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Scandinavian Studies Advisory Board

In 1984, during the seventy-fifth anniversary celebration of the founding of the Department of Scandinavian Studies, in order to facilitate better contact with the many Scandinavian/Nordic communities of Washington state, the Department invited several individuals to help establish an Advisory Board. Representatives from several Scandinavian groups, as well as individuals with a strong interest in the mission of the Department, constituted a group of advisors and friends which would serve as a liaison between the Department and the Scandinavian/Nordic communities of the Pacific Northwest.

Meeting quarterly, the Advisory Board supports the Department's mission to meet its community service commitments. In 1996, the Advisory Board began discussions on ways in which private fundraising could enhance student opportunities and strengthen the Department's many programs in order to ensure the continued success of Scandinavian studies at the University of Washington. Since January, 1997, representatives of the three Baltic Communities serve on the Advisory Board. Their goal is to support the continued development of Baltic Studies in the Department, currently the only department in North America which teaches all three Baltic languages.

Current Members of the Board

Photo Name

Hans Aarhus

Randi Aulie

Randi Aulie was born in Lofoten, Norway. She arrived in Seattle with her husband, Alf Kristian Aulie, in 1974 and decided to make it their permanent home. In 2001, Randi became the President of the Leif Erikson Lodge, Sons of Norway.

Steven Barker

Brandon Benson

Irena Blekys

Irena Blekys is a member of the Board of Directors of the Lithuanian-American Community Inc., and an officer of the LAC, Inc., Washington State Chapter. She currently serves as Secretary of the Advisory Board.

Pirkko Borland

Pirkko Borland is a native of Finland. She received her B.A. from the University of Helsinki, and her M.A. from the University of Washington. Mrs. Borland retired from U S West Communications as Executive Director - Financial Accounting. She has served on the Board of Cascade Natural Gas Corporation and several non-profit organizations. She is active in many non-profit organizations, including the Nordic Heritage Museum and many in the Finnish community.

Ray Brandstrom

Photo of Jay Bruns

Jay L. Bruns III

Jay Bruns is an affiliate instructor and advisory board member of the Scandinavian Studies Department at the University of Washington.  Concurrently, Jay is Senior Climate Policy Advisor to the Washington State Insurance Commissioner.  Previously, Jay was Senior Advisor for Private Sector Engagement at the United Nations Environment Program.  In this role, Jay worked with UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim and his team to partner with leading U.S. and Canadian businesses to advance the UN’s environmental agenda.  Earlier, Jay was at The Hartford, one of the... Read more

David Endicott

David Endicott served as the President of the Advisory Board from September 2004 to March 2011. He is a member of the Norwegian community in the Seattle area. David is the President/CEO of the Endicott Consulting Group, Inc. and is a former Press Secretary to US Senator Slade Gorton. Born and raised in Viroqua, Wisconsin, David graduated with a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison with a double major in history and political science. He is a past two-term Program Chair for the Rotary Club of... Read more

Anni Fuller

Anni Fuller was born and raised in Copenhagen and has resided in Seattle since 1977. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and has long been active in the Danish community of Puget Sound. She has worked with international student programs and exchanges for the University since 1988 and is now Assistant Director for the Scan|Design Fellowship Program.

Susan Haris

Kristiina Hiukka

Jon Marvin Jonsson

Jon Marvin Jonsson is the Honorary Consul of Iceland. He is an attorney at law with his law offices located in Ballard.

Lars Jonsson

Lars Jonsson is the Honorary Consul of Sweden in Seattle. He is the Chairman and CEO of Stellar Investments in Seattle with strong personal and business ties to Sweden. In 2005, he established the Jonsson Family Foundation to support scholarly exchanges between the UW and Linköping University in Sweden.

Victor Lapatinskas

Victor Lapatinskas is the Honorary Consul of Lithuania in Seattle.

