Ingrid – April 24, 2017

As I write, I’m sneaking a peak at the program for the April 22 Kick-Off Celebration for The Danish Home’s 125 anniversary, which will have already occurred by the time you read this. I can already tell that this will be a wonderful event, celebrating both the history and the future of The Danish Home.

Flipping through the colorful pages of the program, I see that the keynote speaker for the afternoon seems pretty awesome. Sonja Winther is the CEO of Chantelle Lingerie, one of the top three brands of French lingerie sold in high-end stores like Neiman-Marcus and Nordstrom. Even for the less lacy, like myself, it sounds like Sonja will have some amazing things to share.


Keynote speaker Sonja Winther, CEO of Chantelle Lingerie, shared the story of her successful company and her family ties to The Danish Home at the 125th anniversary kick-off celebration.

Like my GiGi (my nickname for my great-great-great grandmother Olivia Rose, a founder of The Danish Home), Sonja is a strong woman. How could she not be? She’s Danish! Also, her mother’s name was the same as mine – Ingrid – so that’s kind of cool, too. Anyway, as I read, I’m learning that she is partnering with an organization called “Skirting the Rules” (I love that name – that’s me in a nutshell!) that champions women who are agents of change.

What’s also got me excited about the event are the “Lucky Buckets” gift baskets (and the food; that goes without saying!). I’ve got my eye on the spa basket, so I’ll let you know if I win! Okay, that’s all for now, two days before the event. Read on for my post-event update…

Well, I didn’t win the spa basket (or any basket, for that matter), but the afternoon was sure a winner! Even before the luncheon began, as people were mingling and bidding on auction packages and placing their raffle tickets, I had the great pleasure of meeting John Thorsen, his son Miles and his sister Leslie. John is the great-great-grandson of Emma Thorsen, founder and first president of The Danish Home. John and his family had come from New York to visit The Danish Home and attend the kick-off celebration. I was amazed to find out that it was just last year that John learned of his relationship to Emma, a fact that he discovered through The Hope Chest! John’s excitement about his heritage is obvious – and contagious!

Before lunch, we all stood and sang both the American and Danish national anthems (I only listened to the many Danes in the room sing the latter – I plan to learn it!). Then Women’s Auxiliary member Karen Petersen portrayed Emma Thorsen in the dress of the day (that’s her in the photo at the top of this post), speaking from Emma’s voice about her family, her life in America, and her vision for The Danish Home. Leslie Thorsen said a few eloquent words, too, about how honored she and her family were to be part of the afternoon. A toast from Scott Swanson, President and CEO of The Danish Home, ended with a hearty “Skol!” from all, and Rev. Dr. Karen Knutsen led us in prayer.

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Goose Island braised short ribs and other sumptuous items were on the menu at the kick-off celebration April 22.

After a tasty lunch of braised short ribs, which began with the prettiest and most delicious salad I’ve ever had (here’s a similar recipe), Sonja Winther told us a heartfelt story of her ties to The Danish Home (during which she became emotional several times), its pioneering founding women, and the strong women associated with her company, Chantelle Lingerie.

When the dessert plates were cleared – a divine, lemony treat – the lucky auction and raffle winners were announced. As I said, I was not among them, nor were any of the women at my table, but I feel very fortunate to have been a part of the day, and I look forward to the next three events celebrating The Danish Home’s 125th anniversary this year.