Shining A Light On How To Plan For Tomorrow
Karen Petrou understands the realities of end-of-life planning as well as anyone. She and her husband Basil have spent their careers in the financial services industry, and when Basil died in 2021 after a long, heroic battle with pancreatic cancer, it was a comfort for her that his affairs were in good order. Still, the experience left her with a realization of how daunting the financial and legal implications of losing of a spouse can be.
“When Basil died, all of the impact of estate planning became a reality for me,” Karen said. “It was a real reminder of how important it is.”
She realized how easily it would be for the experience to be totally overwhelming, even for people who were prepared. That realization inspired Karen to help create the Basil and Karen Petrou Legacy Education Initiative.
The Basil and Karen Petrou Education Initiative is born of the Foundation’s commitment to helping individuals ensure their estates do the best they can for their loved ones and the causes they care about. Debuting this year, the program will offer ongoing resources to help individuals and families explore and learn about end-of-life plans and strategies.
Karen is co-founder and managing partner of Federal Financial Analytics, Inc. She was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa when she was 18. Like many people experiencing progressive vision loss, early on she said she was coping the best she could and trying to hide her vision issues. In the early 2000s a friend introduced her to the Foundation.
“Basil and I found it really impressive,” Karen said. “We attended some VISIONS conferences and trustee meetings. The fact that my IRD was becoming more of a problem made it all the more interesting to us. Retinal diseases are often degenerative and mine was clearly getting worse. Quite simply we wanted treatments and cures and to this day I’m convinced that the Foundation is the best way to advance those as they come along.”
Karen has been on the board since 2006 and Basil was a Foundation Trustee. She says the Foundation’s discipline approach to research has done two unique things. First, there is an astute team of expert science advisors directing all investments. And second, they are leaders in innovative ways to fund biomedical research. The Retinal Degeneration Fund, the Foundation’s venture philanthropy arm, is a perfect example.
“The RD Fund is amazing,” Karen said. “I have some experience in this and no one has done the way the Foundation has done it. They are exploring the frontier of exciting new ways to fund this research.”
Debuting this year, The Basil and Karen Petrou Education Initiative will come to life through dynamic content and stories across all the foundations platforms—from seminars and conferences at VISIONS to virtual seminars and other online resources.
Karen said she hopes that she and Basil’s belief in the Foundation will inspire others to support the work and possibly leave their own legacy.
“As long as the Foundation exists, we need to continue funding all the work that they’re doing,” she said. “There’s a lot of work to do. And I know that the funds raised through the Foundation’s various development channels are not going to fancy fundraising dinners. They are going to science.”
Stayed tune for upcoming events and opportunities, as well as helpful articles and online resources.