Debbie is Founder and Chief Executive at AFRUCA – Africans Unite Against Child Abuse and Founder and President of AFRUCA Foundation for the Protection of the Rights of Vulnerable Children, a Children’s NGO in Nigeria. She holds a Bachelor degree in French and Education from the University of Benin, Nigeria and a Master degree in Urban Policy from the University of North London, UK. She is currently undertaking an Executive Masters degree in Public Administration at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Born in the UK and raised in Nigeria, before starting AFRUCA in 2001, she spent 10 years working in the British Civil Service across different government departments and in different policy posts including urban regeneration, competitiveness, small business, youth entrepreneurship and enterprise policies. In 2003, she resigned from the Civil Service as a Higher Executive Officer to focus on running AFRUCA full time.
Now as a social entrepreneur, Debbie has spent the past 13 years as the Chief Executive of AFRUCA. In that time, she has helped to build the AFRUCA brand by designing, developing, implementing and evaluating AFRUCA’s range of innovative work programmes on the promotion and protection of African children, raising the organisation’s profile as a dynamic children’s charity. She has worked with others to develop and implement AFRUCA’s strategies and policies, making the organisation one of the leading black led charities in the UK. She works with and advises UK agencies and international bodies to shape policy and help improve service provision for children, sitting on a number of related national committees, working groups and advisory boards including at the Department for Education, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Debbie is a recognised expert in the field of child protection and diversity issues with strong expertise in different specialist areas including in culture, parenting and child protection, family support, community child protection, the trafficking of children as well as work against the branding of children as witches. She is a Trainer, a Campaigner, a Writer, a Researcher, a Public Speaker and a strong Advocate for the rights and welfare of children. As a strong believer in prevention and early intervention strategies in the protection of children, she has produced many guideline materials and safeguarding publications to help raise the skills levels of parents and practitioners to aid child upbringing and prevent abuse. As a community development expert, she has designed, developed and implemented a number of innovative community based programmes on child protection and worked with and trained hundreds of parents and practitioners across the UK on how to improve their knowledge and skills to ensure better protection for children.
Debbie has specific senior management skills in a number of key areas including Strategic Planning, Stakeholder Management, Change Management, Financial Management, Social Entrepreneurship and Organisational growth and development. A successful fundraiser, she has raised millions of pounds in grants to help develop AFRUCA’s work across the UK and in Africa. She also mentors women and young people setting up businesses and social enterprises, sharing with them her experiences of successfully building the AFRUCA model. She is a student Mentor under the London Metropolitan University Career Mentoring Programme.
Debbie was a founding Non Executive Board Member of the Independent Safeguarding Authority, the UK agency established to prevent unsuitable people from working with children and vulnerable adults. She was a Governor at Kingsdale Foundation School in South London. In 2013 she served as an international observer at the Kenyan Presidential Elections. A recognised expert in Nigerian current affairs, she is a known public speaker and commentator on Nigeria and has provided expert oral and written evidence in many Nigerian related UK immigration and asylum cases.
Debbie is a Fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs. She has received many awards and commendations for her work and was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her work with children and families. In January 2014, Debbie was listed as one of 12 African Women Top Achievers in the UK by AFRO Newspaper. In May 2014, she was one of 100 Diasporan Nigerians awarded the UK Nigeria Centenary Awards for Excellent Contribution to society.