Atlanta Finland Society, Inc. (AFS) - Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Atlanta Finland Society, Inc. (AFS)

PO Box 768231 Roswell, GA 30076






AFS Board of Trustees Introductions


Ilkka Kauppinen
Board Member for year 2013-2014

I’m a Sociology University Lecturer at the University of Jyväskylä and Institute of Higher Education Fellow at the University of Georgia (Athens). I have visited the UGA regularly since 2010 when I first came to the UGA as a Fulbright visiting post doc researcher.  My main research interests include sociology of globalization and transnational higher education.

I met my fiancée in Athens in 2012. To put it very simply – I love Athens! I am looking forward to participate in the activities of AFS and contribute to its future. Personally I find the idea of hybridization of cultural identities via living in new cultural environments very interesting phenomenon, and this also applies to Finns living in the USA.

Food and music are close to my heart and I would like to influence positively on the visibility of Finnish food and music here in Georgia.


Valtteri Tamminen - Secretary for year 2013 -2014

I was born in Jyväskylä but moved to Atlanta with my family back in 1995 when I was only 2 months old. I am now a freshman at Kennesaw State University, studying International Affairs. Next summer I will be going to serve my mandatory Finnish Military service in The Kainuu Brigade. In my free time I enjoy reading, playing roller hockey and I like to think I can play a pretty mean game of chess. I love to travel, particularly to Europe, as I have a passion for European history.  As a new board member I hope to bring new ideas from younger perspective to AFS. I’m excited to serve as Secretary for this year!



Leena Ringvall - President 2012/2013

I'm a Finnish elementary school teacher with a passion for traveling. I first came to Atlanta back in 2007 to teach at a public school. During my two-year stay I also taught at the Finnish school. I met my husband in 2009 and quickly packed our bags and moved to Malaysia for two years. I taught at an international school there 2009-2011.

I recently returned to Atlanta after teaching third grade in North Carolina. As of now I'm very happy to settle in Atlanta area for a while and therefore ready take over my new role as the head teacher of the Finnish School and the president of AFS.

I look forward to a year of family fun and cultural exchange.

Leena Ringvall

Minna Koivunen - Vice President 2012-2013

My family and I moved to Atlanta area from Jyväskylä in the beginning of July 2011 planning to have a one year adventure in the USA. Eventually we, like many other Finnish expatriates here and everywhere, decided to stay a bit longer. My husband works with Metso and I am a stay-at-home mom marveling the wonders of everyday life so different from (yet in some ways so similar to) life in Finland. Our two children were students of the Atlanta Finnish School last year.


As a family we like to travel and play board or outdoor games. I enjoy volunteering at my children’s schools in Fulton County. I have recently (re)discovered the joy of working out, I also enjoy playing golf and long walks with friends. I have a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics. My professional background is in Educational Research, Entrepreneurship Education and Information and Communications Technology. I am really looking forward to working with the board members and meeting new people at various AFS events! 

Rich Hammett - Vice President 2011-2012

Rich had to look at a globe to see exactly where "Finland" was when he received the letter sending him there to serve an LDS mission in 1990.  He spent two years living all over Finland (Turku, Kajaani, Lahti, Helsinki, Tampere), once eating verilettuja in Kajaani, but never eating mustamakkaraa in Tampere.


He returned to Finland summer 1994 as an electrical engineer intern for Kainuun Sähkö.  His girlfriend Lisa came to Finland for a short vacation at the end of the summer, and he proposed to her on the shore of Inarinjärvi in Ivalo.  They have returned to Finland for a bus tour to the North Cape, Norway in 1997, and with their young son (and the Finnish school of Washington, DC) in 2004.  He has been active with the Finnish community in Huntsville, Alabama; in Washington, DC; and now in Atlanta he teaches Finnish to adult students, not being brave enough to speak to Finnish children.


Anne Hämäläinen – Vice president 2013-2014 and Social Events 2011-2012

Anne Hämäläinen was born and raised in Finland and has lived in the USA for over seven years with her husband, Juha, and their two daughters, Sara and Rosa.

Description: AnneHamalainen
Miraflores, Lima, Peru, December 2010

She has been a homemaker but started to work for a Finnish Company Kytola Instruments, Inc. in January, 2011. She has always been an active member of the Atlanta Finland Society, Inc. and is also one of the founders of the Atlanta Finnish Language School (founded in year 2004). She was a school cafeteria keeper for several years and also a teacher for one year in Atlanta Finnish Language School. Anne was also elected in the spring 2010 to the Executive Committee of the Scandinavian American Foundation of Georgia as a Vice President for Finland. She likes to play golf and tennis with her Finnish friends and her family loves to explore exotic countries during their vacations.

