Our Team


Nicodemus Leo

Admin & Finance Manager (maternity cover)


Nicodemus joined the Royal African Society as the Admin and Finance Manager in September 2022 and is preparing for the current stage of his AAT Level 2 Qualifying Exam.

Between 2010 and 2018, he held Operations roles at MRS Independent Living and Millbrook Healthcare where he managed The London Borough of Hackney's Home Improvement Agency and Telecare projects. Responsible for a 24-person team, the team provided non-emergency care and managed the delivery of essential small and large-scale adaptations to the homes of residents with disabilities.

In late 2019, he spent several months in Melbourne, Australia, fundraising for Berry Street, and Care International.

In 2020, he relocated back to London, UK and took on Admin and Finance responsibilities at Hubbub, working primarily on their Social Enterprise project on their Plastic Fishing project (running volunteer fishing trips to remove plastic waste in the River Thames in an electric boat built from the recycled waste) and the Ballot Bin (An award-winning voting ashtray used to encourage behaviour change and reduce public littering).

In addition to the Admin and Finance responsibilities at RAS. He also supports the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Africa, the African Studies Association of the UK and the Mark Kingsley Zochonis Lecture Trust. He is also responsible for the day-to-day running of our office and operations support, including dealing with general enquiries, billing, payroll, and HR.

Natacha Mendes

Events Manager

Nwora Emenike

Digital Communications Manager

Sonia Foday

Fundraising Manager

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.

Desta Haile

Deputy Director


Desta Haile is Deputy Director at the Royal African Society. She is a creative multilingual British-Eritrean writer, educator and consultant with a background in intercultural communication, social justice and the performing arts. Previously, she worked as Africa Region Capacity Building Manager and Coordinator for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. In 2020 Desta won To Speak Europe in Different Languages at Babel Festival of Literature and Translation, a writing competition organised by Asmara-Addis Literary Festival (In Exile), Specimen Press and The European Cultural Foundation. In 2021, she received the Afritondo short story prize. Her passion project, Languages through Music, was awarded a BOZAR Brussels Afropolitan grant for its innovation, and has developed workshops and materials for events like Africa Utopia at Southbank Centre. As a musician, she composed the UNESCO Green Citizens campaign song and worked with artists like Zap Mama, Baloji, and Filho do Zua. She holds an MA in Black British Writing from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Hoda Dahir

Corporate Relations Manager


Hoda Dahir is the Society’s Corporate Relations 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.


Admin & Finance Manager

Lizzie is the Society's Admin and Finance Manager and is responsible for the finances as well as the smooth running of the office. With an active interest in 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.

Hetty Bailey-Morgan

Policy and Advocacy Manager

Hetty is our Policy & Advocacy Manager. A key part of her role is providing the secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Africa which aims to facilitate mutually beneficial relationships between Africa and the UK and to further understanding within the UK parliament of contemporary UK-African relations. Hetty has over 12 years experience of working with Members of Parliament and Ministers on improving international development and foreign policy. She has managed multiple parliamentary enquiries which have led to positive changes in policy and has led parliamentary delegations to various countries including Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Namibia. Hetty has a Law degree from Cardiff University and an MSc in Migration, Mobility and Development from SOAS.

Melmarie Laccay

Membership Administrator

Melmarie Laccay is the Membership Administrator for the Royal African Society. Mel has previously worked for the Energy Institute as a Membership Officer, a Data Analyst for Marsh and McLennan Companies, as well as a Campaign Officer working with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark. Mel currently holds a BA (Hons) in Digital Media and Mass Communications from London Metropolitan University.

James Wan

Editor, African Arguments


James Wan is Editor of African Arguments, the Royal African Society's pan-African news and analysis site. He is a British-born Mauritian. 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.