Role models
and allies

Visible support

Within the University, we have a programme of role models and allies, who are made up of staff and students from the University community.

Our role models represent the diverse communities within the University of Derby. They identify as a member of these communities and have courageously stepped up to be visible within the University.

Our allies are the supporters of the diverse communities within the University. They stand by role models and work hard to communicate and normalise language and behaviours that are inclusive and affirming of how anyone identifies.

a happy BAME student in the University of Derby atrium at a Freshers event

Role models and allies are people who recognise and visibly demonstrate every day that everyone has an important contribution to make at the University. They believe everyone has the right to feel valued and respected, everyone has the right to feel safe and that it's OK to be the person they know they really are.

The impact of role models and allies can be huge. They can make a difference in people's lives by just being visible. They create a sense of inspiration and motivation by representing identities that are not mainstream and showing they are part of our everyday lives. They create a sense of engagement by being noticeable throughout the University.

In addition to role models and allies, we have staff equality networks and Union of Students societies. These groups influence change in systems and environments throughout the University. We also have a range of support services for students and staff who are struggling with their identity. For more information on the services available, contact

a group of BAME students in a crowded atrium
Catherine John-Baptiste

BAME Role Model
Catherine John-Baptiste, College of Health and Social Care and Chair of the Race Equality Network

"Being a role model means that I not only openly celebrate the diversity of all peoples from the African diaspora but I also make time to reflect upon the struggles we continually face to be recognised as a powerful force across the whole spectrum of cultural, economic, social and political forums."

Ali Akbar

BAME and Faith and Belief Role Model
Ali Akbar, Muslim Chaplain

"As a role model and proud Muslim, I live with my values of integrity, hope and compassion. I always act in a way that supports my values. That is why I often freely give of my time and skills to benefit people. I reach out to neighbours in need, and support people irrespective of their background."

Professor Kamil Omoteso

BAME and Faith and Belief Role Model
Professor Kamil Omoteso, Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of the College of Business, Law and Social Sciences

"I believe my role as part of the VC’s Executive might serve as an inspiration to people from BAME and faith backgrounds. As a mentor with a similar background, they might be able to relate with me knowing that I could understand, possibly better, their thoughts, feelings and issues they may face."

Jane Turner

Disability Role Model
Jane Turner, College of Health and Social Care

"I think that everyone should be treated fairly and without bias irrespective of how they identify. It is important that visibility and awareness is increased of those disabilities which may be hidden, in order to enhance understanding and improve inclusivity for our students, staff and visitors."

Sally Cassella

Disability Ally
Sally Cassella, College of Health and Social Care

"I believe that everyone should feel comfortable and enabled to be themselves. As an ally, I will continue to challenge in an appropriate way to enlighten minds and attitudes."

Justin Harrison

Disability and LGBT+ Role Model
Justin Harrison, Centre for Student Life

"I am role model because, when I was at university, I know my younger self would have been happier knowing there was someone they could go to for help, understanding and support."

Jo Bishton

Disability and Gender Role Model
Jo Bishton, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

"I walk in the footsteps of many brave women who have helped secure the future of generations to come. Yet, globally, I see attempts to erode their hard fought battles. I challenge where I see unfairness, offer a hand to those who need a lift and create space for everyone to be heard."

Liz Atkins

Disability and Gender Role Model
Liz Atkins, College of Arts, Humanities and Education

"I have been very open about my disabilities since childhood, despite the exclusion this sometimes led to. While attitudes are changing (slowly), Disability History Month provides an important opportunity to highlight difference in a positive way and to share lived experience of disability."

Picture of Dan Tee disability role model

Disability Role Model
Dan Tee, Technician in Therapeutic Arts, Science and Engineering

"I believe it’s important to address preconceptions about disability because there can be a tendency for people to make an assumption that disability means incapability. It is not the same thing at all. My health condition doesn't stop me from achieving things I am proud of."

Julie Bernstein

Faith and Belief Role Model
Julie Bernstein, College of Health and Social Care

"Due to my Jewish heritage, I have experienced varying degrees of anti-Semitism and, at times, negative reactions to saying I am atheist. I strongly believe in equality for all regardless of belief, age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity or ability."

Clare Brindley

Gender Role Model
Clare Brindley, Head of Research

"Less than a quarter of UK professors are women. This proportion reduces as you focus on business professors, then those from a working-class background, then those who were the first in the family to go to university, which leads to me! Work hard, be confident in your talents, be true to yourself."

