Our Presenters

Presenter Bios

Where else but FinnFest can you attend a lecture on Finnish education models, take a workshop in writing, and learn directly from the author about the latest books reflecting the Finnish American experience? We touch the heart and the mind! Read more about our talented presenters below.


Ulla Aatsinki, Ph.D

University of Jyväskylä
Ulla Aatsinki was born and grew up in Lapland, Northern Finland. She completed a Ph.D in history at the University of Tampere (2009), and now is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Jyväskylä. Her current research handles Finnish American history, more closely Finnish Americans’ attitudes and expectations on formal and informal education in the 1920s. She spent 2009–2010 as a Fulbright Scholar at the Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Tech in Houghton. She was very impressed by people and nature in the Copper Country and she looks forward to sharing her research results at FinnFest USA 2013.
LECTURE: Americanization, Education, and Finnish Americans in the 1920s

Arnold R. Alanen

University of Wisconsin-Madison
Arnold R. Alanen, an Emeritus Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was raised on a farm in northeastern Minnesota, where he learned Finnish from his immigrant grandparents. He has written extensively about the settlements, cultural landscapes, and vernacular architecture of Finns and other groups in the Lake Superior region. Dr. Alanen has been both a Fulbright graduate fellow and visiting professor at the University of Helsinki, and was the Finlandia Foundation National Lecturer of the Year in 2009–10. His most recent book, Finns in Minnesota, was published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2012.
LECTURE: Finns in Minnesota

Gary V. Anderson

Bainbridge Island, Washington
Gary V. Anderson was raised along the Columbia River. He has been moderator for spoken word events at Finnish American Folk Festivals in Naselle, Washington and Finn Fest USA in Astoria, Oregon. His poems have been published in Kippis!, a literary journal of the Finnish North American Literature Association, FinNALA Newsletter and Curio Poetry, New York. He has been featured in performances in Deep River and Naselle, Washington and on Lyle Haataja’s Scandinavian Hour radio show in Astoria, Oregon as part of the Finnish-American Festival. He has published two books, My Finnish Soul and Bunchgrass and Buttercups.
WORKSHOP: Five Steps to Successful Family Memoirs: How to Get Started

Jon Bloomquist

Menahga, Minnesota
Born in Park Rapids, Minnesota, and raised in nearby Menahga, Jon Bloomquist became acquainted with Finns and Laestadians. He attended Menahga High School, Jämsän Kristillinen kansanopisto, and the University of Minnesota, where he earned his B.Ed. He taught two years at Ranuan Kristillinen kansanopisto. Bloomquist has held various Laestadian Lutheran Church offices, including publications director, resource development director, and in LLC’s camp and youth work. He now serves as mission work director, in which role he has traveled on preaching trips to several countries, including Ecuador, Togo, and Ghana. Bloomquist lives with wife Sarah and their six children in Menahga, where he also serves as a Laestadian Lutheran pastor.
LECTURE: Conservative Laestadianism—from Pajala to Peki, Arjeplog to Ambato

Dr. Marlene Broemer

Clackamas Community College, Oregon City, Oregon
Dr. Marlene Broemer is a native of White Pine, Michigan, the daughter of immigrants from Jalasjärvi, Finland. She received her Bachelor’s in English from Michigan State University, and a Master’s in Comparative Literature from San Francisco State University. The University of Helsinki granted Marlene her doctoral degree in Comparative Literature with her dissertation entitled, War and Revolution in St. Petersburg: Modernist Links in the Poetry of Edith Södergran and Anna Andreevna Akhmatova. She has taught English at the University of Helsinki and is currently an English Instructor at Clackamas Community College. While living in Finland, Marlene was able to connect with long-lost relatives and finally learn some Finnish and Swedish.
LECTURE: Edith Södergran: Poet between Two Borders, Two Wars

Jan Dalquist and Kathleen Alatalo-Arten

Organists of Keweenaw
Jan Dalquist has retired twice: in 1994 after 30 years as an academic librarian (NMU 1966–1968, Suomi 1968–1984, MTU 1984–1994), and in 2011 after 26 years as organist at Portage Lake United Church. Kathleen Alatalo-Arten, mental health worker, music therapist and music teacher, served as organist at the former Community Church in Calumet and now substitutes at various area churches. Both Jan and Kathleen are founding members (1995) of the Organists of Keweenaw.
TOUR: Pipe Organ Crawl

