Staff and Board

LA&M Staff

Gary Wasdin, Executive Director (he/him)

Gary Wasdin joined the Leather Archives & Museum in January 2018, bringing with him over thirty years of senior management experience in libraries, nonprofits and the corporate sector. He most recently worked as a Senior Consultant with DJA Consulting, partnering with academic and public libraries on issues such as strategic planning, organizational development and inclusion.

Gary’s work in libraries has focused on making collections and services more accessible. His professional work includes positions at New York Public Library, Omaha (NE) Public Library, King County (WA) Public Library, the University of Alabama, and Wesleyan University.

Gary has served as an adjunct faculty member in the library science programs at Southern Connecticut State University, St. John’s University and Pratt Institute. He holds an MLS and an MA in English from Southern CT State University, and a BA in theater from Augusta (GA) College.

Mel Leverich, Archivist & Collections Librarian (they/them)

Mel grew up in Salt Lake City and has a Masters of Archival Studies from the University of British Columbia. They have been with the LA&M since January 2017.

Leslie Anderson, Leather Preservation Specialist (he/him)

Board of Directors

Billy Lane, President

Billy Lane cut his leather/BDSM teeth in San Francisco over 30 years ago, working behind the scenes at Mr. SF Leather, Drummer, Ms SF Leather, and IMsL, and other community events, all the while attending as many BDSM parties as he could find!

After moving to the Pacific Northwest, he won Seattle Mr. Leather 1998 and competed at IML XX as the first out FTM contestant, placing in the top ten. For the past 20 years he has been working for inclusion of gay FTM leathermen in gay male BDSM spaces, clubs, and contests.

Billy is currently IML Judges’ Coordinator, a very active Chairman Emeritus of Delta Brotherhood International, and a member of the 15 Association. Billy lives Yardley, Pennsylvania with his husband, John. When he’s not playing, he enjoys traveling, trail running, snowboarding, hiking, and bicycling.

Harry Harkins, Vice-President

Harry Harkins has served on numerous Boards of Directors including co-chair, Board of Directors, Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund; President, Stonewall Bar Association of Georgia; Member, Duke University Library Advisory Board. A retired attorney, Harry brings legal skills, nonprofit experience and a passion for both the Leather community and the preservation of LGBT history to the Leather Archives & Museum.

Leon Grossman, Secretary

Leon Grossman moved to Chicago in 1998 and became a part of the pansexual BDSM community shortly thereafter. He has participated in the operation of several organizations including presidency of The Next Generation of Chicago (TNGC), participation in the Chicago Leather Leadership Council, and volunteer work for both the LRA and Galleria Domain II of Chicago.

He helped popularize rope bondage in Chicago with participation in the Chicago Rope and Mummification group and from there has taught a variety of topics from rope bondage to D/s theory at lifestyle events and organizations around the Chicago region and the Midwest. His fetish and BDSM photography has appeared in Eros-Zine among other respected online publications.

Choc Trei, Board Member

Choc Trei was Ms. Southeast Leatherfest 2018 and a Director / Southeast Regional Coalition Partner Lead for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. She is the only female Head of House co-founding the Leather Houses of Color Coalition.

Previous community service includes the Executive Director, Vice President & Treasurer roles to re-launch ONYX Pearl South East and the Treasurer of Leather Leadership Conference. The company she founded, 1st CFI, Inc. is her vehicle to support education, training and health of lifestyle participants. Protection of personal privacy & decriminalizing BDSM practices between consenting Adults are her personal causes. As a Versatile, Choc founded SASS, an All-In Meet Up group with GA and MD/DC teams.

Choc is the Head of the House of Trei, a six person unit in Metro Atlanta, GA established for six (6) years. Her home bar is the Atlanta, Eagle. She is the proud mother of twin girls, both Philharmonic level musicians, one who is Deaf / HOH. She was a teen-age runaway & high school drop-out, who now mentors by leveraging an MBA and two decade career in Finance.

Mike Daggs, Board Member

Mike has been active in the Seattle men’s Leather and BDSM scene for nearly twenty years. He has been an active member of Seattle Men in Leather since 1998 and has served on its Board. He has been a member of Delta Brotherhood International since 2007 and has served as Chairman and run coordinator for the past three years. He has led several educational workshops at Delta and for Tribal Instinct, the Seattle Men in Leather’s educational program. He doesn’t limit his community activity to the leather community and is active in neighborhood/community organizing and volunteering with the Out in Front Service Leadership Program.

Mike has been in private architecture practice since 1998. His primary focus is on single family residential, small multi-family residential, and medical office architecture. Mike has Masters of Architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-arc), a B.A in Mathematics and Secondary Education from the University of Rochester, Certifications in Servant Leadership, and Project Management.

Mike lives in Seattle, WA with his husband Kelley and their dogs. In his spare time, Mike loves to cook, play an occasion mediocre game of bridge, and working on a plethora of home improvement projects.

