Sweden's Ambassador to the U.S. in Chicago
A visit to show the government's gratitude for the work of retiring Honorary Consul General of Sweden for Illinois, Kerstin Lane.
His Excellency Jonas Hafström, Swedish Ambassador to the USA, was in Chicago on June 1, 2011, to be part of the farewell for retiring Honorary Consul General of Sweden for Illinois, Kerstin Lane.
The Swedish American Museum hosted the evening where guests also took the opportunity to celebrate Sweden’s National Day (June 6) a few days early. There was a special greeting from Chicago’s Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, which was read by Leroy Allala, the Executive Director of the Chicago Sisters Organization in Chicago. The Mayor of Chicago extended his warmest greetings from the citizens of Chicago to all people with Swedish descent on Sweden’s National Day. Rahm Emanuel also thanked Kerstin Lane for all of her dedicated work, the leadership she has provided, and the passion with which she has promoted the relationship between Chicago and Sweden during her time as the Honorary Consul General of Sweden for Illinois.
Serving Sweden with distinction
“You, Kerstin Lane, have served Sweden with distinction and we appreciate the many ways you have enriched our partnership over the many years,” read the message from from the mayor.
Kerstin Lane introduced His Excellency Jonas Hafström, Swedish Ambassador to the USA. Hafström was born in Stockholm and graduated from Lund University in 1974. He served as press secretary to the Minister for Justice, Swedish ambassador in different countries, and as press secretary and foreign policy advisor to then-chairman of the Moderate Party, Carl Bildt.
From 2000 to 2004 he was Deputy Director-General and head of the Department for Consular Affairs and Civil Law at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. As such he was noted for his efforts during the December 2004 tsunami disaster, which affected many Swedish tourists in Thailand. Hafström was awarded H.M. The King’s medal (8th size) from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden for his ”meritorious efforts during the tsunami disaster in South East Asia.”
Since the autumn of 2007, Hafström has served as the Swedish ambassador in Washington, D.C.
“Ambassador Jonas Hafström is an ambassador of the people. He is accessible, and his wife, Eva, is a tremendous asset to the publicity and the press that Sweden has in Washington, D.C.” said Kerstin Lane before it was His Excellency’s turn to speak.
'A day to feel proud of one’s country
His Excellency Jonas Hafström welcomed everyone with noting that it was a great pleasure to see so many friends of Sweden and friends of Kerstin Lane.
“The National Day is a day set aside to feel proud of one’s country, what it has accomplished, and what it stands for. In our case, we can be particularly proud of the deep ties between Sweden and the United States,” he said. He told the guests that the true ambassadors of Sweden are the regular people who impact America’s view of Sweden.
“You reach out much farther and deeper into the U.S. than the Embassy can. For that I salute you all. And I salute one of your famous citizens in particular, a famous Swede—Kerstin Lane. For several decades, Kerstin has been instrumental in not only promoting Swedish history and current culture, but also building networks between Sweden and the U.S.,” His Excellency said.
Kerstin Lane was the Executive Director of The Swedish American Museum for twenty years, founded SVEA/SWEA Chicago, and has been the Honorary Consul General of Sweden for Illinois since 2003. Lane became one of the forces behind the Chicago Cultural Alliance and took part in building bridges between the more than twenty ethnic museums and cultural centers in the city of Chicago.
Karin Moen Abercrombie, executive director of The Swedish American Museum, thanked Lane for the legacy she started. “All of us who work here are very thankful for what you started for us, and we hope that you will continue being a part of the Swedish American Museum,” she said. All of us who have had the fortune of meeting Kerstin Lane agree: This is just the beginning of a new phase for her and we wish her all the best.