The National Foundation for Danish America (NFDA) was formed in 2019 with the goal of strengthening cooperation among Danish American organizations and ties between Denmark (or Danish Culture) AND those who have a special interest or relationship with Denmark. There are approximately 1.5 Million Americans who claim at least partial Danish heritage, and call themselves “Danish Americans”. We aim to provide opportunities for Danish Americans and their clubs and organizations to network, coordinate, share and collaborate in order to preserve and promote Danish culture and heritage in America.
NFDA’s mission is to increase the size of audiences reached by Danish American organizations, and inform more people about our vibrant Danish culture and heritage. The NFDA website lists nearly all Danish events happening in the United States, along with current and upcoming museum exhibits, Danish restaurants, bars and bakeries, a chronological history of Danish America, and a listing of nearly all Danish organizations across America. Each Sunday, NFDA publishes an email newsletter “What’s Happening in Danish America” with current information, events and news. You can sign up for this free newsletter on the front page of the NFDA website. NFDA partners with The Danish Pioneer Newspaper to provide the latest news and activities of Danish American organizations. NFDA reaches thousands of Danish Americans each month through its website, weekly newsletter and social media.
Bruce Bro, NFDA President
Co-founder and President of the National Foundation for Danish America, Bruce Bro has been active in the Danish American community for years. A third generation American, he proudly claims a Danish heritage with a heavy “Jysk” flavor. His maternal grandparents emigrated from near Aalborg. The Ringkøbing area of West Jutland was the home of his father’s parents. His paternal great-great grandfather served in the Danish Army during the Schleswig-Holstein border war of 1848-50. In the early 1900's, grandparents on both sides passed through Ellis Island and headed to the Midwest to farm and raise families. His mother was one of nine children born on farms in the Albert Lea, Minnesota area. His Bro grandparents settled near Elk Horn, Iowa and also farmed, raising a family of twelve children. Growing up on the family farm, Bruce left to earn a degree in communications at Dana College in Blair, Nebraska and went on to own and operate a small business in Harlan, Iowa for several years. Now living with his family in Phoenix, Bruce is primarily involved with the Rebild National Park Society as U.S. Vice President, and is a member of the Danish Lutheran Church of Yorba Linda, CA, the Northwest Danish Association in Seattle, and the American Scandinavian Foundation in New York, the Elverhøj Museum in Solvang, and the National Nordic Museum in Seattle.
“My love for my Danish heritage comes from my parents and my 19 aunts and uncles, all of whom had a great love of their Danish roots. Unfortunately, my grandparents died when I was very young, so I didn’t have an opportunity to hear their stories first hand. But my parents, aunts and uncles have done a wonderful job of writing down family history including stories and saved letters written between my grandparents and their families in Denmark. As we get older, we cherish this history more and more for it provides us our identity. I know that my ancestors lived for centuries in the Aalborg area and West Jutland. Denmark has built outstanding museums to show us more than a thousand years of its history. I try to visit several of them every year. These museum visits make it possible to imagine my Viking ancestors living in their farms and villages exploring, fishing… scratching out an existence. Through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Reformation my ancestors survived wars, plague and poverty. It’s a miracle that they survived, and the legacy they leave is a great blessing. We have an obligation to pass this heritage down to our descendants. I feel our mission is to help others, especially our youth, discover the rich culture our Danish ancestors gave us and preserve it for future generations”. ~ Bruce Bro
Karin (Stehr) Schoen Wasler, NFDA Vice President
Karin Schoen Wasler is the Foundation’s Vice President. She currently works as a training program manager at the University of California - Los Angeles.
Karin’s passion for education and culture have roots in her teenage years, and have developed ever since. Her German heritage led her to an exchange year in Switzerland, a major in German, and a number of years active in the Concordia Language Villages summer and academic year programs.
A native of Wisconsin now living in Los Angeles, Karin became a student of her Danish heritage after a weekend in Solvang, California with her husband. It didn’t take much to waken her inner Dane, and she hasn’t turned back. She has extensive family in Denmark from her maternal grandfather, Ben Stehr.
Karin is currently serving on the national board of the Danish Sisterhood of America, and is a member of organizations such as the Danish Rebuild Society, the Museum of Danish America and the Danish Lutheran Church and Cultural Center.
Karin S. Wasler
Linda Steffensen, NFDA Secretary
Linda Steffensen’s connections and interest in the national Danish-American communities, culture, heritage and preservation run deep.
Linda is Editor of The Danish Pioneer Newspaper (Den Danske Pioneer), the oldest Danish-American newspaper in the USA since 1872, and she is also the U.S. Corporate Secretary for Rebild National Park Society, the Danish-American Friendship Organization since 2012. In January 2019, she was named the new Development Manager for The Danish Home Foundation.
In October 2018, Linda finished serving six years on the Museum of Danish America National Board of Directors, including chairing the Nominating Committee and serving as secretary of the Development/Marketing/Communications Committee. Linda is proud to say she attended every single MoDA meeting (18 meetings in all around the USA during her time on the MoDA board). Linda is also currently a board member of the Danish American Heritage Society, and she co-chaired the DAHS International Conference in Schaumburg, IL in October 2017.
She was honored to serve on The Danish Home of Chicago's parent board The Danish Association from 2006 to 2019. Linda was also secretary of The Danish Association for several years and today she still serves on the Women's Auxiliary Board of Directors.
Linda was born in Chicago as one of four children to Danish immigrant parents, Chris & Elsa Steffensen, who came to America on their honeymoon in 1958 from Vinderup and Silkeborg, Denmark.
