Marta Welander - Executive Director
Prior to founding RRDP, Marta worked as Deputy Director of a small international human rights and peacebuilding organisation. Before that, she facilitated collaboration between member NGOs of a vast global partnership, and was a founding member of a women’s rights coalition in the Middle East & North Africa. She has previously served a number of non-governmental organisations including the Refugee Council UK, Front Line Defenders, and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network. Marta holds an MA in Human Rights & Democratic Governance and an MA in International Relations. She is currently a doctoral researcher in the Department of Politics and International relations at University of Westminster.
Johanna Puhakka - External Relations & Development Manager
Johanna is a development specialist from Finland, currently based in Jordan and engaged in research and advocacy consultancies for several NGOs across the globe. She has a solid background in human rights, and has worked with refugees across Europe and the Middle East. Johanna holds a BSc in Sociology and an MA in Human Rights and Democratic Governance. She is passionate about critical theory and interested in researching matters relating to power and control in societies.
Alice Lucas - Senior Programme Officer
Alice is currently completing an MSc in International Public Policy from University College London, where she plans to undertake research on refugee access to public housing. She has worked with several organisations and community initiatives supporting refugees in London, where she is currently based. Alice is interested in the role that language and discourse play in the public perception of refugees and displaced persons.
Cassidy McKenna - Programme Officer
Cassidy has a strong background in field-based projects. Most recently, she spent eight months in Athens, Greece, working on a range of initiatives that provide aid to, and advocate for the rights of, refugees and displaced people, with a focus on women and the LGBT community. She has a BA from University College London, and is particularly interested in the ways in which grassroots bodies can help strengthen pre-existing community support systems, whilst also creating new, multinational and multilingual ones to respond to the unpredictable migration experience.
Lizzie Hobbs – Programme Officer
Lizzie is about to begin an MA at King’s College London in Conflict, Security and Development. She has just finished her degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Exeter where she wrote her dissertation exploring how the militarisation of aid in Afghanistan impacted communication between humanitarian actors and non-state armed groups. She has worked in the development sector in Thailand and has worked across India as a Field Evaluator for GlobalGiving.
Gemma Hennessey - Advocacy Officer
Gemma is a Masters student at UCL, originally from the UK but currently based in Berlin. For her dissertation thesis she is conducting interviews with resettled Syrian refugees in order to explore their experiences of integration in the UK. Since completing her LLB at the University of Edinburgh, Gemma has volunteered with refugees in Berlin and worked as a project worker for the British Refugee Council.
Fee Gerlach - Advocacy & Communications Officer
Fee is currently completing an M.A. in Social Work and Human Rights at the Alice-Salomon University in Berlin, focusing on gender, migration and the intersection of social and ecological injustices. Her previous studies include Communications, Art History and Gender and Ethnic Studies. In recent years, Fee has been engaged in diverse sociocultural projects empowering youth with migration experiences as well as supporting female refugees in their journey through the asylum process. In 2016 she spent eight months as a Volunteer in the Calais camp after which she decided to move to the UK and support RRDP as an Advocacy and Communications Officer.
Mohamad Alhussein Saoud - Statistical Analyst
As RRDP’s statistical analyst, Mohamad has also worked with the organisation as a field researcher and coordinator, having participated in several studies to-date. Mohamad has a BA and an MA in Economics from Aleppo University, Syria, and an MA in Democratic Governance and Human Rights from the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights. He is currently based in Germany, where he works at Magdeburg University as a student assistant, as part of a project about refugees and migration in Germany.
DESK & FIELD RESEARCHERS
RRDP’s pool of researchers supports the work of the organisation on an ad hoc basis. Our researchers are deployed to the field, conduct desk research for reports and advocacy activities, and/or support the successful coordination of research studies on the ground.
Christy's background lies primarily in public health research and social inclusion in a non-profit context. As a PhD candidate at University of Sheffield working on access to health services for migrant and minority ethnic populations in Europe, she is trained in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Having previously contributed towards research on the practice of female genital mutilation amongst African migrants in Belgium, she has also volunteered and worked in frontline health services and served vulnerable patients such as refugees, the homeless and those in poor mental health. She holds a master’s degree in Public Health from Imperial College London and an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science from King’s College London.
Cristina Cardarelli has a strong background in International Relations, with a focus on human rights, an MSc in International Relations Theory from LSE and a MA in Human rights and Democracy in the MENA region from EIUC. In the past years, she has collaborated with different NGOs in South Asia and worked as trainee at the European Parliament, DG EPRS. She has also worked as Assistant Campaigns Coordinator in a NGO based in Paris, helping the coordination of international human rights campaigns. As human right researcher, she has worked in Palestine, in collaboration with Birzeit University, and in Jordan, where she focused on the refugee crisis. She has been with RRDP since the early days of the organisation, working as field researcher in France and Greece. She is currently working as Project and Communication Officer at the Italian Cooperation Office in Burkina Faso, as part of the UN Fellowship Program.
Sandra El Gemayel
Sandra is a PhD Candidate at UCL, Institute of Education in London. Her research focuses on the impact of armed conflict and displacement on the childhood and play of young Iraqi and Syrian child refugees in Lebanon. With an MA in Early Years Education and experience volunteering with refugees and internally displaced persons, Sandra is interested in work and research related to children’s rights, constructions of childhood, and the understanding of play in the early years, specifically in refugee populations, helping to make young refugee children’s voices heard.
Giulia Fagotto is junior programme office for the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) in Brussels. She holds a master in International Relations and Democratic Governance with a major in Human Rights in the MENA region. Her passion for travelling took her around the Mediterranean where she worked in governmental, nongovernmental and consultancy organisations engaged in human rights protection and migration issues. As a result, rather than a migration expert she turned into an expert migrant!
Candace is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Social Anthropology and Development Studies at SOAS in London. She has been a key member of the RRDP team since 2016, being involved in crucial work such as interpretation, translation and field research.
Until 2003, Luke was working as a mathematician, teaching subject matters such as statistics for business and history of mathematics, mainly at King's College London. He published a textbook for Oxford University Press in 2005, and subsequently completed an LLM in Human Rights at Birkbeck in 2010-2012. In 2015 and 2016, Luke was part of a group that travelled to Calais, bringing supplies, raising money and holding the conferences in solidarity with the camp residents. Luke continues to write and advocate in support of refugee rights, and does voluntary work for the Islington Law Centre and for Safe Passage. He enjoys reading, music, conversation, and cooking.
Salma gained ample experience volunteering in refugee contexts in Greece in 2016, where she provided communication services in Arabic to help disseminate information and provide advice. She communicated effectively with women who had been widowed, who were survivors of shipwrecks or explosions, and with unaccompanied minors. She has moreover supported RRDP with translation work since March 2016, and was a researcher during the RRDP study relating to women in displacement in November 2017.
Samer Saifeddin Abdulkarim Mustafa
Samer founded the refugee support group Hopetowns only a few weeks after arriving in the UK in 2016. Prior to this, he was a Calais camp resident, a community leader and a volunteer. He is currently a field research coordinator for RRDP whilst also studying at college in London.