EANC Gala 2016:  Estonian-American Voices

EANC would like to thank everyone who attended the recent programs and awards gala in San Francisco.   We were pleased that so many people participated. Both the lunchtime business event (sponsored by Enterprise Estonia, Silican Valley) and the evening gala were sold out.    

The panels, which addressed such varied issues as the legacy and future of Estonian American organizations, the importance of telling our Estonian story, and transatlantic security, including U.S.-Estonia relations in the current era, were all well attended.  We reached out to capture some of the initial impressions and responses of those attending, as well as their suggestions for future events, and want to share those with you. 

From Ingrid Echter, former SF Eesti Selts President and LEP/ESTO 2013 President “ I thought this event was really well put together! Amazing job at all levels -- everything from flowers to subjects, and variety of people.”

From Honorary Consul Jaak Treiman, “The thought and planning that went into the EANC meeting/gala was impressive and appreciated. I found the panel discussions thought and hope the EANC will now continue to rotate its meeting sites between the East and West Coasts and also add Chicago to the mix.” 

Southbay Estonian Liisi Esse, who is the Assistant Curator for Baltic Collections at Stanford’s Green Library, had this to say, “I thoroughly enjoyed the whole program and I think others did too.”   From Lisa Trei, Associate Director of Public Relations, at the School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University,  “Yes, let me echo Liisi, it was a really great day and evening. Thank you for all the work you put into it. The quality of the presentations was excellent. I was so pleased I was able to stay to listen to the speeches in the evening. And my table was really fun…”>

And this from Leif Fritzell, one of the newest and youngest EANC council members:  “Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of the event was a matter of demographics.  Among the attendees, multiple generations of Estonian-Americans were represented.  Both young and old, Estonian-speaking and non-speaking, west coast and east coast.  It felt very inclusive, vibrant, and current. …  Additionally, I think having some of the new Silicon Valley Estonians present their projects was a great idea.  It helped the Council get in touch with this community and I think it conveyed the message that the Council is interested in engaging with communities where they are.  I think this conveyed a feeling of reciprocity and shared interest.  Overall, it was the best EANC event that I’ve ever attended.”  

From younger attendee Karl Grabbi who flew in from the East Coast to participate,  "EANC's weekend in San Francisco … brought together global Estonians and friends of Estonians in a collaborative, intergenerational, social environment in which many thoughtful, interesting and pertinent topics were shared and new friendships blossomed. It was truly inspiring listening to the passionate Estonian entrepreneurs on the startup panel and hearing about Estonia's growing footprint in Silicon Valley."    Karl’s suggestion for the future: “Continue to hold the event in large, metropolitan cities because I think it brings more people out to the events.”

Ingrid Echter has these suggestions related to the ongoing question of how to attract the younger generations.  “Help welcome them to the "home community abroad" by organizing independence days, Christmas parties, and events that give their families a feel of home away from home, so that they see it for themselves and agree and want to help.  Show the positive that people want to follow.”

Some attendees shared very personal stories, or expressed that they connected with specific components of the program.  From SF Bay Area Estonian-American Nora Laasi,  “The speakers really reminded me of what a huge, really huge effect the occupation had on my family both here and now scattered all over the world.  Frankly devastating, however good the U.S. has been for us, ….Particularly Priit Vesilind, really moved me and reminded me of the realities of what occurred to Estonia and to our family.  I so appreciate that he spoke with such feeling about all that happened then.  These are things I don't usually think about but they are vital.”

From Andres Renss of Santa Cruz shares some of his take-aways,  “I visited Estonia for the first time in 1994 with my parents, but before then my image of that nation and its people was completely shaped by the diligence of members of the Estonian-American community…..Only later did I understand the true significance of all this. Freedom is not given it is earned. It's good to know that all the effort that these individuals put into preserving our culture over the years was not done in vain.”
Andres continues… “the words of Marina Kaljurand were both heartwarming and encouraging, especially when she said that every individual with connections to Estonia acts as a good-will ambassador in their own right.  Often peoples' first impression of Estonia is made by personal contact and this can have a more lasting and powerful effect than any efforts made by politicians.”

The EANC event certainly met one of its objective -- spotlighting the West Cost Estonian American community.  Again in the words of Honorary Consul Jaak Treiman,  “I hope the Estonian Foreign Ministry will pay heed and move expeditiously to add a career consulate on the West Coast.” 

If you’d like to share additional thoughts and comments about your own experiences, please contact Mai-Liis Bartling or Linda Rink.

