March 11, 2016

2016 – AoM

The following SCA Awards of Merit will be presented at the Swedish Club of Seattle, Washington, on Friday, April 22, 2016, as part of the 2016  Spring SCA Council Meeting. 

Brandon Benson

Brandon Benson is Mr. Swedish Club, and is probably the reason that the Club is now thriving in Seattle. For many years, Brandon has supported the Club with his volunteer hours, his leadership skills and his financial donations.

Brandon is the son of Honorary Swedish Consul Emeritus Clifford Benson, and grew up knowing the importance of supporting Swedish heritage. He was first elected to the Board of the Swedish Club as secretary in 2000, when he was in his early 40s. He became treasurer the next year, and rotated between the secretary and treasurer roles uniel 20016, when he was elected president.

Under Brandon’s presidency through 2008, the Swedish Club came to grips with its falling membership and began a strategic planning process, which resulted in a revamped Club and within a few years, a doubling of membership. Brandon took a few years off from the Board, then came back on as president in 2013. Since then, the club has been experiencing another growth. Under his current presidency, the Club has created an inexpensive, popular Social membership, a Swedish Club Foundation to attract legacy donations and a task force to examine options for developing its parking lot property to increase the value to the members.

It would be neglectful of his tenure if we didn’t mention that for years Brandon has been one of the hands-on managers of the very successful monthly Swedish pancake breakfast, whish serves 600 to 800 guests every month, or note his financial contributions to the Club. Brandon gives leadership donations to our special appeals and also supports the Club annually. His style of gentle guidance has fostered the growth of the Swedish Club beyond comparison with any other organization in our area. Brandon also serves on the Board of the Nordic Heritage Museum and in an active volunteer there. Last but not least, Brandon has studied Swedish at the Club’s language classes longer than any other student in memory.

Brandon Benson was nominated by Kristine Leander, Executive Director, on behalf of the Swedish Club of Seattle, Washington.

Jon Halgren

On behalf of the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle, Washington, I wish to nominate Jon Halgren to receive the SCA Award of Merit. Jon is a second generation Swede, and has been a volunteer of the Museum since 1990. Since then, Jon has been someone who “lends his heart and skills to the myriad tasks, both large and small, that are required to keep the organization in good health.” Throughout his time with the Museum he has been a constant fixture at the Museum’s events and has helped with major projects, performing almost every task available at some point. Now in his 80s, Jon is still an active volunteer, and willing to do any task assigned. Over the last year you could find Jon greeting visitors, checking ID’s, grilling bratwursts, lighting the pancake griddle for the Breakfast at Pippi’s—in a Pippi wig, no less! He is also dedicated member of our volunteer facilities “Monday Crew”, providing valuable support to our facilities team, setting up for programs, and performing odd jobs such as sharpening the kitchen knives.

Jon has demonstrated unmatched commitment to the Nordic Heritage Museum, and has supported it in many ways over the years. Recently, a Model-T was donated to the Museum for our use at parades and festivals, and Jon generously offered up his garage to house the car until a team of facilities volunteers could get it running again. He is well-known in the community, and his commitment to Swedish culture is clear as he also contributes a great deal of time volunteering at the Swedish club, helping with the pancake breakfasts and answering phones. Without question, Jon deserves recognition for his support of and commitment to the Swedish community and its cultural organizations in Seattle.

Jon Halgren was nominated by Michael Ide, Volunteer and Staff Resource Coordinator, on behalf of the Nordic Heritage Museum.

Edgar & Betty Larson

I nominate Mr. Edgar Larson and his wife Mrs. Betty Larson for the Swedish Council of America Award of Merit based on their leadership in upholding and spreading knowledge of Sweden in the Greater Tacoma Area through their dedicated involvement in the Scandinavian Cultural Center. In particular, the Larson’s crated, in 2008, a program entitled the “Swedish Heritage Program”, whish has since become an annual tradition at the Scandinavian Cultural Center of Pacific Lutheran University.

The Larson’s not only personally cover all expenses related to the program, including airfare, food and advertisement, they also take on the responsibility of crafting the content of the program. A core component of the program is that someone is brought from Sweden to give a talk or demonstration in the Scandinavian Cultural Center. Over the years, the Larsons have brought in: a chef, a dalahäst craftsman, a glass artist, a musician textile artists, and historians. They have shared their knowledge and enthusiasm for Swedish culture through memorable and important programs, offered free to the public. My membership of almost 400 people in the Greater Tacoma Area look forward to the annual Swedish Heritage Program and it is always one the best attended events.

