About us Meet the team Trustees Ruth Cigman, trustee, heal & grow, philosophy Ruth co-founded the Cotton Tree and leads the Heal & Grow branch with Michael Mugishangyezi. She has a PhD in philosophy of music and taught for many years at UCL. Ruth facilitates workshops and writes regular blogs for this website. She is author of Cherishing and the Good Life of Learning (Bloomsbury 2018). Michael Mark, trustee, law, finance Michael co-founded the Cotton Tree. A tribunal judge for over 18 years, he has a wide range of legal experience. He gives our members the time they need to tell their stories. Kristine Stave, trustee Kristine's background is in government, the United Nations and health. Since 2011 she has helped to run Lifebox; a charity working to improve the safety of surgery and anaesthesia in low-resource settings. Kristine is also actively engaged in community development in North London. George Goldstein, trustee, research George has travelled extensively in his business life and is chair and co-founder of an international development NGO. He has 20 years’ experience working with economic and internally displaced migrants in Nepal. Judith Favour Ahikiri Judith came to the UK as an asylum seeker and is a co-founder of the Cotton Tree. She works with a refugee and asylum seeker charity and is involved with several other voluntary organisations. Staff Janet Gilbert, general manager Janet began working with refugees and asylum seekers when she was the manager of a London winter night shelter for homeless people. She is a qualified ESOL teacher and holds a PhD in German. Alongside her career in research and training, she has chaired many community organisations and projects; she currently volunteers as a school governor and a playgroup committee chair. Arnold Christo-Leigh, casework, law Arnold came to the UK as an asylum seeker and co-founded the Cotton Tree. He uses his experience to help people facing hardships like his own and won an achievement award from the Marsh Christian Trust for outstanding service as a volunteer. Michael Mugishangyezi, heal & grow, school talks Michael came to the UK as an asylum seeker and co-founded the Cotton Tree. He has extensive experience of sharing his story with others (Young Vic, Parliament, British Museum), and leads our successful schools programme. He facilitates the weekly Heal & Grow workshops--a space for friendship and reflection on the refugee experience. Rebeka Carey, casework, law An Asylum and Immigration Advisor OISC Level 2, Rebeca holds an MSc in Migration, Mobility and Development from SOAS and joined The Cotton Tree in November 2020. She was previously Project Coordinator with Refugee Action and has also worked for Crisis at Christmas and the British Refugee Council. Volunteers Judy Morrison A former administrator at London and Nottingham Trent Universities, Judy has volunteered in a primary school and a night shelter for homeless people. She works flexibly with our staff, bringing emotional and practical support to members of the Cotton Tree. Claire Manson, heal & grow, art Claire has worked as an art psychotherapist in the NHS and independent sector. She co-founded Studio Upstairs, a working arts studio and therapeutic space. She helps members to materialise their feelings in clay and colour, and facilitates staff reflections on complex emotional issues.