Marina Kaljurand's Keynote speech at Nov. 5 San Francisco Gala Dinner

"Honorable members of the Estonian American National Council’s Board of Directors, Dear guests! Head sõbrad! Tere õhtust!

It is an honor and privilege for me to address you tonight at this wonderful Gala. It is good to be back in the U.S. and it is good to be back in San Francisco. Last time I was here in 2013 for ESTO and Lääneranniku Eesti päevad, when Estonian culture, dance, songs, language conquered San Francisco, or at least part of it.

Several things have happened since then, several things have changed since then but it is good to know that something stays unchanged and untouched, stays as a bedrock – I mean the Estonian American National Council and Estonian Community in the United States.

When I was preparing for today’s remarks I recalled the lyrics of Mis maa see on, by Peeter Volkonski. Do you remember the Song Festival when the song was performed by Siiri Sisask, the choirs and the audience? It was something that I will never forget.


What kind of a land is this?
There are no mountains here.
But people here are full of magical might
And their songs are mystical
Only endless forest and bog-pool swamps.

Sometimes night eats the day
Sometimes day is so long that swallows the night
Both pass here in the same manner
What kind of a land is this?

What kind of a land is this?
There are no mountains here.
But people here are full of magical might
And their songs are mystical
Only endless forest and bog-pool swamps.

Sometimes night eats the day
Sometimes day is so long that swallows the night
Both pass here in the same manner
What kind of a land is this?

It is a very good question – what kind of a land is it, that remains in our hearts wherever we go or whoever we are? What kind of a land it is that brings together young and old, rich and poor, those who speak Estonian and those who don’t, those who were born in Estonia and those who have only visited Estonia, Estonians, Americans, and even Russians?

On August 20th we celebrated the 25th anniversary of restoration of the Republic of Estonia. Estonia has changed a lot and has achieved a lot in 25 years and there is a lot we all can be proud of. Yes, all of us. Because there is no country without people and there are no achievements without people who love and who care about a country.

Estonia’s fate has been difficult. Estonia’s road to freedom and independence has been full of challenges and tragedies. But Estonian history has also been filled with love, hope and joy. Estonians kept love and hope in their hearts. In the hearts of those who lived in Estonia and in the hearts of those who were forced to live in exile. We might be raised in different countries and different cultures but there is something that unites us all. It is the land that is sometimes wierd and sometimes wonderful, sometimes happy and sometimes unhappy.

What kind of a land is that which can hold on to me?

And I don’t know by which means she does that

Well, she doesn’t cover me, and doesn’t feed

But still with herself she drags me

What kind of a land is this?

Can I ever understand her?

Can I do without her anymore?

How could she ever deprive her children of their mother?

For 25 years there has been no iron curtain between Estonians and the meaning of the word “väliseestlased – Estonians abroad” has changed. Today it unites different generations and different reasons for living abroad. We talk more and more about global Estonians. Many people say that thanks to today’s open borders and open media, particularly Skype and social media they don’t feel like “väliseestlased”. I would like to cite (once again) a young entrepreneur Rainer Sternfeld, who is doing business both in Estonia and in the U.S. He said last summer at the Paide Opinion Festival that for him Estonian border is where Estonians are. Think about it. I think he is right. I feel that a piece of Estonia is today here.

Dear väliseestlased and friends of Estonia! You played a crucial role in Estonia’s story of regaining independence. You spoke up when we, living in Estonia could not do it. You reminded about Estonia when Estonia was erased from books and maps. You talked to politicians who preferred not to remember the tragic history of the Baltic States. You did not only talk or remind, you also demanded freedom to Estonia – in your speeches, articles, letters, demonstrations, even – banners. You were living examples of history’s injustice and hope.

The world has changed and Estonia has changed. Estonia has restored her position in Europe and globally. Estonia is not alone anymore. We are together with our allies, partners and friends. I would like to recall what president Obama said in Tallinn in September 2014. He said: NATO Article 5 is crystal clear: an attack on one is an attack on all. So if, in such a moment, you ever ask again, “who will come to help”, you’ll know the answer – the NATO Alliance, including the Armed Forces of the United States of America…. We’ll be here for Estonia…You lost your independence once before. With NATO, you will never lose again.

We needed to hear it. We needed to hear it not in DC or in San Francisco. We needed to hear it in Tallinn, in a concert hall full of our people – meie inimesi.

