An Evening with The Bellagio Center

We are delighted to be producing our first live event in the East African region! An Evening With Bellagio Center,  a Talking Heads inspired event,  will provide the opportunity for Resilience Week participants to enjoy dinner and engage with esteemed alumni of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center residency program from across Africa.

Here are some of the artists, academics and practitioners who will be engaged in stimulating dialogue to shape thinking and catalyse action around the Foundation’s strategic goals: building greater resilience and more inclusive economies:

  • Edith Kimani | Journalist | Event Host 

 Edith Kimani is Deutsche Welle’s East African correspondent covering up to ten countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. She has had experience moderating a number of events for Kenya’s leading cooperates including The Sameer Group, Safaricom and The Standard Group. She has also been called on numerous speaking engagements by high schools and human rights organisations like the Coalition on Violence Against Women. She is the current host of a pan-African environmental magazine show called Eco@Africa.

  • Pilar Palacia | Managing Director, Bellagio Center | Panelist

Pilar Palaciá joined the Rockefeller Foundation in 1991.  As Managing Director of the Bellagio Center facilities, since 2006, based in Bellagio, Italy, Ms. Palaciá is in charge of all logistics and operations at the Bellagio Center, including managing all staff and outsourced services. She also serves as the Foundation’s representative to guests of the Bellagio Center’s residency programs and conferences.Ms. Palaciá has a bachelor’s degree in Translation, a Masters in Humanities and two Post-Degrees in Human Resources and Thanatology.


  • Claudia Juech | Rockefeller Foundation

Claudia Juech is Associate Vice President, and Managing Director for Strategic Research at the Rockefeller Foundation. She manages a team tasked with identifying and distilling emergent opportunities to inform Foundation-wide strategy and areas of programmatic work. To do so, Ms. Juech manages a sub-portfolio of work including programming for the Foundation’s Bellagio Center and leading the Strategic Research team, a strategic function that aims to identify and assess the impact potential of intervention opportunities across all four of the Foundation’s thematic priority areas.


  • Tade Ipadeola| Poet | Bellagio Center Alumni

Tade Ipadeola, is a Nigerian poet and lawyer. He has three published volumes of poetry. His latest work The Sahara Testaments, won the Nigeria Prize for Literature 2013. The works of Tade Ipadeola explore geographies, history, prehistory, flora, fauna, language and identities. His works have been described as epical, demonstrating a striking marriage of sound and sense. He currently serves as the PEN (Nigeria Centre) President.


  • Rabab El-Mahdi | Activist | Bellagio Center Alumni

Rabab El-Mahdi is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the American University in Cairo.  She joined and co-founded a number of opposition groups in Egypt since 2001 and was the senior advisor to Presidential candidate Abdel Monem Abu El-Fetouh in 2012.  She serves on the boards of a number of Egyptian civil society organizations.  Her publications and political activism focuses on social movements and civil society groups including; labour, pro-democracy groups, women, and Islamists. El-Mahdi is a frequent commentator on AJE, BBC, CNN, ABC and writes op-eds for both Egyptian and international newspapers.


  • Paul Kelemba | Illustrator | Bellagio Center Alumni

Paul Kelemba (Maddo) is a Kenyan cartoonist and illustrator. His full-page weekly socio-political composite cartoon feature titled It’s a Madd Madd World appears in The Standard Newspaper. He has contributed to several publications over the past 30 years. He is a recipient of several awards including the prestigious CNN Multi-Choice African Journalists Awards (GE Energy Category). He is a founding member of Katuni – The East African Cartoonists’ Society and is also associated with documenting and archiving Kenyan music genres at Ketebul Music. He is an associate producer at Buni Media Limited.


  • Prof Lou-Marie Kruger | Academic | Bellagio Center Alumni

Professor Lou-Marie Kruger obtained an M.Soc.Sci. (Political Studies) from the University of Cape Town (1989) and a M.A. and Ph.D (Clinical Psychology) from Boston University (1996). She completed an American Psychological Association accredited internship for Clinical Psychology at Massachusetts Mental Health Center, Harvard Medical School (July 1995 – June 1996).  She is the recipient and nominee of numerous awards and fellowships for her work, including a Fulbright Scholarship and South African Women in Science Awards. Her research focuses on the emotional worlds of low- income South African mothers, utilising mainly psychoanalytic, feminist and postmodern theoretical frameworks.


  • Katindi Sivi-Njonjo | Futurist

Katindi Sivi-Njonjo is the founder and lead consultant at LongView Consult, a socio- economic research, policy analysis, training and foresight strategy firm. Prior to that, she served as the Programme Director in an international organization that facilitates development dialogue. Ms. Katindi has pioneered research and authored publications in areas of the extractives sector, inequality and youth demographics. Her work has contributed to the conceptualization of various national programmes and policies and has influenced organizational strategies both nationally and internationally.


