Entenza posed with Guoni Th. Johannesson, the current President of Iceland, during her recent trip there.Jeannie Entenza climbed Sólheimajökull, a glacier in Iceland during her recent trip there in late April and early May. 

Jeannie (Isfelt) Entenza and her husband, Matthew, eloped at Hallgrim's Church in Reykjavik in 2015.

Entenza named MN Icelandic Consul

Local native approved by Iceland Foreign Ministry; begins May 15

So intrigued by her Icelandic heritage, Jeannie (Isfelt) Entenza eloped to Reykjavik, Iceland in 2015.
Entenza, who grew up on a farm between Taunton and Porter and now lives in St. Paul with her husband, Matthew, was recently approved to become the Honorary Icelandic Consul for Minnesota by the Icelandic government on May 15. Entenza was nominated by Katrin (Kata) Sigurdardottir, the outgoing Honorary Icelandic Consul for Minnesota. Entenza then had to go through an application process before being approved by the Icelandic Foreign Ministry.
"My duties will include helping any Icelanders who come to Minnesota and might need help," she said. "I can also replace lost passports to an Iceland student studying here or someone who is visiting here from Iceland. If someone from Iceland is over here when they are holding an election back in Iceland, they can come to my office and vote."
Entenza was in Iceland from April 24 to May 3 in which time she had a two-day orientation period. She is now set to become one of only 18 Honorary Icelandic Consuls in the United States approved to represent the interest of Icelanders.
Entenza had made 12 trips to Iceland since her inaugrual trip when she was married at the Hallgrim's Church in Reykjavik in 2015.
"I wanted to get married there because of my family history in Iceland," she said. "It's really a special place. I found three family farms in northeast Iceland. I really cherish my family history so it meant a lot to find those farms when I was over there."Entenza graduated from Canby High School in 1984 as Jeannie Isfelt, but has a lot of family connections to Minneota. She has ancestors buried in Westerheim Cemetery eight miles northeast of Minneota and St. Paul's Cemetery on the south edge of town. Her grandparents are buried in the Lincoln County Icelandic Cemetery 10 miles southwest of Minneota.
After high school, Entenza went on to school out of state and eventually returned to her home state and became a professor of Public Administration and Non-Profit Management at Hamline University in St. Paul.
When her three children were grown, Entenza had more time to reconnect with her Icelandic roots.
"I started reading a lot of books from Icelandic authors," she said. "I joined the Hekla Club in 2000, Many of my aunts and cousins had been members of Hekla."
Hekla, named after an historic volcano in Iceland, is a club started in 1925 by women with Icelandic backgrounds. Its purpose is to educate the public through the promotion of Icelandic educational and cultural opportunities, as well as to promote fellowship among members and involve the Icelandic community in cooperative endeavors that support connections between Minneota and Iceland.
It was through her Hekla membership that Entenza learned about the Snorri-Plus Program, which is a two-week summer cultural program in Iceland for North Americans over the age of 30. Participants can either be of Icelandic descent or have a passion for Iceland.
"It's a chance to connect with people in your own profession," she explained. "I spent time with two professors at the University of Iceland. I also was able to lecture there as a guest lecturer."
In 2021, Entenza received a Fulbright Specialist Program award. She completed a project at the University of Iceland that was aimed at exchanging knowledge and establishing partnerships benefiting participants, institutions and communities in the United States and overseas through a variety of educational and training activities within the nonprofit and government sectors.
Entenza is now planning to travel to Iceland again in July of 2022 to undergo an intensive language course.
"I want to learn to speak Icelandic," she said. "I think it's important for my new position, or when I make trips to Iceland, and also for my family heritage."
Entenza had a chance to go to Iceland in 1990 after being accepted for graduate school at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik. But she opted not to attend because of the language barrier at that time.
"They didn't speak English at the school then," she said. "Thirty years later I was able to go back as a professor."

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