Today we are more confident than ever before in the light and prosperous future of Estonia. We know that we will never be left alone, again. We remember our history. We will never again surrender quietly, without resistance.

We are committed to our obligations in international organizations, including NATO. We are committed to doing our fair share, being it protection of the external borders of the EU, fight against terrorism, assisting developing countries or receiving war refugees from Syria. We are committed, because we know what solidarity means, because it is the right thing to do and because we know that independence and freedom are not automatically granted. Democracy has to be protected, nourished and cherished. And if needed – then fought for. That is why we stand today shoulder to shoulder with Ukrainians and support their democratic reforms. Each and every nation should have the right to decide about their future.

Commitments to our allies, partners and friends are also commitments to our people and our country. We all have the chance and the privilege to contribute to Estonia’s future and development.

I’ve been asked sometimes: what we, Estonians living abroad, can do for Estonia today, when Estonia is free again. My answer is always the same – a lot.

We are a small country where every person matters and every person counts. Every Estonian is an ambassador of Estonia. You are the ones that leave the first impression about Estonians, you are the ones who are promoting Estonia every day – by your personalities, by your thoughts, by what you say about Estonia.

Often you are doing more than professional diplomats or Ambassadors can ever do. During my Ambassadorial tenure in Washington I tried to visit as many universities and colleges as possible. And in every audience there was at least one Estonian, or a person who had been to Estonia or a person who knew an Estonian or a person who knew somebody who knew an Estonian. They were referring to you. Thank you for what you are doing every day.

Do you remember the concert of Arvo Pärt at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC? It wouldn’t have happened without your personal commitment and financial assistance. Together we raised enough money to give the best present to Americans – a free concert of Arvo Pärt’s music in the presence of Maestro Arvo Pärt. I still feel goosebumps when I think about that wonderful concert.

If we could do that concert we can do anything.

In 2018 we will be celebrating Estonia’s 100th birthday in Estonia, but also abroad. Your ideas, your participation, your support is more than welcome.

Let’s do it team is working hard to organize a world clean-up day on September 8th 2018. They hope to get 150 countries engaged. They are looking for good will ambassadors who will assist and support them in fulfilling this ambitious project.

The mission of the EANC is to help preserve and promote the Estonian cultural heritage in the United States; to foster ties with, and to represent the interests of, Estonian Americans and their organizations; and to support the maintenance of democratic institutions in, and cultural exchange with, Estonia.

So, there is a lot you can do and we can do together. Estonian Embassies, as well as Estonian ministries and institutions are your partners in those endeavors. I can assure that your mission – our mission – will never end. Estonian schools, language courses, churches, folk groups, children’s camps, businesses need us.

Ladies and gentlemen

And finally, I would like to congratulate the receivers of the EANC awards – Arne Kalm, Lehti Merilo, Liina Teose, Steve Jürvetson, Estonian League of the West Coast and especially Lonnie Cline for being the first person in the world to receive the EANC award of a friend of Estonia. I have to admit that the EANC Board of Directors did a great job, once again, when choosing the nominees for the awards. You all have made Estonia bigger and more visible, starting from Silicon Valley and finishing with Portland, Oregon. I had the opportunity to participate in the celebration of Estonia’s Independence Day in Portland, Oregon. I heard the Clackamas Community College Choir singing, I saw the Estonian folk dance group dancing. That was something to remember forever.

There is a saying: tell me who is your friend and I’ll tell you who you are. Look around. This Ballroom is full of friends. Special friends of a special country.

Mis maa see on? Siin pole ühtki mäge

Vaid metsad lõputud ja laukasood

Kuid siinne rahvas täis on imeväge

Ja kummalised nende laululood

Elagu Eesti! Long live Estonia!"


U.S.Ambassador Melville's remarks at Nov. 5 San Francisco program

"Thank you, Marju, for the introduction and invitation to address the council. Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, and friends of Estonia, it’s an honor for me to be here this morning among so many leaders and representatives of the Estonian- American community.

I’ve been in Tallinn for a close to a year now and have gained quite an appreciation for all that Estonia has accomplished over the last quarter century. And I know that the Estonian-American community has played a vital role in that by first keeping the memory of a vibrant, independent Estonian nation alive during the dark years of the Soviet occupation and then, once the walls fell, rushing in to reestablish and strengthen the links that bind our two countries so tightly together.

