Board & Staff

Nordic Museum Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees

Irma Goertzen, President

Initially Elected: 2006

Irma Goertzen’s extensive academic accomplishments include an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities, Thiel College; Honorary Doctorate of Public Service, Chatham Collage; Master’s in Administration, University of Washington; B.S.N., University of Washington; R.N., Emanuel Hospital School of Nursing. Goertzen served as President and CEO at Magee Women’s Hospital and Magee Women’s Research Institute from 1989 to 2004, and established the Magee Womancare International Program with programs throughout Russia, Ukraine, Albania, and other Eastern European countries. Irma has been President of the Nordic Heritage Museum Board of Trustees since 2011. 

Thomas  W. Malone, Vice President

Initially Elected: 2014

Tom Malone grew up in Ballard and attended Daniel Webster Elementary School (the current site of the Nordic Heritage Museum). Tom has a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Washington, a Juris Doctor from the University Of Washington School Of Law, and a Master of Business Administration in Taxation from Golden Gate University. Tom is the President of Malone & Associates PS and has practiced law in the Seattle area for over thirty years. Tom has Swedish ancestry. He is a former Board Chairman at Swedish Medical Center and has served as a Trustee of Seattle Colleges from 1998 to 2013.

Valinda Morse, Secretary

Initially Elected: 2012

Valinda Morse grew up in Ballard (Sunset Hill) of Swedish heritage and attended Daniel Webster Elementary School (the current site of the Nordic Heritage Museum), and Ballard High School. She graduated Cum Laude from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts in Swedish literature and language. During her career, she was employed at Washington Mutual in Ballard and Norse Furniture Inc. Valinda later earned a Masters of Divinity at Luther Theological Seminary and has served as clergy in the ELCA for over 25 years. During twelve of those years she served as Assistant to the Bishop for the Southwest Washington Synod and served congregations by doing strategic planning, conflict resolution, and family system theory. She retired in November 2014 and is currently living in Olympia, Washington. Valinda is married to Lyle, has two adult children, and three grandsons.

Steven J. Barker, Treasurer

Initially Elected: 2012

Steven J. Barker is a Senior Vice President at Seattle Bank. Steven has a Ph.D. from University of Washington in Scandinavian Studies. Steven is of Swedish heritage, and was a member of the Museum Board in the 1980s, recently returning to the Seattle area from a stint in Irvine in California, where he financed Native American casinos and hotels throughout the USA. Steven is also fluent in German and did graduate studies in economics and finance at Regensburg University in Germany. Steven lives in Duvall with his wife, Kelly.

Hans Aarhus

Hans served on the Board from 2008 – 2017 as Trustee and has also served as Treasurer. He is the Finance Director for the 737MAX and 787-10 Airplane Development programs. He is a Boeing executive focal to the University of Washington Business School and serves as a Board member on the UW Global Business Advisory Board. Hans is a graduate of the University of Washington with a Master of Business Administration with specialization in Finance and Management.  He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Economics. Hans was born and raised in Norway and came to the US in 1984 to study Business and Economics at the University of Washington.  He is married to Kris and has 2 sons, Anders and Lars. Other interests include fishing and golf.

Electa Johnson Anderson

Electa Johnson Anderson has significant professional and volunteer experience in fundraising, advocacy, and corporate relationships. In addition to her extensive volunteer experience, Electa ran her own philanthropy/corporate partnerships consultant business for over ten years and served as the Executive Director of Friends of the Missions in San Juan Capistrano. Since her husband’s death from Alzheimer’s disease, she devotes much of her time to raising awareness and funds for the Alzheimer’s Association. Electa is a member of the Washington Women's Foundation, Junior League of Seattle, and the Rainier Club. She currently serves on the Chapter Relations, Development and Diversity & Inclusion committees of the Alzheimer’s Association National Board of Directors. Electa is of Norwegian descent. 

Lars Anderson

Lars Anderson is a partner at the law firm Holman Cahill Garrett Ives Oliver & Andersen PLLC. His practice focuses on providing clients with business, real estate and estate planning/probate legal services.  The majority of his clients are local businesses and families.  He received a bachelor’s degree, cum laude, from California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo and his juris doctorate from the University of Oregon School of Law. Lars is of Swedish descent with strong family ties to Stockholm, Gothenburg and Boras.  He was raised in the Puget Sound and currently resides in West Seattle with his wife, Anna (also of Swedish and Norwegian descent), and their two young boys.

