Finlandia Foundation National
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
is the most important private source of support for Finnish culture in the United States.
It is a great honor for me to serve the larger Finlandia Foundation community as the incoming FFN President, elected on March 23, the date of FFN’s Anniversary Gala.
My immediate predecessors, Anita Häkkilä Smiley and John Laine, have done a great job in doubling the number of FF Chapters to 45 at the end of 2012, during the ten years I served as a Trustee. Their connections with the chapters and work with the larger Finnish American community is a hard act to follow, but I will do my best.
We will continue to serve the Finlandia Foundation community, but it is important to create an increased awareness among the wider community, including Finland, about the great work FFN has been doing as the most important private dispenser of grants and scholarships and support of special programs (Lecturer and Performer of the Year, Soiva Music and Salolampi Language Camps) in Finnish America. This year’s summary of grants and scholarships provided in the spring 2013 newsletter demonstrates the talent we are supporting. We are continuing our fundraising activities with increased vigor as we are able to fund only a fraction of qualified requests.
Fundraising has been close to my heart over the past 10 years I have served on the FFN Board. It is also essential to enable us to continue our grant making activities, as we do not receive any support from public sources – all grants and scholarships are privately funded.
And there is a great need to expand our fundraising capabilities. For instance, the amount we have available for scholarships has not increased over a longer period of time, although the costs of higher learning have at the same time increased dramatically in the US.
You will therefore see frequent references to fundraising in this newsletter and elsewhere in our publications. I want every one of you to become sensitized to this need and become a fundraiser in your own circle of friends.
The well-attended 60th Anniversary Gala Dinner and Concert on March 23 (and the LOY lecture on March 22) were demonstrations of the activities FFN has been supporting. We could only include one representative of each category: Portland State University Suomi Room for grants, Hilary Virtanen with three scholarships and two research grants representing scholarship recipients and two students who had graduated from the Soiva and Salolampi Language Camps.
The concert following the gala dinner was a demonstration of the Performer of the Year (POY) program with two very talented performers: Maria Mannisto, soprano, POY 2007 and Marja Kaisla, concert pianist, POY 2013.
As the 2012 representative of the Lecturer of the Year (LOY) program, Glenda Dawn Goss had presented her lecture "Sibelius and National Awakening" on the previous night at the Pasadena Museum of History, where FFN was founded in 1953.
Judging from the feedback we have been receiving, the 60th Anniversary celebration in Pasadena was a resounding success. The keynote speaker at the gala, H.E. Ambassador Ritva Koukku-Ronde encouraged us to work together in fostering common goals in making Finland better known in United States. Mr. Ville Itälä, Chairman of Suomi-Seura/Finland Society, FFN’s counterpart organization in Finland and the Speaker of the Finnish Expatriate Parliament, brought greetings from Finland and outlined initiatives of importance to the Finnish American community.
FFN will be visible again at the 2013 Finnfest in Hancock, MI, by organizing a reception in addition to its traditional booth.
Ossi Rahkonen, FFN President