I’ve been in the U.S. Foreign Service for over thirty years and have spent much of my career working with our close European allies, including Germany and the U.K., but the relationship with Estonia is unlike anything that I’ve experienced elsewhere. There is obviously a big difference in the sizes of our countries, however, that doesn’t limit our relationship. In fact, Estonia and the U.S. are close partners on almost all international issues of importance. Whether the subject is regional or global security, free trade, or international rule of law, our two countries tend to think alike because of the fundamental values we share. This is true for all three Baltic countries, too: what drives our work together is our shared commitment to democratic values and basic human freedoms.

Estonians value just as much as Americans the hard-fought freedoms that form the foundation of our societies and understand the need to protect them not only in our countries, but also in those places, such as Ukraine, where people are demanding the same rights and liberties free from outside pressure and influence. That is the message that President Obama delivered when he visited Tallinn two years ago and it is very much applicable today.

When I began my career in the former East Germany, I never expected to witness as many profound changes in Europe as we’ve seen. Of course, we had confidence in our policies and we knew the vision of a Europe whole, free and at peace was the only path to a prosperous future, but it seemed far off and maybe not achievable during my lifetime. Looking back at the past quarter century, we have come a long way to achieving that lofty goal.  Certainly the progress attained in countries such as Estonia is irreversible. Even so, this is among the most challenging times in Europe since the end of the Cold War.

As I put this into the U.S.-Estonia perspective, I’d say there are three important aspects that will define our relationship over the next decade.

First, Estonia is a capable ally and partner, for the United States bilaterally and multilaterally through the EU and NATO.  After re-independence in 1991, Estonia pursued policies to integrate as quickly as possible into Western institutions. This meant undertaking meaningful, and at the time painful, reforms in order to join organizations such as the WTO, EU, NATO, OSCE, and OECD. It also helped to have neighbors such as Finland and Sweden making early investments and providing new markets as trade quickly shifted away from the former Soviet republics.

The result is that Estonia is as solid a partner and ally as we have. Estonia’s interests and values line up with ours exceedingly well. Estonia has consistently proven itself to be a committed ally by spending more than 2% of GDP on defense and through contributions to missions in Iraq and Afghanistan or more recently by contributing to the EU mission in Mali, the UNIFIL mission in Lebanon and by training Ukrainian Special Forces.

Estonia is also exporting its successful transition experience, including the pioneering e-governance and cyber security platforms, to Eastern Partnership countries. Estonia’s commitment to NATO has made a lasting impression on me and my staff, and is something that the many visitors we receive from Washington quickly come to admire and respect as well.

Second, Estonia’s geography means that security will be the dominate issue for the foreseeable future.   Let’s be clear, Estonia is concerned about an unpredictable and aggressive Russia and this concern has merit, not only because of the Soviet occupation. Often my Estonian interlocutors will point back to the Bronze Soldier riots and cyberattacks in 2007 or the invasion of Georgia in 2008 as an inflection point for a more outwardly combative Russian state. Crimea and Ukraine are only the latest extension of that.

It is quite obvious to anyone who can count that the Russian military is an order of magnitude larger than those of the Baltic States and the exercises they’ve conducted in the region have been much larger and more provocative than anything NATO would ever contemplate. Additionally, Russian behavior such as airspace violations, flying without transponders or what we’ve encountered at sea, run the risk of accidents that could lead to an escalation in the region.

Recognizing the change in Russian posture, the United States and NATO have responsibly increased their presence in Estonia and the other Baltic countries. The United States has rotated troops, planes and ships to maintain an almost continuous presence that unequivocally demonstrates our commitment to our NATO allies.

We are also helping Estonia, through the European Reassurance Initiative, to increase its own national defense capabilities through infrastructure improvements at the Central Training Area as well as at the Amari Air Base and through augmenting Estonia’s defense acquisitions, such as providing $33 million worth of Javelin anti-tank missiles. This bilateral engagement will continue even as NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence takes shape, with the UK as the lead framework nation in Estonia.

As President Obama said in Tallinn, “there are no old members or new members, no junior partners or senior partners in NATO -- there are just Allies, pure and simple. And we will defend the territorial integrity of every single Ally.” We demonstrate this every time we have an air, land or naval exercise in Estonia and of course with the ongoing U.S. troop presence in Tapa.

Russia’s actions have called into question everything we’ve worked towards since the end of WWII and Estonia is on the front line of this struggle. Any wavering or destabilization would have ripple effects that would directly threaten U.S. interests and prosperity.