Frank W. Eld

Roseberry, Idaho
Frank Eld is president of the Long Valley Preservation Society in Roseberry, Idaho. The historic townsite of Roseberry is an open-air museum preserving twenty-five structures, of which seven are Finnish hand-hewn log buildings. In addition to his restoration work, Frank documents log construction throughout the United States, focusing on the Finnish. He was born and raised in a Finnish community in Idaho, where his father and maternal grandparents homesteaded. A graduate of Columbia University, New York, Frank is an avid historian and preservationist, currently writing a book, Finnish Log Construction: The Art. He is a recipient of Preservation Idaho’s Orchid Award, recognizing over forty years in preservation.
LECTURES: Vernacular Finnish Log Construction: The Art
Homesteading Finns in Long Valley, Idaho

Gus Fenton

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Gus is a semi-retired biomedical engineer having worked at various medical device companies over his career. He and his wife, Pat, both grew up in Wisconsin and now live in Minneapolis. His father’s science teaching likely set him off on the engineering path but his writing avocation came from his mother. With time on his hands and an old postcard in front of him, Gus set off to find out what he could about his grandparent’s lives. What started as two or three pages turned into a 230 page book, Kustaa and Hilma, a Genealogy: Gustav Tuomin, 1878–1947, and Hilma Mikkelsen, 1876–1959, which is archived internationally.
LECTURE: Genealogy Quests –or- The Unpredictability of Both Searches and Relatives


Tim Frandy

Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Originally from Arbor Vitae, Wisconsin, Tim Frandy recently completed his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Scandinavian Studies and Folklore Studies. He has worked in Finland, Sápmi, and the Upper Midwest with outdoorsmen, hunters, fishermen, trappers, reindeer herders, berry pickers, maple syrup makers, and wild ricers, and he is currently conducting fieldwork in northern Wisconsin with traditional Anishinaabe woodsmen, artists, and storytellers. He works at the Collaborative Center for Health Equity at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and he lives in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he has taken up working with birchbark in his spare moments.
LECTURES: Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Birch Leaves, Reindeer, and Sustainability Among Sámi Reindeer Herders
Lust, Labor, and Lawlessness: The Bad Finn in Finnish-American Folksong
Sámi Noaidi Tales: Religious Shift and Tensions in Sámi Oral Tradition


Dr. Raija Fransila

West Kelowna, British Columbia
Dr. Raija Fransila is a writer and researcher. Her latest book, Preparing Teacher Candidates in the 21st Century (with Wendy Klassen) was published in 2013. She has taught at the University of British Columbia-Okanagan in the Faculty of Education, coordinating the practicum placements for both elementary and secondary teacher candidates including international placements to Egypt and China. She has taught all levels, K-12 and held positions as an elementary and secondary principal in large inner city public schools and in China. She holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from Simon Fraser University and a Doctorate from the University of BC.
LECTURE: Through the Eyes of My Mother: An Unfinished Story of Two Finnish War Children Sent to a Children’s Home in Sweden Following WWII

Jim Frantti

Chassell, Michigan
Jim Frantti serves as chairman of the Laestadian Lutheran Church’s (LLC) Board of Directors (North America). In this role, Frantti works with sister organizations overseas, particularly in Finland and Sweden. A U.P. native, Frantti holds a B.S. degree (Mathematics/Physics) from MTU and an M.A. (Educational Administration) from NMU. He has 33-plus years in education as a teacher, technology coordinator, and superintendent. Frantti serves as pastor of the Pelkie (Michigan) Laestadian Lutheran Church and in many North American and international church positions, including LLC pastoral, personnel, mission work, home and family, and Christian education committees— and has been director of LLC’s Hasscib Lake Camp (Champion, MI) and LLC’s Executive Director.
LECTURE:An Enduring Bridge—North American and Finnish Laestadians’ Connections and Mutual Activity

Deborah Frontiera

Houston, Texas
Deborah Frontiera grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Two of her picture books have won awards or honorable mentions. In 2010, her middle grade book, Living on Sisu: The 1913 Union Copper Strike Tragedy, won First Place for historical fiction in the Purple Dragonfly Awards. Copper Country Chronicler: The Best of J. W. Nara has been highly praised in the Keweenaw area. Her pictorial history of Suomi College/Finlandia University will debut at Grand Finn Fest 2013. She teaches part-time for Writers In The Schools in Houston, Texas. View all her books on her website at:  www.authorsden.com/deborahkfrontiera
LECTURE: Bringing History to Life: Researching Stories from the Copper Country’s Past

