Our People

Women in Games has a team of committed and passionate people behind the scenes. The organisation is strategically led by an Executive Board. Advised by an Advisory Board and informed by an Ambassadors Committee.

The Executive Board meets monthly driving the strategic direction of the organisation. The Advisory Board meets quarterly and is formed of highly knowledgeable and talented people from across the industry, education and adjoining sectors. The Ambassadors Committee meets bi-annually to review and contribute to our action and impact based initiatives.

Executive Board

  • CEO

    Marie-Claire Isaaman

  • Founder and COO

    David Smith

  • Ambassador Director

    Gemma Johnson Brown

  • Education Director

    Ruth Falconer

  • Marketing and Partnership Director

    Lucy Rissik

  • Projects Director

    Rachel Moss

Marie-Claire Isaaman

Marie-Claire Isaaman is CEO of Women in Games. She engages with a wide range of businesses and organizations in the games and educational sector, as a consultant, researcher, trustee, chair and advisor. She was presented with the GameRome Diversity Award in 2018 for her outstanding work in the sector. She is an ‘Industry Fellow’ for InGame a Creative Industries Cluster Programme funded by the AHRC and UKRI. And  Project Director for a Business-led innovation in response to global disruption, Innovate UK, grant awarded for the Women in Games Global Conference 2020 and Legacy Projects 2021.

You can also find Marie-Claire on LinkedIn.

David Smith

David is the Founder and COO of Women in Games. He has 24 years of experience in the games industry working in international recruitment. In 1996 David recognised the need for more support for women working in the sector and created a website that developed into a platform that is the forerunner of the current organisation. David is a Chartered Accountant and is responsible for Finance and leads on Esports.

He is also the Founder of BAME in Games, an organisation campaigning for more ethnic diversity in the games industry.

You can also find David on LinkedIn.

Gemma Johnson Brown

Ambassador Director and Executive Board Member, Gemma is COO at Dovetail Games, Gemma is passionate about equality and fairness, with a solid foundation in HR before General Management. Gemma has experienced a variety of different industries and experienced and witnessed first hand the obvious and not so obvious misogyny present in the workplace, working with the Ambassadors across the world brings a network of diverse individuals that support, encourage and advocate for each other. As a full time working parent she understands the struggles of the balance of home and work life, whilst pursuing a career.  She strives for a games industry that is welcoming and safe to all no matter where you are in your life journey.

You can also find Gemma on LinkedIn.

Ruth Falconer

Ruth is a Professor and Head of Division (Games Technology & Mathematics) at Abertay University in Scotland. She is a first generation university graduate and now has over 20 years experience in Higher Education. She has been involved in many widening access initiatives during her career. Her focus is now working to increase gender diversity on the games programming and technology courses at Abertay University, then throughout the UK as a whole, as part of her role in Women in Games.

You can also find Ruth on LinkedIn.

Lucy Rissik

Lucy sits on the Women in Games Executive Board as Marketing and Partnership Director and is the Founder & CEO of Brotherhood of Brand, a strategic marketing partnerships agency. Brotherhood of Brand is a uniquely placed boutique agency that can connect top brands with leading games studios to build partnerships with global and local relevance. Prior to seeing up her own agency, she headed up the Global Marketing Collaborations Team at EA Games to deliver reciprocal relationships across global titles including Need for Speed, The Sims, FIFA and Star Wars BattleFront.

You can also find Lucy on LinkedIn.

Rachel Moss

Rachel has worked for over 15 years making ideas happen in the broadcast, advertising, digital, and social content industries, leading teams responsible for the successful delivery of projects for high profile brands which include KitKat, Dove, Duracell, HSBC, Shell, BBC, Grolsch, Peroni, and BT.

She began her career as a researcher on an academic paper about new networking technologies and their effect on filmmaking. This fuelled her interest in the impact of digital technology and the internet on the way we interact, communicate and create. She is passionate about the transformative power of storytelling and the role technology has to play.  She believes women have a vital role to play in the evolution of the industry and shaping the vast potential of games.  

