You are currently viewing Announcing our new Interim CEO: Vickie Wambura!

Announcing our new Interim CEO: Vickie Wambura!

Migrateful appoints Vickie Wambura as Interim CEO whilst founder Jess Thompson begins Masters in International Migration & Public Policy.


At Migrateful’s fifth birthday last month, I felt proud of all we’ve achieved: having trained 97 refugees to become cookery class teachers who have taught over 30,000 participants in almost 3,000 cookery classes. I also felt acutely aware that in the last five years the hostile environment for migrants in the UK has only got worse, as demonstrated by the latest plan from the UK government to send people seeking asylum to Rwanda.

I believe that Migrateful’s intervention, when carried out on a large enough scale, has the potential to change the hearts and minds of the British people, and thus potentially have a positive impact on government policies. However, I feel that if we are to take Migrateful’s impact to the next level, we need to have a deeper understanding of why hostile policies are being implemented in the UK and how best we can influence them.

We know from the research into our class model carried out this year that our classes reach a wide audience beyond “the usual suspects” who are already motivated to support refugees, also attracting those drawn to Migrateful primarily by their interest in food. We are thus well placed to raise awareness of migration issues. We believe that speaking out about such issues, and the hostile environment in particular, is a key part of our wider mission, alongside supporting individual chefs. In order to build an accurate, coherent and persuasive message with wide appeal we need to build knowledge and capacity within the staff team.

Having considered various options, we have come to the conclusion that the best way to build the organisation’s capacity is for me to take a Masters course at LSE in International Migration and Public Policy. The course is an excellent match for our needs and LSE is not only a highly respected university but should also offer me a challenging environment in which to debate these issues. I will be able to reflect on how Migrateful fits into the bigger picture of integration strategies in the UK and the extent to which changing the public’s opinion on refugees is enough to generate real policy change. A more in-depth understanding of migration policy, coupled with existing understanding of the daily realities of the hostile environment, as lived by the refugees Migrateful supports, will help me to develop Migrateful’s thought leadership and advocacy. My course dissertation will be a further development of the Ted Talk I did earlier this year called “A Migrant Crisis or a Crisis of Belonging?” 

I am excited to announce that Vickie Wambura has been appointed as Interim CEO from the 19th September. I will continue to work in a part time capacity supporting Vickie whilst pursuing my studies.

Migrateful has trained 97 chefs including the newest cohort who graduated this Summer and are now teaching classes across our London venues


Vickie was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya and from a young age, always had a passion for social change. She has over ten years of experience in executive leadership and organisational development. Most of her work has been with Nafisika Trust, which she founded in 2009. Nafisika uses training, mentorship, and a systems approach to reduce the rate of recidivism in Kenya’s prisons. Using a unique volunteer-centric approach, Nafisika has become an essential partner in delivering behaviour change and economic empowerment skills training to inmates. Additionally, in 2017 she repositioned Nafiska to actively lead the empowerment of prison officers through a bi-annual competition and awards event that rewards individual and corporate initiatives within the prisoner rehabilitation system.

In 2020, and partly in response to increased social awareness of the harm caused by racism and a need for safe conversation environments, she co-founded Spaces International. This UK-registered charity promotes social inclusion through social media events, storytelling, interviews, and training.

Over the years, Vickie’s work has been recognised for its impact. In 2013 Vickie was elected an Ashoka Fellow. In 2014, she was selected for a  Mandela-Washington Fellowship to recognise her contribution to transformative approaches to rehabilitation. In addition, she was awarded International Associate status by Wagner College, New York, in 2014 following the completion of her fellowship.

Vickie has lived in the UK intermittently since 2014. She is an alumnus of the University of Cambridge, where she read a Diploma in International Development at the Institute of Continuing Education. She also holds a Cambridge International Diploma in Business Management and is an alumnus of the Institute for National Transformation: a pan-African organisation working on training and releasing transformational leaders across different societal spheres.

In September 2021, Vickie relocated to the UK from Kenya, having already handed over the leadership of Nafisika to new leadership to concentrate on board-level support. She joined Migrateful in November 2021, attracted by its mission to support refugees and vulnerable migrants on their journey to integration through food and cookery. A bit of a food-lover and keen to use her skills in building effective volunteer and operation systems, she was impressed by Migrateful’s model of social entrepreneurship and vision. She is currently Migrateful’s substantive head of Finance and Operations and will be acting CEO whilst I complete my studies. 

Vickie joined the core team at Migrateful in 2021 with ten years of experience in executive leadership and organisational development