Participation and Purpose

Change

“If there’s anything I’m grateful for in my life, it’s that I’ve felt I belonged in more than one place. I wish that for everyone,” Elin Ahldén says. Today, one of her places is working as a founding partner of Lennox Public Relations, a Stockholm-based company that works for sustainable change. Words and language are her passion, so her studies in English literature and Classics at Gustavus served as a great foundation for her present work as a consultant, writer, and advocate.

Elin came to Gustavus with a strong sense of self from her upbringing. She had lived in Sweden, Belgium, Congo-Kinshasa, and Congo-Brazzaville before arriving at the College. Gustavus provided two important things: people and grounding. “Gustavus gave me students, staff, and teachers who seemed similar enough to me but read, thought about, and wanted things I hadn’t thought of,” Elin says. “You can have formative experiences when traveling or in random wonderful encounters. But they’re transient, and facing other peoples’ lives so closely for years, across lunchrooms and classrooms and walkways, day and night, through pain and happiness and boredom and learning, is a different thing. Gustavus gave me the opportunity to be a participant in a community as opposed to a witness.”

Gustavus gave me the opportunity to be a participant in a community as opposed to a witness.

Elin has continued her focus on active participation throughout her post-college life. She was a featured speaker at the 2018 Gustavus Women in Leadership conference and recently stepped up as a leader in #sistabriefen (the final brief), a hashtag and action that follows in the footsteps of the #metoo campaign in the U.S. #sistabriefen is a call for change within the Swedish communications and advertising industry that addresses harassment, working conditions, and employment security for women within agencies. Elin has helped form this movement.“Lots of young women don’t have employment security, rights, or pensions, which means you don’t raise your hand to speak up for yourself or for others because the cost is too high. So we’re targeting the entire ecosystem and trying to change the industry,” she explained in a 2017 interview with The Local. “Of course it’s about preventing sexual assault and rape in the workplace, but it’s also about shifting a norm. And we are shouting in unison, because that’s what Swedes do. We get organized,” Elin says.

It’s with a holistic sense of purpose that she leads Lennox Public Relations and her peers within the communications industry. “Purpose is something you tend to really only notice or talk about when it’s missing. When purpose is missing, that void is loud and invasive. To feel that life happens to you as opposed to you living it, when you lack the agency in your own life, that makes you want to crawl out of your own skin. I say embrace it. When that discomfort disappears, that tends to mean you’ve found purpose again.” This is Elin’s recipe to work for change locally and globally, her recipe to remain a participant.

Elin Ahldén - Founding partner of Lennox Public Relations, Stockholm
Participation and Purpose
Elin Ahldén
Gustavus Class of 1999
Founding partner of Lennox Public Relations, Stockholm
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