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Young Leaders Board

Thanks for your interest in the Finlandia Foundation Young Leaders Board

You’re invited to join the YLB LinkedIn group, follow FFN social media and sign up for our free, monthly e-news to learn of new programs and opportunities with YLB.

If you’re interested in exploring the possibility of joining as an active member of the volunteer board, please submit your name and information at the link below. When the next round of board seats opens up later this year, you’ll receive notice.

The Young Leaders Board Logo

YLB Background

In early 2021 we launched the Young Leaders Board (YLB) of Finlandia Foundation National to work alongside the FFN trustees.

We see this as imperative, in order to attract younger people who will get to know, love and nurture this organization for the future. 

Our goal is to tap the talent pool of the generation of Finns, Finnish-Americans and others in the U.S. who are intrigued by Finnish heritage and contemporary Finland, and are looking for a way to pursue and advance those interests.

Each YLB member has committed to working with FFN committees to achieve our organizational goals, both short and long range.

The Young Leaders Board regularly meets online and almost immediately launched two initiatives: Finnish American Professional Network on Linkedin and a curated Spotify playlist of favorite Finnish bops. They have also established a relationship with the Embassy of Finland in Washington, D.C., and have conducted events for young professionals there.

We are thrilled with the enthusiastic response and involvement of the original, eight charter members of YLB. They established the organization, and brought a diverse set of skills, interests and experience to their volunteer positions. And now, we welcome the next members of the organization.

Each YLB member has committed to working with FFN committees to achieve our organizational goals, both short and long range. Join YLB and click on the video by Nate Kilponen-Fix on his thoughts about why heritage matters.

YLB Members

Lexi Brewer is a third generation Finnish-American, and graduate of the University of Washington’s Finnish Studies department. A sustainability professional, she currently is the director of Sustainability at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, and a long-standing member of the Sustainable Tacoma Commission. In her off time, she enjoys volunteering at the Gallucci Community Garden, knitting, Eurovision and introducing her toddler to all things Moomin. 

Abi Carlson is a proud “bi-peninsular” Finnish-American from Michigan. A social worker, she is passionate about and has been involved in the climate justice movement in her communities, and is currently an Ambassador for the Community Collaboration on Climate Change. Abby has traveled all over the United States and is excited to bring her love of sustainability and social justice to the YLB. She hopes to fulfill a lifelong dream of going to Finland.

Oliver Gardner was born in Helsinki, and currently lives in Boston, where he is studying at Boston College’s Carrol School of Management. “Finnish culture has always been a major part of my life, whether it be speaking Finnish with my family or attending elementary school in Helsinki.”

Rachel Hamalainen is a New York City-based nonprofit executive who specializes in mobilizing philanthropic resources in pursuit of equity and social justice. She currently works at CCS Fundraising and holds degrees from NYU Wagner and Amherst College.

Anne Junttila is an Education Specialist at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, South Carolina. Here, they focus on providing high-quality educational experiences for youth that have lasting impacts on conservation. 

Nate Kilponen-Fix is a native of Pittsburgh, with Finnish roots in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. He is an alumni of the Jyväskylä School of Business and Economics, and currently resides in Jyväskylä. “I am excited to connect with the YLB and take an active responsibility in strengthening our communities.”

Ashley “Aili” Lund is based in Washington, D.C. and works in the U.S. House of Representatives. Aili is from Duluth, Minnesota and grew up attending Salolampi, playing in a youth kantele ensemble and taking part in Finnish American community events. After graduating from college, she spent a year teaching English and studying Finnish in Finland. Aili serves on the Salolampi Foundation Board of Directors and is honored to join the Finlandia Foundation Young Leaders Board to help strengthen ties among the younger Finnish American generations.

The new members join the founding members currently active in YLB:

Mirva Johnson is a PH.D. candidate in Scandinavian Folklore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Mikko McFeely works as the resilience and sustainability director for a group of the national’ largest public water utilities.

Anya Peck is a global public health social entrepreneur, currently based in New York City.

Lauren Tuiskula is a second generation Finn from Worcester, Massachusetts. She is associate managing editor for the GIST, a female-founded sports media company.