The International Ms Leather (IMsL) Foundation was established in 2014 and is organized as a 501(c)3 to support the development of sex-positive communities, provide education on alternative sexuality and sexual freedom, and enable leaders to articulate the values, goals and visions of their diverse communities.
The organization provides forums for education and awareness that will empower our community and establishes a network for further leadership development. The Foundation is a California state nonprofit corporation that is an educational foundation that provides support to community leaders (including those selected through the International Ms Leather competition), provides quality education on a national and international level, and develops the capability to catalogue, gather and archive leather history.
We envision The IMsL Foundation doing the following:
- Support a travel fund for the winners of the annual International Ms Leather (IMsL) and International Ms Bootblack (IMsBB) contest during their title year to allow them to provide education, outreach and leadership around the world.
- Work in conjunction with the IMsL/IMsBB titleholders to create fundraising opportunities in their home communities and support grassroots charities in those local communities.
- Hire and retain an archivist who will work to support collection and digitization of our history and provide access to those who want to learn more about who we are as a community.
- Create quality educational programs through the use of grants and leadership development through the Foundation.
April 2018 Board Statement:
The International Ms Leather (IMsL) Foundation was established in 2014 and is organized as a charitable, non-profit (tax filing as 501(c) 3) to support the development of sex-positive communities, provide education on alternative sexuality and sexual freedom, and empower leaders to articulate the values, goals, and visions of their diverse communities.
IMsL Foundation is managed by a Board of both voting members and non-voting advisors. The current Board and non-voting advisors of IMsL Foundation can be found online. Board members are volunteers and do not receive a stipend for their work on the Board with the exception of a basic registration for the IMsLBB Weekend and one-night hotel, due to the Foundation Board meeting that occurs during the Weekend.
The IMsL Foundation does not produce the IMsLBB Weekend. IMsLBB Weekend is produced by IMsLBB Productions, an LLC, which is owned solely by Sharrin Spector. IMsLBB Productions supports IMsL Foundation as its sole charity by sponsoring fundraising for the Foundation over the Weekend. This fundraising supports the Foundation funding goals to ensure funds for travel for the IMsL/IMsBB titleholders. The IMsL Foundation also chooses the educational programming for the Weekend from applications solicited and completed. Additional fundraising allows the Foundation to provide grants to develop women’s events, provide ASL interpreters for workshops, and offer scholarships through the Liaison outreach program. The Foundation Board does not direct the work of IMsLBB Productions, nor does Productions dictate the work of the Foundation.
While distinctly separate entities, both Foundation and Productions work in tandem toward similar goals. The Foundation recognizes the necessity to highlight marginalized voices, experiences, and communities that includes People of Color, Under 35, Trans Women and Accessibility communities. This work continues year-round and is reflected in many of the programs planned with IMsLBB Productions such as workshop selection, scholarships, funding accessibility needs, and providing housing support for Liaisons at the Weekend. Outreach efforts, that include Liaison support to attend other community events are all within the scope of what the Foundation does. The Board also recognizes that intent may be the starting point but there is significant room for improvement in creating equitable representation at both the Board level and at events that the Foundation supports. Candidly, Foundation’s resources are limited and in high demand, and more funding sources are needed to meet the demand. The Board asks for your support of board fundraising efforts and will gratefully accept any donations or legacy gifts on our online giving platform.
As the Foundation grows, the Board encourages community members to help IMsL Foundation reach transparency goals and improve accountability to the community the Foundation seeks to serve. This includes requesting meeting minutes, requesting financial disclosures, discussing concerns (both publicly and privately) with Board members, and applying for Board membership. The Board especially encourages and welcomes applications from underrepresented and marginalized groups, and will continue doing outreach to find potential board members. For current board application and job description, please contact any board member.
As a group that has been historically predominantly white, we recognize that we have participated in the larger culture of institutionalized racism. We continue to work to reduce the harm that has been perpetuated. The Board is in receipt of the 2014 demands from BIPOC, and these demands have shaped the changes the Board has made around the liaisons, education selection review, scholarship process and representation on the Board. Additionally, IMsL Foundation has worked with BIPOC liaisons and through the BIPOC Caucuses held at IMsLBB Weekend to clarify and move forward with these concerns. The Board has not yet received the report from the 2018 caucus, but will move forward from recommendations as they are received. We recognize that further progress is needed.
The Board is also discussing its responsibility to be equitable in its programming and funding initiatives, to be consistent in its requirements, and to be fair in its funding decisions. Among these discussions include standardizing proposal fulfillment guidelines.
To stay up-to-date on additional work of IMsL Foundation, please consider checking this space regularly and checking the Foundation website for press releases and announcements.