Staff and trustees

Alphonsine Kabagabo
Director

Alphonsine is a passionate advocate and an expert in the empowerment of girls and young women. She has 20 years of experience in leading and managing programmes for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). She led the development of transformative programmes that have given hundreds of young women the confidence to speak out and influence changes to policies on issues that are important to them, such as child marriage, HIV/AIDS prevention, fighting violence against girls and young women, and providing reproductive health services to women in refugee camps. She is a past trustee of Womankind, an international feminist organisation supporting women’s rights and a trustee of SURF, a non-profit organisation supporting survivors of the Rwandan genocide.

Andrea Vukovic 
Deputy Director

Andrea leads Women for Refugee Women’s advocacy, influencing and partnership work to build a welcoming asylum process. Previously she was Director of Asylum Matters, establishing the organisation as an independent charity and leading its award-winning campaigns, such as Lift the Ban, the campaign to give people seeking asylum the right to work. Andrea has also worked with Save the Children, including as Regional Advocacy Manager for their European refugee response, based in Greece and the Western Balkans, and Crisis Action, developing and delivering coalition campaigns on conflict and humanitarian issues. She is a Trustee of Young Roots, a charity supporting young asylum-seekers in London. She holds a degree in Human Rights from the University of Bologna, Italy, and a Masters in Comparative Politics from LSE.

Isabel Young
Head of Grassroots

Isabel leads Women for Refugee Women’s grassroots team; supporting a network of over 300 refugee and asylum-seeking women to develop their confidence and skills. Previously, she was Head of Community Programmes at The Young Foundation running leadership programmes for activists across the UK. In the past, Isabel has delivered social inclusion projects with migrant women in East London at The Arbour Youth Centre, and community projects in Havana, Cuba with the group Espiral. She was previously a trustee of Save Latin Village, a campaigning organisation fighting to protect Seven Sisters Market in London. She currently volunteers with The Benefice of Witney, where she runs women’s groups and activities with people seeking asylum in the community. In her spare time, Isabel makes earrings to raise funds in support of the people of Cuba. She holds a BA in Sociology and an MA in Gender Studies from the University of Sussex. 

Hajar Afdal
Digital Inclusion and Outreach Coordinator

Hajar has first-hand experience of seeking asylum that has allowed her to gain expertise in the asylum process in the UK and resulted in her making it her life’s work to promote women’s rights and equality. Throughout her career, Hajar has worked with high-risk women, migrants and survivors of gender-based violence, specifically BME women. She also facilitates an online workshop for women who are survivors of domestic violence, struggling with PTSD alongside the Maya Centre. Hajar holds a degree in politics and international relations, specialising in gender and development studies.

Dina Aragaw
Grassroots Programmes Coordinator

Dina is passionate about human rights, with a particular focus on women’s and children’s rights, and this passion has been woven throughout her career and voluntary work. Dina holds an LLB from Brunel University and an LLM from the University of Law. Dina has experience within grassroots community organisations as both a Project Manager and CEO, and spent over two years volunteering at Citizens Advice providing valuable advice services to disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. Dina has lived experience of the asylum process which further cemented her passion and desire to support refugee and asylum-seeking women. She now leads our grassroots activities work to empower refugee women through skills development, confidence-building and friendship.

Nikki Ray
Rainbow Sisters Coordinator

Nikki’s professional career and education has focussed on women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights and refugee issues. Nikki has worked with refugee and asylum-seeking women for over 6 years, including at The Bike Project, supporting women to become independent, improve their wellbeing and learn to cycle. She has also worked at the European Institute for Gender Equality as a Gender Based Violence Trainee. Nikki has a BA in African Studies with Development from the University of Birmingham and an MA in Human Rights Law from SOAS, with a focus on LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights and women and conflict. Nikki is extremely passionate about the outdoors and cycling and is also a Forest School Practitioner and a Cycling Instructor.