Eveliina Russell -Principal for Finnish Language School of Atlanta 2010-2011


I was born in Finland but was raised in Tanzania East-Africa as a missionary kid.

I met my husband in an international boarding school in Kenya. He was from Atlanta originally so in 2000 we moved to Atlanta together. We have 3 daughters Vanessa, Amilia and Malaika.  I work for Ska Industries a Finnish bakery here in Atlanta and also have my own cleaning business. I love meeting new people and hoping for many new friendships during this upcoming year.
I myself attended a Finnish school in Tanzania for 9 years, and it was one of the most important things for me that kept me attached to Finnish language and culture. That is why I believe through personal experience that it is so important that our children have the opportunity of Finnish school here in Atlanta. It makes such a difference as familes move back home or visit during summers.
I'm excited for this upcoming year I hope that all of you with children will come and visit our school and get plugged in! 
Hope to see you every other Saturday!!!

Eveliina Russell


Katriina Naukkarinen


Vice President Fall 2010 and President 2011

As a new board member I’m stepping in on a very critical time when many of the active volunteers for the organization have expressed their willingness to step down and new volunteers are hard to find. AFS board needs input of all average of 100 Finnish families that make the body of AFS members.

We already have great venue at Finnish School and café to sit down and meet each other. Families involved with the school are the most active part of our organization. My question to the rest of AFS members is; what can board do to add to your social and cultural calendar?

As a Gwinnett County resident I spent lots of time outdoors enjoying dozens of parks and recreational areas around my county and Metro Atlanta. I would like to invite all members to visit the endless options of our green space and maybe use that as our venue to create activities that fit to all members regardless the age. Our family of four moved to USA 14 years ago with Metso Paper, first to Charlotte, NC and 2001 to Atlanta. My husband Ari is Regional Manager for Metso, I work as photographer for school picture company Lifetouch. Our children are in college, Heta is a sophomore in GATech and Hanna is freshman in UGA. We also have a German Shepherd dog Lumi, who goes where we go on our free time. As a family we love outdoors, boating, hiking and keeping up our house and its surroundings. We love the variety Atlanta area offers for sports events, culture and entertainment. With everyone busy on their duties around Georgia we face the same challenge with other Finnish families getting involved.


Jaana Leskinen – Treasurer 2011-2014

I was born in Turku, Finland and moved to the US 21 years ago. My husband got a three year assignment to Marietta, GA but the task somehow changed into permanent one and we have been living in US ever since. We have a daughter who is nineteen and sophomore in college, a collie named Amigo, and an old Siamese cat named Mr. Pepper. We've been living in Alpharetta since 2001 and previously we resided in Charlotte, NC. My only hobby at the time appears to be studying ever-ending fun stuff needed for my work as an accountant in a small CPA office here in Alpharetta. Occasionally I try to use my right side of brain and do oil, pastel or watercolor paintings. I guess that makes me “artistic accountant” (not to be confused by creative one).

If you want see some of my work, please visit my website:



Tuula Becker – President for year 2013-2014 Secretary, AFS Website, Communication, Finnews Editor 2009-2012

I am a native Finn, earned my Science Degree from Helsinki University. After working few years in Helsinki for Nokia Electronics as a Systems Analyst/Programmer, I was transferred to Atlanta Office for a 4 year contract. I married Terry Becker, an American Engineer from GA Tech and have lived in Atlanta area ever since, about 30 years. I also became a US Citizen. We have one son Jari, who studied Finance at GA Tech.

Last 11 years of my software developer career I was specialized in Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) Software. I was working with a multinational group of people from Spain, France, UK, NL and New Zeeland.  Now I have been working for my husband’s Home Theater and Home Automation Business.


I have always been an active member in the Finnish American and Scandinavian Organizations. I am confident that with my lifetime experience I have a lot to offer to “Atlanta Finland Society” organization as a Finnews Editor and a Secretary. I like to keep all Atlanta area Finns connected and share the information.

I also like to travel all over the world and meet people from different cultures. My favorite TV program is Samantha Brown on TRAVEL Channel. I also like to watch Braves Baseball games and play golf every so often. I have also become passionate about Nutrition and Healthy Cooking, paired with a glass (or 2) of good wine.


May KinnunenSuomikoulu Committee 2009-2011

I am from Singapore. I am married to a Finn, Jukka and we have one daughter, Miia.  We moved to Atlanta 6 years ago after receiving a new project from Jukka's company. So far, we have made some friends and trying to be active in both Suomikoulu and the Atlanta Finland Society.  As a member of the board, I am looking forward to working with other members to make this community/association bigger and better!