Linda, who holds a Master's Degree in Marketing Communications from Roosevelt University, is a longtime member of the Danish Sisterhood of America, Danish Brotherhood in America, Danish American Athletic Club, Midwest Danish American Chamber of Commerce, Museum of Danish America, Scandinavian Park, Inc. and more. Linda is today secretary of quite a few organizations: Danish National Committee of Chicago, Dania Ladies Society of Chicago and the Chicago Midwest Rebild Chapter.
Linda has a large, extended family in Denmark and she has been fortunate enough to visit Denmark more than 25 times. Linda and her family are longtime supporters of the national Danish-American communities. Linda’s goals are to strengthen and preserve all of the Danish-American clubs, lodges, organizations and institutions and to interest the next generation in their Danish and Scandinavian-American heritage, culture and traditions.
Vibeke Alnor Fong
Vibeke was born and raised in Aarhus, Denmark. She spent months of October-May in the city apartment and the summer months in the family summer house at Skæring Strand bordered by meadow, fields and forest and only a five minute walk to the beach.
At the age of 12 Vibeke told her parents that, when grown up, she wanted to live in Los Angeles which is where she has resided since 1984. Vibeke graduated Marselisborg Gymnasium as Nysproglig in 1981 and then promptly left for Los Angeles to be an au-pair. While in The City of Angels she met her future spouse but first returned to Denmark to complete a 2-year degree as Bilingual Correspondent at Handelshøjskolen in Århus. Back in Los Angeles Vibeke augmented her education with a 6 month Academy Pacific Travel College Degree.
Vibeke briefly worked with Danish architect Ebbe Videriksen(†) before taking the position as Executive Secretary at Handelsbanken’s wholesale branch located on the 40th floor of a downtown Los Angeles skyscraper. She held that position through several Danish expat bosses and the bank’s merger with Provinsbanken and Den Danske Bank. Over the years Vibeke’s responsibilities expanded to include Office Manager and Personnel Manager. She was the last employee to leave (working from the one remaining desk) when the bank closed the branch in 1991. As part of her job Vibeke partook in Danish-American Chamber of Commerce meetings and interacted with visiting Danish dignitaries, CEOs of Danish companies, artists and athletes who stopped by the branch.
In the 1990s Vibeke became a stay-at-home mom who was heavily involved with PTA, Los Angeles City Earthquake preparedness and as preschool board member/fundraiser. At this time Vibeke also became active with the Danish Church in Los Angeles as it planned to relocate from downtown Los Angeles. She worked with fundraising chairman Roy Bork (†) on several special projects until the new church and cultural center opened in Yorba Linda in 1995.
A few years later Vibeke was elected to the council of The Danish Lutheran Church in Yorba Linda and served several terms. While on the council she, at different times, held positions as President, Vice President and Treasurer. Vibeke currently chairs the Cultural Committee and co-organizes vendors for the annual Scandinavian Julemarked.
Vibeke returned to school and graduated with a B.A. Religious Studies (art focus) in 2006. Upon graduation she established her company Alnor Liturgeia Designs to create bespoke liturgical garments. Vibeke has made vestments for both American and Danish Lutheran Churches, including a Bishop’s Cope for the presiding bishop of Danish Seamen & Churches Abroad when traveling.
Inspired and fired up by a visit to a gem and jewelry fair more than a decade ago Vibeke expanded into artisan jewelry and now also creates unique, one-of-a-kind pieces.
Vibeke is a member of The Danish Lutheran Church and The Museum of Danish America. She is a proud dual citizen of Denmark and The United States.
She maintains close connections to Denmark through her father and sister as well as friends and acquaintances.
Vibeke is especially active with the NFDA Traveling Exhibit program.
If you've ever talked to Katrina, you know how proud she is of her Danish heritage. Her enthusiasm for all things Danish started at a young age having been raised in Elk Horn, Iowa. She and her partner were always the lead folk dancers during Tivoli Fest processions. She competed in amateur æbleskiver eating contests (never won but came close). She waved at crowds from parade floats in Danish costume representing the Danish Windmill float. She attended countless tourism trade shows and Scandinavian events, like Norsk Høstfest in Minot, North Dakota. She skipped school and turned in math assignments early so she could go to Scandinavian buyer's markets and spent countless hours listening to first generation Danish Americans in the back of the Danish Windmill at kaffe time. She has memories of hiding under the smørrebrød table at Danish Brotherhood meetings while listening to their lodge discuss their stock performances, and has listened to the differing political opinions of the Danes of Elk Horn and Kimballton during Iowa Caucuses. You may have met her as a child greeting Danish gymnasts, orchestras, film crews, exchange students, and relatives to the Danish Villages of Elk Horn and Kimballton (usually in costume) or when she owned the antique mall in town. She has spent the last four years in Connecticut and soon will be a resident of Colorado. If you are aware of any Danish events or socials in her area, let her know!
Meet Clara Kammerlander, NFDA's new and first Global Politics Intern. Clara is an undergraduate at Arizona State University, currently double majoring in Political Science and Global Studies along with certificates in International Studies and Human Rights. She was born and raised in Vejle, Denmark, but moved to Arizona a little over two years ago. Besides studying at Arizona State University, she works as a Global Peer mentor, with a primary focus on helping first year international students become familiar with Arizona and living in a new country. Furthermore, Clara is an ambassador and content creator for the British organization Kaplan International Pathways, where she creates content about being an international student living in the United States, and guides prospective students on their journey towards studying abroad.
"With my interest in both international relations, my home country Denmark, and my current home, the United States, I am excited to be a part of the National Foundation for Danish America, and write about the political relationship between Denmark and the United States." - Clara
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