Heather Raquel Phillips, Board Member

Heather Raquel Phillips is an artist and instructor in the Philadalphia area. Phillips earned her BFA from Tyler School of Art and her MFA from The University of Pennsylvania. Phillips currently teaches at The Stuart Weitzman School of Design, and at The Lincoln University, the first degree granting HBCU in the country.

Phillip’s work has been included in multiple art & cultural publications and she has exhibited in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago and New Orleans. She was Ms. Philadelphia Leather 2017 and was the 2019 Visiting Scholar at the Leather Archives & Museum.

Edward Harris, Board Member

Edward was the founding attorney of the Howard Brown Memorial Clinic, the precursor of today’s Howard Brown Health Center. He holds degrees from Yale, the University of Illinois College of Law, and the University of Chicago.

He began his legal career representing trans, lesbian and gay people in Chicago who were disowned by their families, discriminated against in employment, and targeted for harassment by authorities. He continues to represent the broader LGBTQ community, individuals as well as businesses. He served as President and Chairman of the Unicorn Foundation, which underwrote and supported AIDS organizations throughout the crisis years. In 2014, he was inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame for his work on behalf of the community.

Currently, he serves as one of the Trustees of the Renslow Charitable Foundation which administers IML and has been a Board Member of the LA&M since 2005. He continues to represent the Leather Archives & Museum in legal matters.

Rob Bienvenu, Board Member

Rob Bienvenu is a sociologist and professor at the University of Maryland. His doctoral dissertation addressed the cultural development of SM in the twentieth century, which led him to the very early LA&M. He worked with Chuck Renslow, Tony DeBlase, and others to help with the initial organization of the collections, and has since been an advocate for institutional development and research addressing communities served by LA&M.

Rob is a co-founder of CARAS, the Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities, where he is the Executive Director and Director of the Research Support Program. Rob is also a member of the selection committee of the Leather Hall of Fame

Rob Ridinger, Board Member

Rob was first elected to the Board on November 2001 for a one-year term and re-elected to a full three year term in November 2002, and has continued as an active Board member since that time as one of the representatives of the academic community.

He is a full professor on the faculty of the University Libraries at Northern Illinois University and as such has worked since his election to promote awareness of the collections and mission of the Leather Archives and Museum within the professional library and archival communities. This first took the form of serving as a speaker on the program ” Daring To Save Our History ” sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association at the Association’s annual conference in New Orleans on June 28, 1999.  He also represented the Archives as a panelist at ” The Future of the Queer Past : A Transnational History Conference ” at the University of Chicago September 13-17, 2000.

Within the leather community, Rob has been active since the early 1990s, following an hiatus after his coming out into leather in the early 1980s. With his life partner John Schultz, he helped found the Chicago chapter of the Trident International, Trident International Windy City, in 1992, and has served that organization as secretary since that time. At the invitation of the late Tony DeBlasé, he attended the Living In Leather X and XI conferences in Portland, Oregon in October, 1996 and October, 1997 as faculty on panels dealing with regional leather history and the history of leather publications. He also serves as the official historian of the Mid America Conference of Clubs and has assembled a history of the Trident International as well.

Catherine Gross, Board Member

Catherine is an educator and an MCC (Master Certified Coach). She offers classes and focused weekend seminars on a wide variety of subjects. She’s logged 4000+ education hours teaching Servant’s Retreat alone. She has served on both local and national boards, judged contests, staffed conferences in a variety of positions, and emceed and produced events/fundraisers. She is currently the co-producer of SouthEast LeatherFest in Atlanta, GA, a board member of Community Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities (, and a board member of Leather Archives & Museum (LA&M).

Catherine enjoys both having the opportunity to interact with large groups as well as the one-on-one contact that smaller events offer. She has presented classes at Frolicon, Black Rose, South Plains LeatherFest, Living In Leather by NLA-I, San Diego Leatherfest, Southwest Leather Conference, Leather University, Boys Camp, International Ms. Leather, Leather Leadership Conference, Pantheon, TES, Folsom Fringe, Orlando Bash, Great Lakes Leather Alliance, Tribal Fire, Leather Reign, Floating World to name a few of the hundreds of events she’s been privileged to staff. She was presented with Black Rose’s Vaughn Keith National Educator Award in 2002 and Pantheon of Leather Southeast Region Service Award 2006. She has also written a safety manual in use by more than a dozen organizations scattered from coast to coast. You can download a copy at where the handbook is listed under articles.

Catherine created Servant’s Retreat I in 2001 which was the first non-tangible skills weekend intensive for slaves/ submissives/ bottoms. She offers SRII, Nine Fold Path Seminar, and Foundations in Mastery from coast to coast. She is known for life changing weekend seminars. She received the Pantheon of Leather Business of the Year award in 2006.

