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Meet the Team Behind The World's Most Influential LGBTQIA Publication, PinkNews

Bessie LiuOrg Charts
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Group of people on the city street with gay rainbow flag. Image courtesy of Jacob Lund via Shutterstock.

When publications rejected Benjamin Cohen’s story pitch on LGBTQIA issues, he decided to publish it himself. What came of the decision was PinkNews -- a media outlet focused on the LGBTQIA community.

"I built PinkNews from scratch in six hours, I wanted to just put something out there," Cohen told The Org. "It became really clear really quickly that it was a really underserved market."

For five years, Cohen only worked on PinkNews one day a week and would spend the other four days of his working week working as a Business and Technology Correspondent for Channel 4 News.

It wasn't until 2010, during the General Elections in the United Kingdom, that PinkNews really began to make a mark in the mainstream media. At the time, there were multiple discussions around legalizing same-sex marriage in the country, and PinkNews was able to score interviews with party candidates that really helped it to grow in stature and relevance.

PinkNews has almost doubled in size from 19 people since the start of the pandemic to around 45 employees today.

PinkNews

Managing the company's finances is Andrew Millet, the CFO. Millet has been with PinkNews since its inception. The straight ally graduated with an MBA from Henley Management College in 1999. While working for PinkNews part-time, Millet also served as CFO for cancer detection company Oncimmune Holdings and as a Director for accounting consultancy Wisteria.

"It's really random how he ended up becoming involved in the business," Cohen said. "My dad bumped into him at the office building they both used to work at, and my dad, who's also very much involved in the business, mentioned PinkNews and Andrew was very interested."

Cohen's father, Richard Cohen, sits as PinkNews's General Counsel. Richard Cohen has previously worked as Managing Partner for Landau & Cohen Solicitors, where he spent over 25 years. On top of PinkNews, he also serves as a Non-Executive Director for financial brokerage company Hantec Markets and Executive Chairman and Head of Partnerships for Epoq UK.

Richard Cohen isn't the only family member involved in the PinkNews business. Benjamin Cohen's husband, Anthony James, currently serves as the Director of Corporate Strategy for the news site. The part-time doctor now works two days a week as a general practitioner for Brondesbury Medical Centre and three days a week at PinkNews. James recently completed his MBA at the Quantic School of Business and Technology and has a Postgraduate Certificate in Leadership in Health and Social Care from the University of Glasgow.

Alex Ehmcke currently sits as PinkNews's COO. Ehmcke initially came onboard as a temp replacement for an operations manager away on maternity leave. The University of Greenwich graduate has previously served in many operations roles in various companies, including nonprofit organization Mercy Corps, advisory firm Brunswick Arts and The London Theatre Company.

"Alex has helped us take things to the next level in terms of structure and process for the team," Cohen said. "And the thing is as an entrepreneur, I just don't personally really enjoy being in HR meetings and that sort of stuff, that's what the COO does, he makes things happen. So Alex is a really important person in our team."

Another critical executive member of PinkNews is Sarah Watson, the Director of Product. Watson was previously the Head of eCommerce at Facebook, where she served for more than two years. She has also been the VP of Social Commerce for luxury fashion company, Net-A-Porter, where she served for eight years.

"She brings a real heritage of excellent product design, commerce and app development to the business. She joined initially as the Director of Commerce, but her role has evolved into a more overarching product leadership role," Cohen said.

A recent addition to the PinkNews team is the Director of Content, Vino Vethavanam. Before Vethavanam joined the company Cohen oversaw content, but as the business grew during the pandemic he realized it was necessary to onboard an experienced content director. Vethavanam joins PinkNews after serving as the Editor in Chief for Iris Worldwide for more than five years. Previously, she worked as the Head of Content and Creative Solutions for Triad Retail Media and the Managing Editor for Global Radio.

Katie Lyonette is another key hire to join PinkNews this year. As the Director of Partnerships, Lyonette leads the revenue aspect of the business. She previously served as an Account Director for Hearst UK, and a Commercial Director for Group M.

As PinkNews continues to grow, Cohen is committed to continuously building a diverse team. The company has recently created policies that allow transgender team members to take time off after performing transition surgeries.

"We want to make sure that we are doing the right thing," Cohen said. "As a publication we're calling out employers who are not doing great things for trans and non-binary employees, and we want to make sure that we are helping faciliate people to do things they need to do and take time off when they need to enough to live their lives to the fullest, and so that's been really important."

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