Meet the HQ team
Vickie Wambura, Interim CEO
Vickie grew up in Kenya and is passionate about social impact. She is founder of two organizations, Nafisika Trust, Kenya that works to integrate prison inmates into society and Spaces International, UK that promotes awareness of social barriers and empowers individuals to engage with social inclusion in a meaningful way.
Vickie joined Migrateful because it brings together her passion for inclusion and food. At Migrateful, Vickie is Interim CEO whilst Founder & CEO, Jess is on academic sabbatical.
Jess Thompson, Founder & CEO (on academic sabbatical)
Jess Thompson, prior to setting up Migrateful, studied abroad in Mexico, where she learnt about the causes of the global migrant crisis being rooted in the legacy of colonialism and the inequalities of the capitalist global economy. She then spent two and a half years working on the front line to support migrants and refugees in Ceuta, Dunkirk, and London. In 2017 she completed the Year Here Fellowship which gave her the training and network to set up Migrateful. She was featured on the 2020 Forbes 30 Under 30 List and also the 2020 Women of the Year List in recognition of her achievement.
Jess is currently studying a masters in International Migration and Public Policy at LSE.
The Chef Training & Support Team
Omar Abourgebah, Head of Chef Development
Omar is an experienced chef and cookery school teacher from Libya, with over 10 years of experience in restaurant kitchens in Bristol, New Zealand and London. He has spent the last 4 years teaching cookery classes at the Waitrose Cookery School in Kings Cross. The life changing role Migrateful plays in the chef’s lives is why Omar joined the team, along with the opportunity to cook with people from all over the world.
Elizabeth Kolawole-Johnson, Chef Support Officer
Elizabeth trained as a psychologist in Nigeria before moving to the UK, 10 years ago. She joined Migrateful as a chef in 2017 and managed to finally regulate her immigration status in 2018. She has first-hand experience of working as a chef for Migrateful and how life-changing the experience has been for her, making her perfectly placed to carry out her role as Chef Support Officer.
Chloe Jourdain, Chef Training Officer
Chloe grew up in Perth, Australia, and moved to the UK in 2019. She trained and worked as a lawyer but always found ways to bring her passion for food and inclusion into the office. In 2021 she started volunteering at Migrateful and decided she never wanted to leave. Chloe joined Migrateful because she wants to learn from and support the amazing people that are our chefs. She loves seeing how food brings people together, not to mention the fact that she has eaten some of the best meals of her life in the cookery classes!
The Operations Team
Andrea Merino-Mayayo, HR & Operations Manager
Andrea, brought up in Madrid, started an internship with Migrateful as part of her masters in International Development. Now as HR and Operations Manager, she makes sure that systems are running smoothly and supports the Operations Team in delivering classes that are inspiring to customers and gratifying to chefs. Her love for food, cooking, diversity and community is what drew her to Migrateful.
Abeer Syed, Corporate Operations Lead
Abeer grew up in Pakistan and trained as an electronics engineer, before switching over to the social sector. She has been volunteering and working in the social impact space in strategy and operations roles for the past 3 years. At Migrateful, Abeer manages our Corporate Bookings. She truly believes in the power of social innovation to transform lives and this is what led her to join Migrateful. She wants everyone to experience the power of food in bringing people closer together – with the side benefit of creating delicious cuisines from all over the globe!
Tamara Mcqueen Ozdeniz, Public Bookings Coordinator
Tamara was brought up in Turkey, has a background in events management, international development and experience volunteering in a humanitarian innovation social enterprise. At Migrateful, Tamara manages our public class bookings. Tamara is passionate about cooking and its potential to bring people together and create much-needed cultural exchanges and connections for a more integrated society.
Thea Sands, Cookery Classes Coordinator
Born in East London, Thea grew up in Paisley, Scotland and has a background in coordinating jazz clubs, pop-up festival bars and restaurants, concerts and contemporary dance events in Scotland and England.
Focusing her studies on challenging elitism in and widening access to the arts through education, Thea joined Migrateful first as a facilitator, then as Cookery Class Coordinator because it combines her practical experience organising venues with her passion for breaking down barriers between people and nurturing people through food. She is happiest when squeezing people around her table and serving out as many bowls of food as possible!
