Meet the diverse range of new visiting fellows at Jesus College, Cambridge

The nine new fellows areas of expertise include activism, curatorship, music and media to politics and bio-science

CN: Brief mention of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Nine individuals are joining Jesus College as Visiting Fellows, and will take up their roles at the start of the new academic year on October 1st.

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 at the University of Cambridge during their tenure.

Visiting Fellowships are offered to people of distinction for their outstanding achievements beyond normal academic circles. This year there is a diverse range of occupations and experiences and include eminent figures in law, politics, culture, the arts and media, business and public service.

Sonita Alleyne, Master of Jesus College, said: “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 (Photo Credit: Jesus College)

Nimco Ali is a survivor of female genital mutilation (FGM), a strategist and an author. 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 has also been the independent advisor on violence against women and girls for the UK Home Office. 

In 2019, Nimco was awarded an OBE for her groundbreaking activism. This adds to her long list of achievements to date. 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

Gus Caseley-Halford (Photo Credit: Jesus College)

Dr Gus Casely-Hayford is a British museum curator, broadcaster, author, and cultural historian. 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 Collingham (Photo Credit: Terry Roopnaraine)

Lizzie was a former Jesus College 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. For example her work 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.

Dr Claire Foster-Gilbert, Director, Westminster Abbey Institute

Claire Foster-Gilbert (Photo Credit: Grace Lao)

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 a 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; Sharing God’s Planet; Integrity in Public Life; and more personally of her cancer diagnosis and treatment Miles to Go Before I Sleep.

Dr Jason Mellad, CEO of Start Codon

Jason Mellad (Photo Credit: Jesus College)

Jason Mellad is an entrepreneur, originally from Louisiana. He won a Marshall Scholarship to the University of Cambridge, securing a PhD in Medicine in 2009. He held the position of  the 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 in Regent Street, which plays a surprisingly important role in the Cambridge biotech scene. 

Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell, MP for Royal Sutton Coldfield

Andrew Mitchell (Photo Credit: Jesus College)

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.

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.

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 is an Honorary Professor at the School of Social Sciences, University of Birmingham, a Member of the Strategy Advisory Committee at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, and a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University.

Chi-chi Nwanoku, Musician

Chi-Chi Nwanoku (Photo Credit: Jesus College)

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 the 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.

In 2012 Barrie Gavin directed a documentary film about Chi-chi’s career, Tales from the Bass Line, 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.

Chi-chi has won numerous honours and prizes and and is in the Top 10 BBC Women in Music Power List as well as featuring in the power list of Britain’s 100 Most Influential Black People in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Lemn Sissay, Author, Activist and Broadcaster

Lemn Sissay (Photo Credit: Slater King)

Lemn is Chancellor of the 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 also an 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 also a 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.  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.

Lemn was also writer in residence from 2006-2012 at The Southbank Centre.  He was the first poet commissioned to write for The Olympics in 2012. 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

Sharon Dodua Otoo (Photo Credit: 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. She has published widely, writing essays, short stories and novellas in both English and German. 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 that 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.

The Visiting Fellows will take up their new roles from October 1.

Feature Image Credit: Rachel Tobin, Jesus College Cambridge, Johanna Ghebray, Slater King, Grace Lao and Terry Roopnaraine