My third takeaway from my time in Tallinn is how Estonia’s capacity to innovate and adapt have set it up for success in the digital economy.  Estonia’s digital government really makes the country stand out from everyone else in Europe, with virtually all government services available to citizens online via an interconnected e-government platform. You may have seen that I recently became an Estonian e-Resident myself. Beyond the many lessons that other countries, including the United States, can draw directly from Estonia’s e- governance, the reliance on e-services has required that Estonia develop the capacity to keep the services secure. Estonia quickly institutionalized the lessons learned from the 2007 cyber-attacks and set a model for others to follow through national cyber security strategies, infrastructure, and cyber technologies needed to protect those services.

We use this innovation to our advantage in the security sector as well. Since the signing of the U.S.-Estonian Cyber Partnership Agreement in December 2013, cyber coordination between our nations has increased significantly. Our Embassy’s cyber team, which includes representatives from the Departments of State and Defense, the FBI and Secret Service, are working on the full range of cyber initiatives. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter recognized the importance of cyber defense during his visit to the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence last June when he met with Ministry of Defense and CCDCOE officials, and cyber cooperation is included on the agenda of almost every high-level engagement between the U.S. and Estonia in both Tallinn and Washington.

Like Estonia, the United States sees the growing importance of digital technologies to economic growth and competitiveness in today’s world.  We share a belief that the free flow of data is key to unlocking innovation. And we’re hopeful that the European Digital Single Market, an undertaking being led by Commissioner Andrus Ansip, will expand transatlantic trade and our shared digital economy.

And of course we are pleased to see growing collaboration between the American and Estonian private sectors. Tiny Estonia is now on the map for many venture capitalists from this neck of the woods. Just a few weeks ago, Draper Associates led a 2.6 million dollar investment round in Funderbeam, an Estonian start-up that has launched an online investment platform for start-ups.  Many high-tech companies that have received American financing have gone on to open up U.S. offices while maintaining important jobs in Estonia. So we’re seeing a virtuous circle that is sustaining high quality job growth on both sides of the Atlantic.

To have a broader impact across Estonia’s economy, this dynamic spirit of entrepreneurship and embrace of technology needs to be extended to all corners of the country, and to the more traditional manufacturing and industrial firms. Our Embassy is committed to supporting the Estonian government in this effort.

Of course, Estonia does still have some internal challenges that the government and all of its friends and partners are trying to address. There is certainly a role for the Estonian-American community to help in this endeavor as well.  I’ve had the opportunity to travel all around the country and visit very many different communities and it is a simple fact that development has been uneven and prosperity unequally shared. This is an issue for many, many communities throughout mainland Estonia and the islands, but it really manifests itself in a unique way in Ida Virumaa, through the prism of ethnic segregation and isolation. Given Russia’s vow to protect its compatriots abroad and its sustained efforts to divide communities, this also presents a unique security challenge for Estonian state institutions.

In response, we’ve partnered as much as we can with Estonian educational institutions, non-governmental organizations and other like-minded partners to bring in as many skills-based programs as possible, focusing primarily on English language learning, entrepreneurship, science and technology, and civic activism and leadership, to empower youth on their path to successful futures in Estonia and Europe.

I’m optimistic about Ida Virumaa, which I do not see as one of those many places in Europe where history seems to prevent progress. In fact, I see just the opposite. I see communities and people coming together if just given a chance.

It has been an incredible first year for me in Estonia. One of the many perks of being Ambassador is that I’m invited to experience a wonderful variety of Estonian culture. I’ve had the opportunity to hear wonderful folk music at the Viljandi Folk Music Festival, see 5000 woman dancing at the Jogeva Women’s Dance Festival, and enjoy the cuisine at the Estonian food festival in Saaremaa. I’ve given remarks at many schools, tour the Ukrainian and Russian cultural centers, and meet current and future leaders from each of Estonia’s 15 counties.

One of the most memorable experiences from my time in Estonia was attending the opening of the Estonian History Museum in Tartu in late September. This was a national event of great importance and its opening was one of President Ilves’s last official acts.  You no doubt know the story and the symbolic importance of building this magnificent and iconic new architectural treasure - a paean to the triumph of the Estonian people – on the runway of what was once a Soviet bombers runway in the closed city of Tartu. I would urge all of you to make a pilgrimage to experience and appreciate this historic achievement.

In conclusion, I see these themes as continuing throughout the rest of my tenure in Estonia: Estonia as a rock-solid ally in an environment where we must all deter an increasingly belligerent Russia. And Estonia as an innovator, helping Europe and the world make the most of the digital age.   And the United States will remain Estonia’s closest partner and friend in both scenarios.    Thank you."