Line Larsen

Willard Larson

Willard Larson is a retired physician and psychiatrist. Dr. Larson is a Charter member of the Advisory Board who has also served as president of the Board.
Terje Leiren

Terje I. Leiren

Professor Leiren teaches courses in Scandinavian history and culture for the Department. His teaching also includes the popular "History of the Vikings," and courses in the Norwegian Studies program. Leiren joined the UW faculty in 1977 and served as Department Chair from 1995 - 2010 and as Acting Department Chair in 2014-2015.   Professor Leiren was appointed to be the Department's first Sverre Arestad Endowed Chair in Norwegian Studies in 2007. He also has an appointment in the Department of History as Adjunct... Read more

Lars Matthiesen

Barbara G. Morgridge

Barbara G. Morgridge received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of Washington. She taught Norwegian as a TA in the Department of Scandinavian Studies before going on to a successful teaching career in the Washington Community College system.

Kim Nesselquist

Kim Nesselquist serves as the Honorary Consul of Norway for Washington and Idaho. A graduate of PLU, he is the Executive Director of the Norwegian-American Foundation.

Judy Niemela

Vaira Pelekis

Vaira Pelekis was born in Latvia. After graduating from the University of Geneva, Switzerland with an M.D. degree, Vaira worked as a pathologist in the Laboratory of Pathology at Swedish Hospital in Seattle. Since her retirement in 1995, she has been an active member of the Baltic Program Fundraising Committee. She organized the Latvian Book Club supporting the Baltic Studies Program. Vaira is also active in other philanthropic activities including the local Latvian Lutheran Church, the Latvian Association, and the Occupation Museum in Riga.

Rick Peterson

Rick Peterson became the President of the Advisory Board in March 2014.

Erik Pihl

Erik Pihl serves as Vice President for Development for the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. Prior to joining the PSC, Erik was Director of External Affairs at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and Director of Development at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). He serves on the Board of the Nordic Heritage Museum and the Fremont Neighborhood Council. The Department is pleased that Erik's Swedish roots have helped to engage him as a member of the Advisory Board.

Paul Raidna

Paul Raidna is the Honorary Consul for the Republic of Estonia in Washington State. A native of Seattle, he is a UW Business School graduate and the son of Estonian immigrants. He served as the President of the Seattle Estonian Society for 9 consecutive years and remains an active member of several Estonian and Baltic organizations, including serving as Treasurer for the Baltic Program Fund Fundraising Committee and the Rotalia Foundation. In addition to his pursuits within the local Baltic community, Paul is a Certified Public Accountant and serves as the Managing Director... Read more

Andris Rogainis

Andris Rogainis served as President of the Advisory Board from March 2011 to March 2014. He graduated from UW in 1959 with a BS degree in Electrical Engineering and started a long career with Boeing. The sixties offered many challenges and at Boeing it meant exploring new developments in missile technology and electronics. These challenges and opportunities opened the door to assignments at Cape Canaveral for the initial Minuteman missile launches, Saturn rocket testing at Huntsville, Alabama and support of Lunar Orbiter map[ping project at NASA Langely Research Center.... Read more

Erik Sundholm

Erik was born and raised in Seattle, studied International Business & Swedish at North Park University in Chicago, graduating in 1993. He also attended Sodra Vatterbygdens Folkhogskola in Jonkoping Sweden and earned a MA from UW in Scandinavian Area Studies focusing on maritime history and polar exploration. He currently works for the marine electronics manufacturer Navico as Pacific NW territory manager. Prior to that he worked at Harris Electric, his family's firm for 3 generations that sold and serviced technical products to the fishing industry in Alaska and Washington.

Matti Suokko

Matti Suokko serves as the Honorary Consul of Finland in Seattle. A native of Finland, he resides in Bellevue.

Anne Totoraitis

Emeriti Board Members


Diane Adachi

A. Gerald Anderson

A. Gerald Anderson is Nordic Librarian Emeritus with the University of Washington Libraries. After having worked at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., Jerry joined the University of Washington Libraries in 1974 and served as the Nordic Librarian for more than thirty years. He played a central role among Nordic librarians across North America and was an invaluable member of the university community prior to his retirement in 2006. He was also Adjunct Instructor of Scandinavian Studies.

Dale Carlson

Dale Carlson has held university administration and faculty posts since 1955. At the University of Washington he has served as Dean of the College of Engineering, supervising eight departments with over 450 faculty and staff and 4300 students, the Applied Physics Laboratory Board, the ROTC program, the Bioengineering Program, and the Richland Joint Center for Graduate Studies.  More...