Per Bakken

Initially Elected: 2012

Per was born in Norway, but left for the US to attend Pacific Lutheran University. After graduating from PLU, he worked for Sunmar Shipping, operating tankers for 10 years. Since 2004, he has worked in the wealth management business. Per lives in Puyallup with his wife, Lisa, and two kids. 

Brandon Benson

Initially Elected: 2011

Brandon Benson is a Systems Analyst at The Boeing Company, where he develops software applications for the Flight Test Computing System. As a lifelong Seattle resident, Brandon attended Seattle Public Schools and the University of Washington, where he earned degrees in Statistics and Mathematics.

Brandon Benson is of Swedish descent, and the Benson family has been involved with the local Nordic community for many decades. Brandon's father, Clifford Benson, served as the Honorary Consul to Sweden for the northwest region of the United States from 1966 until 1993. Brandon has been a member of the Nordic Heritage Museum’s Oral History Project steering committee since 2008. Brandon is also serving as Board President of the Swedish Cultural Center. 

Anne-Lise Berger

Anne-Lise Berger was born and raised in Sandvika, Norway. She attended a Secretarial College in Oslo, and spent the next 7 years traveling around the world, living and working in many different countries, before coming to Seattle in 1977. Anne-Lise sold real estate in Seattle for many years before purchasing Scandinavian Specialties in Ballard. She is a member and past president of Norwegian Chamber of Commerce and Norwegian Commercial Club, and a past board member at Norse Home, and a member of Sons of Norway.

Ray Brandstrom

Ray was born in the Scandinavian community of Stanwood, WA to a Norwegian mother and a Swedish father. He graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in accounting before starting his professional involvement with companies in a number of industries including senior housing, the Washington wine industry, horticulture and real estate.  He was co-founder, Executive Vice President of Finance, Vice Chairman and Board member of Emeritus Senior Living, which started with one senior housing community is Seattle and grew to become on the of largest providors of senior housing in the US.  He holds a CPA certificate State of Washington.  Ray is a life-long member of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Stanwood, the oldest Lutheran church west of the Mississippi, founded by Norwegian immigrants in 1876.  Ray has served on boards of public companies and is currently a member of the Advisor Board of the Department of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Washington. 

Earl Ecklund

Initially Elected: 2015

Earl Ecklund is of Swedish and Finish descent and is a longtime Ballard resident. Earl is a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University, holds a Ph.D. from Washington State University in Mathematics, and has served as an Associate Professor at universities in Oregon and Illinois, as well as the University of Oslo. He has served as Principal Consultant at Objective Technology Group and as Principal Scientist at Tektronix. Earl’s family recently sold the Lockhaven apartment complex here in Ballard to John Goodman. Earl lives with Denise in Ballard.

Arlene Sundquist Empie

Initially Elected: 2014

Arlene Sundquist Empie is born and raised on Skagit Valley farm established in 1903 by her Finnish emigrant grandparents. She received a Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College and a Certificate Nonfiction Narrative Writing from the University of Washington. She is an author of five award-winning books, numerous essays and poetry. The Legacy of Ida Lillbroända: Finnish Emigrant to America 1893 has been translated to Swedish and published in Finland.

Sunnie is owner/manager of Sundquist Farm Garden assisted by three daughters and nine grandchildren, and she is a member of the trio Leif, Lena & Lars, and Hugo’s Accordion Band. 

Lotta Gavel Adams

Dr. Anne-Charlotte (Lotta) Gavel Adams has lived in the Seattle area for the past 30 years, and has been involved with the Nordic Heritage Museum off and on since its inception.  She is a member of the Museum’s President's Club, and served on the Board from 2008 – 2017. She was also on the Board of Trustees in the 1990’s, and served on the Museum’s long-range planning committee.  Lotta recently retired as Professor of Scandinavian Studies at the UW. She has given a number of lectures at the Museum in her field of expertise: Scandinavian drama (August Strindberg's Mother Love), Scandinavian art (The Golden Age of Scandinavian Painting;  Bruno Liljeforss), Scandinavian women writers (Selma Lagerlöf) and Scandinavian Children's literature (The Moomin Trolls).  In 2002, she was nominated for a Distinguished Teaching Award at the UW. In 2002, the Swedish Institute named the Swedish Program at the UW the Best Swedish Program in the World outside of Sweden. Lotta is a dual citizen of the US and Sweden.  