EANC Gala to support two important new projects

An important part of EANC’s work includes providing grants and financial support to organizations and cultural projects across the U.S. that further Estonian American interests, and help maintain language and heritage.   The following two projects have been selected by the Estonian American National Council’s Board of Directors to receive a portion of the proceeds from this year’s November 5 Gala Evening.  

Donations to the Gala will support these two wonderful projects:

Singing Revolution University  -- EANC’s grant will help launch a new streaming website containing the films “The Singing Revolution” and “To Breathe As One” by Jim and Maureen Tusty, plus interview segments and commentary, newsreels, original documents, and many additional video segments not in the films.  The site is intended for academics, Estophiles, film fans, music fans and others to delve into the Singing Revolution, Laulupidu and Estonia’s Soviet Occupation.

 *  East and West Coast Estonian Children’s Choirs’ song festival participation -- Choirs on both the East and West Coasts are preparing to attend next year’s Noorte Laulu- ja Tantsupidu in Tallinn, Estonia.  EANC’s grant will help defray the expenses of families, so that more of these hard-working children and their music directors can participate.

If you would like to support these projects, mail your check made out to “EANC” to Linda Rink, 1420 Locust St., Ste. 31N, Philadelphia, PA 19102.  Write “Gala donation” as explanation. You can also pay by credit card via PayPal at www.estosite.org.


ERKÜ toetab kahte tähtsat projekti eelseisva Gala sissetulekust

Üks suur osa ERKÜ tööst on võimaldada  toetust ja rahalist abi Am. Ühendriikides olevatele organisatsioonidele ja kultuurilistele projektidele, mis kaitsevad Eesti-Ameerika hüve, sellega toetades ka eesti keele ja eesti traditsioonide säilitamist.  Rahvuskomitee juhatus on valinud kaks sellist projekti, kellele osutada osa nov. 5 Gala õhtusest sissetulekust.

Teie annetused Galale toetaks nende kahe tähtsa projekti eesmärke.


  • Singing Revolution University -  ERKÜ annetus võimaldab uue website’I loomist, kus esinevad Jim ja Maureen Tusty filmid, “The Singing Revolution” ja “To Breathe As One”, nendele järgneb palju informatsiooni, mida saaks kasutada akadeemilises töös, või mis huvitaks “Estophiile” , samuti muusika ja filmi fan’e.  Sealt võib lugeda originaalseid intervjuusid, originaalseid dokumente, väljavõtteid video saadetistest, jm.  Üldiselt annab see ka informatsiooni “Singing Revolutioniga” ühenduses olevast vene okupatsioonist ja eesti traditsioonilistest laulupidudest.  
  • Lääne ja Idaranniku eestlaste laste kooride toetus lastele, et laulupeost osa võtta.  - Laste laulukoorid mõlemil rannikul teevad ettevalmistusi, et osa võtta tuleval suvel Tallinnas toimuvast noorte laulu- ja tantsupeost.  ERKÜ annetus on suureks abiks nendele laste peredele ja võimaldaks lastel oma raske töö tagajärgi laululaval nautida! Samuti võimaldab see toetus ka meie laste suurearvulisemat  osavõttu.  


Kui te sooviksite toetada neid eelnimetatud projekte, saatke check Linda Rink, 1420 Locust St. Ste. 31N, Philadelphia, PA 19102.  Check kirjutada “EANC” nimele, märkides checkile “Gala donation.”  On ka võimalik krediit kaardiga maksta, via PayPal at www.estosite.org  


EANC Gala program for Saturday Nov. 5 at San Francisco Marriott Union Square

EANC on the West Coast: Saturday, November 5 Program and Schedule


9:30 AM     Greetings from Marju Rink Abel, EANC President

                  Plenary Session – Ambassador James Melville

10:00 AM   Morning Panels

   Carrying the Legacy Forward, challenges and strategies for EANC and other Estonian-American organizations today. Panel  includes Marju Rink-Abel, Ingrid Echter, and Marit Davey.  Moderated by Andres Simonson.

   Engaging with Our History , and why its still important to tell our stories.  Panel includes Priit Vesilind, Liisi Esse, Sylvia Thompson, and Kärt Ullman.   Moderated by Jim Tusty.