The Business Development Team
Kate Edwards, Regional Development Manager
Kate brings 5 years’ experience in operations and business development in both the charity sector and the experiential events industry, as well as a creative background in film and photography. Kate is passionate about food and loves those magic connections that form between people when they sit down together and share a good meal. She wants people across the UK and beyond to experience that Migrateful magic!
Charity Fashesin, Fundraising Officer
Charity has a degree in international development and experience working for not-for-profit organisations as a fundraiser. Charity was was eager to work for an organisation that strived towards positive social change, the empowerment of individuals and involved the community and this is what drew her to Migrateful.
Ed Montalban, Marketing & Sales Manager
Ed brings more than a decade of marketing communications and account management experience as he joins Migrateful. Hailing all the way from the sunny shores of the Philippines where food is king, he has always believed in the power of human kindness, one of the many reasons he chose to be part of the team. A proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, musician and drag queen outside work, he could not be any happier to add “Migrateful marketing and sales manager” to his bio and be part of the organization’s mission to empower people, celebrate stories, flavors and cultures, and transform perceptions and attitudes one dining table at a time.
Mireille is an editor at Square Peg, Vintage (Penguin Random House UK. Outside of work, Mireille works as a freelance writer, sensitivity reader and PR and comms consultant working with grassroots arts and culture organisations, black-owned businesses and black creatives. Mireille also volunteers as an Independent Visitor, mentors students and young people looking to get into the publishing and creative industries, and offers editorial advice to aspiring writers.
Isabel is an arts and culture manager with international experience in artists and event management and communications, having founded and sold an award-winning international production company based in Brazil. Isabel studied at Leiths School of Food and Wine to become a professional Brazilian cookery class teacher. She started volunteering at Migrateful in 2018 to help develop their cookery class model. She then worked as the Migrateful Event Manager for over a year, supporting its expansion, before becoming a Trustee.
Habib is part of the Migrateful chef alumni. Habib managed to escape the talibans, using food as his tool to survive in the Afghan army; in Calais refugee camp and now to thrive in London. Habib says that teaching the Migrateful cookery classes allowed him to meet British people and it was a place where he could belong and people made him feel valued and trusted. Running the classes has also helped him to develop the idea of starting his own Afghan food company.
Emily heads up learning and partnerships at the Migration Museum in London. She coordinates all their work with schools, unis and other organisations in different sectors. It is through this role that she met Jess and came across the wonders of Migrateful. The Migration Museum now hosts monthly Migrateful cooking class and has been lucky to share the delicious cuisines of various chefs through their catering at the museum’s Refugee Week events. Emily is proud to be a trustee and help the organisation develop and grow – and help more people affected by the hostile environment.
Daljeet (or DJ as he is better known) is a freelance marketing expert using his 8 years of experience to provide marketing strategy & services for ethical businesses that are changing the world. His experience spans freelance writing work, co-founding multiple businesses, working in-house for a number of businesses, and providing ad-hoc consultation to clients at a business coaching firm he was marketing manager for. He started helping Migrateful through a mentorship programme and is thrilled to be a part of helping Migrateful become a self-sufficient enterprise.
After a career in international development and social investment, Mary now focuses on ways to deal with conflict and difference constructively. She works as a mediator and is exploring ways to evaluate the efficacy of community mediation and dialogue. She was drawn to Migrateful recognising the power of its model – not only supporting vulnerable migrants but also bringing people together through the universal love of food. She is also an active fellow of the RSA.
Amaya works as a Creative Producer on a wide variety of cultural events and public art projects. She has significant experience in producing ambitious work in the outdoor realm. She is experienced in co-creating projects with the community, and firmly believes that things are rarely interesting unless everybody is in the room. Her work ensures that underrepresented voices get a say in the arts. Her methods remove barriers that prevent access to great art and culture for all people.
Nora has been working for over 10 years with the Credit team at The Charity Bank, an ethical organisation supporting charities and social enterprises on their journey to sustainability. Driven by her Syrian roots, Nora joined Migrateful to combine efforts and help migrants and refugees to become independent and dynamic members in their new communities. Nora has also a keen interest in Microfinance and has been to Kenya and India on a number of projects working on improving business acumen and financial management of small businesses.