In addition, Mrs. Betty Larson served as the cair of our annual Sankta Lucia Christmas Program for over a decade, ensureing that students at Pacific Lutheran University learn about that beautiful Swedish tradition. In 2014, Mr. Edgar Larson was elected the Vice President of our Scandinavian Cultural Council, a volunteer community group, in recognition for his leadership.

Mr. Edgar Larson is half Swedish and half Norwegian whereas his wife, Betty, is of Swedish ancestry on both sides of her family. They are pillars in upholding and expanding the Swedish cultural programming at the Scandinavian Cultural Center and I ask you to recognized them with a Swedish Council of America Award of Merit.

Edgar and Better Larson were nominated by Dr. Elizabeth I. Ward, Director, on behalf of the Scandinavian Cultural Center at Pacific Lutheran University of Tacoma, Washington.

Margaret Lidberg

On behalf of the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle, Washington, I wish to nominate Margaret Lidberg to receive the SCA Award of Merit. Margaret is a first generation Swedish immigrant, and has been a volunteer of the Nordic Heritage Museum since 2000. Margaret is a regular fixture at our Front Desk on Friday mornings, charming visitors, and engaging with volunteers and staff, in Swedish if possible. In addition to supporting the activities at the Nordic Heritage Museum, she has also been supporter of the Swedish Club.

Margaret is a leader in the kitchen, and practically runs it anytime the Museum produces an event with food—which is often, of course. Margaret’s efforts in the kitchen have defined the experience of many of our guests, and she takes great ownership of each event. She has participated in all aspects of the planning and execution, taking special care in making sure the event is profitable. During our major fundraiser Yulefest, for example, it is typical to see Margaret in the kitchen for 5 full days in a row, making yellow split-pea soup and meatballs for open-faced sandwiches, and coordinating the buttering of lefse and slicing of gjetost to serve on raisin buns.

Margaret is especially deserving of this award because of the important role she plays in bringing the Nordic food experience to the public in an authentic, efficient, and memorable way. She makes order out of the usual chaos that occurs when volunteers are thrown into the kitchen to make food at an event. And her food is delicious.

Margaret has distinguished herself as a volunteer because the Museum simply would not operate in the same way without her. Our organization has benefitted substantially from her leadership and her many contributions. Sharing Swedish food culture is a significant element of advancing our mission to share the Nordic spirit, and Margaret’s commitment to this cause, and her ownership and influence on this aspect of the experience, is unmatched. We were delighted to recognize Margaret with the Volunteer of the Year award in 2012 and would like to see her recognized by the broader community for her commitment to our organization, and her proud advancement of Swedish culture.

Margaret Lidberg was nominated by Michael Ide, Volunteer and Staff Resource Coordinator, on behalf of the Nordic Heritage Museum of Seattle, Washington. 

Martha Levenson and Emma Anderson

Martha Levenson, Director, and Emma Anderson, Assistant Director, conceptualized and lead the thriving Seattle Lilla Spelmanslag, the only entity of its kind in the United States. Using music as a vehicle, the pair educates children and audiences about Swedish heritage in Daily life, no only via tunes, but also through stories and knowledge of cultural underpinnings and history. These directors have built strong relationships with Swedish communities interested in sharing music and knowledge.

Tours of Sweden include homestays for the children, opportunities to perform time-honored folk music, and a chance to participate in workshops with renowned Swedish fiddlers. Such activities enhance cross-cultural understanding and showcase the richness of Swedish heritage.

In addition to selecting music, planning rehearsals, booking performances and performing, Martha and Emma have grown the organization. The Seattle Lilla Spelmanspag, under their guidance, received its 501 (c)(3) status in 2014 and recorded a live SD in 2015. Through their commitment and vision, the Seattle Lilla Spelmanslag has become a vital, visible and contributing part of the Swedish community in Seattle and beyond.

Martha Levenson and Emma Anderson were nominated by Lyn Blanchard, Board Member, on behalf of the Seattle Lilla Spelmanslag.

Dagmar O’Brien

On behalf of the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle, Washington, I wish to nominate Dagmar O’Brien to receive the SCA Award of Merit. Dagmar is a first generation Swedish immigrant, and is one of the Museum’s pioneers, having joined as a volunteer in 1981. Dagmar is passionate about her Swedish heritage, and spent many years teaching the Swedish language to American children at her daughter’s elementary school, and to the children of Swedish immigrants through the Swedish Cultural Center. At the same time, she has fully embraced her adopted culture, and also volunteers regularly with the USO. She supports and values the best in each culture, and symbolizes strong ties between the two cultures.

