Finland Center Foundation
@ Centre for Social Innovation
601 West 26th St. #325-102
New York, NY 10001
Tel. No.: 1-646-704-8000
Board of Directors:
Originally from Espoo, Finland, where she studied business and marketing. She has worked in risk management and the music and fashion industries. A life-time animal and human rights activist, she began globe-trotting at an early age. She met Jaana Rehnström, founder of The Kota Alliance, soon after moving to New York City and became part of the original Kota task force. Meeri currently manages a women’s clothing boutique in Midtown Manhattan. She enjoys traveling, especially around the Mekong river and the Himalayas.
Johanna Pentikäinen is a writer, researcher, teacher and text book editor currently being a visiting scholar at Teachers’ College, Columbia University. Her specialities are writing and literature education as well as Finnish language and culture, and she is a true lover of narrative and visual arts. She comes from Helsinki, Finland, where she was a university lecturer at University of Helsinki for years besides her other other teaching and writing duties. As a writer and educator, she is deeply committed to humanistic values in all her work. In Finland she volunteers in Naisten Pankki (Women’s Bank) network — by editing literary cookbooks for fundraising.
A physician (gynecologist) recently retired from private practice. She has been a lifelong human rights activist and since her move to New York 30+ years ago, became interested in promoting Finnish culture and values. She has served on the Boards of several Finnish expatriate organizations in New York and is now also on the Board of The Kota Alliance, a new NYC organization dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment (an offshoot of FCF). In her free time she enjoys music in all its forms, reading, cooking, gardening, socializing with friends and family, and travel.
Thomas Riggs has known Finns his whole life and has visited the country several times in the past (and is due to re visit!) His first good friend was Finnish and his friend’s father was a diplomat at the UN. He grew up with Finnish-Americans in Gloucester, Massachusetts as his family is from there and he summered there till my mid 20s. There he was introduced to Finnish foods and sauna. He has previously worked for the Finnish American Chamber of Commerce in New York. His involvement in the Finland Center has been for 13 years and has been the race director for our annual Midsummer 5K run. “I’m addicted to eating ruisleipä and have recently discovered the Finnish game mölkky (there should be world championships in the future) which is great fun!”
An internationally recognized leader on development issues was, until recently, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. She was responsible for management, resource mobilization and partnerships. Mari Simonen is currently Chairperson of the International Board of Trustees of Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), a global non- governmental organization fighting poverty through volunteers. Among other current responsibilities, Mari Simonen is member of the independent audit and oversight committee of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and member of the board of directors of Population Action international (PAI).
Elizabeth Whitney is an Assistant Professor in Communication Studies in the City University of New York. During the 2015-2016 academic year she was a Fulbright Scholar at University of Turku in Finland, in the Department of Media Studies, researching arts funding and freedom of expression. Her current research focus is on feminist, queer, and anti-nationalist arts and activism in Finland.