Women for Refugee Women Staff Rebecca Hayes Laughton

Rebecca Hayes Laughton
Drama and Performance Facilitator (freelance)

Rebecca leads the drama programme at Women for Refugee Women, supporting the women in our network as they learn and build creative and performance skills. Weekly sessions work towards regular performances, and are also a place to relax, build confidence, express ourselves and prepare for campaigning events.

After a twenty year career in TV management at the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, Rebecca is now a Visiting Lecturer and PhD Researcher at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (University of London), and is a freelancer also working on various other performance projects with newly arrived people in the UK.

Carenza Arnold
Communications Manager

Carenza leads Women for Refugee Women’s communications work across media and press, digital, and social media. Whether it is telling our story to wide audiences, supporting refugee women to speak to the media and at events, or engaging our supporters to take action and campaign to build a welcoming asylum process, Carenza is responsible for planning and executing creative and engaging story-telling and campaigning actions. Carenza has worked with people seeking asylum for over 10 years, including as part of the Refugee Action team welcoming refugees under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme across Liverpool and Merseyside. She has worked in a variety of human rights and international development charities and is also a Trustee for the South-East London refugee support organisation, Friends of Refugees London.

Lilah Hyman
Supporter Engagement Officer

Lilah’s work focuses on engaging our supporters to take action, whether this is through fundraising, donating, supporting us on social media or getting involved with our campaigns. Lilah is passionate about intersectional feminism and refugee rights, working previously at Solace Women’s Aid, volunteering with asylum-seeking people and refugees for over 6 years and running an intersectional feminist website and community in her spare time. Her desire to support refugee and asylum-seeking people started at a young age, hearing her grandmother’s story, who was a refugee in the Holocaust.

Cat Baron 
Campaigns and Advocacy Manager

Cat is responsible for planning and executing campaigns and advocacy opportunities towards a safe and dignified asylum system in the UK for women. She has a wide range of professional and voluntary experience supporting and advancing the rights of people seeking safety. Her previous role as Activism Manager at Ben & Jerry’s included campaigning against immigration detention, building public opposition to the Nationality and Borders Bill, and supporting the Lift the Ban campaign. Cat is also a mentor with Routes, a charity which supports women with experience of seeking safety in the UK to grow in confidence, build relationships and access opportunities. In her spare time, Cat’s activism also includes being part of the Green New Deal Rising movement.

Women for Refugee Women Staff Gemma Lousley

Gemma Lousley
Policy and Research Manager

Gemma has worked for Women for Refugee Women since 2014. She previously worked in policy roles for the Detention Advice Service and the Criminal Justice Alliance. She has a PhD in Criminology from Birkbeck, University of London; her research focused on the mobilisation of racialised narratives about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ migrants during criminal sentencing hearings for people who had migrated to the UK. Gemma also works as an Associate Lecturer in Criminology at Birkbeck, where she teaches courses on the criminal justice process, and on the intersections between criminal justice and border control.

Agnes Tanoh
Spokesperson Facilitator

Agnes Tanoh sought asylum in the UK in 2011, after fleeing political persecution. In 2012, she was locked up at Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre for over 3 months. She first met Women for Refugee Women at the point she was released and became involved in the charity’s Set Her Free campaign. Agnes was granted refugee status in 2018. She helped to set up Women with Hope in Birmingham, a group supporting refugee and asylum-seeking women, and continues to volunteer to coordinate that group. Agnes is also part of the Sisters Not Strangers coalition.

Ninie Unachukwu
Head of Operations and Finance

Ninie is a qualified Certified Accountant and project manager and has extensive experience working for national and international organisations managing finance, operations and HR functions. Previously, she was at EducAid SL, an organisation providing high-quality, free education to underprivileged children as well as providing quality Education Enhancement Programmes in partnership with the government of  Sierra Leone, managing their finance and operations. Ninie’s extensive experience spans working for the private and public sector, before moving into the charity sector, spurred on by her passion for equality and human rights. She is enthusiastic about streamlining our operations and finance functions to best support the refugee and asylum-seeking women in our network and to strengthen Women for Refugee Women’s long-term stability. In her spare time, Ninie likes to sing and dance and recently authored a personal – development book titled, Mastering Time!

