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American Swedish Institute Selects Steenson as Leader

By Todd R. Berger

Molly Steenson
Molly Steenson. || Photo by Andy Johanson

Minneapolis’ American Swedish Institue (ASI) chose St. Paul native Molly Steenson as its president and CEO in March, and she will take the helm of the venerable cultural center in late July. In Steenson, the institute found a leader with vast expertise in academia, architecture, digital design, and user experience. Steenson is delighted about her appointment.

“Oh my gosh, I’m so excited,” she says. “One of the reasons I applied for this is because of how joyful a place it is for me, and that I notice when I see people coming through [the institute] … that there’s a real sense of warmth and a really happy buzz.”

Currently vice provost for faculty and a tenure-track professor in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—and a former consultant about user experience, digital strategy, artificial intelligence, and social media—Steenson believes her background, particularly in the digital realm, will be helpful in her new position.

“I’m looking forward to bringing [digital design of messaging] into the way we tell stories and extend the reach of ASI,” Steenson says. “I’m curious [about] what happens when ASI extends its reach in social media in new and emerging ways. I’m looking forward to amplifying the conversations that ASI has … on mobile devices.”

Steenson, who holds a PhD in architecture from Princeton University, sees the institute’s historic Turnblad Mansion and the Nelson Cultural Center as naturals for events.

“[ASI] is such a community hub, both inside and outside,” she says. “I don’t view this as someplace you simply rent. I think that it’s someplace where you envision gatherings and a really warm sense of belonging.”