19 individuals have received the Partnership Award since 1990. Below you can read about the accomplishments of each recipients.
The recipients are selected by the Board of Directors of the Fulbright Commission.
Robert Dell is a geothermal sculptor, Founding Director of the Laboratory for Energy Reclamation and Innovation and Adjunct Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. His distinguished career is recognized by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers who elected him a Fellow for his significant contributions to sustainable engineering. He has held numerous research and academic appointments, i.a. at MIT, the New York Botanical Garden and the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He is first inventor on 11 registered patents and has authored numerous award-winning peer reviewed research papers. The Smithsonian Institute has established the “Robert Dell papers” as a permanent archive.
His relationship with Iceland spans over three decades, starting with a Fulbright Research grant in 1988. He has returned many times to Iceland and built successful relationships both in the arts and science. He established formal ties with a number of Icelandic institutions and has an impressive research record with Icelandic colleagues, resulting in more than 30 research papers. Robert was an ASF Fellow to Iceland in 1999-2000, a consultant to the town of Hveragerði 2014-2017, a Visiting Scientist at Keilir Educational Center and is currently affiliated with the University of Iceland Faculty of Industrial Engineering. He has also worked on research administered by the Agricultural University of Iceland, funded by Reykjavík Energy. Professor Dell has negotiated affiliations and arranged formal exchange agreements with these three institutions, enabling over 80 Cooper Union engineering students to conduct summer research in Iceland.
Robert has had solo installations at the Reykjavík Art Museum, Akureyri Art Museum, Geysir Nature Conservation Area, Perlan, and Seltun Hot Springs. He also exhibited geothermal powered work inspired by Iceland in the United States at MIT, Yellowstone National Park, Harvard, Tufts, the Cooper Union, and Vorpal Gallery in New York City.
Chris is the principal coordinator for the William G. Syrotuck Symposium on Search Theory and Practice. The Symposium is a periodic meeting of international search and rescue theorists, trainers, and practitioners. The next Symposium will be held in conjunction with the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue RESCUE 18 conference in Reykjavik in October 2018.
Chris’s association with Iceland search and rescue began in 2003 when a colleague in America suggested he invite a member of the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue to the annual Washington State Search and Rescue conference. What has followed from that first meeting has been 15 years of correspondence, visits, exchanges, and collaboration all aimed at expanding and sharing their mutual interest and passion for search and rescue.
Tim Spanos moved to Iceland in 2005 and has successfully worked to bring American and Icelandic businesspeople together for mutually beneficial projects. He served as Managing Director of International Corporate Credit at Glitnir Bank from 205-2008. His team focused on the seafood and geothermal industries, building a highly successful portfolio and one of the most highly valued assets of the bank when it was nationalized in 2008. From 2008 to 2010 Tim was Managing Director of Glacier Securities, a New York based strategic and financial advisory firm specializing in seafood and geothermal industries. Tim and his partners sold this successful company to Íslandsbanki in 2010 and Tim stayed on until 2012. In 2013 Tim was offered the position of Executive Director of International Lending at Íslandsbanki to lead the expansion of the bank’s international lending business, focusing on the North American seafood industry.
Tim served on the Fulbright Board in Iceland from 2005-2013, including two years as Chairman. He was instrumental in the founding of the Icelandic-American Business Forum and sat on its board for many years.
Dr. Ragnarsson is a dual national, having grown up in Iceland, but living most of his adult life in the US. He completed his medical studies at the University of Iceland in 1969 and a residency and clinical fellowship at New York University Medical Center, Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine in 1975. He has served on the faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU School of Medicine and as the Lucy G. Moses Professor and Chairman of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
Dr. Ragnarsson has worked closely with Icelandic colleagues and has been instrumental in organizing important international conferences in Iceland. He has been involved with evaluation and care of Icelandic persons with physical disabilities and a variety of other medical conditions. He has been instrumental in bringing top American physicians to Iceland to perform highly specialized surgical operations. Dr. Ragnarsson has held leadership positions within the Icelandic Society of New York and the American Scandinavian Foundation (ASF). He was the founder of the ASF “Icelandic Cultural Fund”. Dr. Ragnarsson has served on the Board of Directors of the Icelandic American Chamber of Commerce and on the Board of Directors of ÖSSUR Inc. In 2004, he received the “Ellis Island Medal of Honor”.
