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About us

Our people

Our team is made up of passionate and experienced staff - first and second generation migrants with lived experience of the UK's immigration system - who are guided in their work by our dedicated trustees.

Staff

Fizza Qureshi

CEO

Fizza is the CEO of the Migrants’ Rights Network.

Fizza joined MRN as the Director Designate in August 2016. She previously worked at the Terrence Higgins Trust for just over 3 years covering the London and East of England sexual health and HIV services. Before this, she worked as a Programme Manager for an international medical humanitarian organisation where she was responsible for its UK independent health clinic, and health advocacy programme supporting migrants to access healthcare.

Fizza has a degree in Human Rights and Social Change, and a degree in Biotechnology. She has previously served as Board Member of MRN, the Institute of Race Relations and Healthwatch Newham.

Her interests include; immigration, race, music and travelling.

Contact Fizza at: [email protected] (please note she works part-time: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday).

Eliyes Omar

Finance Administrator

Eliyes joined MRN in September 2017. He is in charge of MRN’s financial management. Eliyes has enjoyed maths since his childhood. He is a mathematics graduate and has a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in Mathematics. He also holds a Level 3 Advanced Diploma in IT, and a Level 3 Diploma in Accounting (AAT). 

Contact Eliyes at: [email protected]

Katia Widlak

London Project Coordinator

Katia joined MRN in November 2021 as the Interim London Project Coordinator.

Katia was a trade union organiser in the National Strategic and Organising Unit of UNISON, and the organising lead for the EU Citizens’ Right to Remain campaign.

She joined the3million, a grassroots organisation led by EU nationals to safeguard existing rights post-Brexit, a few months after it was set up in 2016. Her involvement with the3million was organic and in continuity with her work and values. As a migrant herself, most of her work revolves around organising migrant workers in understanding their rights at work, and campaigning for better rights in general. She understood straight away that Brexit will be utilised to threaten and erode the rights of people who arrived under free movement, but also of all migrants in general.

In 2019 she co-founded a charity called Settled. Its aim is to reach out and to support EEA nationals and their family members in making applications for the EU Settlement Scheme, so as to avoid becoming undocumented after the cut off period. The charity is training and accrediting volunteers who are committed to supporting and reaching out to their local community.

Contact Katia at [email protected]

Yuka Matsushima

MAP Programme Coordinator

Yuka joined MRN in December 2021 as the Migrants’ Aspiration Programme (MAP) Programme Coordinator.

Yuka joined with 10 years experience in coordinating leadership programmes in Japan. She previously worked at Cross Fields, which aims to bridge charity organisations and corporates to create new social impacts, as Co-founder and COO. Before this, she worked as a business consultant in Boston Consulting Group. She has a particular interest in contributing to a society where migrants are treated with respect and can take a more active leadership role in society.

Yuka has a degree in International Migration and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Contact Yuka at [email protected] (please note she works part-time: Monday morning, Tuesday and Thursday).

Ana Gavalas

Digital Marketing Assistant

Ana joined MRN in December 2021.

She has an LLB in Law and a Distinction in MA Transnational Queer Feminist Politics. She previously worked as a paralegal.

She is particularly interested in decolonisation, and in queerness a mode of resistance. Ana is heavily invested in analysing and critiquing the border as a site of violence for racialised and migratised communities.

She really enjoys content creation, music, art and writing.

Contact Ana at [email protected]

Board of Trustees

MRN has an active Board of Trustees, responsible for the overall management of the organisation.

Nick Sigler

Chair

Nick Sigler worked for the labour movement for nearly forty years, firstly for the Labour Party in a range of positions, and latterly as the head of the International Department of UNISON, Britain’s largest trade union.

In addition Nick has worked overseas in a number of positions including in the European Parliament and for the OSCE in Serbia. Throughout his career Nick has been responsible for managing a range of projects in different parts of the world, working with emerging political parties, trade unionists and other activists. 

Following his ‘retirement’ in 2013, Nick has been a trustee of a number of charities including the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and RefugeeYouth. The son of refugees from Nazi Germany, Nick has always felt a commitment to protecting and enhancing the rights of migrants and refugees, and to ensuring that the enormous benefits they bring to the country and their communities are better understood and valued.

Sainga Tony

Vice-chair

Sainga studied accountancy before working in a large local authority in a london borough, followed by a role in a small BAME housing association and a Directorship at a race equality charity, and brings over 14 years’ housing, local government and charity experience with her. Sainga spent many years developing strategies to combat the effects of various Government changes that disproportionately affect BAME communities, including welfare reform, and successfully implemented strategies to reduce evictions in temporary housing for 18-24 year olds. 

Sainga has been key in working collaboratively with local authorities and BME London housing providers to empower residents through access to employment and skills training, and has successfully set up a number of small business ventures. Sainga’s specialisms include: housing, welfare benefits, business development, stakeholder management, strategic leadership, influencing and motivational skills.

Sainga is passionate about creating an equal, fairer and inclusive society where everyone is given the opportunity to prosper, particularly BAME communities, young people, and other disadvantaged groups.

Leticia Ishibashi

Secretary to the Board

Letícia joined the MRN board in April 2020 as the Secretary to the Board.

She works at the Greater London Authority, working to increase access to immigration advice across the capital and advising on policy issues impacting Londoners with insecure status.

Previously, she led research and policy responses to prevent and address labour exploitation in the UK, coordinating two cross-sector civil society  coalitions. Before that, Letícia supported the engagement of grassroots and community organisations in international human rights mechanisms, supported the casework of migrants and asylum seekers in the UK, and conducted research on rights-based approaches to migration.