 12:30 - 1:30 PM Lunch Break (hosted by Enterprise Estonia Silicon Valley) [SOLD OUT]

1:30 PM     Entrepreneurs Panel Discussion (sponsored by Enterprise Estonia Silicon Valley) [SOLD OUT] - Estonian Startups and their Secret Sauce of Going Global.  Panel includes:  Rainer Sternfeld, Founder and CEO at PlanetOS; Ott Kaukver, VP of Engineering at Twilio (and ex Skyper); Richard Horning, Honorary Consul of Estonia in Silicon Valley and Legal Counsel at Reed Smith LLP; Jeff Levine, User Engagement at Teleport Inc. and ex US Ambassador to Estonia; Rain Rannu, Founder of Fortumo.  Moderated by Andrus Viirg, Director at Enterprise Estonia Silicon Valley. 

2:45 PM   Estonians in America, 1945 -1995: Exiles in a Land of Promise” – a special  presentation by  the book’s editor, Priit Vesilind, who will share excerpts. (a limited number of books available for purchase and signing)

2:45 PM     Tallinn’s Occupation Museum plans for the future  (concurrent session) – a special presentation by museum director Merilin Piipuu, who will share museum future plans, including visuals.

3:30 PM   Afternoon Panel

Transatlantic Security and U.S. – Estonian Relations; addressing today’s urgent security issues.  Speakers include Kurt Volker, Karl Altau, Ambassador Eerik Marmei, and Marcus Kolga.  In conjunction with the panel, short excerpts from the new documentary “Master Plan” will be shown.   Moderated by Karin Shuey. 

All  day -- Special photo exhibit, The Waterfowl People, which includes moving photos of kindred Finno-Ugric peoples from the expeditions of Lennart Meri

6:00  PM  Reception, followed at 7 pm by 2016 Gala Dinner and Awards Presentation  (advance  registration and dinner ticket required)

** This schedule is subject to changes and additions.  Please watch for updates.     Although the daytime events are free of charge, you are requested to register.   

Saturday's Program is in English.


Marina Kaljurand to be Keynote Speaker at November 5 EANC Gala

The Estonian American National Council announces that Marina Kaljurand, former Foreign Minister of the Republic of Estonia and former Ambassdaor to the U.S., Canada and Mexico, will be the keynote speaker at the EANC’s November 5, 2016, gala event in San Francisco. 

Gala ticket prices will go up Sept. 1 - make your reservations now with the order form below! Gala dinner tickets are $175 per person until Sept 1, $200 thereafter.  A special price of $150 is available for young adults under the age of 30. Here is the link to the printable  Registration form for November 5.

The full-day program includes a free panel series on topics such as transatlantic security, U.S.-Estonia relations, engaging with Estonian-American history, and EANC’s strategic future. Plenary session speaker will be Hon. James D. Melville, U.S. Ambassador to Estonia.

Also scheduled on Nov. 5: A panel with local Estonian entrepreneurs and investors hosted by Enterprise Estonia Silicon Valley, Lennart Meri’s photography exhibit “The Waterfowl People,” and a book signing for the “Estonians in America, 1945-1995: Exiles in a Land of Promise.”

2016 EANC awards recipients will be honored at Saturday evening’s gala awards dinner, with noted keynote speaker Hon. Marina Kaljurand, former Foreign Minister of the Republic of Estonia. Laura Põldvere will perform, and comedian Andy Valvur will emcee.

Make your hotel and travel arrangements now!  Location and lodging: San Francisco Marriott Union Square (480 Sutter St.; tel: 415-398-8900). The special conference room rate ($209 per night) is available for 3 days both before and after the conference date (subject to availability). Mention the EANC when booking in order to receive the conference rate.

Sponsorship and advertising opportunities for businesses, organizations, and individuals:  take advantage of this great opportunity to reach attendees from around the Bay Area, the West Coast, and across the U.S. Contact Linda Rink at erku@estosite,org, or 215-546-5863.  


EANC comes to the West Coast!  

The Estonian American National Council (EANC) is bringing its annual meeting to San Francisco for the first time on November 4 and 5, 2016.

The EANC is the only organization in the US whose mission is to represent all Estonian-American individuals and groups. For over 60 years, the EANC has worked to support democratic institutions in Estonia, preserve Estonian cultural heritage in the US, and promote cultural exchange with Estonia.