Beth Fox was recognized for her work with the Icelandic Sport Federation for Disabled (ÍF) and the Winter Sport Center in Iceland, providing support on projects to make winter sports more accessible to the disabled in Iceland. Beth has been the key person on the US side, in terms of building up this cooperation and building bridges between Iceland and the US in this field.
As part of the leadership team at the National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) in Denver, Beth has dedicated her career to creating programs and specialized activities for people with disabilities. Since 2006 Beth had made annual trips to Iceland, working as a ski instructor and visiting the Grensás Rehabilitation Center, as well as giving talks at the University of Akureyri and at various public events. Beth has been instrumental in building up contacts, which have led to a number of Icelanders going to NSCD for training courses. Further, her encouragement and assistance were instrumental to the participation of Iceland in the Paralympics in 2010 in Canada.
Bert Hanson has spent his professional career fostering relations between Iceland and the United States. As a business leader, he has played an important role in the development of trade between the two countries, building strong and long-lasting relationships and introducing innovative business ideas.
Bert Hanson founded his company, IceAm, in Reykjavik in 1964. Through perseverance, hard work and the bringing together of Icelandic and American businesspeople, he built up a thriving company that became one of the largest in Iceland. Bert introduced many American products to Iceland and was instrumental in the creation of a number of leading Icelandic brands. Bert diversified ICEAM´s operations to span import/export, manufacturing, sales and distribution and the food service industry. With its wide variety of both consumer and industrial products, it is safe to say that IceAm has touched the lives of every Icelander.
K-C Tran holds an MS in Management of Technology and Global Leadership from MIT, a BS in Nuclear Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Graduate Studies in Engineering at Dartmouth College, and Executive Management studies at Stanford University. Mr. Tran also retains language certificates in French, Spanish, Vietnamese and Japanese.
He co-founded Carbon Recycling International in 2006, where he currently serves as Chief Executive Officer. Carbon Recycling International is a venture-backed Icelandic American company with headquarters in Iceland and operations in the United States. The main focus of this company is to develop clean technology which will enable direct conversion of renewable energy to fuel. The contributions by K-C Tran and his entrepreneurial leadership role with Carbon Recycling International have contributed greatly to U.S./Icelandic relations in the area of alternate fuel supply, creating a new technology that is practical for energy storage, fuel transportation, and reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
Terry G. Lacy was recognized for her great contribution to Icelandic academia. She is an accomplished teacher, author, editor, translator and musician, who received her bachelor’s degree in music from Smith College where she was admitted to Phi Beta Kappa, and her PhD in psychology from Colorado State University. Ms. Lacy came to Iceland on a Fulbright Senior Lectureship at the University of Iceland in 1973. That started a long-time relationship with the University of Iceland where she taught Business English and English in the Mass Media for approximately 25 years. She also taught American literature in many other Icelandic institutions.
Ms. Lacy has published extensively including the English-Icelandic (Icelandic-English) Dictionary of Business Terms; Raven Gunnar: A Saga of Thirteenth Century Iceland; Ring of Seasons: Iceland – Its Culture and History; Tónlistarorðabók, a list of musical terms translated into Icelandic; and a chapter in the Fulbright Experience: 1946-1986. She has received many awards, including the Friendship Award by the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavík.
The 2004 Partnership Award recipient, William Holm, was born in Minneota, Minnesota, of northeastern Icelandic ancestry. He came to Iceland in 1978 as a Fulbright scholar. Mr. Holm visited Iceland often and bought a small house in Hofsós.
Mr. Holm’s ten books of poems and essays include substantial sections on his Icelandic experiences and his reflections on what it means to be a descendant of emigrant Icelanders. Eccentric Islands, a book of essays, includes Holm’s reflections on Iceland over many years. Mr. Holm, along with David Arnason, the Canadian Western Icelandic writer, has ran a series of “Writers’ Weeks” in Iceland, where small groups of Americans, Canadians and Icelanders came to Hofsós to work on writing while experiencing the history and beauty of Iceland. In the United States, Mr. Holm often publicly praised the remarkable history of literary accomplishment in Iceland. His work has been translated into Icelandic. In Iceland he gave readings on his work at Salurinn, the University of Iceland and the 2003 Literary Festival in Reykjavík.
