Announcing our New CEO, Rachel Ellis

We are excited to announce the appointment of our new CEO, Rachel Ellis. Rachel first joined us as a volunteer helping out with communications and then went on to become our Operations Manager, an  important role in which she has excelled, allowing the organisation to run smoothly and efficiently so we can focus on our mission to support refugees—and each other—with dignity.

Rachel is a human rights and conflict prevention postgraduate specialising in international project management and coordination. She has lived and worked in several European countries and started her career in Geneva focusing on the role of states and supranational bodies in upholding the rights of the child. Having moved back to the UK and worked for nearly four years at a political communications company, the national and global shifts of 2016 reignited her commitment to human rights activism with a focus on the power of community and solidarity in the context of mass migration. Having relocated to Lesvos, Rachel worked for several years in a refugee camp and later a women’s day centre. During the pandemic she worked freelance on multiple projects for different organisations in the sector, including Programme Manager for a UK Charity supporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children; facilitator for the restructure of Greek NGO; and consultant for a strategic work agreement for a global peace organisation. Alongside her current role of Operations Manager at Refugee Support, Rachel is pursuing a PhD in Migration Studies from the University of Granada, studying the impact and potential of solidarity spaces on the Mediterranean border.

Rachel’s academic qualifications and professional experience spanning organisational and frontline humanitarian work, along with her longstanding experience in the organisation, make her the perfect fit. We are lucky and honoured to have her as our new CEO.

Our co-founder and outgoing CEO, Paul Hutchings, says:

Growing Refugee Support has been a huge labour of love. How we work, our fantastic team and our wonderful community of helpers means everything to me so I would only hand over control of that to someone I trust and respect. I am delighted that Rachel has agreed to take it on and couldn’t think of anyone better qualified. Now my focus is on ensuring that she has everything she needs to work her magic and looking forward to seeing where she takes the organisation next.

And Chris Goodson, our Chair of Trustees, says:

I am delighted that Rachel will be taking over as our CEO. Paul should be incredibly proud of the organisation he has built over the last 7 years; our strong foundations mean Rachel can now deliver our strategic goals over the coming years. Rachel’s experience & qualifications will prove a huge asset and the fact she knows the organisation inside out will ensure a smooth transition. I speak for literally thousands when I say “Thank you, Paul”. We now focus on exciting times ahead.

Paul will stay in the role as long as is necessary for a smooth and complete transition, including recruiting a full-time Operations and Admin Manager to support Rachel.

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