Meet the HQ Team
Jess Thompson, Founder & Co-CEO
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.
Following a year’s sabbatical, where she studied a master’s in International Migration and Public Policy at LSE, Jess has resumed her full-time position at Migrateful, jointly leading the organisation as Co-CEO with Vickie.
Vickie Wambura, Co-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. While founder Jess was on a study sabbatical, Vickie stepped in as interim CEO. They now jointly lead the organisation as Co-CEOs.
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!
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!
Rachida Zitouni, Brighton Chef Trainer
Rachida is a classic foodie with a passion for retail and hospitality.
After years of experience in the hospitality and retail industry Rachida moved onto the 3rd sector to truly follow her calling to help alleviate food poverty and combat food waste. Now working for a local Food CIC in Brighton ( HISBE) , she is also volunteering and working for various charities and social enterprises like: Fareshare Sussex & Surrey, City Food Share .
Rachida joined Migrateful as a facilitator in Brighton in January 2023. She is looking forward to recruiting and training the first cohort of Migrateful chefs in Brighton.
The Operations Team
Tammy O’Reilly, Senior Operations Manager
Tammy O’Reilly was born in South Africa and after her studies moved abroad. The move put her in contact with expat and migrant communities and opened her eyes to the global challenge of migration, and in particular to the personal challenges faced by vulnerable migrants when attempting to integrate.
By joining Migrateful, she enters a motivating community of peers who are working to change the way people think about migration through the unifying force of food.
Georgia Luling Fielding, Business Development & Operations Manager (Bristol)
Georgia has been working in the migration sector for the last decade in London, Bristol, Northern France and EU contexts. She comes from a family of restaurateurs and worked for many years in hospitality and events – so hosting, cooking, eating are an important backdrop to her life. Seeing and experiencing the transformative potential of people cooking and eating together in different community settings, she’s excited to be able to bring her interests in food and social justice together in this role. She loves that Migrategful celebrates migration, raises awareness about and advocates for the rights of refugees and migrants, while also facilitating meaningful interactions between different people who call Bristol their home.
Tamara Mcqueen Ozdeniz, Corporate Operations Officer
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 corporate operations. 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.
Tia Moxon-Riedlin, Public Bookings Coordinator
Whilst undergoing a degree in Anthropology and Sociology, Tia co-founded a community fridge. This provided Tia with a true insight of the strength and bonds sharing food can generate. Using skills learnt from this and her experience in business development brought Tia to Migrateful as a Public Booking Coordinator, combining her want to drive social change and empower individuals with her love of food!
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
Alice Warren, Marketing & Sales Manager
Alice is a marketing specialist with a love for growing and engaging digital communities and six years experience working for cause-led organisations.
After living in Brighton for ten years and tiring of the Thameslink commute, she has recently made the move to London. She is enjoying exploring the city and it’s wide-ranging food scene and growing a community of her own through the Migrateful family.
Carina Low, PR & Media Officer
Carina joined the organisation as a volunteer after working for a decade in music PR and completing a degree in Development Studies to support a career change. What Carina loves about Migrateful is its focus on change owned by the people it supports and creating spaces where the public’s part in this is not transactional. For her, its all about being part of something built around inviting people to actively engage with, learn from and celebrate refugees, asylum seekers and migrants as they pave their own way to integration.
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. Emily is proud to be a trustee and help the organisation develop and grow – and help more people affected by the hostile environment.
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.
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.