Verna Bush – Past President 2009-2010
Few of you may have met me but since I am fairly new to the organization as here are a few words about me:  I came to the United States in 1996 to pursue graduate studies in international business.  I had already completed my Master of Science at the Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration with a major in accounting and finance.  After earning my MBA from a school in California, I was offered a position as a consultant and decided to stay in the US for a while.  A number of interesting projects, clients, career change to a corporate/internal consultant role, working for four different companies on both coasts, I settled in Atlanta with my husband Adam.  We got married and bought our current home in Alpharetta in 2001.  This is the longest I have lived in any one place, including childhood. 

It has been a welcome change to really get to know our neighbors and become more involved and rooted in thecommunity after three coast to coast moves in just four short years.  Each move was a result of Adam or my relocation for a then employer or a new opportunity.  I am grateful to have had the opportunity to travel and work and make friends in so many different places.  Our daughter Natalie was born in 2005.  She is a delight and I am forever thankful to have been able to shift my focus from my work to staying home with her.  She goes to preschool and will be turning four soon.  Every day with her is an adventure.  We also have two large dogs, our ‘furry children’, Bella (8; shepherd mix) and Apollo (6; German shepherd).  I like to travel, watch movies, go for long walks with our dogs, workout at the gym and take classes.  I am also passionate about pet assisted therapy and have volunteered with our dog Bella since 2002.  We are part of a team that regularly visits a psychiatric inpatient facility in Atlanta. 

Sanna Lattunen – Vice President 2009-2010

I have been actively involved with Finnish community since we moved to Atlanta with my husband Jan in May 2003. Ever since I have passionately tried to keep our Finnish community united so Finns could support each other and we could maintain our Finnish heritage and culture together.  Past two years I was president of ASFS and before that I was vice president as now.  I was one of the Atlanta Suomikoulu founders and I’ve been teaching preschoolers there ever since the beginning and loving every minute of it. I have also been Finland’s representative in Scandinavian Festival for three years and active organizer in one way or the other every year. 


For example you might have seen my ideas of Finland in Finnish Cultural Area or tasted Finnish pancakes a la Sanna.

Finnish men cooking pancakes a la Sanna in the Scandinavian Festival on the left.

My education supports my interest in people and society; I have a Master’s degree in Social Sciences. I am Finnish native but have been living in Sweden and France as well which leads to the fact that I love traveling and different cultures as well. I am also enthusiastic about food and fitness and you might find me running, lifting weights or otherwise exercising almost every day.  At the moment my main focus as a stay-at –home- mom of course is to take care of my four year old son Max, my 2 year old daughter Vivienne and our sweet little dog Gizmo (Westie).

Riikka Härkönen – Secretary 2009-2010

Riikka is familiar face and voice to a lot of people. She has been active in Suomikoulu and ASFS for past 6 years. You might have tasted her muurinpohjalettu at the Scandinavian Festival the past 2 years. Riikka was helping to start the Suomikoulu and has been a teacher at the school for 4 years. After taking a year of study leave from the school, Riikka plans to continue teaching the coming fall and she is also continuing her post as a secretary in the new organization. 




Arja Hanninen – Auditor 2011-2014 Treasurer 2009-2010

Arja has been active in the Finnish community and ASFS for years.  She has served as ASFS president and treasurer.  She brings an unparalleled pool of US accounting and general business knowledge to AFS and we are grateful to have her continued as the treasurer for our new organization.


Aija Roos – Suomikoulu Principal / Education Committee Chair 2009-Spring 2010

Our family (2 adults and 2 sons) moved to Norcross a year ago. I studied for seven years at the University of Helsinki and am a certified special education teacher. In Finland I have worked with immigrants and students, who have difficulties to learn to read and/or write. If you have any questions about reading, writing, Finnish language or learning difficulties, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I would be happy to help.  



Maj-Britt Stein – Cultural Committee Chair 2009-2010
I am a Finnish native who relocated with my family to the Atlanta area in 2005. Like many Finns I am multilingual, and my education is in Business Management, Administration, Hotel and Restaurant Management, as well as Hair Design and Make-Up. My hobbies keep me active in several clubs and include my family, reading, music, movies, traveling, languages, cooking, cycling, tennis, things related to beauty and well being, gardening, cats and Old English Sheepdogs. My dearest hobby is showing and breeding cats, and I am an International All-Breed Cat Judge. Currently I teach at Suomikoulu where my seven year old son has been a student since our arrival in the United States.