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Awarded each year, this honor seeks to recognize those making a difference in the Nordic community... and beyond.

Scandinavian of the Year is a prestigious award given annually by Nordic Northwest to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to their organization and to the wider Scandinavian community in the Pacific Northwest.

Nordic Northwest invites any Nordic organization in Oregon or Southwest Washington to nominate their superstar volunteer.

Nominations are due November 1

David Champion

Congratulations to David Champion,
our 2023 Scandinavian of the Year!

As the Grieg Lodge Youth Director, has made significant contributions to the lodge, particularly in building the youth program component from the ground up.


David's leadership resulted in the expansion of the youth program, overseeing Leikarringen, Syngestund, and the popular Viking Adventures for Kids. Grieg Lodge now hosts multiple youth events annually, with an increase in youth camp scholarships from three to thirteen.


His involvement in the District, including roles in Project Framtid and as Youth Director, showcases his commitment to promoting Scandinavian heritage. He successfully worked with other lodges to start youth programs, organized trips, and increased scholarship applicants.


His community outreach program supports nonprofits like St Francis Dining Hall, Jean's Place women's shelter, and local neighborhood associations. As the volunteer coordinator for Grieg Lodge, he plays a crucial role in the organization's success.


David's is also a passionate advocate for those dealing with ADHD and autism. As a member of both communities, he strives to increase understanding and acceptance. His advocacy work aligns with his belief in celebrating one's uniqueness to make a positive impact.

Nominated by Sons of Norway, Grieg Lodge 


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Nominated by Finlandia Foundation Columbia-Pacific Chapter


Born and raised in Astoria by a Swedish mother and a boat building Finnish father, Andrea Tolonen has been very involved with the Nordic community since childhood.

She has played a pivotal role in Skandia Lodge’s revival, served as a dedicated Recording Secretary, organized volunteer opportunities at the Lindgren Cabin for the Finnish Historical Society of the West (FAHSW), delegated the independent Order of the Viking Conventions, to name a few.


As a Board Member and 15-year President at the Finnish American Historical Society of the West, Andrea demonstrated exceptional leadership, initiating events like the Finnic picnic, collaborating with Appelo Archives, editing the Finnam News and contributing to the revival of the Finnish Classroom at PSU.


In her involvement with FFCPC, Andrea's lifetime membership, editorial role for Finnam Historical Quarterly, and receipt of the 2019 Sauna Bucket Award underscore her commitment to Finlandia Foundation - Columbia Pacific Chapter.


At Nordic Northwest, Andrea's role as Chair of the Travel Committee, successful organization of bus tours, and active participation in cultural events show her commitment to fostering a love for Nordic traditions.


When not enthusiastically volunteering for the organizations already mentioned, Andrea is traveling to the Nordic Countries, transforming tickets booths into backyard saunas, being a beloved mother and busy grandmother, who has volunteered at her kids school and lead girl scout troops, to name a few.


Beyond her Scandinavian endeavors, Andrea's philanthropic contributions, and her involvement in community initiatives reflect her broader commitment to making a positive impact.

Brady Jensen


Nominated by Nordic Northwest Executive Committee

Brady Jensen, currently serving as Vice President on the Nordic Northwest Board of Directors, is of Danish heritage.


His notable leadership role in the Ole Bolle Troll Project at Nordic Northwest is particularly noteworthy. This transformative exhibit has become one of the most visible ones in the organization's history. Brady's accomplishments include achieving 33 million media impressions and a significant increase in on-site visitors as well as web traffic. Notably, the project was fully self-funded, establishing new collaborations with previously unconnected organizations.


As the project leader, Brady demonstrated outstanding project management skills. He maintained the project schedule, resolved disputes, and served as a media spokesperson. Under his guidance, Nordic Northwest established a peer-level meeting with the National Nordic Museum, fostering joint efforts with Travel Oregon and Washington County.


This project involved hundreds of volunteers and staff and Brady's hands-on approach was evident throughout - from heading most project meetings to constant involvement in the construction.


Brady's leadership on the Ole Bolle Troll Project has not only left a lasting impact on Nordic Northwest but has also strengthened ties within the community and opened new avenues for collaboration and cultural celebration.

Ray Johnson.jpg


Nominated by Nordic Northwest Viking Beer Fest Committee

Proud of his Swedish heritage, Ray Johnson, a retired Forest Grove school teacher is committed to education and community service.


Since retiring, Ray has immersed himself in volunteer work, contributing to non-profit organizations and causes related to student rights, teacher organizations, and senior issues. His dedication to Nordic Northwest has been particularly remarkable, with hundreds of volunteer hours dedicated this year alone.


