Big Ideas, Greek Mythology and Pasteis De Nata

Financial Times Weekend Festival 2022

On September 7, 2022, The Athena Advisors team returned to Kenwood House for the Financial Times Weekend festival. We were thrilled to be back for the second year with a booth. Those of us at The Athena Advisors work from all over the world, and even those of us in London are rarely in the same place. The FT Weekend Festival is one of the times we can get together and what better occasion than a festival with exciting panel discussions, debates, and exchange of ideas.
The day kicked off to a great start; we were offered pasteis de nata on arrival by the Visit Portugal team (vegan options available!). As a nonprofit consulting firm with an Artist in Residence, we were naturally drawn to the conversation between Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, Nephertiti Oboshie Schandorf, Artistic Director of Peckham Platform and Enuma Okoro, FT Life & Arts columnist. The panel discussed how the arts and artists can help transform society and really captivated the audience, including us. Our President, Robin Heller, was glad to meet Darren Walker in person, their paths having crossed when he was a Program Officer at Rockefeller Brothers and Robin was a Foundations Fundraising Officer at Children’s Defense Fund. “Darren is such a prophetic voice about America and its challenges, and the urgency and relevancy of philanthropy to set the direction for justice in our world as Ford certainly does under his leadership”, she reflected.
Enuma Okoro dropped by our booth and caught up with our Racing Upwards fellow, Emma Orefuwa, pictured here. For Emma, former Racing Upwards Fellow at The Athena Advisors, and new Senior Consultant, the festival “was a hive of ideas and dialogue. The session on art and activism was particularly stimulating and challenged one to think of activism beyond the obvious protests we often see.

Activism is inextricably linked to artistic expression and the panellists were emphatic on the need to ensure that more resources are needed to widen access to opportunities for diverse groups to produce, enjoy and benefit from art”. Our day was varied and vivid, with the perfect vantage point from our booth for the BIG IDEAS stage, where much of the action happened. We enjoyed a thrilling special performance from a new adaption of Euripides’ anti-war tragedy The Trojan Women, by a cast of Ukrainian, Afghan, Syrian and other refugees through the Trojan Women Project (there was a bit of a Greek mythology theme this year) before a lively discussion with Mikhail Khodorkovsky on “How to Deal with Putin”. The Russian businessman and onetime Kremlin confidant turned political prisoner and dissident spoke about the mind and motives of the Russian president and what might be next for his homeland.

Meanwhile, our Vice President of Strategy, Laetitia Pancrazi, attended the session: “Women Writing in the World” with Enuma Okoro and Jamaica Kincaid: “two women with such voices and insights, talking about the power of words and of building identity in literary work. This is crucial in the times we are facing. Literature can be a powerful tool to fight for social justice”.

The Athena Advisors were joined by a number of special guests: Bisi Alimi, Founder/Executive Director of Bisi Alimi Foundation; Patricia Hamzahee FRSA, Co-Founder and Trustee at Black Funding Network; Adrienne Johnson, Chair, Democrats Abroad UK Black Caucus and Dr Agnes Kaposi MBE, engineer, author of Yellow Star – Red Star and PR client of The Athena Advisors.

And finally, a very special guest: our competition winner, Harbi Jama, Corporate Partnerships Manager at Refugee Action and his guest, Kadra Abdinasir, Associate Director for Children and Young People at Centre for Mental Health. We were in good company! Pictured below is Robin Heller, President of The Athena Advisors, with Harbi Jama.
Many fascinating festival goers passed our booth, and we look forward to staying in touch. We are driven by a belief in social justice, and we just think you might be too.