Rear Admiral Tom Hall is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and holds an MS degree from George Washington University. He is also a graduate of the Naval War College and the National War College. He is a naval aviator who is presently the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs.
Early in his naval career, Admiral Hall served as the chief of staff for the commander of Fleet Air, Keflavík/Iceland ASW Sector. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Admiral Hall was the commander of the Icelandic Defense Force and was the NATO commander of the Icelandic Antisubmarine Group. During his many years of residency in Iceland, Admiral Hall was an effective U.S. diplomat advancing better relations between the United States and Iceland. In 1992 he was awarded the Iceland Order of the Falcon, Commander’s Cross with Star. After his retirement from the U.S. Navy, Admiral Hall was retained by the Government of Iceland to be a consultant to assist Iceland in negotiating with the U.S. Department of Defense.
Professor Jesse Byock, PhD in Germanic languages from Harvard University and a distinguished professor at UCLA, is one of the world’s leading authorities on Old Norse, the Icelandic Sagas and the anthropology history and political history of the Viking Age. Dr. Byock has translated many of the Icelandic Sagas into English and has written several books on the Sagas. He has been a frequent visitor to Iceland and has lectured and written frequently on Iceland’s rich history and anthropology.
Professor Byock has also been a leader of the Mosfell Archaeological Project (MAP), which is a study of the Mosfell Valley in Southwestern Iceland. Dr. Byock has made significant contributions to understanding the settlement period in Iceland and the early years of development in Iceland. His archeological research, along with his analysis of the Sagas, has enabled him to develop a much clearer picture of how early Icelandic society operated.
Philip Vogler has lived in Iceland with his family since the late 1970s and in East Iceland since 1982. Philip has been an excellent American ambassador to Icelanders by being an extraordinary English teacher, education administrator, sightseeing tour operator, gardening enthusiast and community leader.
Philip was recognized for advancing his American values in partnership with Icelanders in both his profession as an educator and in his extraordinarily active life as a community leader. He has taken on many roles over the years, including president of the parents’ association at Egilsstaðir elementary school, officer of the gardening and the tourism clubs, chairman of the Nature Conservation Society of East Iceland, and member of the local committee for equal rights. He has been an extraordinary English teacher, education administrator and sightseeing tour operator. He has contributed numerous articles to Icelandic newspapers.
Thor Thors, Jr. was recognized in 1995 for spending most of his life advancing relations between Iceland and the United States. Born in Iceland, he was brought to the United States in 1940 by his family. Thor’s father served as Iceland’s ambassador to the United States for 25 years, negotiated the stationing of U.S. troops in Iceland during WWII and was a signer of the NATO treaty in 1949.
With his background, it was very natural for Thor to work for close relations between the United States and Iceland. A career banker, who studied at Harvard, Georgetown, NYU and Rutgers, he has served on the board of both the Icelandic American Chamber of Commerce and the American Scandinavian Foundation. The Thor Thors Fund (named for Thor’s father) provides grants for Icelandic students attending U.S. universities. This fund is administered by the American Scandinavian Foundation where Thor formerly served as treasurer and by the Icelandic American Society in Reykjavík. In 1985, the President of Iceland named Thor a Knight of the Order of the Falcon.
The Rev. Alfred J. Jolson was ordained a priest on June 4, 1958, at Weston College, Massachusetts, and went on to become the Bishop of Reykjavík. Bishop Jolson earned an AB and an MA in philosophy at Boston College and licentiates in philosophy and theology, as well as a bachelor’s degree in theology, from Weston College. He also received an MBA from Harvard University and a doctorate in economics from the Gregorian University in Rome.
He was named Bishop of Reykjavík by Pope John Paul II after having spent more than 40 years teaching at colleges on four continents. Bishop Jolson was a wonderful and caring human being who did a superb job of leading the Catholic church in Iceland while at the same time administering to the spiritual needs of both Icelanders and Americans. He was particularly effective in bringing his lifelong commitment to education to the needs of Iceland.
