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Image of The nine new Visiting Fellows who will be joining Jesus College on October 1
The nine new Visiting Fellows who will be joining Jesus College on October 1

Jesus College elects nine new Visiting Fellows

Nine exceptional and distinguished individuals are joining Jesus College as Visiting Fellows.

Visiting Fellowships are offered to people of distinction for their outstanding achievements beyond normal academic circles. They include eminent figures in law, politics, culture, the arts and media, business and public service.

The role will see them participate in College life by giving talks and lectures, and by interacting with and inspiring our students. They may also conduct their own research in the University of Cambridge during their tenure. The Visiting Fellows will take up their new roles from October 1.

Sonita Alleyne, Master of Jesus College, said: “These nine people have all made an outstanding contribution to their respective fields. Life in a Cambridge College offers a wide range of social, intellectual, cultural, and artistic experiences; we sought out people who would embrace and enhance College life. I look forward to them joining our wonderful community and to the contributions they will make."

Nimco Ali, CEO of the Five Foundation

Nimco Ali is a survivor of female genital mutilation (FGM), a strategist and an author. Born in Somaliland, she grew up in the UK. In 2019, she co-founded The Five Foundation, The Global Partnership To End FGM. She also co-founded Daughters of Eve in 2010, a non-profit organisation that works to protect girls and young women who are at risk from FGM. Nimco’s work has helped to position FGM as a central issue in ending violence against women and girls. Since late 2020 she is also the independent advisor on violence against women and girls for the UK Home Office. 

Nimco’s professional experience has included working for counter-terrorism within the civil service, supporting the rights of girls in the UK as part of Girlguiding UK and currently as a board member for Inspiring Girls. She is also a leading commentator in international media on the rights of girls and women – particularly surrounding FGM and related issues. 

During 2019, Nimco was awarded an OBE for her groundbreaking activism. This adds to her long list of achievements to date. In 2014, Nimco was awarded Red Magazine’s Woman of the Year award, and placed at number six on the Woman’s Hour Power List. Most recently she was named by The Sunday Times as one of Debrett’s 500 most influential people in Britain, as well as one of the Evening Standard’s 1,000 Most Powerful and BBC’s 100 Women. 

Nimco’s book, What We’re Told Not To Talk About (But We’re Going To Anyway), was published by Penguin in June 2019. 

Dr Gus Casely-Hayford, Director of V&A East

Dr Gus Casely-Hayford is a British museum curator, broadcaster, author, and cultural historian. He is from a noted Ghanaian family – his grandfather was a prominent pan-African politician in the then Gold Coast, his brother was a well-known fashion designer, and his sister is a high-profile lawyer and businessperson.

He did a doctorate in African History at King’s College, London, and has worked in a very wide range of cultural institutions. Until recently, he was the Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington DC. He has now returned to the UK as Director of the new V&A East.

He has presented an award-winning South Bank show on African art, a documentary on Chris Ofili for Channel 4 and presented several series on African culture for BBC World Service as well as Brit Art: Where to Now? for BBC Four.

He is a Clore Fellow and a Trustee of the National Trust, having previously been a Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery and a Council member of Tate Britain. He was made OBE in 2018 for services to arts and culture.

Dr Lizzie Collingham, Author

Lizzie is a former Research Fellow between 1998 and 2001, during which time she published her first book, Imperial Bodies: The Physical Experience of the Raj, c.1800-1947, which explored how themes of imperialism, race and class found  physical expression and the use of the body as an instrument of rule during the Raj.

Since leaving Jesus she has established her credentials as an independent author, columnist and media commentator. Her publications, which show her mastery of the sweep of global history and her eye for the telling detail, have been highly rated by reviewers and greatly enjoyed by readers. Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors traced the story of the dish from Mughal rule to the modern day, revealing the at times unexpected history of Britain’s relationship with India along the way.

The Taste of War: World War Two and the Battle for Food demonstrated how all sides in the conflict used food as a weapon of war. The Hungry Empire: How Britain’s Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World was the recipient of the Food Book Award (2018), conferred by the Guild of Food Writers.

Dr Claire Foster-Gilbert, Director, Westminster Abbey Institute

Claire has worked extensively in public ethics, specialising in medical ethics and environmental ethics. A theologian by background, she emphasises the spiritual dimension of ethics in her writing and lecturing.

Claire was Research Fellow at the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics, King’s College, London, then National Policy Adviser to the Church of England on medical ethics and environmental ethics. She founded a charity, the Ethics Academy, and was a lay canon of St Paul’s Cathedral where she co-founded St Paul’s Institute for ethics in finance and business. She is founding Director of Westminster Abbey Institute, which nurtures and revitalises moral and spiritual values in public life and service in the institutions of government that are Westminster Abbey’s neighbours.

Claire’s doctorate is on Julian of Norwich and ecological consciousness.  She has published extensively, including The Ethics of Medical Research on Humans (CUP 2001); Sharing God’s Planet (CHP 2004); Integrity in Public Life (Haus 2019); and more personally of her cancer diagnosis and treatment Miles to Go Before I Sleep (Hodder 2021).  She is working on a book on Julian of Norwich.

Dr Jason Mellad, CEO of Start Codon

Jason Mellad is an enthusiastic and experienced entrepreneur. Originally from Louisiana, he won a Marshall Scholarship to the University of Cambridge, securing a PhD in Medicine in 2009. After a period in bioscience research and business development, he became CEO of Cambridge Epigenetix, a world-leading company extracting information from DNA sequences. He then established Start Codon, the Cambridge-based life sciences venture builder, which invests in and nurtures a wide range of biotech companies.