Mike Hlastala 

 Initially Elected: November 2016

Mike Hlastala has Icelandic roots and is the Managing Director at CBRE, whose team manages Microsoft real estate across the United States and Canada. Previously, Mike was the Managing Director of Project Management for CBRE in the west region.  Mike also led the project management team on the Microsoft account, where his team delivered projects in Puget Sound and the North American Field Sites for a portfolio of campus and high-rise properties. Mike is a Guest lecturer at University of Washington undergraduate program in Building Construction.

Tapio Holma

Initially Elected: 2013

Tapio Holma was born and educated in Helsinki, Finland. He served as President of the Finlandia Foundation Suomi Chapter from 2010 to 2014. In the past, he has served as President of the Bellingham Sister City Association, establishing the City of Vaasa, Finland as the sixth sister city for Bellingham. Tapio also served as a board member at large for the Finlandia Foundation Seattle Chapter from 2006 to 2010. Before moving to Washington State, Tapio was active in various Finnish organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Tapio lives in Bellingham.

Ken Jacobsen

Initially Elected: 2011

Ken Jacobsen is of Danish descent, born in Dannebrog, Nebraska, and raised in northeast Seattle.

Ken served for 28 years in the Washington State Legislature, specializing in higher education and natural resource issues. Ken served as Washington State Senator from the 46th Legislative District from 1982 to 2010. Retired, he now serves on boards for the Friends of the University of Washington Libraries, The National Danish Emigrant Museum, Scholarship American, and the University Del Valle de Guatemala. Ken has traveled extensively in Latin America.

Sven Kalve

Initially Elected: 2010

Sven Kalve emigrated from Norway to Seattle as a teenager. He graduated from Ballard High School and the University of Washington. Sven worked for 42 years with The Boeing Company in various management positions. He has served on several non-profit and civic boards and commissions, and represented The Boeing Company on several local, state, and federal advisory task committees. Sven currently serves on the King County appointed Citizens Election Oversight Committee. Sven and Marta Kalve live in Des Moines, and are proud to have been Nordic Heritage Museum supporters since its early days. 

Jane Klausen

Jane Klausen is Danish and has been active in the Danish Community in Seattle for over 20 years. Jane has served as President for the Danish Club and currently as Treasurer. She is the marketing director for a Seattle-based cloud and IT infrastructure provider.

Kurt Manchester

Kurt is a Ballard resident of Norwegian descent and a longtime Museum supporter and former Vice President at Bardahl (from 1980 – 2009). He was President of Norwegian Commercial Club in 2010 and Vice President in 2009. Other affiliations include Ballard District Council, Ballard Chamber of Commerce, and General Biodiesel.

Kurt Ness

Elected: 2016

Kurt Ness is Director of Sales and Marketing and Co-Owner of Integrated Marine Systems, Inc. (IMS), located in Ballard, WA. The company specializes in designing and manufacturing marine refrigeration equipment for commercial fishing vessels and shore side processing facilities, primarily in Washington and Alaska. Prior to his involvement with IMS, Kurt was the Captain of Oregon State University Men’s Soccer Team, where he graduated with honors while being selected to both the PAC-10 All-Academic and All-Athletic teams from 2000-03. Kurt later completed his Master’s degree at Seattle University before serving as European Sales Director for a local marine electronics company. Kurt comes from a Norwegian fishing family and from an early age proudly immersed himself in his family’s Nordic heritage; he continues to look for ways in which he can honor this community through education, service and cultural outreach. Kurt resides in Ballard, WA with his lovely wife and two wonderful children.