Dagmar was instrumental in developing the Museum’s Swedish Heritage gallery, one of our signature exhibitions, about the important Swedish people, businesses and cultural elements that made a great impact on Seattle. She is one of the few volunteers still active in its upkeep. In addition to keeping it tidy, Dagmar assists with changing the seasonal holiday exhibit in the gallery, for Christmas, Easter and Midsommar. This adds a dynamic element to the experience of the gallery, and serves to enhance the visitor’s understanding of Swedish culture.

Dagmar has also distinguished herself as one of the most positive and well-liked volunteers by our staff and volunteers. She is a source of great entertainment, and is always enjoying herself. She is a regular fixture at the Museum on Wednesday mornings, answering and directing phone calls, engaging with the other Swedish volunteers who are scheduled during that time, and providing a high quality experience to our visitors. And she never comes empty handed, always armed with Swedish CD’s to play, and the highly anticipated “Dagmar Cake” that our staff has come to enjoy and expect each week. When Dagmar isn’t here, all our staff members notice her absence.

Dagmar deserves recognition for her 35 years of service to the Museum, and her role in maintaining its distinctively Swedish elements for the benefit of our staff and visitors.

Dagmar O’Brien was nominated by Michael Ide, Volunteer and Staff Resource Coordinator, on behalf of the Nordic Heritage Museum of Seattle, Washington.

Marianne Olson

On behalf of the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle, Washington, I wish to nominate Marianne Olson to receive the SCA Award of Merit. Marianne is a first generation Swedish immigrant, and has been a volunteer of the Nordic Heritage Museum since 1999. She can be found each Wednesday morning in our Museum Store, cleaning, keeping order and conversing with our other volunteers in Swedish. In fact, Wednesday is the day when we have several Swedes working at the same time, chatting, doing puzzles in Swedish language newspapers, and enjoying a good time.

Marianne has played an instrumental role in advancing the mission of the Museum to share the Nordic spirit, by bringing Swedish food culture to the public. Each year, Marianne plays a leadership role in our two major events: Viking Days and Yulefest. At Viking Days, Marianne is the volunteer coordinator of the Swedish Hearth, the hot food booth that serves Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and lingonberry sauce—always incredibly popular despite the hot weather. She has been responsible for the planning, the coordinating of volunteers and food production, the purchasing of supplies, and the note-taking to make sure that we are keeping up with demand from year to year, and keeping our costs down. The level of work that goes into this project is significant, and Marianne’s leadership frees up valuable time for our Event and Volunteer Coordinators to focus on other aspects of the festival. It also brings a special, authentic Swedish flare to the festival, an element that would be lacking without her, and that would be missed. For Yulefest, Marianne has taken on a similar leadership role with the Kaffestuga, which serves coffee and cookies, helping coordinating bakers, volunteers, and being on hand to ensure that the area runs smoothly during the event.

Marianne represents the original model of volunteerism at the Museum, one where volunteers were engaged in every level of activity, and took great ownership to ensure a certain experience of quality and authenticity, while sharing Nordic culture with the public. In recent years, the Museum has moved away from this model, with staff members taking on the leadership of most activities. Fortunately, Marianne is one of the volunteers who remains engaged at this high level of commitment that previously defined the Museum. She deserves to be recognized by the broader community for her work on behalf of the Nordic Heritage Museum, and her efforts to bring a delicious element of Swedish culture to the public.

Marianne Olson was nominated by Michael Ide, Volunteer and Staff Resource Coordinator, on behalf of the Nordic Heritage Museum of Seattle, Washington.

Ted Olsson

Ted Olsson’s contributions and achievements within the San Francisco Bay Area’s Swedish community are difficult to summarize due to the scope of his involvement and work. He is a lifetime resident of San Francisco, the city where both sets of grandparents emigrated to from Sweden in the late 1800s. Ted’s grandfather, Alexander Olsson, was one of the most notable members of the San Francisco Swedish community at the turn of the 20th century. Besides being involved in the formation of numerous Swedish organizations, Alexander was the owner, editor and publisher of Vestkusten, the local Swedish newspaper for over 55 years. Fortunately for the local Swedish community, his leadership and writing skills passed on through his son Hugo Olsson and then to his grandson Ted.

