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.

The current members of the Board are:

Photo Name

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.

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.

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 and CEO of that company. Gunnar’s wife is Ann Christine and sons Stefan and Joachim Damström. Gunnar is a board member of the Finnish American Chamber of Commerce (FACC) and an officer with the Swedish Finn Historical Society (SFHS). He is the editor-in-chief of the Quarterly, published by SFHS and Newsletter, a web paper published by FACC.

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 Seattle (the largest Rotary club in the world) and is the coordinator of “Rotary Program University” for Rotary District 5030 in the Seattle area.  David serves as the Executive Director of the Cascade Youth Symphony Orchestras (www.CYSO.US).

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. She designed and illustrated The Birch and The Star coloring book for Swedish, Finnish, and English readers. She coordinates the genealogy program for the Society and for the Swedish Cultural Society. Syrene is a Charter member of the Advisory Board having served since its inception.

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.

John 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Ballard neighborhood and is currently a Homemaker, caring for her son, Kevin (b. 2009) and her daughter, Kristin (b. 2014).

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 of Graham Capital Group, LLC, a private equity fund. He is married, has a son and daughter, and is a resident of the Ballard neighborhood.

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. Roganis also spent several years on the 777 airplane program. Since retirement, Roganis has worked on the Baltic Program Support Committee to plan, organize and conduct fund-raising. He also served five years on the Board for the American Latvian Association as director of information, publicity and membership.

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.

In Memoriam

Photo Name

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 Department's Advisory Board. 

Richard Lundgren

Richard Lundgren has 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 has served on the Board of Directors for Palmer G. Lewis Co., Skipper's Seafoods and Safeco Insusurance Company. He is a past president of the North American Association of Building Material Distributors.

James Vatn

James Vatn is a graduate of Ballard High School and the University of Washington. He has served as President of the Advisory Board and, for decades, has been 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 death on April 6, 2009.