Lord Michael Cashman CBE
Born in London’s East End, Michael Cashman had a highly successful career as actor, singer, writer and director. He became famous in the 1980s after his EastEnders character Colin Russell had the first gay kiss on National TV.
He was later elected onto the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee for 12 years, serving as vice chair and chair.
In 1999 Michael was elected member of the European Parliament, a role he held until 2014. He has also been co-president of the LGBT Intergroup; vice president of the Petitions Committee, and president for EU relations with South Africa (2009-14).
From 2014 – 2016 he served as the Labour Party’s LGBT Global Envoy.
In addition to this, Michael was a co-founder and founding chair of the Stonewall Group.
Awards include: Special Service Award, the American Association of Physicians for Human Rights, Honorary Doctorate, Staffordshire University: Commander of British Empire (CBE). Lifetime Achievement Award, European Diversity Awards, Stonewall Politician of the Year 2014.
Amy Stanning is at Barclays, ambassador for Spectrum, the Barclays LGBT Colleague network. She is director of Mortgage Telephony within Barclays SkyBranch. She has previously held a range of roles across Barclays since joining following graduation.
Amy is an active speaker on trans issues, supporting colleague networks, the professional community and more recently schools and the NHS.
Amy was included in the 2015 “World Pride Power List”, included in the 2015 “Outstanding - top 30 future leaders list “ and was short listed for “Inspirational Role Model” at the British LGBT awards for 2016.
Anthony Reilly, sales and marketing director, Hoseasons
Anthony is responsible for driving cost effective demand into the Hoseasons business through the management of the channel and marketing budgets, the delivery of all brand and product marketing, the front end presentation and optimisation of the Hoseasons website and the offline customer experience from sales to customer service.
Chris Lee, head of marketing UK and Ireland, Tourism Authority of Thailand
After five years at IBM computers in sales and marketing support, Chris Lee joined over-50’s UK tour operator Saga Holidays in 1995 as marketing executive for Long Haul.
Two years later, he joined the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) for five years where, as head of marketing and public relations, he launched the hugely successful Amazing Thailand campaign in the UK and Ireland. While at TAT, UK visitor arrivals to Thailand more than doubled, from 287,000 to 574,000. He joined UK long-haul specialist tour operator Travelmood in 2002 as Commercial Director and shareholder, before the company was bought by Tui Travel in 2008, where Chris became commercial director for Austravel, Travelmood and Trips Worldwide.
He is now managing director of Lee Travel Consulting, which looks after Tourism Authority of Thailand, UK and Ireland; Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority, UK/Europe; Tourism Northern Territory, UK/Ireland/Netherlands and Nordic; and Kiso Ontake Tourism Office.
Grant Van Ulbrich, director of diversity and inclusion, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd
In his role Grant leads Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd worldwide in employee diversity and inclusion to ensure the company recruits, celebrates and retains people from all walks of life.
Prior to joining the cruise industry, Grant served four years as an Air Traffic Controller in the US Navy during the Persian Gulf War. Making the switch to hospitality, he worked in various management roles at sea for 13 years, before moving onto land into guest port services. He then revamped the onboard sales division for Celebrity Cruises, and was awarded employee of the year. More recently, he started the company’s first LGBT advisory board. In this new role, Grant says he is most excited to represent all of the company’s crew, both at sea and at land, and to champion the company’s employees.
Ian Johnson, chief executive, Out Now
Ian Johnson is the founder of Out Now, and has for more than two decades been recognized as one of the world's foremost authorities on marketing to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) customers.
Out Now has been named as one of the Top 10 Diversity Consultants in the world by the Global Diversity List supported by The Economist. It is also the strategic LGBT partner for a range of organisations including World Travel Market.
Liz Grant OBE
Liz Grant is a business development consultant who focuses on inclusion in the workplace. She works with employers to help them understand how being inclusive can contribute to their overall business objectives and to help them assess where they are in terms of realising that potential.
Her clients include a wide range of financial services, insurance, retail, legal, technology and media companies. Liz is on the advisory panel of Interlaw, the cross-law profession Diversity & Inclusion network.