Louis V. Galdieri and Ken Ross

Films for Non-Profits
Brooklyn, New York
Louis, a writer and documentarian based in Brooklyn, New York, has directed film and video shoots and hundreds of interviews around the world. He’s written screenplays, collaborated and consulted on a variety of film and TV projects. Before making films, Louis taught history and literature at UC Berkeley and MIT. Ken Ross is an award-winning director and cinematographer. His projects range from documentaries and independent experimental films to commercials, music videos and TV shows. His work has appeared on ABC, HBO, Lifetime, Nickelodeon, and PBS. Ken has taught film production and aesthetics at Bard College, Vassar College and SUNY Purchase. Louis and Ken co-founded Films for Non-Profits.
FILM: 1913 Massacre

Leonore Heino

Shoreview, Minnesota
Leonore Heino’s great grandparents’ migration to 1930s Karelia shaped her educationally and professionally. Their story, and the study of history, became areas of great fascination for her at a young age while listening to her Great Aunt Martha recount the family’s journey. This intrigue led to Russian language study at the University of Minnesota, a 1997 study abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia (with a visit to Karelia,) and a twelve year career as a World History teacher in suburban Minneapolis/St. Paul. Leonore’s goal is to encourage young people to be engaged and thoughtful global citizens as we head into an ever-changing future.
LECTURE: Stories to Engage the Entire Family: A Case Study of One Family’s Migration to Karelia in the 1930s

Kaija Heiskanen

Kuopio, Finland
Genealogy instructor Kaija Heiskanen started family history research over 30 years ago. She teaches and lectures on genealogy on many occasions and in many colleges in Kuopio and nearby. She has published several family books especially from eastern Finland families, e.g. Eskelinen, Heiskanen, Kemppainen, Tuppurainen. Today she is also helping the local university hospital in a particular disease genetics studies. Her files consist about 80,000 persons from the 1600s to the present day.
WORKSHOP: Who do you think you are? How to Start Researching Your Finnish Ancestors (with Veli Niinimaa, Ph.D.)

J. B. Hove

Isanti, Minnesota
J. B. Hove is a resident of Minnesota and a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in finance. He has roots in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden; his wife Linda has roots in Sweden and Finland. Hove's first book published in 2007, From Scandinavian Shores, attempts to describe the shared heritage of the Scandinavian immigrants. His new book, Exploring an Alien Culture attempts to discover those elements of culture which influence progress, and it attempts to compare Nordic culture with culture in the United States including a brief analysis of apparent consequences of cultural differences.
LECTURE: Exploring Nordic Culture: Attitudes and Values

Wally Huskonen

Cleveland, Ohio

Wally Huskonen grew up in Ashtabula County, Ohio, not knowing much about his roots in Finland. His quest for knowledge about his Finnish relatives and ancestors began while he was employed as a trade magazine editor covering the steel, aluminum, copper, and other metals industries. Now retired, he has been able to “catch up” on his own family history and help others with their family research. He is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the National Genealogical Society, the Ohio Genealogical Society, and the Finnish-American Heritage Association of Ashtabula County.

LECTURE: Where’s Otto: Using the Power of the Internet to Find a Long-Lost Relative


Richard Impola

New Paltz, New York
Richard Impola was born on a farm near Ahmeek, Michigan. The log house there, a fine example of Finnish log houses of the time, is still standing. He was drafted into the army in January 1943, was sent to England and thence to Le Havre, was twice wounded in action and was on a ship home when the war in Europe ended. He received a MA in English literature from Columbia University, and taught English for eight years at Michigan Tech. Then he and his family moved to New Paltz, N.Y., where he taught English and completed his Ph.D. After retirement he began to translate Finnish literature, completing some 20 works for publication, most notably Väinö Linna’s trilogy, Täällä pohjantähden alla.
LECTURE: Realism in Väinö Linna

Gregory S. Isola

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Independent Finnish researcher Gregory Isola, originally from Duluth, Minnesota, has enjoyed researching the Finnish language and history as well as family history for over 30 years. Much of his research in the past 20 years has centered on the Finnish Titanic story of William and Anna Lahtinen, culminating in a centennial presentation April 2012 in Dassel, Minnesota. Greg attended the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis twice and lives in northeast Minneapolis with his wife Stephanie and their children Katarina, Maria, Abram, and Olivia. His father Eino was born and raised in rural Ewen, Michigan, so Greg is very pleased to present at FinnFest 2013.
LECTURES: Titanic: The Unintended Arrival
The Language of the Finnish Immigrants

