LAM board selects Gary Wasdin as Executive Director

Gary Wasdin

CHICAGO — The board of directors of the Leather Archives & Museum announce early Monday afternoon that they had confirmed Gary Wasdin as the new executive director.

The announcement came after a months long search with three finalists having public, open interviews in early December. According to the press release from the LAM, the vote was unanimous.

The search committee had announced their endorsement of Wasdin on Saturday, sparking a flurry of questions and anger in the selection over the other candidates. Much of Wasdin’s experience has been in libraries while the other two candidates, Alissa Swindell and Jeff Storer, had experience focus on museums and the LAM specifically.

“Having known Gary from my local leather community here in Seattle, it will be a welcome sight to see him at the Archives the next time I am in Chicago,” said Mike Daggs, LAM board member. “I have great expectations for him based in my experiences in the community and the accessibility in showed while he lived in Washington. His openness and vision will be tremendous assets for helping LA&M achieve its new mission”

Others were not nearly so happy about the decision. “I’m extremely disappointed,” said Damien Basile of New York on his Facebook page. “Not because I’m friends with both Jeffrey and [Alissa], but because both are extremely qualified and have been connected to the Museum by working at it, and are both embedded in the leather/kink communities. To choose an outsider and one that stepped down from a previous library position due to violating their code of conduct, well that doesn’t sit right with me or many in our communities.” He called on the board to reconsider its decision.

“The search process was pretty amazing looking back,” said Randall “Bear Man” Klett, search committee chairperson and LAM treasurer in the statement. “The quality of our finalists, input from our community, and passion to make sure the LA&M is on the right path was consistently heard throughout the process from our members, donors, staff, volunteers, and members of the community at large.”

Comments on social media on Saturday had a different opinion, with many questioning the transparency of the process on their own pages and the LAM’s Facebook posts about the search committee’s endorsement. That post has since been removed.

Wasdin is expected to start on January 2, 2018. The LAM said he will be respresenting the museum at Mid-Atlantic Leather in Washington, DC, on the weekend of January 12 through 14.