Liz was recognised in the 2013 New Year’s Honours when she was made Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender equality in the workplace.
Mark Swords, founder of Same Sex Holidays
Mark began his travel career as a holiday rep in 2003 for JMC (Thomas Cook), where he met his now husband Stuart.
He founded LGBT travel agency Same Sex Holidays and Same Sex Honeymoons in 2016 after being taken aback by the difficulties he and Stuart faced in planning their own wedding in Ibiza, finding many agents to be inexperienced in dealing with same sex couples, despite the legalisation of same sex marriage in the UK.
Planning their honeymoon was similarly challenging, as they worried about whether a destination would be gay friendly; “the double bed issue”; and whether they might “offend” a destination’s culture.
Mark says the goal of Same Sex Holidays and Same Sex Honeymoons is to ensure customers are provided with “honest advice from our own travel experiences”.
Pauline Wilson, operations director, Virgin Holidays
Pauline is well respected within the travel industry having worked for a number of leading travel brands including Thomson Holidays, Riva Holidays and ILG Travel Group.
She joined Virgin Holidays in 2005 as head of customer service, before quickly rising to the role of general manager, service in 2009. Three years ago, Pauline was appointed to the Virgin Holiday’s board as operations director, with responsibility for 200 people overseeing all aspects of customer experience and operations domestically and overseas.
In addition to her expertise in operations and customer experience, Pauline has a huge passion for diversity and inclusion. Born in the UK, but of Jamaican descent, she has overcome many obstacles – from simple unconscious bias through to a belief that she should enter nursing like her mother, as opposed to business.
Sharon Bershadsky, director of the Israel Ministry of Tourism Office in the UK
Sharon Bershadsky is the director of the Israel Ministry of Tourism Office in the UK.
She is a graduate of the joint cadets course of the Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Tourism. Following the course and until recently Bershadsky worked on the European Desk of the Ministry, taking on many projects which included acting a liaison between the Ministry and the Tel Aviv Municipality for various events including Gay Pride. She was also responsible for the ministry’s flight directives.
Prior to her positions in the Ministry of Tourism, Bershadsky served in a variety of public and foreign relation roles. She holds a Bachelor degree with honors in Political Science and Romance & Latin American Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Simon Altham, managing director of revenue for Wyndham Vacation Rentals UK
Wyndham Vacation Rentals UK is one of the largest self-catering holiday groups in the UK, whose iconic brands include Hoseasons, cottages.com, English Country Cottages and Blue Chip Holidays.
Simon joined Hoseasons in 2005, prior to the acquisition by Wyndham Worldwide in 2010. In 2013 he was made managing director, and led the digital transformational change within the organisation. He has recently taken up a new leadership role for the UK parent company, taking responsibility for marketing, sales and revenue across the wider group.
In addition to business leadership Simon takes a strong interest in the diversity and inclusion agenda and is the first European representative to sit on the Wyndham's 24-strong Global Diversity Council, representing 33000 employees worldwide, and has been ranked as one of the top 100 LGBT senior executives by the Financial Times.
Tris Reid-Smith, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Gay Star News
With over 15 years experience in LGBTI media, Tris founded GSN with Scott Nunn in 2011.
Gay Star News now boasts a highly engaged audience of millions of people with readers in every country on the planet. Tris is an experienced commentator on LGBTI issues, from speeches to panel discussions (as a chair and participant) on national and local TV, radio, digital and print media.
Trudi Pearce, director of responsible tourism for The Brighter Group (representing the Belize Tourism Board)
Trudi has nearly 20 years’ experience in the travel, tourism and service sectors, and, since 2010, in the sustainable tourism sector, when she worked for Responsible Travel.
Trudi joined the Brighter Group as the operations and business development director in 2015 while studying for her masters in Responsible Tourism Management. Since graduating in October 2016 she become Brighter’s director of responsible tourism and opened the new Brighter Division of Responsible Tourism in January 2017.
Her specialties include Tourist Boards, Responsible, Food and LGBTQ tourism