Maria Balandina

Maria Balandina

Managing Director, Friends Foundation
Maria was born in Moscow in 1982. She graduated with honours from the departments of history and linguistics at Russian State Humanities Universities with a degree in history, literature and culture of Russia and Great Britain, defending her thesis on 6th-century Irish Hagiography as a Means of Transforming the Social Reality, with the Life of Saint Columba as an Example. She continued her education at the Higher School of Project Management at the Higher School of Economics, where she defended her thesis on the Integration of the Project Management System at Marka.

She has spent most of her professional career as an events manager in arts and entertainment. From 2006 through 2019, Maria worked at Marka, starting out as a coordinator in the international projects department and eventually advancing all the way up to managing director of the company, with more than 30 staff reporting to her. Maria's achievements include the launch and implementation of such successful projects like Night at the Museum, Night of Arts, Jaguar Summer Museum, Lexus Hybrid Art and other major exhibitions and festivals.

Having gained considerable experience implementing arts and education programmes, as well as projects with a social mission in close cooperation with big business and international brands, Maria decided to go into charity work.

In February 2019, she joined the team of the Friends Foundation as managing director, taking responsibility for the strategic development of the foundation's programmes, international partnerships and team efficiency.

Maria is passionate about modern art, contemporary fiction and non-fiction literature; in her free time, she also goes to the theatre and listens to podcasts about art, philosophy and public affairs.

Participation in past events