Kimberley Ellis 
Grants Fundraising Manager 

Kimberley has eight years of experience in the third sector. Commencing her career managing projects and conducting research addressing sexual violence and hate crime in Higher Education, she quickly specialised in fundraising for women and girl’s rights organisations, notably contributing to Orchid Project’s work to end female genital mutilation (FGM). Since, she has provided consultation services on fundraising and communications, and worked for Wimbledon Community Association, steering the charity towards a sharper focus building community connections and providing advice and support to reduce inequality and isolation across the borough.

With an arts background, Kimberley is also an actor and theatre-maker, co-founding Twisted Hares, a theatre company that highlights women’s experiences and addresses social taboos. Kimberley manages our Trusts and Foundations fundraising and relationships, and is passionately committed to advocacy, creativity and social justice.

Women for Refugee Women Staff Anja Beinroth

Anja Beinroth
Finance Executive

Anja has extensive experience of working with refugee community organisations in London, including in previous roles at the Scarman Trust and the East London Community Foundation. She is a qualified community organiser and experienced finance manager. She is honorary treasurer of Living Under One Sun Ltd and a non-executive director of Hackney Co-operative Developments CIC.

Marian Fakhrudin
Office Manager

Marian comes from an operations background and is our Office Manager. Previously, she worked for tech start ups including Zapp as an Brand Activation Manager. Marian was born and raised in London and her parents were migrants from Somalia during the civil war in the 90s; she is familiar with the challenges that people face in the asylum process. This inspired her to build on her knowledge so she went on to study Community Development and Leadership at University. After her studies, Marian decided to make a career change to the charity sector to be part of an organisation that empowers marginalised communities.

Trustees

Rachel Krys
Chair

Rachel is an equality and human rights campaigner. Rachel was co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition for three years, and has worked with charities, the public and private sectors to challenge inequality and promote human rights. Rachel was chair of governors for a federation of primary schools in south London. She is currently working with the Bar Council on equality and diversity projects.

Jade Amoli Jackson

Jade was born in Northern Uganda. She studied journalism at Makerere University, and then went to work as a sports reporter on Uganda Television/Radio and local papers. Jade left Uganda after experiencing torture and persecution, and sought asylum in the UK in 2001. She has been supported by the Medical Foundation – now Freedom from Torture – since arriving in the UK and is a member of their Write to Life group. Jade is also Secretary for the London Refugee Women’s Forum and a volunteer at the Refugee Council since July 2004.

Loraine Masiya Mponela

Loraine is a community organiser at Coventry Asylum and Refugee Action Group (CARAG), a grassroots organisation that is run by and for people seeking asylum, refugees and migrants living in Coventry and the surrounding area. Loraine is passionate about tackling historical and ongoing injustices and amplifying the voices of marginalised people. During her free time, Loraine mentors local people who are seeking asylum and international students who can’t afford fees and are seeking scholarships.

Francesca Klug

Francesca has been a human rights advocate and academic for over 30 years. She is a former Chair of Freedom from Torture and the British Institute of Human Rights and trustee at Refugee Migrant Justice.  Francesca is a Visiting Professor at LSE Human Rights and Sheffield Hallam University and was previously a Commissioner on the Equality and Human Rights Commission and a special advisor to the Joint Committee on Human Rights. She has campaigned and written widely on equality, migration and human rights.  All her grandparents were refugee-migrants to the UK.