Pirkko Karvonen

Boyle, Alberta, Canada
Pirkko Karvonen is a filmmaker and textile artist who has produced programs for television dealing with art, wildlife, and being Finnish. For over 36 years she joined her filmmaker husband Albert Karvonen in the production of wildlife films. Pirkko’s textiles can be found in the Alberta Foundation Art Collection and in private and corporate collections in Canada, Australia, Japan, Austria, Finland and the US. She promotes Finnish culture and the art of weaving through workshops, writing, and exhibitions. She has received numerous awards including the City of Edmonton Award and the Immigration Award in Art from the Government of Canada.
FILM: Andrea Hansen: Strings Across the Sky
LECTURE: The Finn Factor in North American Weaving

Scott Kaukonen

Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas
Dr. Scott Kaukonen is an associate professor of English at Sam Houston State University, where he directs the MFA program in creative writing and serves as the associate editor of the Journal of Finnish Studies. He’s the author of Ordination, winner of the Ohio State University Prize for Short Fiction, and with Dr. Helena Halmari, the co-translator of Anja Snellman’s Pet Shop Girls. He received the Nelson Algren Prize from the Chicago Tribune as well as a National Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellowship. His fiction has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Cincinnati Review, Pleiades, Barrelhouse, Third Coast, and elsewhere.
LECTURE: A Little More Finland: Finnish Crime Novels in Translation


Richard Koski 

Trumansburg, New York
Richard Koski is a third generation Finnish-American two-row and one-row diatonic button accordion player. He learned much of his music from his father, who played accordion at home and for Finnish dances in the area. Both grandfathers were from Negaunee, Michigan, working in the iron mines before moving with their families in the early 20th century to farms in the Finger Lakes area of New York. Besides Finnish music, Richard enjoys playing Tex-Mex, Cajun, and original music with his band, Toivo, at local Finnish events, festivals, restaurants, and wineries. In 2005 he was named the Finlandia Foundation Performer of the Year.
WORKSHOP: Finnish, Cajun, and Tex-Mex Tunes

Dr. Kimmo Kääriäinen

Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
Dr Kimmo Kääriäinen is Executive Director of the Department for International Relations, General Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. He wrote his doctoral thesis on the policy concerning religion in the Soviet Union and has written numerous books and articles on religious revival in Russia. He has worked many years abroad, including 2003 when he was a visiting professor at Western Michigan University. He holds a Doctor of Theology and a Master of Social Sciences from the University of Helsinki, where he has also served as an adjunct professor in ethics and philosophy of religion.
LECTURE: The Present Situation of Religious Life in Finland

Bill Lagerroos

Madison, Wisconsin
Bill has presented at FinnFests since 1995. He grew up in New York City where people took subways to the halls. He saw them, even though they lived far apart, coming together and building rich community lives. These early experiences impressed upon him what people can do when they gather. A number of these stories have shown up in the New World Finn, for which he has written a column since 2006.  Bill has an MS in Computer Sciences from the University of Wisconsin.
DISCUSSION: Just What Kind of Finn Are You, Anyway?

Lynn Maria Laitala

Lake Linden, Michigan
Lynn Maria Laitala’s family lived in Finnish and cooperative communities until they moved to Southwest Minneapolis at the height of the McCarthy era in 1953. That tremendous culture shock has informed Laitala’s academic studies in history and anthropology and her work as an oral historian, college teacher, editor, journalist, and author. Questions of history and culture, hierarchy, ethnicity and race have preoccupied her ever since she moved from a culture of cooperation to a culture of hierarchy when she was six years old. Laitala’s book Down from Basswood is available from Amazon in a new edition illustrated by Carl Gawboy.
LECTURES: Prelude to 1913: Finnish Immigrants in the Industrial Wars
“A Race of Good Miners”: Changing Perceptions of Finnish Immigrants
DISCUSSION: Share Your Finnish Story

James P. Leary

University of Wisconsin-Madison
James P. Leary is a professor of Folklore and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he directs the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, http://csumc.wisc.edu. His research since the late 1970s regarding the folk cultural traditions of Finnish Americans—from jokes about Eino and Toivo to the significance of accordionists Viola Turpeinen and Art Moilanen—has contributed to numerous documentary sound recordings, public radio programs, films, and such publications as “Finnish American Songs and Tunes from Mines, Lumber Camps, and Worker’s Hall,” a special issue of Journal of Finnish Studies, co-edited with Hilary Virtanen.
FILM: Alan Lomax in Michigan, 1938: A Documentary Film
LECTURE: Finnish Field Recordings from the U.P., 1938

