Pride Champions are a fabulous group of IW colleagues from across the different offices who have volunteered to be a point of contact for anyone who may need support in the queer space. To this day, openly talking about your thoughts, feelings and experiences of being queer, transitioning, or even discovering who you are, can still be a taboo topic.
We want to eradicate that viewpoint in our working environment, and enable people to feel comfortable expressing who they are. By having this group established, we can offer visibility of proud queer people at IW, and show that we can celebrate our pride together.
Who are they, and how do I contact them?
You can find out more about who we are below where we all share our experiences of being queer or an ally. Feel free to reach out directly to any of us on Slack or via email.
Pav Jagoda (he/him)
Hello everyone, my name is Paweł though most people call me Pav. I currently work as an Associate Consultant at Infinity Works London Office. I also happen to be a gay man in his late twenties. I first came out when I left school at 18 and started university. I was a nervous, socially awkward teen open to new experiences.
Ten years later, I am living with my fiancé and planning our wedding as well as working openly in a career of my dreams. I didn't think this would be possible when I was a closeted teenager.
My experience of mental illnesses has lead to me becoming a Mental Health First Aider. Now, I would like to take this opportunity of being a Pride Champion to support my fellow colleagues on their journeys and inspire them to achieve their dreams. Feel free to contact me on slack or other media.
Dmitry Leyko (he/him)
Hey, ya'll! I'm Dmitry, you can also call me Dima (di:ma:). I'm in my mid-20s and currently work as a Consultant at the Manchester office. In my spare time, I'm an aviation geek and a nerd in general. I live in Manchester, originally from Russia, moved to the UK when I was 13.
Growing up queer in Russia, it was instilled into me from a very young age that I have to fit a certain profile; be "manly", marry a woman in your early 20s and god forbid should you deviate from any of the social norms. This got me to repress my sexuality even when I wasn't there, as well as self-censor everything I said and did. Eventually, I just had enough and came out as gay at 19.
Throughout my coming out process I had great people around me who were always there for me and, without a doubt, helped me on my coming out journey just by listening. So I decided to become a Pride Champion to be able to give back to the community and maybe one day help somebody else feel comfortable with themselves :)
Dan Mason (he/him)
Hi I'm Dan! Although it took me some time to totally understand what it meant, I can now say confidently and openly that I'm gay. It's a confusing world out there and finding a place in it can be a challenge.
It really helped me having people I could talk to, and others I could see had been through similar internal struggles as me. By being a Pride Champion, I'm hoping I can be an option for anyone else who needs someone to talk to, and in a small way give back to the community which has accepted me.
So if you want to have a chat about anything LGBTQ+ related feel free to drop me a message. I'd also love to chat about video games, anime, films, or anything else nerdy is encouraged.
Lakeisha McGuire-King (she/her)
Hi, my name is Lakeisha, but most people call me Keish (Quiche!). I am a 30 "something" year old black woman and a Senior Paralegal in the IW Legal team (unfortunately, without the glamour of Megan Markel's character in 'Suits')! I have been involved with the LGBTQ+ community for as long as I can remember, and I have always felt a part of it. I have never labelled myself and never would because I just believe in people and in love.
I am married to a man (Daniel, who is the best human I've ever known!), so I've been told I am in a "hetero-presenting relationship", so I guess that is a fair way to describe it. I decided to become a Pride Champion because regardless of our 'labels', we are all human and deserve to be treated as such - with kindness and respect.
I truly believe that. So whether you see me as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, or as an Ally, I am here to listen and happy to talk to anyone who feels that they want to talk to me! I also have purple hair - so I'm obviously really, really... really cool!
Lewis Richardson (they/them)
Hello! My name is Lewis, I'm a consultant in Manchester, and I've had a reasonably interesting journey of self-discovery over the years. I didn't come out as bisexual until I was 21, and even then I didn't fully feel comfortable in my sexuality (or gender) until I was 25. Lockdown, despite its ups and downs, gave me a lot more time to explore who I was and how I truly felt.
After a lot of mental barriers, I'm now in a much happier place as a non-binary person. I absolutely love makeup, painting my nails and dressing femininely, and I've never felt happier. Being non-binary is still not a widely known or accepted gender identification, and I want to show the world that we do exist and our lives are as valid as anyone else's.
I fully understand the hardships of coming to terms with who you truly are, and so I'm always open to talking through any personal issues or struggles. My goal is to help as many people in the queer space fully embrace their true and beautiful selves!
Mark Smith (he/him)
Hi all! My name is Mark and I am Delivery Lead based out of the Leeds office, who also happens to be a 52 year old gay male! I've worked in IT project delivery in large financial institutions all my career before joining IW and fortunately only had one issue of homophobia (he came off worse!).
However, I do recognise that we all have different levels of confidence about being open/out and face a myriad of different issues, so I wanted to make myself available as a Pride Champion to support anyone who needs help.
I also, rather selfishly, wanted to use the role to get to know my colleagues better and to understand the challenges and opportunities afforded to the LBGTQ+ community, for my own ongoing education into gender and sexuality! I'm also happy to talk to anyone about the stresses / joys of being over 50 in a very young and dynamic workforce!
Nikka Zanandrea (she/her)
Hi I'm Nikka, and I am one of the Pride Champions at Infinity Works. I decided to join this group of people because in my life I have been struggling a lot to be ok with me being me.
Being raised in a really catholic family and village, I didn't know same sex love existed, I thought I was the only one and I didn't want to be different from all the others. I met a person that helped me a lot, giving me different points of view, listening and chatting with me. She is still a good friend of mine.
Sometimes we just need a chat, a different point of view, knowing that we are not alone and someone else had similar difficulties. So feel free to get in touch if you would like to talk about anything in a confidential and friendly space.