She can also be found at https://nexusstudios.com/ as Head of Production and on LinkedIn

Women in Games Collaborators

  • Research and Education Consultant

    Sharon Tolaini-Sage

  • Executive Assistant and Events Consultant

    Gemma Elnaugh

  • Onboard & Events Ambassador Coordinator

    Roxy Francis

  • Discord Community Manager

    Natalie Dodd

  • Event & Admin Support

    Paula Palmer

  • Coordinator and Collaborator

    Charly Harbord

  • PR & Marketing, Presenters

    The Nerd Pirates

  • Event Producer

    Lauren Payne

Sharon Tolaini-Sage

Sharon is an Associate Professor in Games Art and Design at Norwich University of the Arts. As part of her role, she has put in place gender-balanced visiting lecturer programmes, and has developed a highly collaborative industry/education work experience programme for students wishing to enter the Games Sector. Her area of special interest is the contextual aspect of play and games. Since 2017 she has been an Ambassador for Women in Games, becoming an Advisory Board member of both Women in Games UK and Italia in 2019. In 2020 she was a highly commended finalist in the Times Higher Education Awards Most Innovative Teacher of the year.

Gemma Elnaugh

Hello! I’m Gemma, Projects Coordinator for Women in Games and PA to its Founder, David Smith.

Being able to combine my events experience and love of gaming for a project that empowers women has been a dream come true. I’ve played games all my life, from the Commodore 64, up to the Playstation 5 just this morning. It’s rare to see me without a gamepad in my hands, but if you do, I’ll likely be crafting for my small business, reading graphic novels, painting or hanging out with my weirdo cats.

Roxy Francis

Hi, I’m Roxy! After 6 years working in corporate video as a producer & editor, I needed a new challenge, and that’s where I found Dovetail Games. I’m now the Head of Creative Services and love working with my talented team of graphic designers and video editors. In my role with WIGJ, I process and welcome new Ambassadors and help to set up any Ambassador lead events. I’ve really enjoyed meeting so many talented women from across the world. My game of choice is The Sims 4. I’ve grown up with the franchise and got back into it heavily in lockdown!

Natalie Dodd

I’m a Community Manager and this is my first job in the industry. I’ve been at Dovetail Games for just over 6 months.

I gained my experience as a player of MMORPG’s and I spent my spare time building diverse communities. I’m very grateful to WIGJ because this group is directly responsible for putting me in touch with my current employer and I gained a wonderful opportunity by volunteering my time.

I have built and manage the Women in Games Discord, this is a welcoming space for anyone to join and meet other industry professionals, no matter where you are in your career journey.

Paula Palmer

Paula Palmer is an experienced Executive PA who supports the CEO, Board and wider management teams at Dovetail Games.  She previously spent 25 years working in London for senior lawyers before the (frankly mind blowing) jump to work in the games industry.  She has provided administrative support to the Exec and Advisory Boards of WIGJ for the past year and enjoyed working with the conference team to help deliver the first WIGJ Global Online Conference back in September.

Charly Harbord

Charly Harbord works as the InGame International Project Coordinator at Abertay University as well nearing the end of her PhD on RPGs to enhance second language acquisition focussed on Mandarin and English. She wrote a chapter in ‘Digital Games and Language Learning’ as well as other publications.  She is the Twitch streamer coordinator for the Women in Games Twitch channel as well as being a moderator on the WIGJ Esports and She Plays Games discords. Charly founded ‘The Kilted Otter Initiative’ a research-based Gaelic Game Jam.  She is also looking forward to working on creating an app for Indigenous Languages with the members of First Nations.

She can also be found on LinkedIn.

 

 

The Nerd Pirates

Lily & Violet (AKA the Nerd Pirates) are a freelance twin-sister duo. Together, they do fresh, ambitious PR & marketing for video games, tech & entertainment. Combining solid strategy with bold imagination, they’re on a mission to deliver world-class agency services with all the flexibility of freelance support. They’re experts in nerd culture & fandom, working with legendary licenses like Adventure Time, Steven Universe, & BBC’s Sherlock. Their clients include: the BAFTA-nominated 3-Fold Games, Virtual Umbrella, Outright Games & more.