Letícia is a first generation migrant in the UK and a third generation migrant in Brazil, where she was born. She’s passionate about ensuring migrants are entitled to and can exercise comprehensive socioeconomic rights, irrespective of immigration status. Letícia moved to the UK in 2015 to pursue an MSc in Social Policy and Development at the London School of Economics.

Aurora Todisco

Treasurer

Aurora Todisco has 15 years’ experience of driving effective financial management through her passion for accounting, banking and HR.

Her career started in the private sector, coordinating legal, tax and contributory management aspects related to the remuneration of personnel for an Italian firm.

Since she moved to London in 2014, she developed an interest in health-related living habits, and how individuals use their finances to make informed choices on aspects like nutrition, transport, etc.

She knew she could make a positive contribution to the charitable sector, combining her background skills with her inquisitive attitude towards public health.

This reason lead Aurora to join HealthWatch Tower Hamlets as the Finance and Information Officer. HWTH gathers the experiences of health and social care users with the aim to shape the quality of services offered.

Belonging to the first generation of EU migrants in her family, when starting to consider building her new career in a different setting, she reflected deeply, acknowledging that her past choices went smoothly, and that she hadn’t ever been preoccupied about the future.

This transition has been the reason why she developed such strong ambitions, also influencing her motto: “I overcame huge challenges to achieve something truly remarkable”.

She now has a clearer picture, and tries to support ethnic minority women through their post-migration journeys.

Aurora is also a Patient Participation Group Member at her local GP practice, and a member of East London Citizens’ Panel (East London Health and Care Partnership), BARTS Health NHS Trust and East London NHS Foundation Trust.

She is an active member of the Healthcare Financial Management Association and a Value Marker (London Network) of NHS Future-Focused Finance.

She has been recently awarded the Leadership Foundations Edward Jenner Programme (NHS Leadership Academy), and holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Primary Care Management from The National Association of Primary Care and Healthcare, and Financial Management Association.

She volunteers as Treasurer (East London Support Group Finance Contact), and at Parkinson’s UK.

Alan Anstead

Board Member

Alan coordinates UKREN, a network of local and national organisations across the UK that work to combat race discrimination within a European context.

Alan is also the Founder and Chief Executive of Equality, a charity that works to uphold and secure the rights of the Roma ethnic minority group, who migrated to Great Britain and Northern Ireland from Eastern European countries.

Dr Rakhi Rashmi

Board Member

Rakhi joined the board in April 2020. She is a barrister who holds a PhD in International Law. She specialises in immigration, human rights, migrants rights, detention, deportation and family-related matters.

She has advised several international organisations and represented individual clients in different courts. She has previously worked with CNRS GREDEG in France, and different High Commissions such as Brazil, Peru and Cuba as an adviser. Dr Rashmi has been trained at the World Health Organisation (South East Asia Office) and the United Nations University (Maastricht). She has lectured at Oxford University Innovation Ltd (a wholly owned subsidiary of the University of Oxford). She was visiting fellow at Kings College Department of Political Economy from 2012 to 2014. She has been widely published internationally in newspapers and magazines and has spoken on biopharma innovation, human rights and access to medicines (health policy) in around 22 countries. Dr Rashmi is also Vice Chairperson of the Commonwealth in England Barrister’s Association (CEBA).

Dr Dagmar Rita Myslinska

Board Member

Dagmar is a Lecturer in law at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she convenes an Immigration Law module and supervises the Immigration Law & Policy Clinic. She is also a contributor to the ‘Britain in Europe’ think-tank, and a member of the Goldsmiths College Academic Board. She had previously taught law at several institutions in the US and Japan, including at Columbia Law School and Fordham University School of Law. Her research interests include migration, equality, ethnicity and race. In addition to her academic publications, she has authored numerous open-access reference articles on asylum law, and she has contributed to blogs and various domestic and international media outlets regarding migration issues.

Earlier in her career, Dagmar had practiced commercial and pro bono immigration law, specialising in representing asylum applicants (including those in detention) in the US. She had also clerked for two federal judges in the US. Throughout her career, she has been collaborating with and volunteering for immigrant charities and human rights organisations, including Human Rights First in New York. She studied at Yale University (BA), Columbia University School of Law (Juris Doctor), and the LSE (PhD, Law).

As a child, Dagmar had moved with her parents to the US, as asylees from Poland. She came to the UK in 2014 as a free mover, and is now a settled EU national here. She is passionate about ensuring all migrants’ access to rights and creating a more inclusive and just society.

Michael Ahanchian

Board Member

Michael has over 20 years’ of experience driving organisational change on communications and digital strategy, through insight, analytics and transformation projects.

He is a thought leader and senior director in insight and digital implementation, with extensive specialist experience across these fields. As Chief Digital Officer at the Prince of Wales’ charity Business in the Community, he led digital transformation and was a data, digital and communications ambassador across their equality and diversity campaigns.

As a former refugee and first-generation migrant himself, he has personal experience of the challenges migrants face, and fully understands the reality of society for these communities. He is passionate about fighting for rights and justice for these communities, but is also committed to changing perceptions, highlighting the positive impact of migration to modern Britain.

Michael is also active in the Labour movement and is Vice Chair of Labour Business’s Future of Work Policy Group.

Michael Raff

Board Member

Michael Raff is a trainee solicitor in the City of London. Before this, he gained significant experience on the island of Lesvos in Greece, which is considered to be the epicenter of the “refugee crisis” in Europe. In 2018, he volunteered as a Team Leader for an emergency response NGO, helping to coordinate rescue efforts for asylum seekers crossing from Turkey. In 2020, he returned to the island with an NGO providing legal aid to asylum seekers. Michael assisted individuals by preparing them for their asylum interviews, as well as submitting a number of family reunification applications under the Dublin III Regulation.

Through this experience, Michael has developed a passion for helping and standing in solidarity with those forced to flee from their homes.