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#ACEVOFest21 speakers: Sufina Ahmad

ACEVO’s digital leadership festival is back this year from 2-4 November. The full programme is available on the website and in this blog series, you will get to know our speakers a little bit better.

A narrated version of this blog is available at the bottom of the page

Sufina Ahmad, director, John Ellerman Foundation

At #ACEVOFest21, Sufina will help leaders understand when the best thing we can do is take up space and advocate, and when is the time for us to step aside and allow others to lead.

What makes you hopeful?

I find hope in the networks and connections I have professionally and personally. They provide me and others with safe and brave spaces in which to explore challenges and ideas, and to foster collective responses that support change. During Covid-19 I have gained a lot of joy and hope from being able to create new connections through Resourcing Racial Justice, the Environmental Funders Network and the Arts Funders Group in particular.

My team and my board give me a lot of hope too. I joined John Ellerman Foundation in January 2020, and it wasn’t that long before we started working remotely and responding to the pandemic. Despite the various ways in which this has impacted us all personally and professionally, I have learned so much from the team and Board, and I will be forever grateful for their confidence and trust in me, and their support to me and to each other.

What message you’d like to send to yourself to read a year from now?

In July 2022, I will have graduated (hopefully) from my MBA Masters programme, and I will have been in post at John Ellerman Foundation for just over two and a half years too. I think the message I will need to hear at that point is:

Avoid rushing into the next big project or thing. Use the extra time and capacity you have to slow down and think more deeply and carefully about what comes next for you – personally and professionally.

Can you recommend a book, a series, film or podcast?

Podcasts-wise, I would recommend ‘How to Save a Planet’, ‘Hidden Brain’, ‘Intersectionality Matters’ and ‘Throughline’ – they are all US-based, but there is much in all of them that is applicable to the UK context, and their approach to exploring an issue or idea is really engaging and informative.

If you are interested in grantmaking, then two very good books on the subject that I have read recently are ‘Modern Grantmaking’ by Gemma Bull and Tom Steinberg, and ‘Letting Go’ by Ben Wrobel and Meg Massey.

Narrated by a member of the ACEVO staff

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