American Swedish Institute Names Molly Wright Steenson As New President

St. Paul native’s ’dream job’ brings her back to her roots


The American Swedish Institute announced this week its transition to a female-led future when it named St. Paul native Molly Wright Steenson as its new president starting in July. Steenson is returning to her home state to help the institution extend its global reach through her expertise in tech, design, education, architecture, and history. She will succeed retiring CEO Bruce Karstadt, who led ASI for more than 30 years.

Steenson describes herself as a “writer, professor, historian, designer, and leader,” but these are only modest titles to convey the body of work following her into this next role. With a Ph.D. in architecture and a master’s degree in environmental design, Steenson has authored two books about the past, present, and future of AI, design, and architecture, visited four continents as an international public speaker on AI and ethics, and taught as a professor at multiple universities, currently holding the role as Vice Provost for Faculty at Carnegie Mellon University—where she is also the K&L Gates Associate Professor of Ethics and Computational Technologies, as well as an associate professor in the School of Design. Her multifaceted skillset, extensive body of research, leadership experience, proficiency in multiple languages, and unique gift for global engagement make her an exciting new addition to the future of ASI.

After years of professional achievements and travels across globe, her role as ASI president and CEO, which Steenson refers to as her “dream job,” is bringing her home—and not just to the Twin Cities, but also to her Swedish and Nordic heritage. Already fluent in five languages (English, Dutch, Italian, French, and German) Steenson has expressed that Swedish is next on her list of languages to learn. She has also lived and worked in Sweden and still maintains close family ties there. 

As an Associate Editor on Greenspring Media's Custom team, Emma contributes to multiple publications, including Real Food and Drinks, Twin Cities Living, and Minnesota Monthly. A true Minnesotan, Emma spent most of her life in an ice rink, training as an elite figure skater. When she is not writing or skating, you can find her at a yoga class, thrifting, drinking overpriced coffee, or spending the day on the lake.