By Michael Gunther–
Over the last two years, I have had the privilege of serving as President of the Board of Directors for the Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA), the nation’s first LGBTQ+ chamber of commerce, founded in San Francisco in 1974. This journey has been full of twister-like situations from the pandemic, social justice issues, and economic challenges—all the while working to sustain and grow our membership-based organization.
Like many organizations over the last two years, we have had our share of challenges to deal with, but I am fortunate in that I have had fellow board members who were also committed and hopeful for the future. I was also blessed by the organizational foundation built from past Board Presidents who focused on members’ needs first.
I feel like the GGBA is a home, of sorts, for leaders and business owners in the LGBTQ+ community. It is a place you can be your authentic self and where our members truly care about supporting one another and their businesses. It is a place of amazing people who bring all aspects of diversity, thoughts, and emotions into the equation of building solid, caring relationships.
Therefore, as we faced the challenges in front of us on this journey together, I realized that we could accomplish great things by staying flexible, creative, and committed to supporting our members and laying the groundwork for sustainability of the chamber. Here are some the accomplishments I am most proud of during my tenure:
Hired a full-time Executive Director and part-time Membership Coordinator. Previously, we were an all-volunteer organization, meaning we were a working board whose members had to manage every function of the organization while also maintaining their lives and businesses outside their duties. As you could imagine, this would not be sustainable over time.
Increased our membership every quarter. We have continued to add and grow our membership throughout the last 2 years and look forward to continuing the path of engaging new businesses to join.
Expanded our Corporate/Partner sponsorships. We have continued to grow our current corporate partnerships as well as bring new corporate partners to the organization.
Created a Business Acceleration Program, supporting 22 small business owners who participated in a 3-month intensive boot camp to transition their businesses at the height of the pandemic. Based on the success of this program, we are launching another cohort this fall.
Developed an Ambassador Club to provide opportunities for members to volunteer with GGBA while enhancing the relationships with other members.
Transitioned from in-person events to online events to hybrid events, and back to in-person events. (That process felt like a twister.) As many of you know well from your own experience, this was no easy task, but we were committed to bringing value to our members by engaging with them as best we could, ensuring they had the ability to gain knowledge and network with other members during the pandemic.
Created a new 5-year vision for the 48-year-old organization while also building internal management structures such as budgets, quarterly goals, and accountability tools to move our initiatives forward while being fiduciarily responsible.
Grew our Board of Directors to 16 members while also updating our organization’s By-Laws that hadn’t been updated in years.
What a journey this has been! We’ve experienced the ups and downs in the ever-changing economy, challenges in sustaining our organization during the pandemic, and impacts on members navigating these crises. But in writing this list, I am reminded that no matter how great the challenges we face are, having a strong GGBA committed to providing members with the inspiration, connections, programs, and relationships to support them in achieving their goals is critical for the success of our LGBTQ+ communities.
Michael Gunther is the outgoing President of the Board of the Golden Gate Business Association as well as the Founder and President of Collaboration Business Consulting, a team of highly skilled business professionals who are dedicated to assisting proactive business owners to build profitable, sustainable businesses through results-oriented consulting services.
Published by San Francisco Bay Times