Esther Christoffersen

Esther Christoffersen is a graduate of the University of Washington. She was born and raised in Bergen, Norway, and came to Seattle to attend the UW. Having found a strong Scandinavian presence here, she decided to stay after graduation. Esther leads the Student Issues Committee for the Department of Scandinavian Studies Advisory Board and is involved in the Nordic community through the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce and the Young Nordics - a group organized through the Nordic Heritage Museum. She works for Microsoft.

Gunnar Damström

Gunnar Damström attended Brobergska Samskolan, middle and high school in Helsinki, graduating in 1963. He graduated with a MS from the Helsinki University of Technology Department of Chemistry in 1970. He is a professional engineer registered under the laws of the State of Washington. In 1978 he moved with his family to the US on assignment from his Helsinki employer, EKONO Inc. In 1988 two colleagues and he formed Autopro Automation Consultants, Ltd. a consulting engineering firm specializing in process automation and electrical engineering. Gunnar is acting as president... Read more

Syrene Forsman

Syrene Forsman was born in Seattle. She graduated in 1966 with a Master's in Swedish Language and Literature from the University of Washington, in 1967 in Secondary Education, and in 1990 with a BA in Painting.  From 1966 to 1992 she taught Swedish Language classes, English and Painting at Roosevelt High School in Seattle, retiring as Art  Department Head.  She has serves on The Swedish Finn Historical Society Board, and was president of the Society for a decade. Between 1995 and 2010, Syrene designed and produced 11 exhibits about Swedish Finnish emigration for the Society.... Read more

Geir Jonsson

Erik Laursen

Jesse Northup

Daniel Nye

Daniel Nye is Senior attorney with Alaska Airlines and a graduate of the Department of Scandinavian Studies. He studied law at the University of Oregon and at the University of Oslo.

Elvi Olsson

Elvi Olsson is a long-time member of the Advisory Board who, with her family, established the Peterson Family Scholarship for Swedish Studies. She is a loyal Husky who frequently attends Husky football games, home and away, and regularly travels with the Alumni Tours.

Katre Raidna

Katre Raidna is a native of Estonia and a graduate of Tartu University School of Law. She was a practicing attorney in Tallinn, Estonia up until 2004 when she moved to Seattle to join her husband here. Since coming to Seattle, she has taken an active role in local Estonian and Baltic community activities, including serving as Editor for the Seattle Estonian Society’s newsletter, as a member of the UW Scandinavian Department Advisory Board, as a member of the Baltic Program Fundraising Committee and as a member of the Seattle Estonian Folkdance group. Katre resides in the... Read more

Inga Wiehl

In Memoriam


Olaf Kvamme

Olaf Kvamme was an active member in Seattle's education and historical organizations. From 1949-1987 he worked in the Seattle public schools as a teacher, principal, director and assistant superintendent. During that time, he was the President of Seattle Grade Teachers Association and the Seattle Administrative and Supervisory League. In 1981 Olaf was named King County Outstanding Public Employee of the Year by the Municipal League of Seattle and King County for his work in education. He served as President of the Nordic Heritage Museum and is a Charter member of the... Read more

Richard Lundgren

Richard Lundgren had an extensive background in the U.S. Forest industry. After graduating from the UW, he worked in the pulp and paper industry with Crown Zellerbach Corporation in a number of accounting and purchasing positions. In the early 1970s, he joined Palmer G. Lewis Co., a leading building materials company in the western U.S., where he became President and Chief Operating Officer. He ended his career with the Weyerhaeuser Company with responsibility for their North American building materials distribution network. He served on the Board of Directors for Palmer G.... Read more

James Vatn

James Vatn was a graduate of Ballard High School and the University of Washington. He served as President of the Advisory Board and, for decades, was active in the Norwegian-American community of Western Washington, especially with Nordlandslaget and Seattle's Seventeenth of May Committee.

Margit Hindrum Weingarten

Margit Hindrum Weingarten was born in Trondheim, Norway, and earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in Art History at the University of Washington. Following the death of her husband in 1999, she established the Dr. Werner and Margit Weingarten Endowed Fund for Norwegian Studies. Margit was a charter member of the Advisory Board and active in many Norwegian-American community orgranizations, including Nordmanns-Forbundet, the Seterjentens Guild and the Norse Home Retirement Center Board of Trustees. Most recently, she served on the Deparment's Centennial Celebration Committee until her... Read more