  • Babila Mutia | Storyteller | Bellagio Center Alumni

Babila Mutia holds an MA in Creative Writing and a PhD in African Literature. He is the author of four books, and his short stories and poems have been featured in a range of international journals and anthologies. He was invited in August 2011 for a residency at the Rockefeller Bellagio Centre in Italy to complete his novel The Journey’s End. Mutia is a professional storyteller who has performed his stories in Europe, Canada, the US, and South Africa. He is Associate Professor of African literature and Creative Writing at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, University of Yaoundé I in Cameroon.


  • Dr Auma Obama | Philanthropist | Bellagio Center Alumni

She is the Founder and Director of the Sauti Kuu Foundation, a non-profit for disadvantaged children and youth. She is a member of the World Future Council, an Advisory Board member of the Bayreuth University’s Academy of Advanced African Studies, and of   Stiftung Lesen, a German Organization promoting literacy. She is also the patron of The Storymoja Festival, an acclaimed African literary festival and platform to showcase, discover and nurture creative talent and literacy worldwide.  She is a published author.


  • Godfrey Mwampembwa (Gado) | Cartoonist | Bellagio Center Alumni

Gado is the most Syndicated Political/Editorial cartoonist in the East and Central Africa. His works have also been published in Daily Nation (Kenya), Le Monde and Courrier International (France), Deutsche Welle (Germany), The Guardian of London among others. He is the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Buni Media, an independent multi-media company based in Nairobi and the creator and Producer of the weekly satirical puppet show, The XYZ SHOW.Gado is a 2007 Prince Claus Laureate; a winner of Kenya National Human Rights Commission Award in Journalism; a recipient of the Cartoon for Peace 2016 International Editorial Cartoon and in 2014, was named as one of the 100 most influential people in Africa by New African.


  • Prof Loyiso Nongxa | Mathematician | Bellagio Center Alumni

Professor Loyiso Nongxa is the former Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg,  South Africa. The University Council installed Nongxa as the first Black Vice-Chancellor of Wits on 19 May 2003. Besides his positions at universities, Nongxa has also served as a member of the Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee, the SAUVCA Research Committee and various National Research Foundation of South Africa committees. He is currently the Chairperson of National Research Foundation of South Africa. He is a qualified mathematician.


  • Dr. Njeri Kinyanjui | Academic | Bellagio Center Alumni

Dr Mary Njeri Kinyanjui is a writer, researcher, teacher, community organizer volunteer and a firm believer in social economic justice and self-reliance. She is a senior research fellow at the Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi. She holds a PhD in Geography from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University. She has researched on economic informality, grassroots and indigenous institutions in the organization of economic behavior, small business, gender and trade justice and peasant organizations. Her current research is on the positioning of women peasants, artisans and traders in the global economy.


  • Samuel Carter | Managing Director, Rockefeller Foundation

As Managing Director working on the Resilience Team and the Global Resilience Partnership, Samuel Carter works to increase our knowledge and understanding of resilience and to develop and execute innovative resilience building strategies for communities around the world.  He’s currently leading the development of a Global Resilience Academy as well as the foundation’s US-based resilience work.


  • Mamadou Biteye | Managing Director, Africa, Rockefeller Foundationmamadoumamadou

Mamadou Biteye oversees the Foundation’s work across Africa, bringing with him decades of experience and expertise in the development sector in Africa.He joined the Foundation from Oxfam Great Britain’s West Africa Regional Center, where he was the Regional Director, responsible for strategic program leadership and overall management of the West Africa region..Mamadou is an agricultural economist by training, with over twenty years of experience in strategic leadership, human resources management, financial management, program development and implementation, public policy analysis, advocacy and campaigning and community participatory development.


  • Kato Change | AIR 2015 Award Winner | Musician

Kato Change is a self-taught guitarist whose technique was nurtured by an emerging online community of musicians on YouTube. His self-directed style draws from a heritage of jazz legends as well as African, Flamenco, Blues and rock. Kato has been a fellow in several international music residencies including the U.S Department of State’s One beat program. He has played with Salif Keita, Seun Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Neyo, Aloe Blacc, Trey Songz, Yemi Alade and Fally Ipupa among others. In December 2015, Kato released his debut album The Change Experience. Kato is an Africa Centre Artist In Residency 2015 Award winner.


  • Atemi Oyungu | AIR 2015 Award Finalist | Musician

Atemi Oyungu has been described as a love child of Miriam Makeba and Jill Scott, and has headlined at a great number of festivals including the Maputo Flying Carpet Festival in Mozambique, Sawa Sawa Festival in Nairobi, the Koroga Festival in Nairobi The Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC and Sauti za Busara festival in Zanzibar. She has headlined alongside musical greats such as Mbilia Bel, Les Nubians, Anthony Hamilton, Ali Kiba, and Simpiwe Dana to name a few. Atemi has 2 studio albums under her belt; Hatinaye (2005) and Manzili (2013). She has currently released 4 single off her 3rd upcoming and highly anticipated album with ‘Bebi Bebi’ being the most popular of these.