David Maki has spent decades working in the number two position at the Finnish American Heritage Center. It made sense to give him the reins on an interim basis following the retirement of Jim Kurtti last spring.
Maki is now simply the director, being awarded the position on a permanent basis in December. Working in the executive ranks of the center for 20 years has helped Maki develop impressive connections, including with the Honorary Consul of Finland to the Upper Peninsula.
Maki says it makes sense for the Scandinavian country’s Foreign Ministry to collaborate with the center. He says, “We take a lot of pride in being the one-stop shop for anyone interested in anything Finnish. I know it’s cliché, but it’s true – we really do have something for everyone.”
The full release is below.
For more than 20 years, David Maki served as the “right-hand man” at the Finnish American Heritage Center (FAHC). Now, he’ll have both hands on the steering wheel, as he takes over leadership of Finlandia University’s most well-established expression of its Finnish roots.
Maki, 45, officially assumed the role of Director of the FAHC in late December. He had been serving as interim director of the Center since the spring 2021 retirement of Jim Kurtti, who was the director of the FAHC since 2000.
Patrons will only notice a different person behind the desk, Maki explained, as he expects all other operations within the FAHC will continue providing the same level of quality service folks have come to enjoy.
“Our mission hasn’t and won’t change,” Maki said. “We’ll adapt when we need to, and we’ll make sure we’re as up-to-date as possible with regard to both personal skills and technologies. We will do what is necessary to remain the premiere center for Finnish-American and Finnish history and culture in North America.”
Those connections extend into the Finnish Foreign Ministry. Maki will also continue serving as a contact point for the Honorary Consul of Finland for the U.P.; he is a designated assistant to the Honorary Consul for the region.
“We take a lot of pride in being the one-stop shop for anyone interested in anything Finnish,” Maki said. “I know it’s cliché, but it’s true – we really do have something for everyone.”
Since its grand opening in 1990, Finlandia University’s Finnish American Heritage Center has become a community focal point and a national center, offering exhibits, lectures, musical programs and community events each year. The building has proven to be a must-stop for tourists.
The FAHC serves as the hub of Finnish-American life for Finlandia University, the region and the broader North American Finnish community. The FAHC houses the Finnish American Historical Archive, the world’s largest and oldest collections of Finnish-American archive materials and works of art, as well as hundreds of museum pieces. It’s also the site of the Martha Wiljanen Community Hall and the Finlandia University Gallery, and is the home of the monthly international newspaper “The Finnish American Reporter,” which Maki serves as managing editor and sole employee.
“I’m very fortunate that I was able to work alongside some top-caliber leaders in Finnish America for so long,” Maki said. “I intend to use the experience I gained during the past 20 years as my colleagues and I develop a long-term plan to ensure that the Finnish American Heritage Center will continue to serve as the national center for all things Finnish-American, whether it’s preservation, consultation, you name it. This center has earned the trust of Finns from around the world, and we’re going to keep doing what we do well to make sure that never changes.
“We exist because of our patrons, and every patron is our most important patron.”