OSLO: The new consul general of Norway’s honorary consulate here is both CEO of the Sons of Norway and a son of Norway.
Eivind Heiberg was named Monday to the honorary post by Kåre Aas, Norway’s ambassador to the United States, who flew in from Washington, D.C. Heiberg takes on the duties Sept. 1, after current honorary consul general Gary Gandrud decided to step down after seven years as honorary consul and honorary consul general, having succeeded Walter Mondale.
It’s called detaching with love,” Gandrud said of his departure. He’ll continue to practice law as Gandrud Law, which he founded after retiring from Faegre & Benson.
Heiberg, 44, is a native of Halden, Norway, a city of about 25,000 southeast of Oslo. He arrived in the United States at 18 to attend Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., earning degrees in business administration and mass communications.
In 2002, Heiberg joined Sons of Norway, a fraternal life insurance company founded in 1895 by Norwegian immigrants in Minneapolis. He was appointed CEO in 2009, and will continue in those duties while honorary consul general.
Heiberg was one of Sons of Norway’s youngest CEOs when he was appointed, and likewise is one of the younger honorary consul generals.
Ambassador Aas stressed that Heiberg’s background in trade associations made him the best qualified candidate, although adding that “it’s not a downside being 44.”
Heiberg said his responsibilities are “an extension of the foreign embassy’s work,” which largely consists of offering information to U.S. interests about Norway and Norwegian-American relations, and support to commercial, cultural and scientific interests between Norway and the Upper Midwest region. Working out of a small office in downtown Minneapolis, it also helps with visa and travel issues.
Norway has had a diplomatic presence in Minnesota since 1906. The state is home to almost 900,000 people who claim Norwegian descent, the largest such block outside of Norway.