He is also co-owner of the LAB cocktail bar, a bioscience-themed venue on Regent Street, which plays a surprisingly important role in the Cambridge biotech scene. He is a Business Board Member of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell, MP for Royal Sutton Coldfield

Andrew is a Jesuan and a former Senior Research Associate at the College. As an undergraduate he read history, and was President of the Cambridge Union in 1978.

Prior to Cambridge Andrew served in the British Army.

Andrew first entered Parliament in 1987, serving first as a Government Whip and then as Minister in the Department of Social Security from 1995-7. He also served as Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party 1992-93. He lost his seat in the 1997 election, but returned to Parliament as the MP for Sutton Coldfield in 2001.

Andrew served as Secretary of State for International Development between 2010 and 2012, and he has continued to argue for international aid ever since.

Andrew founded Project Umubano in 2007, a social action project in Rwanda and Sierra Leone. He has served as a Senior Research Fellow at the Cambridge Centre for Rising Powers, chairing a termly Sinews of Development public event and helping senior international figures think through Development issues affecting their country. He also takes part in the Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime at the College. He is Honorary Professor, School of Social Sciences, University of Birmingham, Member of the Strategy Advisory Committee, Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, and a Visiting Fellow, Harvard University.

Chi-chi Nwanoku, Musician 


Double bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE studied at the Royal Academy of Music, where she is a Professor and Fellow, and with Franco Petracchi in Rome. She has been a Principal bassist, chamber and soloist with many of Europe’s leading orchestras. Chi-chi is Founder, Artistic and Executive Director of the Chineke! Foundation, which via its two orchestras and its community engagement work has been instrumental in creating opportunities for talented Black and ethnically diverse musicians through concerts, commissioning new works, championing historical composers, and establishing scholarships with major UK conservatoires.

She devised the ABO/RPS Salomon Prize. In 2012 Barrie Gavin directed a documentary film about Chi-chi’s career, Tales from the Bass Line and in 2018 she featured on BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs. As a broadcaster Chi-chi has presented documentaries for BBC Radio 3 and 4, Scala Radio and Classic FM. TV includes BBC and Sky Arts.

Prizes include Honorary Fellow of Trinity Laban Conservatoire Honorary Doctor Chichester University and Open University OBE, Black British Business Awards Person of the Year, ABO Award, Commonwealth Cultural Enterprise Award Women in the Arts, Creative Industries Award Variety Catherine Awards, Top 10 BBC Women in Music Power List. Chi-chi also featured in the powerlist of Britain’s 100 Most Influential Black People in 2019, 2020 and 2021, and also in 100 Great Black Britons.

Lemn Sissay, Author, Activist and Broadcaster

Lemn is Chancellor of University of Manchester, trustee of The Foundling Museum and trustee of The Christmas Dinners – an annual project to provide an amazing Christmas Day for care leavers aged between 18 and 25 - which he started in Manchester in 2013. It has spread across the country to 19 cities and towns on Christmas Day in 2020. Lemn is ambassador for Place2B, a children's mental health charity with over 25 years' experience working with pupils, families and staff in UK schools. He is patron of The National Association for the Teaching of English.

His most recent book, My Name is Why is a number one Sunday Times bestseller.  In 2021, My Name Is Why won The Indie Book Awards non-fiction prize. He co-curated Hold Still: A Portrait of Our Nation in 2020 by the Duchess of Cambridge – also a Sunday Times bestseller. Lemn has judged many literary competitions including The Booker Prize 2020, The Gold Man Booker awards and The National Poetry Competition.

He was writer in residence from 2006-2012 at The Southbank Centre.  He was the first poet commissioned to write for The Olympics in 2012. The Lemn Sissay PhD scholarship for Care Leavers has been running since 2013 at the University of Huddersfield.  Lemn is artistic adviser to The Manchester International Festival and was Guest Director of Brighton Festival 2020 and 2021. In 2014, Lemn was named MBE for services to literature and in 2021 named OBE for services to Literature and Charity.

Sharon Dodua Otoo, Author and Editor

Photographer: Johanna Ghebray

Sharon Dodua Otoo will be Schroeder Writer-in-Residence at Cambridge University for the academic year 2021/2022. Born in London, Sharon studied German and Management at Royal Holloway, University of London, spending two years abroad in Berlin as an exchange student. This experience led her to move permanently to Berlin in 2006. She has published widely, writing essays, short stories and novellas in both English and German. She edits the series Witnessed, an English language book series written by Black authors who have lived in Germany. Sharon’s non-fiction publications cover a wide range of topics concerning culture, diversity, race equality and feminism.

Sharon’s short story Herr Gröttrup sits down won the prestigious Ingeborg Bachmann Prize in 2016. She has also won awards from the Guntram und Irene Rinke Foundation and Deutscher Literaturfonds.

As an activist, Sharon has been involved with the Initiative for Black People in Germany, serving on its Board of Directors between 2010 and 2013 as well as a number of other groups. Between 2014 and 2017 she worked for RAA Berlin (Regional Centre for Education, Integration and Democracy), a registered non-profit organisation which coordinates and supports participation projects in educational settings as well as providing independent youth welfare services.

Her first novel Adas Raum (Adas Realm) was published in Spring 2021 to critical acclaim.


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