2016-2020 FoFF Events

Return to listing of all FoFF events.

Holiday Get-Together, Louisville, CO, December 29, 2019

Fulbright Finland alumni at the alumni event in Colorado

Nancy Commins, 2011-2012 Fulbright-University of Turku Scholar, and her husband Ken Wilson hosted an alumni gathering in their beautiful home in Louisville, Colorado complete with homemade lohikeitto (salmon soup) and Fazer ruispuikulat (rye bread). Alumni from the Denver-Boulder metro area attended the event including: Sarah Flynn with her son and Thea Lindquist with her partner, as well as alumni Sonja and Nate Bickford and their three children from Pueblo and Leslie Baker drove all the way from Taos, New Mexico. Leasa Weimer, 2011-2012 Graduate Student Fulbright Fellow, who now works at the Fulbright Finland Foundation in Helsinki, attended the event and shared updates of the latest news from Finland. Several of the alumni shared stories of how impactful their Fulbright Finland experience was both professionally and personally.

Concert and Alumni Dinner, Philadelphia, PA, October 27, 2019

Fulbright Finland alum Phil Alperson and his wife hosted Fulbright Finland alumni and grantees for dinner after the Concert

On October 27, 2019 Finnish pianist and Sibelius Academy alumnus Juho Pohjonen performed at the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts. Fulbright Finland alumni together with a Finnish grantee attended the concert and gathered at the home of Fulbrighter Philip Alperson and Mary Hawkesworth.

In the picture, left to right: Bill Eaton, Juho Pohjonen, Joonas Koivukoski, Ruth McDermott-Levy, Randy Levy.

Celebration of the centenary of Finnish-American diplomatic relations and the 70th anniversary of academic exchange between Finland and the U.S., Washington D.C., May 21, 2019

Glass Kuksa created by Jonathan Capps to celebrate the Fulbright Finland Foundation milestones
Glass Kuksa celebrates 2019 milestones

The Fulbright Finland Foundation celebrated the 70th anniversary of the ASLA-Fulbright Exchanges and the Centennial of Finnish-U.S. diplomatic relations at the Finnish Embassy in Washington D.C. in May. The event brought together over 80 alumni, current and future grantees, program partners and other friends of Fulbright Finland to network and enjoy a full evening with surprise entertainment and Nordic buffet. Many guests represented organizations in the international education sector and various government departments that have been working with Fulbright over the years. Especially gratifying was the fact that so many Fulbrighters traveled great distances to share this unique opportunity to celebrate such important milestones together.

A featured moment in the program was the presentation of the glass Kuksas, designed and crafted by Jonathan Capps, 2018-2019 U.S. Fulbright Fellow hosted at Nuutajärvi Glass Village.  Capps created this limited edition of glass Kuksas to honor the 70th Anniversary of ASLA-Fulbright. They will be given during the anniversary year as tributes of appreciation to individuals and institutions that have significantly contributed to the Fulbright Finland Foundation.

Members of the Friends of Fulbright Finland in Washington D.C. celebrating the milestones of the Fulbright Finland Foundation
Finnish Embassy in Washington D.C. hosts alumni

Alumni Luncheon, Washington D.C., May 20, 2019

Friends of Fulbright Finland and members of the Fulbright Finladn team in Washington D.C.

Kay J. Kohl, 2010 Fulbright scholar invited the Fulbright Finland team and alumni to luncheon in her home in Washington, D.C. Discussion was free flowing and eventually led to the proposal for an exciting, new opportunity for American alumni. The project will be discussed and reviewed over the coming months. Stay tuned! The Foundation team was visiting Washington in order to participate in the dual celebration of the 70th ASLA-Fulbright anniversary and the centenary of Finnish-American Diplomatic Relations, hosted by the Embassy of the Republic of Finland.

Welcome for Fulbright Arctic Initiative Scholars, Anchorage, May 5, 2019

Fulbright Finland Alumni and Friends of Fulbright Finland member invited Fulbrigth Arctic Initiative scholars in her home home in Anchorage to Welcome them to Alaska

Friends of Fulbright Finland Alumni Council member, Joan Kluwe (1999 U.S. Fulbright Fellow to the Finnish Forest Research Institute in Rovaniemi) welcomed to her home in Anchorage, Alaska members of the second cohort of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative grants program. Jon Petter Stoor (from Sweden, Sami Norwegian National Advisory Unit on Mental Health), Elena Gladun (from Russia, Tyumen State University, Law), Josée Lavoie (from Canada, University of Manitoba, Community Health), all of whom are spending some weeks in Anchorage and Fairbanks conducting the exchange portion of their Fulbright research project, met together for conversation and a table of Alaskan taste treats. Honorary Consul for Finland in Alaska, Hanna Eklund, joined the group as well.