Allan Osberg

Initially Elected: 2010

Allan Osberg was born in 1924 in Seattle—son of Axel and Hilma Osberg, both of whom were immigrants from Sweden. Allan Osberg received a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Washington and a Master’s Degree from Harvard University, both in Civil Engineering. Allan’s entire working career has been with the family firm, Osberg Construction Company, doing projects in the Heavy-Highway field throughout the Pacific Northwest and in Alaska. Allan is married to Inger, and has a daughter and a son, and one granddaughter. Allan and Inger’s primary avocation has been traveling. Allan served as the Board President from 2004 to 2008. 

Aaron Overland

Aaron Overland makes his home in Ballard along with his wife, Liz. He’s employed as a Commercial Loan Officer for Peoples Bank in Ballard. Overland has been in the banking industry for 10 years, the last 4 of which he’s spent in the Ballard market. His family connection to Ballard goes back to his grandparents. His grandfather was the head pastor at Rock of Ages Lutheran Church, a predominantly Norwegian church on Phinney Ridge that served many members of the Ballard community. His father was also a long-serving minister at Maple Park Lutheran Church in Lynnwood, which is largely comprised of descendants of Seattle’s Norwegian community. All of Overland’s family lineage can be traced back to Norway. He enjoys long walks on the beach and lefse.

Rick Peterson

Initially Elected: 2011

Of Norwegian descent, Rick Peterson grew up on Phinney Ridge in Seattle, and served in the U.S. Army. His professional background is in heavy construction and real estate development, with commercial and residential projects throughout the west coast. He has been a construction industry arbitrator, and is owner of a pre-cast concrete plant in Burlington, WA, and retail shopping centers across Washington. Rick is also founder and owner of Retaining Walls N.W. He has served on the University of Washington Scandinavian Studies Advisory Board since 2002, and has affiliations with NACC and the Sons of Norway.

Maria Staaf

Initially Elected: 2014

Maria Staaf was born and raised in Sweden. She graduated from Brown University, Providence, RI, and also studied at Uppsala University, Sweden. Maria worked in Stockholm at Enator (now TietoEnator) as a computer consultant, then moved to Redmond to work at Microsoft Corporation with software development, product design, and project management on the Office team. Maria has been a board member for Svenska Kulturförbundet and Svenska Skolföreningen i Seattle, and is also involved with SWEA. She lives in Kirkland. 

Birger Steen

Initially Elected: 2013

Birger Steen has been Chief Executive Officer of Parallels since 2010. Birger started his professional career in 1992 as an oil trader at Norwegian Oil Trading, where he opened the company’s first office in the former Soviet Union. He joined McKinsey & Company in Norway in 1993. In 2002 Birger joined Microsoft, where he held positions as Country Manager for Norway and later Russia before moving to Microsoft headquarters where he served as VP, WW SMB and Distribution. Birger holds a Master of Science degree in Computer Science and Industrial Engineering from the Norwegian Institute of Technology in Trondheim. He also holds a degree in Russian Language from the Defense School of Intelligence and Security in Oslo and received his MBA from INSEAD in France.

Henrik Strabo

Henrik Strabo was born and raised in Denmark. He moved to the US in 1979 and graduated from UW in 1983 with a degree in business. Since then, he lived in San Francisco, New York, and Austin, before moving back to Seattle in 2012. He works in the investment business, investing in public companies. He, his wife, and two children spend much time in Denmark. 

Heli Suokko

Heli Suokko was born and raised in Elimäki, Finland and graduated from Tampere Business College before moving to Seattle in 1992. She was a co-founder, Vice President for Sales and Marketing of Travel Time travel agency, with offices in Maple Valley and Bellevue. Currently she works as General Manager at Integral GIS Inc., which is a Seattle-based software consulting company. She has served as secretary at the Finnish American Chamber of Commerce and volunteered at the Finnish School of Seattle as a librarian. 

Nina Svino Svasand

Initially Elected: 2013

Nina Svino Svasand is a cosmetic dentist. She is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, Academy of General Dentistry, the American Dental Association and other local dental organizations. Nina earned her doctorate from the University of Pacific in San Francisco, CA, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Reed College in Portland, OR. She also studied in Norway for a year after graduation from high school. After 20 years away, she returned home to the Seattle area. Nina speaks fluent Norwegian and is active in a number of local Norwegian organizations such as the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce and the Norwegian Commercial Club. Nina is married to Ernie, who is also Norwegian, a commercial fisherman. They live in Edmond. 

