Board & Staff

Nordic Heritage 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.

Rick Peterson, Secretary

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.

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

Initially Elected: 2008

Hans Aarhus is the director of Estimating and Pricing for Boeing’s 787 program, and is a member of the Global Business Advisory Board. Before joining the 787 Finance Team, he was the Director for the BCA Group Financial Planning and Investor Relations organization. Hans holds an M.B.A. from the University of Washington, with specialization in Finance and Management. He also holds a B.A. in Business Administration and a B.S. in Economics. Born and raised in Norway, Hans came to the US in 1984, and is a Boeing executive focal to the University of Washington Business School.

Per Bakken

Initially Elected: 2012

Per Bakken is Portfolio Management Director with Morgan Stanley and leads a Tacoma-based wealth management team, serving a select number of individuals, families, and businesses in the Pacific Northwest and around the country. Per was born in Norway, but left for the U.S. to attend Pacific Lutheran University. After graduating from PLU, he worked for Sunmar Shipping, operating tankers for 10 years. 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

Initially Elected: 2008

Lotta Gavel Adams is a Professor of Scandinavian Studies at the U.W. and since 2008 she has held the Barbro Osher Professorship in Swedish Studies. In 2002, Lotta Gavel Adams was nominated for a Distinguished Teaching Award at the U.W., and that same year the Swedish Institute named the Swedish Program at the U.W. the Best Swedish Program in the World outside of Sweden. Lotta has lived in the Seattle area for the past 30 years, and has been involved with the Nordic Heritage Museum since its inception.

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.

Christine Ingebritsen

Initially Elected: 2013

Christine Ingebritsen is Professor of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle. Christine is also Adjunct Professor of Women's Studies and Adjunct Professor of Political Science. She received her Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University in 1993. Christine’s research focuses on the five northern European states comprising the Nordic area. She has written several books including The Scandinavian Way and its Legacy in Europe, Small States in International Relations, Scandinavian in World Politics, and The Nordic States and European Unity. Christine also serves as Chair of the Hellenic Studies Program at UW and is of Norwegian descent. 

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.

Valinda Morse

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.

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. 

Vi Jean Reno

Initially Elected: 2008

Vi Jean Reno is a Seattle native of Finnish descent. Her mother’s family was from Vimpeli and Jyväskylä, Finland. She has practiced law in Seattle for over 30 years, specializing in commercial maritime matters. She has been named a "Super Lawyer of the Year" by the legal periodical Washington Law & Politics for several years. She is a frequent lecturer before organizations such as the Pacific Admiralty Seminar and the University of Washington Marine Insurance Seminar. Vi has represented many Scandinavian clients in the Washington and Alaska fisheries, and is a former member of the Board of the Swedish Cultural Center.

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.

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. 

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.

EX OFFICIO

Eric Nelson, Chief Executive Officer

 

Consuls

Erik D. Laursen, 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

Dr. Stig B. Andersen

Representative Reuven Carlyle

Leif Eie

Synnøve Fielding

Senator Mary Margaret Haugen

Floyd Jones

King County Council Member Jeanne Kohl-Welles

Bertil Lundh

Mark T. Schleck

Representative Helen Sommers

Mayor Ray Stephanson

Representative Gael Tarleton

Nordic Heritage Museum Staff

Executive

Eric Nelson, Chief Executive Officer

Sandra Nestorovic, Deputy Director of Operations

Jan Woldseth Colbrese, Deputy Director of External Affairs

Danielle Hill, Executive Assistant

Kirstine Bendix Knudsen, Special Project Coordinator

Erik Pihl, Community Engagement

 

Development

Katy Ahrens, Development Associate, Stewardship

Jenny Iverson, Events & Sponsorship Coordinator

Kelsey Svaren, Membership & Database Coordinator

 

Marketing & Communications

Jenelle Clark, Marketing Manager

Devon Kelley, Marketing Coordinator

Ani Rucki, Graphic Designer

Curatorial

Fred Poyner IV, Collections Manager

Jonathan Sajda, Program Manager

Alison Church, Children’s Education Coordinator

Stina Cowan, Public Programs Coordinator

Robin Kaufman, Exhibitions Coordinator

Sarah Olivo, Adult Education Coordinator

Kathi Ploeger, Music Library Archivist

Kaia Wahmanholm, Registrar

 

Operations

Donna Antonucci, Caretaker

Rebecca Bolin, Weekend Receptionist

Pamela Brooks, Finance Manager

Carolyn Carlstrom, Bookkeeper

Michael Ide, Volunteer & Staff Resource Coordinator

Mary Ann Namvedt, Gift Shop Manager

Visit Us Today!

Come and be inspired by the values, traditions, art,
and spirit of the Nordic peoples.

3014 NW 67th Street
Seattle, WA 98117

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