Alumni Meet Together at Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies Conference, Madison, May 3, 2019

Fulbright Finland Alumni Meet Together at Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies Conference in Madison

Alumni of the Finnish Fulbright program met up for con-versation and information exchange about Friends of Fulbright Finland alumni activities from Doug Maynard, FoFF Council member and 2006 scholar to University of Helsinki. Marlene Broemer (2000 Fulbrighter at University of Helsinki) organized this opportunity around the schedule of the annual meeting of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study held in Madison, Wisconsin. Andrew K. Nestingen (Fulbrighter in 1996 to the University of Helsinki) was elected SASS Vice President.

Alumni Get-Together in Philadelphia, May 30, 2018

FoFF Alumni Get-Together in Philadelphia
Top Right: Fulbright Finland alumni Bill Eaton and Yvonne Allen with Ruth McDermott-Levy (center) in Philadelphia. Ruth is coming to Finland in 2018 as a Fulbright-Saastamoinen Scholar. Top Left:The Fulbright Finland Foundation CEO Terhi Mölsä, Fulbright Finland alumnus Professor Philip Alperson and his wife Professor Mary Hawkesworth.

Friends of Fulbright Finland got together in Philadelphia for a delightful evening at the home of U.S. Fulbright scholar alum, Professor Philip Alperson and Professor Mary Hawkesworth. In addition to U.S. alumni and friends of the program from multiple years, the event was also attended by a current Finnish grantee living in Philadelphia and even a future U.S. grantee from Pennsylvania getting ready to move to Finland for her Fulbright next fall. 


Fulbright Finland Afterparty, Helsinki, May 16, 2018

FoFF Fulbright Finland Afterparty

Over 50 Friends of Fulbright Finland gathered together at the Bicentennial Apartment on Liisankatu, in the Kruununhaka district of Helsinki, for the first ever afterparty organized by the Fulbright Finland Foundation. This event, which followed the annual Fulbright Finland Grant Award Ceremony and Reception at Helsinki City Hall, brought together current U.S. Fulbright grantees and Fulbright Finland alumni and their spouses. We had the honor to host alumni who had been in Finland as grantees as long ago as the late 1970’s! Guests included several former Bicentennial Chairs who were able to revisit the place they once called home. Many alumni were in Finland to participate in the Maple Leaf and Eagle Conference organized by the University of Helsinki, May 15-18, 2018.

Throughout the evening, memories of Finland were shared… stories and laughter were abundant. Many old friends met again and new friendships were made. Topics of conversation ranged from politics and sports to traveling and research projects. As the evening progressed, one could hear many promises to meet again, so just like the little gift bags from the Fulbright Finland team say -- “Hyvää kesää, see you soon!”


Friends of Fulbright Finland Alumni Reception to Celebrate the Centennial of Finland, Washington D.C., November 10, 2017

Friends of Fulbright Finland Alumni Reception to Celebrate the Centennial of Finland

Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi welcomed American alumni of the Finnish Fulbright program from the Washington D.C. area, and friends, to the Ambassador’s Residence on November 10, celebrating Suomi Finland 100 Centenary together.  During the evening, discussion was animated, with the 40 plus guests sharing news about their current projects and memories about their time in Finland and being a Fulbrighter.  Many shared plans they have to revisit Finland, to connect with Finnish colleagues and hosts, and to find new ways to make Finland more visible on the American scene. 

Friends of Fulbright Finland Alumni Reception to Celebrate the Centennial of Finland
Left: Peter MacKeith, Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi and Fulbright Finland CEO Terhi Mölsä. Right: Mike Loovis presenting the Ambassador with a photo of the “Spirit of Finland”

Alumni Ken Kolson (2006 U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Political Science) and Peter MacKeith (1989 Fulbright Graduate Student in Architecture) were presented with certificates of appreciation by Terhi Mölsä. Both have made significant contributions to ensure the strength of the alumni program and to the future of Fulbright Finland. In a surprise move, Mike Loovis (FoFF Council member and 2010 U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Education), presented the Ambassador with a photo of the “Spirit of Finland”  sculpture by Ken Valimaki that now marks the entry to the Finnish Heritage Museum in Fairport Harbor, Ohio.

