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Alumni & Friends

Finnish Council of America

Vision

Furthering the understanding of the Finnish Culture in America (FUFCA).

Mission

Established in 1983, Finlandia University’s Finnish Council in America strives to preserve, maintain, and promote Finnish cultural heritage through support of the University and the Finnish American Community.

Goals for 2022-23
  • Collaborate with the Heritage Center Staff and Finlandia University;
  • Assist with the local Finnish festivals, the Price of Freedom Museum exhibit, and the Finnish American Folk School;
  • Expand educational services to the community
2023 Council Meeting Dates at Finlandia
  • Wednesday Evening, June 21, Reception
  • Thursday, June 22, Annual Meeting
History

The concept was conceived by Dr. Ralph Jalkanen, then President of Suomi College, in the early 1980s and guided to fruition over many months of careful consideration. Dr. Jalkanen’s original proposal for the Council stated:

BE IT RESOLVED that a Finnish Council be established of an undetermined number of persons to have as its focus and concern the Finnish heritage programs, curricula and interests of Suomi College, with the right to review, and receive reports of those activities, to make recommendations thereon and to provide or obtain resources to develop its proposals and actions, and to report annually thereon to the Board of Trustees.

The multifaceted purpose of the FCA was listed:

  1. To identify and review the faith and ideals of the founders of the college and early Finnish-American leaders;
  2. To explore the articulation of the programs and purposes of the tradition in relation to the life of the college and the Finnish-American community throughout their history in America;
  1. To examine the values of contemporary Finnish culture and to determine how best to nurture these values  in the process of enculturation;
  2. To maintain the best values of Finnish culture and heritage at Suomi college by establishing a climate and base of support for development.

During the latter part of 1982 and the first six months of 1983, Dr. Jalkanen‘s focus was on recruitment and targeted dissemination of information.  He identified Suomi’s initial charge, “To preserve and enhance its Finnish tradition”, and maintained that the college had established the FCA  “to ensure that the Finnish flavor isn’t lost in the American melting pot.” By July 1983, the FCA was 40 members strong with 22 attending the initial meeting at Suomi College.

Dr. Ralph Jalkanen


Finnish Council Meeting June 2022

Become a Member

Please fill out this application form to submit your application to join the Finnish Council of America today. Applications are accepted year-round and voted on by the current council.

As a member of the Council, your responsibilities are to participate in the council by:

  1. Attending the annual summer meeting in Hancock, Michigan; usually in July
  2. Becoming a participating member of one of the four committees (Academic, Heritage Center, Historical, Outreach)
  3. Supporting the University and Heritage center (financial, time)
  4. Attending area Finnish-American events
  5. Communicating with the council’s executive committee anything that will help promote the university or Heritage Center

Niska named new leader of Finnish Council of America

The Finnish Council of America elected John Niska as its new president in May 2018. Niska was raised on a beef and horse farm in Green, MI, just west of Ontonagon. His parents were bilingual and often spoke Finnish in his home, shared in Finnish customs and were very proud of their Finnish heritage. Niska went to Michigan State University for his undergraduate degree and worked in the education realm until his retirement from Rhode Island College as a professor and director in July 2017.

Q: When and why did you become involved with the Finnish Council?

Niska: My good friend…

To read the full interview, visit here!

Niska

2022-2023 Finnish Council Members

Steve Aho
Robin Mosher Alanen
Evelyn Anderson
Julie Badel
Joy Dorvinen
Sharon Franklin-Rahkonen
Dave Holli
Steve Holli
Candace Koski Janners
Jeanne Kemppainen
John Kiltinen
Pauline Kiltinen
Paul Knuti
Jorma Lankinen
Kathleen Maki-Harmon
John Makinen
Marvin W. Makinen
Fern Malila
Keith Meyers
Arlene Morrissey
Michael Nakkula
Leslie Niemi
John M. Niska
Norma Nominelli
Kristin Ojaniemi
Mary Pekkala
Jennifer Pihlaja
Allan Poikonen
Tuula Poikonen
Carl Rahkonen
Cheryl Rogers
Daniel Sarya
Henrik Työppönen
Kristiina Vanhala
Barbara Worrall

2022-2023 Officers

Chair: Sharon Franklin-Rahkonen
Vice-Chair: Fern Malila
Recording Secretary: Kristiina Vanhala
Corresponding Secretary: Mary Pekkala
Past Chair: John M. Niska

Committee Chairs

Campus and Academic:  Marvin Makinen
Heritage Center:  Carl Rahkonen
History:  Candace Koski Janners
Outreach:  Kathleen Maki-Harmon and John M. Niska

Finnish Council Executive Committee

Support Finnish American Heritage

The Finnish American Heritage Center has compiled a wish list of items it needs to continue to preserve the Finnish American history. You can view the wish list and make a donation here.