Lisa Toftemark

Lisa Toftemark was initially elected to the Nordic Heritage Museum Board of Trustees in 2007 and has served three terms. She returned to the board in 2017. Her father, born in Denmark, immigrated to the U.S. at age 13 where his family settled in Oregon; her mother is of Swedish and Danish descent. Ms. Toftemark attended Pacific Lutheran University for two years--then moved abroad to Stockholm, Sweden, where she attended the University of Stockholm for a year. Upon returning to the US, she graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in management. After several years as an editor in the college textbook publishing industry, she moved back to the Northwest, where she has worked at Microsoft since 2002—first as a technical editor and thereafter as a product manager. Ms. Toftemark is a member of the Danish Brotherhood--Centennial Lodge in Eugene, Oregon.

Tor Tollessen

Initially Elected: 2012

Born on Karmoy in 1945, Tor Tollessen attended technical university and moved to Seattle in 1966. He has long been connected to the maritime industry, and is presently CEO and President of Lunde Marine Electronics in Ballard, which specializes in the installation, repair, and upgrade of all marine electronic systems and components. He is President of the Karmoy Club, a member of the Norwegian Commercial Club, and serves on the Board of Pacific Fishermen Shipyard, LLC. 

Margaret Wright

Initially Elected: 2012

Margaret Wright retired from Qwest Communications in 2007 as an acknowledged financial and accounting professional with 36 years’ work experience in telecommunications. She received her M.B.A. in Finance from Seattle University, and B.A. in Political Science from the University of Washington. Wright is a licensed CPA in the State of Washington. Margaret is the former Treasurer and President of the Board.


Eric Nelson, Chief Executive Officer



Mark T. Schleck, Denmark

Matti Suokko, Finland

Kristiina Hiukka, Honorary Vice Consul, Finland

Jon Marvin Jonsson, Consul General, Iceland

Geir Jonsson, Honorary Vice Consul, Iceland

Kim Nesselquist, Norway

Lars Jonsson, Sweden


Honorary Trustees

Senator Reuven Carlyle

Leif Eie

Synnøve Fielding

Senator Mary Margaret Haugen

King County Council Member Jeanne Kohl-Welles

Senator Marko Liias

Bertil Lundh

Mark T. Schleck

Mayor Ray Stephanson

Representative Gael Tarleton

Nordic Museum Staff


Eric Nelson, Chief Executive Officer

Sandra Nestorovic, Chief of Staff

Kirstine Bendix Knudsen, Special Project Coordinator

Erik Pihl, Community Engagement



Jenny Iverson, Development Manager

Anna Craddock, Annual Giving Coordinator

Mollie Henry, Development Coordinator

Caroline Parry, Development Associate


Marketing & Communications

Devon Kelley, Marketing Manager

Ani Rucki, Graphic Designer

Finance & HR

Pamela Brooks, Director of Finance and HR

Carolyn Carlstrom, Bookkeeper 

Timothy Krumland, Volunteer & Staff Resource Coordinator


Nancy Engstrom Zinn, PhD, Interim Director of Collections, Exhibitions, and Programs

Fred Poyner IV, Collections Manager

Jonathan Sajda, Program Manager

Alison Church, Children’s Education Coordinator

Stina Cowan, Public Programs Coordinator

Robin Kaufman, Exhibitions Coordinator

Michael King, PhD, Adult Education Coordinator

Kathi Ploeger, Music Library Archivist

Kaia Wahmanholm, Registrar



Adam Lee Allan-Spencer, Director of Operations and Facilities

Libby Anderson, Museum Store Associate 

Donna Antonucci, Guest Services Associate

Augustino Gamboa, Custodian/Facilities Assistant

Joni Hughes, Visitor Services Coordinator

Evan Miller, Facilities Coordinator

Lindsay Ravensong, Guest Services Associate

Closed During Transition!

Join us in May 2018
and be inspired by the values, traditions, art, and spirit of the Nordic peoples.

©2018 Nordic Museum    Website: Bizango    Photo Credits