Named as one of She Plays Games’ 100 Most Inspiring Women in Games, they’re prominent voices within the industry, and they’ve twice hosted our annual Women in Games Conference. When they’re not at their desks, you can usually find them kicking butt in Dungeons & Dragons.

Lauren Payne

Lauren Payne is an experienced freelance producer with a demonstrated history working in the advertising industry. Over the past 8 years she has delivered global event campaigns and online film content for numerous high-profile brands including Aston Martin, HSBC, KitKat, Bayer, BT Sport, Shell, Campari and many more.

Lauren is passionate about creating effective, authentic experiences that push the boundaries of what is artistically and technologically possible. 

Lauren loves a detailed status document and any pet who makes an unexpected appearance during a virtual team meeting. 

She recently produced our Careers & Networking event, and we look forward to working with her on future projects. 

Advisory Board

  • Studio Creative Director, Future Games of London

    Elizabeth Sampat

  • Co-founder Hurrah

    Angela Natividad

  • Lawyer at Sheridans

    Antonia Gold

  • Director of Operations at 2K’s Hangar 13

    Rebecca Sampson

  • Operations Director, Sumo Digital

    Harinder Sangha

  • Games Associate, Creative England Special Projects, Ukie

    Dan Wood

  • Associate Manager of Store Publishing at PlayStation

    Michelle Tilley

  • Senior Business Manager, UKI Game Tech at Amazon Web Services

    Sarah Calvely

  • Strategic Partnerships Leader

    Vanessa Joyce

  • Head of Talent, Creative Assembly

    Emma Smith

  • Studio Head, Kickstand Games

    Dr. Siobhán Thomas

  • Associate Professor in Games Art and Design at Norwich University of the Arts.

    Sharon Tolaini-Sage

Elizabeth Sampat

Elizabeth Sampat has worked on blockbuster mobile titles that have been downloaded nearly three billion times; but when she comes home, she crafts personal games that are intimate, revealing, and push the boundaries of the relationship between game and player.

In her spare time, Elizabeth also works to make the industry I love a better place for women and marginalized people. Marie Claire called her “The Game Changer” when they named her one of “20 Women Changing The Ratio” in male-dominated industries.

Elizabeth’s personal work has been covered by the LA Times, Lifehacker, and VICE, and her advocacy and talks have been covered on PolygonThe GuardianForbes, and more. Her book Empathy Engines: Design Games That Are Personal, Political, And Profound was released in early 2017.

She is currently working towards her MSc in Organizational Psychology at the University of London, Birkbeck.

Angela Natividad

Angela Natividad is the co-founder of Hurrah Group, a passel of creative companies dedicated to esports and gaming. She is also an advisory board member of Women in Games WIGJ, and a founding writer for MusebyCl.io, where she covers creativity in advertising.

Antonia Gold

Antonia is a Games, Tech & Data lawyer at Sheridans, which offers one of Europe’s most well-established and respected Games practices. She specialises in helping companies navigate the labyrinth of data protection laws, so that they can use their data in a compliant way. She advises on all aspects of commercial and data protection law and is qualified in both England and Germany. Antonia also has a particular interest in privacy in the context of innovative technologies and adtech.

Rebecca Sampson

Rebecca has had an extensive career in the video games industry, spanning across 13 years where she started her journey as a Front of House, with Disney Interactive Studios, and then progressed through various roles working at Creative Assembly, through to present day where she is Director of Operations at 2K’s Hangar 13. Her current commitments have her heavily involved with running the local operations at Hangar 13’s Brighton location, as well as widespread collaboration with the other global sites. Rebecca is also a strong advocate of Diversity and Inclusion and has been leading the internal initiatives for the company – building relationships and creating partnerships with incredible not-for-profit organisations.  

In 2010, Rebecca was named as one of the GamesIndustry.Biz 100 most influential women in the UK games industry.

