Dr. Jenni Haukio and Eliza Reid – the First Ladies of Finland and Iceland – with Neil Gaiman

Wed. Sep 20, 2023 6:00pm - 7:30pm EDT
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Event Description

Join Dr. Jenni Haukio and Ms. Eliza Reid, the First Ladies of Finland and Iceland, in a lively conversation with bestselling author Neil Gaiman.

This event will take place in person at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library on the 7th Floor.

In conjunction with the Consulates General of Finland and Iceland, the First Ladies engage in a talk exploring the globally captivating traditions and themes in Nordic literature, rooted in a rich cultural heritage. The Nordics rank among the most equal and literate countries in global surveys, and Nordic literature has been at the forefront of promoting gender equality and access to knowledge over the past decades.

Notable authors in their own right, Dr. Jenni Haukio and Ms. Eliza Reid have published a number of titles in the past years on a variety of themes, including their multifaceted roles as First Ladies of their respective countries. In this conversation with fellow author and master storyteller Neil Gaiman, Dr. Haukio and Ms. Reid reflect on how literary storytelling has historically shaped the national identities of the two Nordic countries and continues to work as an essential tool in amplifying equality and democracy in contemporary societies.

To join the event in person | Doors will open 30 minutes before the program begins. For free events, we generally overbook to ensure a full house. Priority will be given to those who have registered in advance, but registration does not guarantee admission. All registered seats are released shortly before start time, and seats may become available at that time. A standby line will form 30 minutes before the program.

To join the livestream | A livestream of this event will be available on this NYPL event page. To receive an email reminder shortly in advance of the event, please be sure to register! If you encounter any issues, please join us on NYPL's YouTube channel.


Dr. Jenni Elina Haukio graduated from the University of Turku with a Master’s Degree in Social Sciences in 2001. Her studies included political science, international relations, political history and economics. Haukio received her PhD in Social Sciences from the University of Helsinki in 2022. Before Niinistö's presidency, Dr. Haukio worked, among other things, as the Head of Communications for the National Coalition Party and as the Program Manager for the Turku Book Fair during her spouse's terms. Dr. Haukio has published three collections of poetry, and her poems have also been anthologized. In 2017, to honor Finland’s 100 years as an independent nation, Dr. Haukio edited the poetry anthology Katso pohjoista taivasta – Runoja Suomesta (Look at the northern sky – Poems from Finland). In 2016, Dr. Haukio invented and conceptualized the Tiny Stories campaign for international UNICEF, inviting writers from all over the world to write a short story on the theme, ‘What I want for every child’. The Tiny Stories campaign was a huge success, gathering over 300 prominent novelists, playwrights and poets from 52 countries in Asia, Africa, South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. Dr. Haukio has acknowledged serving Finland and her position as the Spouse of the President of the Republic as a privilege and an honorable task. Dr. Haukio's most recent publication, Serving a Greater Purpose: My Years as First Lady of Finland is an open memoir of years in service to the homeland. Only three months after its release, the book has sold over 50,000 copies and tops the sales charts in its genre in Finland. The book will be published in Estonia in 2024, and its English translation is underway.

Eliza Reid is a writer, editor, and cofounder of the annual Iceland Writers Retreat. In her capacity as spouse of the president of Iceland, she has been active in promoting gender equality, entrepreneurship and innovation, tourism and sustainability, and the country’s writers and rich literary heritage. Her first book, Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland’s Extraordinary Women and How They Are Changing the World, was an instant bestseller in Iceland and Canada, a New York Times Book Review Editors' Pick, and was recommended by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Margaret Atwood and many others. Ms. Reid was previously editor for Icelandair’s in-flight magazine, a staff writer at Iceland Review, and she has been published widely internationally. She works with Business Iceland on projects to promote Icelandic exports and the country as a destination. ‍Ms. Reid is patron of several organizations in Iceland, including the Alzheimer’s Society, the Iceland Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Icelandic Culinary Team, Pieta House (for suicide prevention), and the United Nations Association of Iceland. She is a Goodwill Ambassador for SOS Children’s Villages Iceland. In 2017, Eliza was named United Nations Special Ambassador for Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals. ‍Ms. Reid has an honours bachelor of arts degree in international relations from Trinity College, University of Toronto, where she held the position of Head of College in her final year. She also has a master of studies degree in modern history from St. Antony’s College, Oxford University.

For several decades, Neil Gaiman has been the NYT Bestselling and multi-award winning author and creator of many beloved books, graphic novels, short stories, film, television and theatre for all ages. His book Norse Mythology is a #1 New York Times bestseller and has also been adapted into a graphic novel by P. Craig Russell. As Executive Producer, Neil has adapted many of his works to television series, including American GodsAnansi Boys, Good Omens, and Sandman. He is a Goodwill Ambassador for the UNHCR and he is also a Professor in the Arts at Bard College. For a lot more about his work, please visit www.neilgaiman.com.

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In Person | Assistive listening devices and/or hearing loops are available at the venue. You can request a free ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation or CART (Communication Access Real-Time Translation) captioning service by emailing your request at least two weeks in advance of the event: email accessibility@nypl.org or use this Gmail template. This venue is fully accessible to wheelchairs. 

Livestream | Captions and a transcript will be provided. You can request a free ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation by emailing your request at least two weeks in advance of the event: email accessibility@nypl.org or use this Gmail template.


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Please submit all press inquiries to Amy Geduldig at least 48 hours before the event: email amygeduldig@nypl.org.


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All programs are subject to change or cancellation.

With special acknowledgement to our program partners, the Consulates General of Finland and Iceland.

Consulates General of Finland and Iceland

The 7 Stories Up Series at SNFL is made possible by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).

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Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL), 7th Floor Event Center 455 5th Ave
New York, NY 10016