Ted has carried on the family’s role in the Swedish American community, through his involvement in many Swedish American organizations, as well as his dedication to the Swedish recreational park known as Sveadal, which is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains. He is a Past President and current member of the Board of Directors of the Swedish American Patriotic League (SAPL), and has served SAPL for over 30 years. As well as being a Board Member and Secretary of the Swedish Society of San Francisco. Ted is also past Secretary and Board Member of the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce – San Francisco/Silicon Valley, where he continues to serve on the Advisory Board. Other Swedish affiliations include Ted’s membership in the Silicon Vikings, Sveadal Club and Sveadal Cabinowners. In 1988, he served as Chairman of the New Sweden 88 which celebrated the 350th anniversary of the Swedes who arrived in Delaware in 1638. The culmination of this event was Princess Christina dedicating the new clubhouse in Sveadal. It was later that same year that Ted received the Polar Star Medal from the Swedish King, the third member of his family to be so decorated.

In addition to his ongoing involvement in so many local Swedish American organizations, this past year Ted has been extensively involved in major projects within the Swedish community which has led to this nomination for SCA’s Award of Merit. Ted is currently representing SAPL as one of the Core Partners for PPIE100, an organization led by the California Historical Society and SF Parks and Recreation Department, commemorating the centennial of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 in San Francisco. This 1915 World’s Fair in San Francisco was a major event for the local Swedish Community. Local Swedes as well as the Swedish government contributed towards the creation of one of the most notable pavilions at the Fair, which contained superb exhibits and was noted for its distinguished galleries of fine art. In his role as a Core Partner for the year-long celebration, Ted has organized numerous educational events within the community, and continues to publish monthly articles regarding the World’s Fair and other Swedish events in Nordstjernan. Ted also served on SAPL’s Midsummer Committee, which chose to highlight the World’s Fair centennial as its theme in its Midsummer festival held on June 20, 2015 in Sveadal.

This year, Ted has also been actively involved with the Swedish Society of San Francisco, which is the oldest Swedish organization in San Francisco, and owner of the historic Swedish-American Hall. This property, which is located at 2174 Market Street in San Francisco was purchased just months after the devastating 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. The construction of the Hall was completed in 1907, at which time it became the meeting place for all Swedish and Scandinavian organizations. Over the past year, Ted served as liaison between the Swedish Society and the City of San Francisco in the process of granting landmark status. The culmination of his efforts occurred on April 28, 2015 when the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to approve granting landmark status to the Swedish American Hall.

We are fortunate that Ted has shared the local events such as those mentioned above with other Swedish American through his numerous articles in Nordstjernan. The Swedish American Patriotic League believes that Ted will be a well deserving recipient of SCA’s Award of Merit.

Ted Olsson was nominated by Conor Massey, President, on behalf of the Swedish American Patriotic League of San Francisco, California.

Lena Powers

On behalf of the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle, Washington, I wish to nominate Lena Powers to receive the SCA Award of Merit. Lena’s commitment to promoting Swedish culture in Seattle, her work to advance Swedish cultural organizations, and her efforts to promote cooperation among these institutions is unparalleled.

Lena is a co-founder of Seattle’s Swedish school, a complementary school; has served as president, editor and fundraising chair of the Swedish Women’s Educational Association (SWEA), and is presently vice president of the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce in Seattle. Since 1998 Lena has worked closely with the Museum in a variety of capacities. She was instrumental in executing the very successful Sweden Week in 2010, a week-long celebration highlighting Swedish art, food, culture and industry, that was hosted by the Swedish Consulate on the occasion of the centennial of Swedish Hospital and the University of Washington’s Scandinavian Studies Department. For the past 5 years, Lena has donated her time and provisions to supply the authentic Swedish glögg for our annual Yulefest celebration. This delicious, traditional beverage is the highlight of the experience for many of the Museum’s guests at the festival.

Lena is a strong presence in the community, and supports the advancement of Swedish cultural organizations, including the Nordic Heritage Museum, in Seattle. She is highly deserving of the SCA’s Award of Merit to recognize her strong commitment and considerable and coordinated efforts on behalf of Swedish culture in Seattle.

Lena Powers was nominated by Michael Ide, Volunteer and Staff Resource Coordinator, on behalf of the Nordic Heritage Museum of Seattle, Washington.


Awards Of Merit