Lillian Lehto

Birmingham, Michigan
Lillian Lehto, a retired teacher and librarian, resides in Birmingham, Michigan with her husband, Paul, a retired school administrator; they have six sons. She graduated from the Lutheran Bible Institute and from Suomi College. She holds a B.A. and M.A. from Oakland University and a minor in library science from the University of Michigan. From 1984 to 1994 she edited and published The Fennophile: A Magazine by and for Those Who Love Finland. In 2010 Lillian and her son Steve published A Rascal’s Craft. Currently she volunteers as a librarian at the Finnish Center in Farmington, Michigan.
POETRY READING: The Copper Country Strike of 1913

Steve Lehto

Steve Lehto is a writer, researcher and professor. Much of his research focuses on the Italian Hall disaster and the Strike of 1913. His grandfather, Waino “Pop” Lehto, was a long-time dean of Suomi College and his great-grandfather, Eelu Kiviranta, wrote and published poetry in the Finnish language in the Keweenaw. Lehto’s books include Death’s Door: The Truth Behind Michigan’s Largest Mass Murder, and Shortcut: The Seeberville Murders and the Dark Side of the American Dream. He has a B.A. in history from Oakland University and a J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles. He has written ten books.
LECTURE: The Italian Hall Disaster: What We Know 100 Years Later

Beth Alatalo Maki

Negaunee, Michigan
Born to first-generation Americans, Beth Alatalo Maki has always been proud to be a Finn. After receiving the family bible from her mother, Allie Heikkinen Alatalo Porkka, in 1968, Maki started asking questions about her grandparents: “When did they come to America? Where were they from in Finland? Why did they go to Drummond Island, Michigan?” This led her to write a family book, The Jacob Heikkinen – Liisa Mertaniemi Story, which then led her to start research for a forthcoming book, Maggie Walz and the Early Finns on Drummond Island. Maki continues to do genealogical investigations for her family and others. She is a member of the Houghton-Keweenaw County Genealogical Society.
LECTURE: Maggie Walz and the Early Finns on Drummond Island, 1905–1920

Lawrence J. Molloy

Larry is Professor Emeritus from Oakland Community College where he taught computer science for 30 years. However his real love has always been the history of Michigan’s Copper Country. He has written several books about the history of the region, has given many local workshops and tours, and gives Copper Country presentations to groups throughout the state. Larry is active in several local history societies and serves as a Trustee on the Board of the Keweenaw County Historical Society as well the Board of the historic Central Mine Methodist Church. He lives between homes in Eagle Harbor and Novi, Michigan.
LECTURE: Life of a Finnish Copper Miner

Nathan Muus

Oakland, California
Nathan Muus, the co-editor of Baiki, the (North American) International Sami Journal (1991–2013) for 19 years, has been a frequent participant at FinnFests.  Besides writing in Baiki, he has written and contributed photographs and drawings for Arran, New World Finn, Vesterheim Museum, and Journal of Primitive Technology. He is of Norwegian and Sami heritage. In 2008, Nathan released a CD of original music, Seven Little Wonders, including the first North American yoik ever published. He is also the co-author of the 2013 published catalog The Sámi Reindeer People of Alaska—an exhibit that has been traveling North America for ten years.
LECTURE: Revisiting the Alaska Sámi Chronology

Kelly Nelson

Arizona State University
Kelly Nelson is a poet and cultural anthropologist (Ph.D. Brandeis University). She discovered many stories about the Tolkkinen and Hoyhtya sides of her family while she was a Visiting Artist at the Regional Cultural Center in her mother’s hometown of New York Mills, Minnesota. Her poems about her Finnish American relatives have been published in Mixed FruitTar River Review, Used Furniture Review and The Finnish American Reporter and are forthcoming in the Found Poetry Review. She teaches interdisciplinary studies at Arizona State University and attended her first FinnFest last year in Tucson.
WORKSHOP: Writing Poems From Your Family History

Veli Niinimaa, Ph.D.

Chairman, Canadian Region, Finnish Expatriate Parliament
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Veli Niinimaa was born in Finland and completed his secondary and post-secondary education in Toronto. Dr. Niinimaa’s interest in Finnish culture started by playing pesäpallo with Sisu AC. He chaired the organizing committees of two Finnish-Canadian Grand Festivals in Calgary. While President of the Calgary Finnish Cultural Association, he taught a family history writing course. He served two terms on the Finnish-Canadian Cultural Federation board. In 2008 he was elected the Alternate Deputy Speaker and in 2012, Chairman of the Canadian region, Finnish Expatriate Parliament. Veli Niinimaa has published 15 books, including two family histories, and written nearly 100 articles in journals and newspapers.
LECTURES: Researching Your Finnish Ancestry
Publishing a Family History
WORKSHOP: Who do you think you are? How to Start Researching Your Finnish Ancestors (with Kaija Heiskanen)