Ivana Ebel

Gender Role Model
Ivana Ebel, College of Arts, Humanities and Education

"Being part of this project offers the opportunity to open my doors (and my heart) and make myself a visible contact for students and colleagues. It also allows me to make a daily statement for respect and equality."

Louise Pigden

Gender Role Model
Louise Pigden, College of Engineering and Technology

"As a woman who works in the areas of engineering and computing, I am very keen to support and facilitate others to be successful in achieving their dreams and ambitions, and not allowing gender stereotyping to hold them back or restrict their decision-making in any way."

Teresa Forde

Gender Role Model
Teresa Forde, College of Arts, Humanities and Education

"I believe that change can take place at a number of levels in order to work towards establishing equality. I have chosen to be a role model because I am Chair of the Gender Equality Network (GEN), which is intended to promote and support issues related to gender and equality within the University."

Caroline Ball

Gender and LGBT+ Role Model
Caroline Ball, Centre for Student Life

"I am a role model for gender equality and LGBT+ because I firmly believe that university should be a safe space for everyone to be themselves and express and explore their identities, however they choose."

Amelia Harrison

Gender and LGBT+ Role Model
Amelia Harrison, College of Life and Natural Sciences

"I have always been myself, without judgement. Being a role model empowers me to support others and lead by example, creating a safe space for everyone."

Su Taylor

LGBT+ Role Model
Su Taylor, IT Services

"I think that, by being a bi role model, I can help others to feel part of the community and be a visible role model as a bi female working in IT Services."

Andy Bloor

LGBT+ Role Model
Andy Bloor, College of Arts, Humanities and Education

"As a gay man with a hidden disability, I am well placed and happy to be visible to other gay men, others with hidden disabilities and those that may not identify as either but would like to be an ally. I want to be able to show by example that the University is a welcoming environment for all."

Naomi Bowers-Joseph

LGBT+ Ally
Naomi Bowers-Joseph, Centre for Student Life

"My mum is in a same-sex relationship and has all my love and support. I am an ally to make LGBT+ visible and public, and to extend my support to anyone who feels that they do not have the support of their loved ones with regards to their sexuality."

Steven Collis

LGBT+ Ally
Steven Collis, College of Health and Social Care

"I am an ally for LGBT+ and feel passionately about true inclusivity. By normalising conversations about gender and sexuality, we are creating safe spaces and improving accessibility to role models and allies."

Keith McClay

Mental Health Role Model
Keith McLay, Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Education

"Respect Others, Respect Yourself: from the top to toe, from mental health to physical health, look after the whole you."

Picture of a Disability and Mental Health role model

Disability and Mental Health Role Model
Catherine Ross, PhD Researcher - Science and Engineering

"I am a role model because during my time at University I had to find courage and perseverance to overcome many invisible challenges. I believe an individual’s limitations and setbacks should not prevent them from achieving their goals, and they should feel supported no matter what."

Ian Turner

Ally for all communities
Ian Turner, Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

"I believe everyone should be treated fairly and be given the same opportunities in life. Therefore, if by being an ally I can make even a tiny difference, then I will."

Tim Howell

Ally for all communities
Tim Howell, College of Health and Social Care

"I am very proud to call myself an ally and supporter of the University of Derby in valuing and celebrating all people and promoting education as a major tool in bringing about social change and social justice."

Picture of Gill Hart - Community Role Model

Race Equality and Disability Community Role Model
Gill Hart, Head of Devonshire Educational Trust

"I stand in solidarity with two minority groups (BAME and disability) because I believe in the positive impact and benefit that engagement with art and heritage can have for all children and young people. I work in an organisation that actively contributes to making art and heritage accessible."

Picture of Kerry Fernandez - Role Model race and equality

Race Equality Community Role Model
Kerry Fernandez, Arts Engagement Officer, Chatsworth and the Devonshire Educational Trust

"I am a representative of black and ethnic minority groups currently employed at Chatsworth, and I aim to work with the organisation to guide positive changes to our internal attitudes and in our communications with the general public and potential employees, from more diverse cultural groups."

Picture of Owen Tooth, Disability Role Model

Disability Role Model and Ally for Sexuality, Race and Gender
Owen Tooth, Learning Media Producer, Digital Solutions

"Being a wheelchair user, I am passionate that people with visible and invisible disabilities are given the opportunity to reach their potential. As a filmmaker, I hope that my presence here reminds people that the world is changing. I also stand as an ally for sexuality, race and gender."