Friends of Fulbright Finland Alumni Reception to Celebrate the Centennial of Finland
Left: Joseph McCormick, Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi, Fulbright Finland alumni Suzanne Louis (2001 Fulbright Professional in International Education) and Terhi Mölsä. Right:Fulbright Finland alumni Annie Brandt (2015 Fulbright Teacher) and Cristi Marchetti (2016 Fulbright Finland Inter-Country awardee in Education)
Friends of Fulbright Finland Alumni Reception to Celebrate the Centennial of Finland
Left: Fulbright Finland Alumi and Friends at the Reception. Right: Terhi Mölsä, Fulbright Finland Alum Ramon Barthelemy (2014 U.S. Fulbright Graduate Student in Education), Oleg Kucheryavenko and Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi.


Alumni Gathering in Minneapolis, May 12, 2017

Former Fulbright Finland scholars and grantees gathered in Minneapolis on May 12

Eight people responded to the call to attend the Happy Hour for Fulbright Finland at the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study conference in Minneapolis, May 2017. The conference began with a tour of St. Olaf College’s archival libraries, and it was good news to hear that this Norwegian archive is also collecting works by other Nordic authors, including Finnish-American authors.  Fulbright alumni, grantees and scholars are encouraged to make their works available to the St. Olaf archives. Books can be donated, or the libraries can be advised of purchase agreements. The archives are being upgraded to be more climate- controlled and able to accommodate dated and archival documents from previous centuries.

The SASS conferences  schedule was intense, so finding a convenient time for the alumni get-together was a challenge.  It was wonderful to meet FLTA grantees from Finland, who came to talk about their experiences teaching Finnish language in Minnesota and Indiana.  A Fulbright scholar from the 1950s also came to share her book and give us all some perspective on how far, broad and wide the Fulbright experience in Finland has been and continues to be.

FoFF Alumni Gathering in Minneapolis
Left: Jason and Kirsi on the left; Andy, Kendra, and Elisa on the right. Karen Erickson and Marlene Broemer not shown. Photo by Marlene Broemer. Right: Marlene Broemer, FoFF gathering host.

We sampled some delicious appetizers from the very creative kitchen at the Hyatt Regency and enjoyed getting to know each other, and of course some of us had met earlier in the day at the various conference sessions recognizing the 100th anniversary of  Finland’s independence.


  • Marlene Broemer, Finlandia University (2000 Fulbright scholar at University of Helsinki) The Chronotope of Independence: War and History in Some Poems of Edith Södergran and  Nordic Crime Fiction
  • Andrew Nestingen, University of Washington (1996 Fulbright student at University of Helsinki) Belonging and Difference over 100 Years: Kaurismäki on Finland’s Centenary
  • Kendra Willson, University of Turku (2011 Scholar at Turku) Finno-Ugric Studies, A Saga King in a Finnish Beijing Opera
  • Jason Lavery, Oklahoma State University, docent at University of Helsinki (1992 Fulbrighter to Austria, in History) Advantages and Hindrances: Mikael Agricola as a Writing Reformer
  • Karen Erickson, Southern New Hampshire University (1959 scholar at University of Helsinki) book on Finnish correspondence is forthcoming
  • Elisa Räsänen, (2013 FLTA grantee at Indiana University)
  • Kirsi Leskinen, (2016 FLTA grantee at University of Minnesota)


Alumni Get-Together in Denver, June 4, 2016

Friends of Fulbright Finland got together in Colorado hosted in the home of alumna Nancy Commins.  Nancy and her husband Ken Wilson spent a Fulbright grant period in Turku in 2010-11.

FoFF Alumni Get-together in Denver

In the photos:

  1. Honorary Consul Mäkikalli and Patrick Tally (spouse of Thea Lindquist) discussing Fulbright Finland grant programs for Americans.
  2. Alumni of the Fulbright Finland programs: Leasa Weimer (2011), Thea Lindquist (2011), Nancy Commins (2011), Ann Komara (2007) standing and sitting Peter Michelson (2001) and Suzanne Louis (2001).
  3. Ken Wilson, host of the FoFF alumni gathering.
  4. Leasa Weimer and Thea Lindquist.
  5. Judith Aplon (Peter's wife) chatting with alumni gathering hostess Nancy Commins. 6. Honorary Consul Juha Mäkikalli and Peter Michelson. Photographer: Karen Brennan

Six alumni and numerous friends, including Honorary Consul for Colorado, Juha Mäkikalli, enjoyed a summer picnic on June 4.  An update about the latest news from the Fulbright Center in Helsinki revealed that the FC has a new legal foundation and will now be known as “Fulbright Finland.”  This will facilitate plans to develop additional funding sources, including the Centennial Fund and the FoFF Alumni Enrichment Fund.

Other topics of conversation included plans for the 2017 celebration of Finland’s 100th anniversary of independence, and how Fulbright alumni can get involved in events being held in the US.  Also, the second round of competition for the FoFF Alumni Enrichment Award will open later in the summer.