Vesa Oja

Helsinki, Finland
Award winning photojournalist Vesa Oja was born in Lahti, Finland in 1953. He studied photography at the Lahti Institute of Industrial Arts in Finland. Since 1978, he worked as Staff Photographer for the leading Finnish national newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, from which he retired in 2012. His previous photo book Toinen Eurooppa: The Other Europe (published in 1999) deals with the disintegration of socialism in East Europe and the civil wars in the Balkans.
LECTURE: Finglish — Photographs of Finns in North America

Sheila Packa

Duluth, Minnesota
Sheila Packa has published poems, short stories, and essays in many literary magazines and anthologies, and she does readings and spoken word performances. She grew up on the Iron Range in northern Minnesota, the granddaughter of Finnish immigrants, and lives near Duluth. Her work has been featured in Good Poems, American Places (Viking Press), The Anthology of Finnish-North American Literature in English (Mellen Press), Beloved of the Earth: Poems of Grief and Gratitude (Holy Cow Press) and To Sing Along the Way: Minnesota Women Poets from Pre-Territorial Days to the Present (New Rivers Press). She has received a Loft Mentor Award in Poetry, three Arrowhead Regional Arts Council fellowships for poetry, two Loft McKnight Awards (one in poetry and one in prose).
POETRY WORKSHOP: Dancing With the Past

Bill Pratt

Omaha, Nebraska
Bill Pratt is an emeritus professor of history at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. In the spring of 2000, he was the Distinguished Fulbright Lecturer of American History at Moscow State University, and in the spring of 2007 he was a Senior Fulbright Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Warsaw. He has made presentations on Karelian Fever at Petrozavodsk State University (2008), FinnFest USA 2011 and the Agricultural History Society annual meeting (2012). In 2011, he was president of the Nebraska State Historical Society. 
LECTURE: Karelian Fever in the Great Lakes Region

Dr. Arthur E. Puotinen

Elgin, Illinois
Dr. Arthur E. Puotinen wrote the book Finnish Radicals and Religion in Midwestern Mining Towns, 1865–1914 and several published articles on the Copper Strike of 1913. He directed the Suomi College Oral History Project that included interviews with Copper Country residents about the strike and many other topics. He studied at Suomi College before earning his baccalaureate and graduate degrees. In higher education he served as a college president, provost, academic dean and professor. He now lives with his wife Carol in Elgin, Illinois where he has served as pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church since 2005.
LECTURE: Copper Country Finns and the Strike of 1913

Carl Rahkonen

Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Carl Rahkonen is a Music Librarian and Professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He served as the 2011 Finlandia Foundation Lecturer of the Year doing a presentation on “The Finnish American Musical Journey.” Current research projects include Finnish American worker’s music, dance musician William Syrjälä, and the composer Martti Nisonen. He is a practicing musician who plays classical, popular, and folk music in a variety of ensembles. Additional information may be found on his home page at: http://www.people.iup.edu/rahkonen/
LECTURE: Martti Nisonen: Composer of the Keweenaw

Kathryn Remlinger

Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan
Kathryn Remlinger grew up in Columbus, Ohio. She attended Morehead State University in Kentucky and Michigan Technological University, where she earned her Ph.D. in 1995. She currently teaches linguistics at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. Her research focuses on identity and language variation and change in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She lives in Spring Lake, Michigan with her husband, Robert Bell, along their two dogs and cat.
LECTURE: Say Yah to Da Finns, Eh! Linguistically creating Finnish-American Identity in the U.P.

Diane M. Rodgers

Northern Illinois University
Diane M. Rodgers is an Associate Professor at Northern Illinois University specializing in theory and social movements. Some of her publications appear in: History of the Human Sciences, Minerva and Sociological Quarterly. For the past two years, with Jill Sanderson, Jessica Petersen and Lucy Sosa, graduate students at Northern Illinois University, Professor Rodgers has been exploring the history of the DeKalb, Illinois Finns through the use of archival research, interviews and surveys. The project members are also involved in building preservation efforts and attempting to gain landmark status for the Finnish Temperance Hall and Finnish Workers Hall in DeKalb.
Lecture: Forgotten Finnish Americans of DeKalb, Illinois

Steve Rosswurm

Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Illinois
Steve Rosswurm, who teaches at Lake Forest College, has published works in eighteenth- and twentieth-century US history, but this is the first public presentation of his research into Finnish-American history. He became interested in it when he served as the Associate Director of the Linking Learning Communities: A New Teacher Leadership Project in Waukegan, where he lives. Ever since he came across Workers Hall, its Red Finns have been calling to him across the years with their stories. He contributed the "Waukegan" section to http://www.labortrail.org (The Interactive Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle).
LECTURE: Karelian Fever in Waukegan, Illinois

