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,