Posted: May 19, 2020
Becky Idstrom, Communications and Marketing Manager
email@example.com • 563-382-9681
For Immediate Release
May 18, 2020
Vesterheim Museum Welcomes New Trustees
DECORAH, Iowa —Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center, is pleased to announce five new members to its board of trustees—Carol Birkland, Lindsay Erdman, Louise Hanson, Thomas Mannes, and Rachel Reitan. Vesterheim has a national board with 25 members from 10 states and the District of Columbia.
Carol Birkland, Decorah, served in a variety of positions with the national and international Lutheran Church. She was director of project planning, monitoring, and evaluation for the Lutheran World Federation’s Department for World Service in Geneva, Switzerland. At Luther College, she was director of church relations and at Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, she was a new business developer. A graduate of Luther College, Carol has two Masters Degrees, one in Student Personnel Administration from Pacific Lutheran University and one in Systematic Theology from Luther Seminary. Birkland has served on boards for the Minnesota Chorale, Center for Victims of Torture, Winneshiek County Habitat for Humanity, the Decorah Human Rights Commission, and Lutheran Services in Iowa. In 1992, she received Luther College’s Distinguished Service Award. She likes to be on the Decorah bike trails and volunteering with Decorah’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.
Lindsay Erdman is a Decorah native. A graduate of Iowa State University in Civil Engineering, Erdman is a Professional Engineer and Land Surveyor licensed in the State of Iowa. For 30 years, he has owned and operated Erdman Engineering, P.C. Some notable City of Decorah projects completed by Erdman Engineering include Trout Run Trail, reconstruction of Luther College campus street and parking lots system, Decorah Water Street reconstruction, and the development of the Decorah Business Park.
Presently Erdman serves as Chair of Good Shepherd Church Facilities Improvement Committee and led the church’s remodeling project, is Co-Chair of Oneota Golf and Country Club Grounds and Greens Committee, and is a board member of Decorah Jobs, Inc. and Winneshiek County Development, Inc. Louise Hanson and her husband Walter own The Nordic Shop, a Scandinavian clothing and lifestyle store in downtown Rochester, Minnesota, which includes an ecommerce website www.thenordicshop.net. They are a Premier Store for Dale of Norway Sweaters, the only independent store to have that recognition. Hanson has a BA in Art and Communication Arts from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri. She has also studied industrial arts in Copenhagen, Denmark. Louise has participated on several boards in Rochester over the years. She is past president of Shops at University Square Merchants Association.
Thomas Mannes is from Aksdal in Tysvær, Norway, and also resides in Clifton, Texas. At present he is a project leader at Equinor (formerly Statoil), and he oversees operational aspects within a project upgrading Njord Bravo, a storage ship. He studied at the University of Stavanger as an engineer and has a Masters of Science degree in petroleum engineering. Mannes has led and participated in many different volunteer organizations. After a visit in 2012 to the Norse Historical District and the property where Cleng Peerson lived, Mannes helped develop a collaboration between Clifton, Texas, and Tysvær, Norway. Peerson, who emigrated from Tysvær, Norway, is known as the “Father of Norwegian Immigration to America,” and he lived on the Texas homestead beginning in 1854. Mannes and his wife Eldbjørg Djønne-Stuve became the owners of the Cleng Peerson homestead, which they had listed on the National Historic Register.
Rachel Reitan, a native of Decorah, lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Reitan is an Assistant Clinical Professor and Director of Minimally Invasive Division at Louisiana State University Healthcare Network in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a Minimally Invasive Surgeon/DaVinci Surgeon. Dr. Reitan is a graduate of Luther College where she studied nursing and obtained her medical degree from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Her residency was at Johns Hopkins in Dermatology and at Louisiana State University for Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Reitan is an Emmy-award winner for on camera talent as a medical reporter with ABC News in New Orleans for her show, “Dr. Rachel: The Teaching Doctor.” Her parents are Phillip and Ruth Reitan of Decorah.
Through 33,000 objects and 12 historic buildings, Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center in Decorah, Iowa, shares the most comprehensive collection of Norwegian-American artifacts in the world. This treasure is also a center for folk-art education, offering a wide variety of classes in authentic Norwegian folk art every year. For more information on the museum’s exhibitions, classes, events, membership opportunities, and ways to donate, check Vesterheim’s website at vesterheim.org, call (563) 382-9681, or write to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, 502 W. Water St., P.O. Box 379, Decorah, IA, 52101-0379.