Eric Seaberg

Middleton, Wisconsin
Eric Seaberg was born on August 7, 1950 in Chicago, Illinois to Swedish and Sámi-American parents June and Albin Seaberg, and grew up as the oldest of 5 children in Highland Park, Illinois. He was raised in a family of artists and has been active with the North American Sámi Siida since the 1990s. He is also a staff worker for a native ministry with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and a member of the North American Institute of Theological Studies (NAIITS). Eric currently lives in Middleton, Wisconsin with his wife Penny and his three daughters – Anna, Stina and Britta.
LECTURE: Sámi Spiritual Revival and the Rise of the Global Indigenous Church

Kay Seppala

Chassell, Michigan
A third generation Finnish American, Kay grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and moved to St. Paul as a young adult. There she began Finnish folk dancing with the Kisarit, met her Finnish-American husband and learned to play the traditional 5 and 10 string kanteles with Koivun Kaiku. Through teaching Finnish folk dancing and kantele, Kay now shares the joy of her Finnish roots in the Copper Country. She is the director of the children’s group, Kivajat Dancers, and recently started a kantele ensemble for 5 and 10/11 string kantele players, Ilon Kaiku.
WORKSHOP: Kantele Splash

Wil Shapton

Red Jacket Trolley
Raised in the Keweenaw, Wil Shapton has studied its history for more than 20 years. He holds a degree in history from Alma College, studied industrial archaeology at Michigan Technological University, and worked as an historian for the State of Michigan. He owns and operates Red Jacket Trolley historical tours.

Anita Hakkila Smiley

Preston, Connecticut
Anita, a retired career business educator, now immerses herself in endeavors involving her Finnish heritage. Her 18 group tours to Finland have provided her with photos which comprise the PowerPoint presentation she enjoys sharing. Anita has served the Finnish American Heritage Society in Canterbury, CT, for over 20 years, including 3 years as president. Anita’s idea of FinnFunn Weekend celebrated 20 years in 2012. Her 12 years as a Finlandia Foundation National trustee include 8 years as secretary and 4 years as national president. She and her husband Jack have 3 children and 5 grandchildren.
LECTURE: A Photo Tour of Finland—Let’s Explore!

Tanja Paasikas Stanaway

Ishpeming, Michigan
Born in Kokkola, Finland, Tanja settled in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in 1972 and has been involved with Finnish music and teaching the Finnish language since 1979, teaching classes for adults and children. She performs regularly at local nursing centers and at conferences and meetings with a Finnish touch, playing accordion, piano, guitar, violin, cello, clarinet, recorder, and harmonica, and is currently recording her sixth music CD. She has been singing since the age of 4 and enjoys singing those dear old Finnish songs and schottisches and waltzes. She has attended several FinnFests and has performed in several states.
WORKSHOP: Those Dear Old Finnish Songs

Eleanor Palo Stoller, Ph.D.

Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, North Carolina)
Eleanor Palo Stoller is a sociologist who studies health and illness in late life. Memories of her Finnish grandparents sparked her interest in the impact of ethnic background on multiple generations. Dr. Stoller has written extensively on how older people and their families manage chronic disease. Her research was funded by the National Institutes of Health. She is currently Research Professor of Sociology and Gerontology at Wake Forest University. Before retiring, she was the Selah Chamberlain Professor of Sociology at Case Western Reserve University and Professor of Health Policy at the University of Florida’s College of Medicine.
LECTURE: Political Legacies: Growing Up in the Finnish American Left

Ismo Söderling

Institute of Migration (Turku, Finland)
Dr. Ismo Söderling is the Director of the Institute of Migration in Turku, Finland since 2010. Before that he worked as the Director of the Population Research Institute, Helsinki. He is an Adjunct Professor in Social Policy at the University of Turku. North America has a special place in his heart, he has worked as a Visiting Scholar both in the US and Canada. More than one million Finns have out-migrated from Finland. Dr. Söderling has visited them in more than 100 countries.
LECTURES: Finland and its demographic future up to 2050
Finnish milestones in emigration to North and South America
The Institute of Migration and its collections