Gayle Rubin, Board Member

Gayle Rubin is a noted and widely published scholar of gender and sexuality studies, and of leather history and social life. She has taught at the University of California Santa Cruz, the University of California Berkeley, and Harvard University. She is currently Associate Professor of Anthropology and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan. She has been involved in LGBTQ archival preservation since the late 1970’s. She was a founding member of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society and served in the initial Board of Directors of the Leather Archives & Museum from 1992-2000. She currently serves on the Board of Governors of the Leather Hall of Fame.

As a community activist Gayle was one of the founders of Samois, the first lesbian SM organization in 1978, and she helped found the Outcasts in 1984. She was engaged in the early years of the National Leather Association and participated in the Dallas Conference in 1988. In 1991 she was the first woman to judge a major national gay make title contest (Mr. Drummer.) She was named NLA Woman of the Year in 1988, the 1992 Pantheon of Leather Forbearer, and a Leather Archives & Museum Centurion in 2000. She received the 2000 NLA-I Lifetime Achievement Award, was presented with the key to the Folsom Street Fair in 2014, and in 2015 was given the Leather Alliance Philip M. Turner Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2017 Gayle was awarded an Exiles patch.

Robert Miller, Board Member

Bob is the President, Executive Director and co-founder of CLAW, a national leather community charity and annual conference in Cleveland, Ohio. CLAW features more than 300 events and exhibitors, managed by 1001 volunteers, including 600 in leadership. CLAW has donated $950,000 to community charities. Bob founded and leads the Leather Hall of Fame, dedicated to recognizing individuals and organizations that have made lasting contributions to the community. In twelve years the LHOF has selected 38 inductees, including the Leather Archives & Museum (2019).

Other involvement includes LA&M Board (2014 – present); Chair of the Development Committee; Trustee, Renslow Memorial Trust; Board, International Mr. Leather, Inc.; Board Chair, CARAS (Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities); General Manager, Alphatribe Magazine (USA edition); Founding director, Fetish Alliance, a worldwide network of fetish business and community leaders.; National LGBTQ Task Force’s Leather Leadership Award (2016) for his years of service to the community.

Bob is a lawyer (New York, Illinois). He has done extensive work as a grass-roots progressive political organizer. He grew up in Michigan and Minnesota and now lives in Desert Hot Springs, California.

Miguel Torres, Board Member

Miguel brings a deep passion for the leather community, and a wealth of IT and management experience to the board. Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Miguel has called Chicago home since 2000. He is a former Mr. Chicago Leather (2014) and Howard Brown Health Center board member, an organization that provides health services to the LGBTQ community regardless of income.

Miguel serves as IML contestant handler, and as den daddy, judge and volunteer in over 20 local, regional and international contests. He is the co-host of CODE Night here in Chicago, and co-emcee for Mr. International Rubber. As a pup trainer/handler, Miguel is dedicated to spreading puppy love and education throughout the community.

He is a proud Sir to his huspup Rowdy and his favorite kink is electro play. Miguel is always willing to introduce those that are curious to a safe and fun electro scene

Chuck Renslow, Chairman In Memoriam

Ask just about any Leatherman or leatherwoman you meet who Chuck Renslow is, and you’ll get an answer right away. Here are some of the answers: He was the founder in 1950 and photographer of Kris Studios, one of the earliest and most durable of the physique houses (and the one where leather always had a place). He was also a noted photographer of the Ballet. His dance photography is now in the Newberry Library dance collection In the “Chuck Renslow Dance Photographs” collection. He opened the first leather bar, the Gold Coast in Chicago, in 1958. He was the publisher of Triumph, Mars and Rawhide Male magazines. He was a founder of Second City Motorcycle Club, the first club not on the West coast, in 1965. He was the founder of many bars and sex clubs since the 1960’s, including Mans Country, which has survived for more than 40 years. He was among the earliest member, often among the founders, of many gay liberation organizations and movements. He has sat on the Board of fourteen different LGBT organizations. He was the founder of Prairie State Democratic Club in 1980. He was the former owner of the Chicago Eagle. He is the founder of Chicago’s famous White Party, which almost no one notices is his birthday party. Other answers have to do with his friends and lovers: He was the lover of Dom “Etienne” Orejudos for more than 40 years and, by encouraging him and publishing his work, he is partially responsible for the art of Etienne. He was involved with Cliff Raven, Chuck Arnett and Sam “Phil Andros” Steward and encouraged them in their famous work, too.

Chuck Renslow was inducted into the City of Chicago’s Lesbian and Gay Hall of Fame in 1991 and has received just about every honor and awards the gay and leather communities can give him, including the Leather Leadership Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 2011. He was on the Board of Directors of the NGLTF twice, first from 1978 to 1985 and later from 2005 to 2007. He has served as a U.S. Representative to I.L.G.A. International Lesbian and Gay Association. He is the founder, in 1979, of International Mr. Leather, which grew out of his Mr. Gold Coast contest and the experience he had managing A.A.U. physique competitions. Chuck co-founded the Leather Archives & Museum with Tony DeBlase in 1991.

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