Harinder Sangha

Working directly with a Studio Director Harinder ensures that Sumo Leamington not only make great games, but are a successful business as well.

Harinder’s direct remit includes finance, studio PR, office environment and IT. Alongside this, the most important and exciting part of her role is building a team of highly talented creative colleagues and ensuring that they are surrounded with a culture that is diverse and inclusive. This, in turn, provides her teams with an environment in which they feel valued, have a purpose and are given the ability to grow.

Before she joined Sumo, Harinder worked in the industry for 12 years, working for SEGA and Codemasters. During this time she helped to build SEGA HARDlight from inception until early 2019. A proud moment for Harinder was in 2018 when GI.biz recognised Sumo as one of the best places to work.

Harinder has a background in accounting, and before joining the games industry she worked in a range of industries, including financial services, construction and advertising.

Dan Wood

Dan has over ten years’ experience in the games sector and has been on the Women in Games Advisory Board since 2018. As COO of trade body Ukie he led the work on many of the big issues faced by the industry, including the successful bid to the GLA to create the London Games Festival,  the introduction of the video games tax relief and the launch of the industry-wide ‘RaiseTheGame Diversity Pledge. He currently continues to lead Ukie’s Strategic Projects work and is Games Associate at Creative England, where he is shaping their investment and business support programmes for games business. He is also an angel investor and works closely with small games studios to help them grow their businesses.

Michelle Tilley

Michelle is an Associate Manager of Store Publishing at PlayStation, as well as co-lead of the Women@PlayStation employee group. She started in the industry over 12 years ago as a QA tester and now leads a global team coordinating publishing for PlayStation Exclusive Games. She is an active champion for continuing to change the culture of the gaming industry to make it a more inclusive place, passionately working to increase diversity in the gaming talent pipeline, supporting, mentoring and elevating people who come from underrepresented groups.

As an Advisory Board member for Women in Games, she is excited to collaborate with other industry leaders to continue to create a positive and safe environment for people to thrive in.

Sarah Calvely

Sarah has worked in technology for almost 15 years, and with Games studios for the past 3 years. As the commercial leader for Amazon Web Services (AWS) Game Tech business in the UK, Sarah and her team are responsible for supporting game studios with their cloud technology usage, helping customers realise the benefits of running in the cloud. Sarah is passionate about diversity in technology, and was an ambassador for Amazon’s Get IT project initiative, a project designed by AWS and aimed at encouraging girls aged 12-13 to consider a career in technology.

Vanessa Joyce

Vanessa Joyce is a video games industry veteran she has over 15 years experience working for clients in the UK and internationally ; her consultancy provides clients with extensive knowledge, networks, strategic ideas, event management and business development solutions.

She began her career within the games industry working with TIGA the trade association which represents independent developers based in the UK. Over nine years Vanessa quadrupled the organisations membership and curated many thought leading successful events for developers to thrive all over the country, whilst creating a name for herself as one of the most connected people in the UK interactive entertainment industry.During her time at TIGA the organisation won 24 business awards and a victory for tax breaks.

Emma Smith

Emma Smith leads Creative Assembly’s Legacy Project and sits on the Next Gen Skills Employer Steering Group. From playground to industry, the Legacy Project is the studio’s commitment to educating, inspiring and supporting the games development talent of tomorrow and promoting games as a power for good. As part of this work Creative Assembly has partnered with BAFTA and the East London Arts and Music Academy.

Dr. Siobhán Thomas

Siobhán Thomas is a games developer and award-winning researcher specialising in biogaming, games education and accessibility. Siobhan is an expert in curriculum development and has taught in Higher Education for over 20 years at the undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Siobhán runs Kickstand Games, a mobile development studio focusing on creating fun, accessible games. She is a coordinator of the London Chapter of the International Game Developers Association, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Member of BAFTA. In 2016, Siobhan was named one of the Top 30 most influential Women in Games in the UK.

Siobhan holds a doctorate from the London School of Economics in the area of management and innovation.

Sharon Tolaini-Sage

Ambassador Board (coming soon, watch this space!)