Ray fearlessly took on the role of Chair for the Vintage & Treasure Sale committee, ensuring the continuity of this beloved fundraiser. He also served as Chair for the Oregon Midsummer Festival planning committee, successfully transitioning the event to the Nordic Northwest campus on a large scale for the first time.


A key member of the Viking Beer Fest and ScanFair committees, Ray played a pivotal role in the growth and success of these events. For Viking Beer Fest, he not only helped create the event but also doubled its size in 2023. His outreach efforts, personally visiting numerous breweries, contributed significantly to the festival's success. Similarly, for ScanFair, Ray assisted with setup during its move to the Oregon Convention Center.


Besides his committee roles, you can find Ray in the Nordic Northwest office on a very regular basis… he comes in weekly (and sometimes more) to tackle administrative and clerical tasks with amazing enthusiasm. His willingness to assist on short notice and go above and beyond – to give you an example - physically moving a boat trailer at 80 years old to accommodate the Midsummer pole's relocation, reflects his remarkable dedication.


Ray's efforts have been instrumental in Nordic Northwest's growth, effectively spreading awareness of Nordic heritage to the community. His work before, during, and after major events demonstrates his unwavering commitment, and without his contributions, the success of these events might not have been possible.



Nominated by Messiah Lutheran Church

Veikko Valli, Oregon’s Honorary Consul of Finland since 2021, plays a pivotal role in representing the Government of Finland and fostering diplomatic relations in the region.


As Honorary Consul, Veikko is dedicated to promoting economic and cultural ties between Finland and Oregon. His responsibilities include advising Oregon companies on local business culture and facilitating connections with Finnish partners. Notably, he hosted the Finnish Forestry Delegation during their visit to Oregon, showcasing his commitment to facilitating international business opportunities.


Beyond his diplomatic duties, Veikko provides guidance to distressed Finnish citizens and permanent residents abroad, helping them in navigating local authorities and connecting with Finnish embassies or consulates.


His involvement and committee work with the Portland Finnish School (Portlandin Suomi-koulu), Finlandia Foundation, and Nordic Northwest showcases his dedication to community engagement and leadership in committee work.


Additionally, he plays a critical role in Nordic Northwest serving as a Finnish voting place, furthering the democratic process.


Apart from his consular duties, Veikko is the Chief Investment Officer at Snowstorm Capital, a Portland-based company specializing in equity investment strategies. His multifaceted contributions, both in the diplomatic and business realms, highlight his versatility and dedication to the Nordic community.


1956: Bob Anderson

1960: Marcus Peter Pihl

1961: Carl M. Saltveit

1962: Malcolm Frykman

1963: Erv Lind

1964: John Virtanen

1965: Bardi Skulason

1966: Boris Sirpo

1967: Lorentz Bruun

1968: E. Dean Anderson

1969: Werner Sahlin

1970: Erik Hauke

1971: Ernest Harold

1972: Christian Elster

1973: Oscar Nastrom

1974: Harold Berentson

1975: Melvin Pihl

1976: G. Bernhard Fedde

1977: Lloyd E. Anderson 

1978: Magnus Esrom

1979: Faye Frykman

1980: Ross Fogelquist

1981: Alpo Tokola

1982: Mary Nastrom

1983: Glen Nordby

1984: Rolv Schillios

1985: Gerda Farestrand

1986: Martha Stenberg

1987: Mel Iverson

1988: Herb Matta

1989: Cathy Bjork

1990: Ellen Jacobson & Maj Persson

1991: Johanna B. Fedde

1992: Saara Slossar

1993: Judy Rust

1994: Lillian Johnson

1995: Robert M. Lee

1996: Carol De Sau

1997: Kaja Voldbaek

1998: Rosi Hill

1999: Elisabeth Mendenhall

2000: Doris & Harry Heiberg

2001: Steinar Fuglestad & Elsie Nordby

2002: Toni Linne & John Nielsen

2003: Christie Stilson

2004: Aase Maja Besson

2005: Doug & Ulla Hanson

2006: Eila Chisholm

2007: Carl & Marian Thompson

2008: Ann Grangaard

2009: Denver James/Kristi Johnson-James

2010: Andy & Margot Toth

2011: Larry West

2012: Clinton Maurice

2013: Pauline Coleman

2015: Judy Gervais Perkiomaki

2016: Sandra Nelson Miller

2017: Dave Alford

2018: Jeff Klein

2019: Christine, Dirk & Pirjo Schulbach

2020: Kirsty Dickinson

2021: Sara Winter

2022: Janet Lien Bowler

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