These two days of events and meetings have several aims:

Bring council members together to re-energize and plan for the future

  • Celebrate Estonian-Americans for their service and excellence, and honor the contributions of Americans to the Estonian cause with the new “Estophile” award
  • Provide a forum for topics of interest and urgency, drawing on west coast participants including Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and innovators and Stanford University Libraries
  • Share the EANC’s work with West Coast Estonian-Americans and engage new members

Schedule of events:  The EANC holds its annual business meeting on Friday, November 4. We invite you to participate in public panels and view exhibits on Saturday, November 5. A luncheon with local Estonian entrepreneurs and investors will give participants an opportunity to hear from voices in this exciting sector. The gala awards dinner will include a highly notable keynote speaker, special musical guest Laura Remmel, and local favorite Andy Valvur as emcee.  Here is the link to the printable  Registration form for November 5.

Location:  San Francisco Marriott Union Square. This downtown location is a great spot from which to explore the Bay Area. The special conference room rate ($209 per night) is available for 3 days both before and after the meeting dates. We encourage you to reserve your hotel rooms early and to mention the EANC, to receive the conference rate.

Book your group rate for Estonian American National Council  - Rate available 11/03/16 to 11/06/16

P.S. Please edit the date manually, if arriving on November 3rd. For additional nights outside of the event dates, please call reservations directly at +1-415-398-8900. The group rate can be extended 3 days pre and post event based on availability -- ask for Vanesa when making extended reservations.

Parking: overnight parking at the hotel is $55 dollars plus tax.  The following parking rate comparison might be helpful: http://unionsquareshop.com/parkingComparison.html


Room view of Coit Tower (Marriott photo)

Getting involved & staying in touch:

If you are interested in volunteering with the event, have questions about the program, or would like get updates from the planning team (which includes west coast EANC council members Mati Otsmaa, Mai-Liis Bartling and Marit Davey), please contact Mai-Liis at mailiisbartling@yahoo.com .


Sponsorship and advertising opportunities:

Sponsors and program advertisers at all levels are welcome.  To find out more, please contact Linda Rink at erku@estosite.org .  This is a great way to support the EANC’s important and continuing mission.



  • Full-page back or inside front cover ad in printed Gala program (in color)
  • Eight complimentary tickets to Gala (one table)
  • Three-minute greeting at opening dinner reception
  • Preferred event seating for one table with your company’s logo & name on tabletop sign
  • Acknowledgement and logo on all conference invitations and marketing materials
  • Spotlight article in Gala program, EANC website & SF area “Estonians by the Bay” website
  • Ad on EANC website for one year
  • Link from the EANC website for one year


  • Full-page prominent ad in printed Gala program
  • Four complimentary tickets to Gala
  • Three-minute greeting at opening dinner reception
  • Preferred event seating for one table with your company’s logo & name on tabletop sign
  • Acknowledgement and logo on all conference invitations and marketing materials
  • Spotlight article in Gala program, EANC website & SF area “Estonians by the Bay” website
  • Ad on EANC website for one year
  • Link from the EANC website for one year


  • Full-page ad in printed Gala program
  • Three complimentary tickets to Gala
  • Three-minute greeting at opening dinner reception
  • Acknowledgement and logo on all conference invitations and marketing materials
  • Ad on EANC website for six months
  • Link from the EANC website for six months


  • Half-page ad in printed Gala program
  • Two complimentary tickets to Gala
  • Acknowledgment at opening dinner reception
  • Logo on all conference invitations and marketing materials
  • Link from the EANC website for six months


  • Quarter-page ad in printed Gala program
  • One complimentary ticket to Gala
  • Acknowledgment at opening dinner reception
  • Logo on all conference invitations and marketing materials
  • Link from the EANC website for six months

FRIEND: $500

  • Quarter-page ad in printed Gala program
  • One complimentary ticket to Gala

TABLE SPONSOR for 8 with preferred seating: $2000; for 10: $2200

 We would be happy to work with you on a custom package!



  • Full Page: $375
  • Half Page: $200
  • Quarter Page: $100
  • Small (ideal for those who want to send “congratulations” message): $75

To reserve advertising space, contact:

Linda Rink. Phone: 215-546-5863. e-mail: erku@estosite.org

All payment for sponsorships and advertising should be made by check, payable to “EANC” and sent to:

EANC Gala, c/o Linda Rink, Executive Director, EANC

1420 Locust St., Suite 31N, Philadelphia, PA 19102

Payment instructions for international bank wire transfers:

Estonian American National Council

Acct. No. 0000209409940

Bank Name: SunTrust Bank


For more information about the Gala and other support possibilities, contact:

Mai-Liis Bartling, Phone:  415-328-3149, e-mail:  mailiisbartling@yahoo.com