The 1994 Partnership Award was presented to Professor Carol H. Pazandak for her efforts in advancing the common education interests of Iceland and the United States. Carol H. Pazandak was a professor at the University of Minnesota and played an integral role in the successful development and implementation of the exchange agreement between the University of Iceland and the University of Minnesota, which was initiated in 1982.
Ms. Pazandak spent sabbatical leaves in 1984 and 1990-91 at the University of Iceland teaching and doing research. She made visits to the University nearly every year after the exchange was initiated. Ms. Pazandak’s major contributions were in helping to develop the student counseling services at the University of Iceland, to institute a post-baccalaureate program to prepare counselors for the high schools in Iceland, and to develop vocational counseling tools.
Peggy Oliver Helgason received the award for her commitment to critically ill children in Iceland’s hospitals. She is well-known for her caring attitude and her hospital visits as a clown. She has performed for large groups and for individual children with cancer and other serious diseases. She has also volunteered her services at a geriatric center and a home for special needs adults.
Ms. Helgason received her MA in occupational therapy from New York University and an MA in management from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. She also holds a M.Ed. in early childhood education from the University of North Carolina. Ms. Helgason served from 1986 through 1992 as a member of the Board of Directors of the Iceland-United States Educational Commission (the Fulbright Commission) and served as chairman of the Commission in 1988-1989.
Barbara Sigurbjörnsson was the principal of the American Embassy School of Reykjavík and a long-time teacher at the school. She was instrumental in developing the new school (founded 1960) into a full-fledged, American-oriented, international school. She served as principal for over twenty-five years.
The American Embassy School of Reykjavík was, by intention, always a very small, low-profile school with high ambitions for the accomplishments of the students enrolled in the school. It provided a common ground where Icelandic and American children and children of other nationalities and their families could work together on an equal basis in a natural and unpretentious way, developing mutual trust and understanding of the underlying values of each society. In 1992 Barbara Sigurbjörnsson received the National Distinguished Principal Award.
Paul Zukofsky was an American violinist and conductor known for his interpretation of modern music. He received his BM and MS from the Julliard School of Music in New York. When he received the Partnership Award he was the artistic director of the Museum of Modern Art Summergarden Concert Series in New York. Mr. Zukofsky has taught at Julliard and was director of the school’s Chamber Music Activities from 1987-89. He has written several works on violin technique.
Mr. Zukofsky first came to Iceland in 1965 and was conductor and director of the Zukofsky Seminar in 20th Century Orchestral Repertoire in Reykjavík 1977-83. The seminar was the forerunner of the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Iceland, founded in 1985 by Mr. Zukofsky, who was its principal conductor and music director from the beginning. He has also worked with the Reykjavík Chamber Ensemble and he has conducted the Icelandic Symphony. Mr. Zukofsky was the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including the Cultural Achievement Award in Music for 1988 given by the Reykjavík newspaper DV.
Ragnar H. Ragnar, a music teacher and choir conductor, was a stalwart in the cultural life of the town of Ísafjördur in Iceland and the Western Icelandic settlements in Canada and the United States for many years. He studied and taught music in Canada and the U.S. from 1923-48, except for the period 1942-45 when he served in the U.S. Armed Forces and was stationed in Iceland. In addition to teaching music, Ragnar conducted many choirs in North America including the Icelandic Male Voice Choruses in Winnipeg and North Dakota. He was chairman of the Icelandic Patriots Society chapters in Winnipeg (1936-42) and North Dakota (1945-48).
Upon returning to Iceland, Ragnar became school master of the Ísafjördur Music School, in addition to which he taught at the town’s primary and secondary schools. For a period of 20 years he was organist for the Ísafjördur church, he conducted choirs in Ísafjördur for many years, and he was director of the Ísafjördur Music Society from 1963. Ragnar was made an honorary member of the Icelandic Music Teachers Association in 1968 and the Association of Music Teachers in 1980. In 1978 he was made honorary citizen of Ísafjördur.