Nick Leonard - The TRUE Minnesota Progressive

Nick's Life Journey

Born & Raised in Walnut Grove

August 14, 1971 – Gerald Leonard marries his high school sweetheart Mary Nelson after he returns home from serving in Vietnam

Saturday, November 25, 1972 - Thanksgiving weekend – Mary Leonard gives birth to first born son, Nicholas Gerald Leonard

Father Gerald works at his brother-in-law’s farm equipment business as the manager of the tire shop, owns other small businesses and works as truck driver/foreman  before retiring

Mother Mary works at the U.S. Post office in several small Minnesota towns - retires as a Postmaster after 40 years

While neither were able to get a college education, they worked hard to make sure all three of their children did.

The Formative Years - 1978-84 - Grade School

  • Age 5, Nick wins 1st prize in local Bicentennial parade riding tricycle dressed as Uncle Sam 
  • Active in Sports – T-ball, Jaycee wrestling, basketball, football 
  • 3rd Grade - becomes manager for the High School football & basketball teams
  • Plays the lead boy role “Willie Olsen” in the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant
  • Cub Scouts, Webelos and Boy Scouts
  • Altar Boy - St. Paul’s Catholic Church
  • Works in the field for local farmers during the summer picking rocks, spraying beans
  • 5th & 6th Grade – Wins local basketball tournaments - Undefeated both years

1985 - 1991 High School

  • 7th Grade – Wins first political election as Student Council Representative & Class President 
  • Works as lifeguard and swimming instructor at the local pool
  • Bags groceries at local supermarket
  • Elected Student Council President 
  • Attends American Legion Boys State - Government Camp for boys (1 chosen from each school statewide)
  • Sports - Letters in Basketball (4 yrs.), Football (3), Track (2) and Baseball (1) 
  • Scores 1170 points, 624 rebounds in HS basketball career 
  • Named MVP - High School Marching Band - drums
  • High School Musicals, Choir 
  • Awarded Academic Scholarship to St. John’s University

1991-1995 St. John's University

  • Environmental advocate - Green Team
  • Plays Volleyball for St. John’s Volleyball Club 
    • Team wins National Division II Runners-up, Awarded 1st Team All-Tournament Team
    • "Comes out” to team as gay before Junior year
    • Elected Captain Junior and Senior years
    • Named Conference MVP Junior and Senior seasons
  • Asst. Volleyball Coach for College of St. Benedict 1992-1994
    • Nationally ranked, Conference Champs, 3 All-Americans
  • Beach Manager/Swimming Instructor for Carver Lake 
  • Graduates cum laude – Biology, Environmental Studies
  • Awarded “Honors Distinction” for his thesis on Environment Impact of Wastewater Treatment Plant on Campus Lakes
  • 1995-96 - Asst. Athletic Director Minneapolis Athletic Club
  • 1995 - Head Coach of University of Minnesota Women’s Club Volleyball Team –- National Champions

1996-2003 U of MN Law School, Early Law Career

  • Graduates cum laude
  • Creates Environmental Law Clinic for the law school in partnership with Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
  • Director of the Civil Rights Clinic
  • Environmental Moot Court
  • Judicial Extern U.S. District Court of Minnesota
  • Passes the Patent Bar and admitted to United States Patent & Trademark Office
  • 1998-2001 - Patent Attorney with law firm Robins Kaplan
    • Intellectual Property Litigation
  • 2001- Dec. 2002 - Patent Attorney with Faegre Baker Daniels
    • Intellectual Property Group, Patent Attorney, Litigation, Diversity Committee

Entrepreneurship, Legal Work, Community Building and Activism

  • Jan. 2003 - Mar. 2004 - Sabbatical - Travels Around the World for 14 Months; visits 6 continents and over 20 countries 
  • 2004 - Moves to NYC
  • 2004–05 Consults with City of New York regarding the 911 lawsuits
  • 2005-12 Various Entrepreneurial & Nonprofit Projects
  • GYM Sports bar - Creates first gay sports bar with volleyball teammate 
    • 2005 opens NYC location
    • 2009 opens West Hollywood, CA location
  • Consulting Business
  • Helps create and expand several nonprofit sports leagues specifically for the LGBT community, serves on the Board of Directors and as an Officer for several of them
  • Volunteers at GMHC, Empire State Pride Agenda (fights for same-sex marriage in New York)
  • Marches on Washington D.C. and in NYC for “NO Hate” and Marriage Equality
  • 2012 - Moves home to Minneapolis
  • 2012 - present - Leonard Law 
    • Civil Rights
    • Small Businesses
  • 2012-15 Serves on Board of Directors of MAP (Minnesota Aids Project), GLASS (Gay & Lesbian Ametuer Sports Society)
  • 2012 Volunteers for Minnesota fight for same-sex marriage
  • 2012-14 Volunteers as Coach for nephew’s Burnsville 5th Grade basketball team, Varsity Volleyball for DeLaSalle High School (Minneapolis Catholic School) and Varsity Volleyball for Southwest Minneapolis High School
  • 2014-15 Joins TC2 Program to teach Biology in Minneapolis High School
  • 2015 Marries John Mason on the same month the US Supreme Court grants Same-sex marriage for the entire nation.
  • 2015-17 Creates Kata Organic Café & Fitness Boutique in Linden Hills, Minneapolis with spouse John

Nick & John on North Shore

Marching for Marriage Equality and No H8