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June 10, 2022 Comments Off on GSBA’s CEO Moves On…After Only 6 Months On The Job Views: 375 Business News, Capitol Hill News, Community, Community Leaders, Community News, GSBA, News, Seattle News

GSBA’s CEO Moves On…After Only 6 Months On The Job

Michael Soto, the CEO of the GSBA announces he is leaving the post. Photo via GSBA.

That didn’t take long. We know transitioning to Seattle’s uniquely bleak weather can be a challenge, especially for folks coming from places where it’s actually hot or even warm but the new CEO of the Greater Seattle Business Association, aka the GSBA, didn’t even last a year in the Emerald City.

The GSBA just announced this afternoon via a very late in the day/week press release that MICHAEL SOTO, the CEO they hired back in December of 2021, is “moving on from his position….to focus on federal civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ Americans.” Soto moved here from Arizona to take on the job and had this to say back in December:

“I am excited to call the Pacific Northwest my new home and am proud to work toward equality and inclusion in the Seattle area and beyond through GSBA,” said Soto. “I’ve been dedicated to advocating for the Arizona LGBTQ+ community, having led a team of professionals to build its political power. I understand the needs of businesses and the ins and outs of working with government entities. GSBA is such an important organization in the Northwest, and I can’t wait to bring my experience in policy and advocacy this role. I hope to help GSBA to create even more positive social impact and continue to support the ongoing success of this organization.”

Of course we don’t really know why Soto is leaving so soon…though this weather has driven many a transplant away…it has been especially dire this year.

Maybe it’s the traffic? Or, lack of good BBQ? The poor showing from the Mariners in recent years? The dreaded Seattle “Freeze”?

Soto was hired after a year long search to replace beloved longtime head of the GSBA, Louise Chernin who retired at the end of 2020 after nearly 20 years in that role. It took the GSBA a solid year to announce a new boss…and now that process is going to have to start all over again.

Maybe they should just promote from within? It’s so much easier and cheaper than the expensive process of a nationwide search to bring someone in to a city/organization that may not be a good fit. And, the GSBA is full of capable people.

Today’s message from the GSBA announcing the departure of Soto and the appointment of Deputy Director Ilona Lohrey as temporary President and CEO of the organization:

Good afternoon –
As a valued member of the GSBA community, we would like to share an important update with you regarding a transition in leadership.Effective today, Michael Soto is moving on from his position as CEO of the GSBA to focus on federal civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ Americans.

Deputy Director Ilona Lohrey will serve as President & CEO while we work to identify the future leader for the GSBA. We are confident in Ilona’s proven leadership and understanding of the organization.

We look forward to continuing our work to keep the GSBA mission and vision alive to the communities we serve. We wish Michael well in his future endeavors.

As we have shared before, the future of the GSBA is only possible because of the past. So many of you have directly contributed to the creation of, building of, and current success of the organization. Over the course of three decades, past GSBA leadership have built the strong , community-centered organization GSBA is today, seeking innovative ways to advance economic and educational equity for LGBTQ+ people in Washington and beyond.

We will continue this mission together as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future.

We welcome any questions you may have regarding this announcement. Please direct inquiries to Ilona Lohrey at

Carrie Carson (she/her)Chair, Executive Board, GSBA

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