Friday, August 1, 2008

Leather Leadership Conference XI Wins Pantheon Award

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #344, August 1, 2008)

Steve Lenius (left) accepting award from Jon Krongaard.
(Credit: Bill Schlichting)
To paraphrase Sally Field: They liked us, they really liked us!

On the afternoon of Sunday, July 20, Leather Leadership Conference (LLC) XI, which took place April 20-22, 2007 in Minneapolis, was the winner in the “Large Event of the Year” category at Pantheon of Leather XVIII.

The Pantheon of Leather Community Service Awards, the leather/BDSM/fetish community’s equivalent of Hollywood’s Oscars®, were started in 1991 by Dave Rhodes, publisher of The Leather Journal.

This year’s Pantheon of Leather awards ceremony was held in the Etienne Auditorium of the Leather Archives & Museum in Chicago. Thirty-two awards were presented, honoring individuals, couples, clubs, events, businesses and non-profit organizations. In the “Large Event of the Year” category, Leather Leadership Conference XI was one of 24 nominated events from across the United States.

Your humble columnist attended the awards ceremony and was completely taken by surprise when LLC XI was announced as the winner. Having no prepared acceptance speech in my pocket, I walked in a daze to the lectern to accept the award and said something rambling and probably incoherent. (Moral of story: If you are nominated for an award, it is incumbent upon you to prepare an acceptance speech whether or not you think you will win, because you just never know.)

If I would have had the presence of mind to prepare an acceptance speech, it would have gone something like this:

Let me start by thanking Dave Rhodes and the Pantheon of Leather board, and this year’s selection panel, for choosing LLC XI to receive this award. The conference took three years of hard work on the part of many people. Receiving this award is the finishing touch, the cherry on top of the sundae.

As Chief Instigator of LLC XI, all I did was to come up with the crazy idea of bringing the Leather Leadership Conference to Minnesota. It was the efforts of the LLC XI Local Organizing Committee members and many, many other people that actually made the event happen.

If anyone wonders what it takes to create an award-winning Leather Leadership Conference, in the case of LLC XI here’s what, or rather who, it took—and I’d like to personally thank every one of them:

• All the local community members who got the ball rolling and helped put together the bid that brought the conference to Minneapolis.

• The members of the Local Organizing Committee: committee chairpersons Claudia Pauline (Programming), Sassy Tongue (Promotions), Ceilo and Vicki (Production co-chairs; Ceilo was also the Instigator’s Assistant), Charger (Procurement/Fundraising), Eliish (secretary), Jenn (registrar), Bill Schlichting (treasurer, also the Chief Instigator’s partner). Also Dave G. (hotel liaison), David Coral (advertising and graphic design and production), Andrew Bertke (webmaster) and Lady Carol (newsletter editor).

• Everyone who served on the various committees and subcommittees, and the many volunteers who helped before, during and after the conference.

• Our keynote speakers Barbara Nitke, Laura Antoniou and John Pendal; all our session presenters for the weekend; and everyone who attended the conference.

• Our special guest artist Morgan Monceaux/Sir Nagrom; all the other artists whose work was on exhibition in the LLC XI Gallery; and the artists and entertainers who performed during Friday’s opening cabaret.

• The staff at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, our host hotel, and everyone involved in planning and presenting the two unofficial parties that just happened to take place the same weekend as the conference.

• All our event sponsors, including our largest sponsor NELA, the New England Leather Alliance. Our sponsors made it possible for us to present the caliber of conference we wanted to present.

• The Leather Leadership Conference, Inc. national board, especially Jack Rinella and Sheryl Dee, our board liaisons, and Larry Manion, who was Chairman at the time.

• And many more people I don’t have space to name. Without the efforts of all these people, LLC XI would not have been possible.

Even though LLC XI happened over a year ago, the conference lives on as a series of free audio podcasts. Fourteen podcasts are currently available with more still to be released. Find a link to them, as well as many other resources for leather leadership development, at <>.

Next year’s conference will be in Atlanta, Ga. April 3-5, 2009. I encourage everyone to attend, and I wish for the folks in Atlanta the same kind of success we had with LLC XI in Minneapolis.

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