Dr Nicholas Westcott
Dr Nicholas Westcott has been Director of the Royal African Society since November 2017, having worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and European Union for 35 years, and been involved with Africa for over 40 years. After completing a BA in History and PhD in African history at Cambridge University, he joined the FCO in 1982 and has served in Brussels, Washington DC, Tanzania (as Deputy High Commissioner) and from 2008-2011 as British High Commissioner to Ghana and Ambassador to Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Niger and Togo. Prior to that, from 2002-2007, he was the FCO’s Chief Information Officer. In 2011 he moved to Brussels to work for the EU's External Action Service as Managing Director for Africa, and from 2015 as Managing Director for the Middle East and North Africa. He is a Research Associate at SOAS’s Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, sits on the Editorial Board of African Affairs and the Board of the African Centre for Economic Transformation (Accra), and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of Chatham House. He was awarded the CMG in 1998. He has published a number of articles on African history, European foreign policy and international economic relations, and maintains an active interest in contemporary African and Middle Eastern politics, business, music and culture.
Sheila Ruiz is Deputy Director at the Royal African Society, having formerly been Head of Programmes, Partnerships and Operations and Events Programme Manager. In her current role, Sheila has focused on organisational development, whilst acting as the cultural head for the organisation. Prior to joining the Royal African Society in September 2011, Sheila was the Communications and Programming Consultant for the Africa Centre and previously worked as a freelance events producer for various arts projects in London. Sheila holds an MA in African Studies from SOAS - University of London, and a BA in History from UCL. She is of Spanish and Equato-Guinean heritage and is bilingual in Spanish and English. With a passion for dance and music, Sheila has performed with a number of groups, including the London Lucumi Choir.
Caitlin Pearson is the Society's Fundraising Manager, working on Trusts & Foundations, Public Funding, Impact Partnerships and Individual Membership, following her role as Public Events Programme Manager. Her background is in higher education and scholarship – she previously worked in communications and events at the Centre for African Studies, based at SOAS, and at the Canon Collins Educational and Legal Assistance Trust. Caitlin holds a BA from the University of Birmingham and an MA from SOAS - University of London, both in African Studies. Her research interests include film and television, representation, class and disability. Caitlin is originally from South Africa.
Lizzie Orekoya is the Society's Administrative Manager. Having worked in various project coordination and administrative roles in the healthcare and property industries, she provides support to the Director as well as ensuring the smooth running of the office. With an active interest in the arts and culture, the Royal African Society provides a perfect opportunity for her to further develop her passion for Africa's past, present and future.
Melmarie Laccay is the Society's Membership Administrator. Mel joined the Society in July 2011. She was previously a Data Analyst for professional services and insurance firm, Marsh and McLennan Companies, as well as a Membership Officer at the Energy Institute. She has a BA in Digital Media and Mass Communications from London Metropolitan University. Working with the Royal African Society has given her a completely new insight into Africa's culture, diversity, politics and people.
Corporate & Pubic Events Manager@hoda_dahir
Hoda Dahir is the Society’s Corporate and Public Events Manager. Prior to joining the Royal African Society, Hoda spent the last eight years working as a Strategic Communications Specialist in humanitarian and peace-keeping operations in East Africa with organisations including the Norwegian Refugee Council, the African Union and the United Nations. Directly dealing with governments, civil society organisations and international donors, Hoda helped establish effective communication channels and coordinated successful working relations for the UN and the AU missions across the Horn of Africa. Hoda holds a BA in Broadcasting Journalism from Middlesex University and an MA in Social Anthropology from SOAS - University of London.
Hetty Bailey works as the Policy & Advocacy Coordinator at the Royal African Society. Hetty splits her time between Parliament and the Royal African Society’s offices and manages the secretariat for All Party Parliamentary Group for Africa, which aims to further a positive and mutually beneficial relationships between the UK and Africa. Hetty works closely with colleagues at the Royal African Society to ensure that the wider work and values of the charity feed into effective advocacy and policy approaches. Prior to joining the Royal African Society, Hetty held a number of roles within Parliament working on international development policy, including working as a Parliamentary Researcher for a former DFID Minister and as a Senior Parliamentary Aid for an International Development Committee member where she managed parliamentary delegations to Rwanda and Sierra Leone. Hetty has a Law LLB degree from Cardiff University and an MSc in Migration, Mobility and Development from SOAS - University of London.
Editor, African Arguments@jamesjwan
James Wan is Editor of African Arguments, the Royal African Society's pan-African news and analysis site. James was previously Acting Editor of African Business magazine and Senior Editor of Think Africa Press. He has written for the likes of AlJazeera, BBC, IRIN and the Guardian and was recently listed as one of the leading journalists on aid and development. James is a fellow of Wits University China-Africa Reporting Project and was shortlisted in the Guardian's International Development Journalism Competition in 2013.
Joanna Brown is the Society's Education & Outreach Programme Manager. After six years as a primary teacher in Haringey, specialising in Literacy and Reading Enrichment, she is now developing streams of work to support cultural organisations in their delivery of educational programmes. Prior to working in education, she co-ordinated community projects in the housing sector, with a focus on performing arts. Previously she worked as an events co-ordinator at the British Film Institute and the BBC. She is of Sierra Leonean and English descent. Joanna holds a BA in English Literature from the University of Cambridge and trained to teach at the Institute of Education.
Marcelle Mateki Akita
Producer, Africa Writes@matekiwrites
Marcelle Mateki Akita is the festival producer for Africa Writes. She is co-founder of Afrikult. and a fiction writer. Her work has appeared in magazines and literary journals such as Aké Review and AFREADA, and her debut collection ‘Lizard and Other Stories’ was published in December 2016. She holds an MA in African Studies from SOAS - University of London, majoring in literatures in African languages.