National Diversity Awards: Championing those that champion others

Erin Gallegos 21 Sep 2021

Fighting alongside global citizens for a more equitable and inclusive digital future

The Avast Foundation is fighting alongside global citizens for a more equitable and inclusive digital future. We stand firmly with those who are working to make the world a safer, more welcoming place for everyone both online and off. That’s why we’re proud to have supported the 2020 National Diversity Awards as a sponsor of the LGBT Role Model Award and to promote uplifting inspiring stories of people making a difference in their communities.

Avast Foundation Global Executive Director Shane Ryan presented the award at the recent gala event. “I’m incredibly proud to be able to present the award in this category,” Ryan says. “We believe that a more equitable and inclusive future is within our reach, as long as we’re all reaching together and these shortlisted heroes are reaching further and harder than the rest of us. I’m honestly inspired and in awe of the things they are doing in their communities and they motivate us all to think bigger and more creatively about how we can collectively build welcoming spaces and inclusive opportunities for everyone.”

About the National Diversity Awards

The National Diversity Awards are the premier national event for recognizing individual changemakers and organizations that are making huge advances toward a more inclusive society.

We’d like to congratulate Laks Mann, who was named as the winner of the LGBT Role Model Award for his tireless work creating more inclusive opportunities for the LGBT community.

In addition to celebrating Mann’s win, we’d like to acknowledge each of the individuals who participated in the 2020 National Diversity Awards. Each of them is a winner and a true leader who personifies that clarion call of “be the change you want to see in the world”. 

Powerful stories like theirs really do change the world by inspiring others, and these incredible individuals do so much to make the world a better and fairer place. Read through the full list of 2020 winners on the National Diversity Awards website.

Let's take a look at the amazing and heroic individual journeys of the rest of the nominees in the LGBT Role Model category:

  • Heather Paterson has worked with LGBT+ groups and campaigns in the UK and beyond for over twenty years. From her election as Sheffield Hallam Students Unions LGB officer back in 2000 to her current role as CEO of Sheffield LGBT+ Youth Charity, SAYiT, Heather has actively worked to ensure that marginalized members of our communities are represented.

  • Ciaran Moynagh is a human rights lawyer and campaigner based in Belfast. Since qualifying a decade ago, he has used the law (through largely legal aid/pro bono cases) to fight for the dignity and recognition of marginalized groups who do not easily have their voices heard or acknowledged in this community. Ciaran drafted the private members bill that was ultimately provided to Conor McGinn MP to get same sex marriage introduced. Through Ciaran’s tireless work, many lives have been changed, and many stigmas challenged.

  • Edwin Sesange is a Ugandan bisexual man, currently living in the UK as a refugee. He is the founder of African Equality Foundation – an African LGBTI organization challenging homophobia, transphobia, promoting better sexual and mental health within the LGBTI community in addition to offering support to LGBTI asylum seekers. Without any funding, Edwin has created a network of African LGBTI activists who campaign ferociously for justice. Through his life-changing work, Edwin has helped many LGBTI asylum seekers to secure protection in the UK, creating awareness surrounding the ongoing persecution of LGBTI people in Africa.

  • 17-year-old Charley Oliver-Holland is passionate about improving rights for those who are discriminated against. Charley came out as part of the LGBT+ community when she was 12 and was bullied. Determined to make changes for the next generation, she joined her local youth council and was then elected to the Welsh Youth Parliament and the UK Youth Parliament. Charley has volunteered over 2,000 hours to transform the lives of vulnerable young people in the area.

  • Andreena Leeanne is a working-class lesbian, inspirational speaker and poet who writes and performs poetry to come to terms with and speak out about her personal experiences with homelessness, mental health, childhood sexual abuse, and the many other challenges she has faced in her life. By speaking her truth, she hopes to inspire and empower others to speak their truth. Andreena delivers writing workshops, performs at various events and was one of Stonewall’s Black History Month role models in 2018.

  • Laks Mann is a Metropolitan Police Officer and a Met LGBT+ Network Executive Committee Member, specializing in Intersectionality and Community Engagement. Laks has a lead role in forming the National LGBT+ Police Intersectionality Working Group and is a confirmed keynote speaker addressing Intersectionality at the National LGBT+ Police Conference 2021. Laks is an appointed Mayor of London Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Adviser. He advocates through an intersectional lens of race, ethnicity, faith, LGBTQ+ and class and is listed in the UK’s Top 30 BAME Leaders of 2020.

  • Dr Izzy Jayasinghe is a Senior Researcher in the University of Sheffield and a transgender, lesbian woman of color. Izzy currently holds one of the prestigious “UKRI Future Leader Fellowships” research awards and has focused on various activities, campaigns, and written articles to both promote the inclusion of women, LGBTQI+ and BAME people in universities and to fight off disinformation. Izzy’s personal mission is to break the stigma around these under-represented groups and mold our universities into inclusive spaces where everybody can thrive.

  • After a very long journey from corporate law, investment banking, topflight football, and a Dubai jail where he was tortured and raped, David Haigh is now a human rights lawyer and campaigner focusing on cases of injustice and inequality in the Gulf Counties and particularly in the United Arab Emirates. David is the former Managing Director of leading English Football Club Leeds United and Chairman of Leeds United Ladies FC; he was the first openly gay managing director of a top-flight English football club. David has helped hundreds of people in the Middle East escape injustice, jail, and torture and was publicly credited with paving the way for gay football managers and players following his ground-breaking anti-homophobia initiatives at Leeds United FC.

About the Avast Foundation

The Avast Foundation works to create a more equitable and free digital future by tackling issues of digital exclusion, removing barriers to digital access, and championing digital citizenship and civic participation.

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