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Franklin-Rahkonen named new chair of Finnish Council of America

January 23, 2023

Sharon Franklin-Rahkonen, Ph.D.

Dr. Sharon Franklin-Rahkonen has been named the new leader of the Finnish Council of America at Finlandia University. Franklin-Rahkonen will serve as council chair, a position previously held by John Niska, who will now lead outreach on behalf of the organization.

After serving on the council’s board for many years and as secretary on its executive committee, Franklin-Rahkonen shared appreciation and insight into the council’s initiatives moving forward.

“I am very pleased to be asked to head the Finnish Council. We look forward to collaborating with the [Finnish American] Heritage Center staff and Finlandia University. In particular, the Council will try to assist with the local Finnish festivals, the Price of Freedom Museum exhibit, the Finnish American Folk School, and expanding educational services to the community.”

Franklin-Rahkonen received her Ph.D. from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where she specialized in Finnish history. Her dissertation was titled, Jewish Identity in Finland. During this research, she and her husband lived in Finland as Fulbright scholars for two years. In addition to studying minority identity in Finland, especially the Jewish community, her research includes women’s suffrage and the development of Finnish education. She has made several trips to Finland to visit schools, the National Board of Education and the Ministry of Education.

Sharon was named a Finlandia Foundation Lecturer of the Year for 2016-2018. She spoke to civic groups on her topic, Finnish Independence. Sharon also serves on the Board of FinnFest USA.

She retired in June 2021 as an associate professor of history at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she taught Russian history, Scandinavian history, and secondary social studies education.

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