Muma Sinkala

Muma is a banking and finance professional with a passion for the arts, technology and social impact. Recognised as one of the 100 Tech Up women. She most enjoys using her skills to encourage women to continue taking up space. A member of the institute of coding, she hopes to use her skills and influence by merging social impact and emerging technology to make an even wider impact in the lives of others. She is a board member on two charities promoting the use of technology and business skills for disadvantaged women. She is also collaborating with charities and social enterprises to create a platform that will bring global resources locally. She also curate’s art events for contemporary African artists with a focus on raising the profile of the African artist worldwide. You can connect with her page on Facebook SYTYCI – So you think you can’t inspire.

Rachel Robinson

Rachel is a Programmes Principal at the Equality and Human Rights Commission. She leads the Commission’s work on justice and personal security, including work to ensure that equality and human rights standards are upheld in the immigration system. Before joining the Commission, Rachel worked for the NGOs Liberty and Refugee and Migrant Justice. Rachel is a lawyer by background and began her career as a barrister specialising in immigration and asylum law.

Chris Taylor

Chris has over 40 years’ experience working in the voluntary sector in senior management roles, primarily concerned with funding. She has worked for charities with international and/or UK programmes, including Save the Children, Comic Relief, London Youth and the National Childbirth Trust.

Chris has been a trustee of a number of charities. During her 6 years on the Board of Womankind Worldwide she was Vice-Chair and chaired the Marketing and Communications Committee.

Rachael Takens-Milne

Rachael is Head of Programme Support at The Legal Education Foundation, an independent grant-maker focused on promoting law as a tool for improving people’s lives. She previously spent more than a decade at Trust for London, leading grants programmes on safeguarding children, improving protections for trafficked people and supporting the development of strategic litigation; as well as managing a website on London’s poverty and inequality data. Other employers include among others, Lloyds TSB Foundation, the Citizenship Foundation and the Charity Commission. Rachael has a MSc in Social Policy & Planning from LSE.

Olivia Namutebi

Olivia has been a member of our network since 2017 and now helps facilitate our weekly drama groups. Olivia is a talented writer and poet and frequently performs her poetry at events across London, including at the Southbank Centre poetry library. Olivia is a powerful public speaker and regularly takes part in campaigning actions to raise the voice of refugee women and ensure women’s experiences are heard. Olivia brings her lived experience of seeking asylum to our Board, ensuring refugee and asylum-seeking women are at the heart of everything that we do.

Catherine Briddick

Catherine is the Andrew W Mellon Associate Professor of International Human Rights and Refugee Law and a fellow of St Antony’s College, University of Oxford. Catherine draws on feminist approaches to international law and legal theorising on intersectionality to analyse protection, discrimination, and the relationships between them. Her work, published in leading academic journals and collections, cuts across subjects and regimes, including UK immigration and public law, non-discrimination and equality law, European Union (EU) law, and public international law.

Rachel Larkin

Dr Rachel Larkin is a Lecturer in Social Work with 28 years of experience in children and families social work. She has held frontline and leadership roles in statutory, voluntary and health settings, and has rich experience of statutory safeguarding services and children who are ‘looked after’ in state care, including unaccompanied minors claiming asylum and families affected by immigration processes. Rachel’s research explores social work in relation to people who cross borders and how this relates to legal, ethical professional frameworks and commitments to social justice and human rights. She has a particular interest in exploring how gender identity and sexuality impact on the experiences of young migrants who use social work services.

Julia Lowis

Julia is a human rights advocate and barrister with over 10 years’ experience, and holds a Masters in International Human Rights Law from Oxford University (with a focus on refugee law and rights of the child).  Before pupillage, she completed an internship in the Department of Legal Affairs and Human Rights at the Council of Europe.  She has represented individuals seeking asylum and victims of trafficking in front of domestic tribunals and courts, and was a founding member of Refugee Legal Support, set up in 2017 to send volunteer UK asylum lawyers to provide pro bono advice in Athens, Greece regarding the European Asylum System.

Julia is passionate about utilising empathic and trauma-informed approaches to supporting those seeking asylum and other victims of human rights abuses, and about grassroots projects which focus on providing spaces for connection, community, self-expression and integration (having led a local running and mental health peer support group for five years).