Richard Tormanen

Dassel, Minnesota
A retired computer software developer, Richard Tormanen is the current president of the Finnish Genealogy Group of Minnesota and vice chairman of the Dassel-Cokato School Board. He became interested in the Laestadian Movement as a member of the Apostolic Lutheran Church and when helping his wife, Anne, with genealogy research of her great, great, great grandfather, Lars Levi Laestadius. Richard and Anne have made numerous trips to Northern Sweden, Finland, and Norway researching their ancestors and the Laestadian revival. Richard has given presentations to historical groups, churches, Rotary Clubs, family reunions and public schools about Laestadius, early revivals, Finnish immigration, DNA and family history.
LECTURES: Early Revivals and Laestadius’s Childhood, Education and Beginning Ministry, 1780–1850
The Laestadian Revival Movement in Lapland, 1840–1860
The Laestadian Revival Movement in North America, 1865–1930

Johanna Vuori

Haaga-Helia University, Helsinki
Johanna Vuori is currently a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She has a permanent faculty appointment with the business programs at HAAGA-HELIA University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki where she has worked as a project manager and degree program director. In her research she focuses on the management and leadership of teaching-intensive higher education institutions. Her current research interests include student engagement, teaching-research nexus and the effects of managerialism in Finnish higher education. She received her PhD from the University of Tampere.
LECTURE: 20 Years as Equal but Different: Universities of Applied Sciences Changing the Finnish Higher Education Landscape

Börje Vähämäki

University of Toronto
Börje Vähämäki, Professor Emeritus, has taught Finnish Studies in Finland (Åbo Academy University), Sweden (University of Stockholm), USA (University of Minnesota), and Canada (University of Toronto). He has published on Finnish language (Mastering Finnish and Existence Identity in Finnish Linguistics), literature, and folklore. Vähämäki is founding editor of the Journal of Finnish Studies and an accomplished translator of Finnish literature into English (Treasury of Finnish Love Poems). The Kalevala continually inspires him, especially its shamanistic world view, as his audio books Kalevala, Runos 1-3 and Kalevala, Runos 4-9 testifies. Vähämäki enjoys ever new discoveries in the vast world of the Kalevala.
LECTURES: What Everyone Should Know about the Kalevala
The Kalevala and its Worldview
Shamans and Shamanism in the Kalevala

Jari Välikorpi

University of Helsinki
Jari Välikorpi holds a Master of Theology diploma from the University of Helsinki. Born and raised in Kurikka, a small town in South Ostrobothnia, Välikorpi’s experience in the United States includes a study abroad semester in Indianapolis, a summer job in Wisconsin Dells, traveling in 17 different states and finally writing his Master’s thesis on the Suomi Synod Lutherans, which is what brings him to FinnFest USA 2013.
LECTURE: The Suomi Synod and the Americanization Debate in the 1920s

Keith Waaraniemi

Plymouth, Minnesota
Born in Minneapolis and growing up in its Finn Town, LLC Pastoral Director, Keith Waaraniemi became interested in Finnish American and Laestadian history naturally. He earned a B.A. in History the University of Minnesota, concentrating on Finnish immigration to North America and the Laestadian movement. He minored in Finnish and volunteered at the Immigration History Research Center. Waaraniemi has visited Finland many times and taught one year at Reisjärven kristillinen kansanopisto. Waaraniemi has held various Laestadian Lutheran Church positions, including executive secretary, publications director, and youth work director. He has traveled on preaching trips to several countries, including Finland, Russia, Ecuador, Togo, and Ghana.
EXHIBIT: From Living Seed to Flourishing Field: Laestadian Lutherans in North America     

Lea Waaraniemi

Espoo, Finland
Lea Waaraniemi was born in Taivalkoski, Finland and raised in neighboring Kuusamo. After secondary school, she pursued a Master’s in Church Music, with concentrations in organ and voice at Sibelius Academy in Kuopio. Waaraniemi is a longtime tenured cantor in the Espoo Cathedral Parish of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. She has worked on several CD recordings in both the USA and Finland, serving as organist, choir member, and soloist. Waaraniemi has taught piano, organ, and voice in Finland and the USA. She and husband Levi and their three children live in Espoo, Finland.

Sheldon Ylioja

Canadian Sheldon Ylioja was born and raised in Saskatchewan. After secondary school, he pursued a music education in Finland. He earned a degree from the Oulu Conservatory and his Master’s in Church Music at Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy. Ylioja is a tenured cantor in the Espoo Cathedral Parish of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. He has worked in Europe and North America on over 30 CDs—his recording roles have included organist, choir director, composer, and singer. He has composed several commissioned organ and choir pieces/arrangements, including the LLC’s Songs and Hymns of Zion. Ylioja currently serves as the in-progress Songs and Hymns of Zion Chorale Book’s music editor.