Vesterheim Welcomes New Trustees – 2021

Vesterheim is pleased to welcome four new members to its board of trustees— Kari Espinosa, Gayle Kvenvold, Brian Larson, and Martha Gesme Nielsen. Vesterheim has a national board with 22 members from 8 states, the District of Columbia, and Norway. We’re grateful for their expertise and service.

Kari Espinosa

Kari Espinosa lives in Edina, Minnesota, but also makes her home in Decorah with her husband Peter. Their family’s Decorah business ventures include Pulpit Rock Brewing Company, 508onJefferson, The Landing, and Bottletree Properties. Dedicated to service, Espinosa has volunteered in the schools; served on Special Education Advisory Boards in Edina, Minnesota, and Overland Park, Kansas; and founded both Mosaic Ministry, a special needs-oriented church service for all ages, and the Tapestry Program, a bi-monthly class serving teens and adults with special needs. She also volunteers at ArtHaus in Decorah.

Gayle Kvenvold

Gayle Kvenvold, Minneapolis, Minnesota, is president and CEO of LeadingAge Minnesota, which is the largest association of organizations serving Minnesota seniors. Kvenvold has been devoted to improving and transforming services and support for older citizens since starting her career in Albert Lea, where she grew up. A committed volunteer and board member, Kvenvold serves on the Minnesota Leadership Council on Aging, the Minnesota Alliance for Patient Safety, and the Minnesota Gerontological Society. Kvenvold has been the recipient of many prestigious awards, including five selections by Minnesota Physician as one of Minnesota’s 100 most influential health care leaders and the Dutch Kastenbaum Outstanding Gerontologist Award by the Minnesota Gerontological Society.

Brian Larson

Brian Larson is an architect with 30-plus years of experience with commercial office buildings, park and recreational projects, and single- and multi-family housing developments. A graduate of St. Olaf College, Larson received his Master of Architecture from the University of Colorado-Denver, and he has been involved with the design of many projects including the Grand Rapids Community Library, the Jewish Community Center of St. Paul, the Minnesota Judicial Center, and the U.S. Embassy in Santiago, Chile. He was the first recipient of the Rapson Traveling Fellowship—a design competition for Minnesota architects. Under the fellowship, Larson traveled to Olso, Norway, where he studied cold climate design and Scandinavian architecture. Larson is currently a Senior Designer with Pope Architects in St. Paul, Minnesota. A resident of Stillwater, Minnesota, he serves on the Stillwater Heritage Preservation Commission and the Facilities Committees of ArtReach St. Croix and Trinity Lutheran Church.

Martha Gesme Nielsen

Martha Gesme Nielsen, Cary, Illinois, is a graduate of Luther College who established her career in the travel industry and served in a variety of capacities ranging from Tour Coordinator to Global Key Account Manager. She received the SAS Scandinavian Airlines Global Sales & Marketing “Colleague of the Year” award and was the SAS lead for a number of multi-market (global) corporate agreements coordinating with travel managers in the U.S. and Europe. She has led and coordinated over twenty Friends’ trips to Europe as well as numerous customer trips to Scandinavia. Martha has been on the Norwegian-American Genealogy Center’s Advisory Council, served as past president and is a current board member of the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce-Chicago chapter, and co-chaired the Chicago Area Friends of Vesterheim event. Nielsen’s volunteer service includes Feed My Starving Children and Ronald McDonald House.