Sønderborg2017’s Executive Board is a strong team benefitting from corporate, educational, cultural, public-sector, communication and marketing skills. The board’s job is to follow project developments and ensure that the process is moving forwards, and to ensure that the project meets the commission’s guidelines for towns and cities applying to host the cultural capital. The board’s 11 members are drawn from right across Region Syddanmark (the South Denmark Region) and their strong national and international networks make them excellent ambassadors for Sønderborg’s application.


The board is chaired by Sønderborg’s Municipal Director Søren Bonde Hansen.

With him is Jørgen Mads Clausen, who, in his capacity as Chairman of Danfoss and Chairman of the Energy Division of the Confederation of Danish Industry, is a frequent and familiar participant in public debate.

The Chairman of Region Syddanmark’s Committee for Regional Development, Lasse Krull, is also a member of the board. Lasse is the former Chairman of Konservativ Ungdom (Conservative Youth) and has served a term as Deputy Major of Svendborg Municipality.

The region’s creative classes are strongly represented in the form of Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen, former Minister of Culture and Danish Social-Liberal Party MP. Elsbeth is currently Rector of the Kolding School of Design.

Further competencies are provided in the shape of Rector of the University of Southern Denmark Jens Oddershede. Jens Oddershede is also a member of Odense Chamber of Commerce and a member of the boards of Syddanske Forskerparker (Southern Denmark Research Parks) and Akademiet for de Tekniske Videnskaber (the Academy of Technical Sciences) as well as being the Chairman of the Board of Danish Science Communication.

Bjarne Rasmussen, forceful Sønderborg businessman and coordinator for Projekt Kunsthal (Project Art Gallery), has also made his experience and knowledge available to the Executive Board and to Sønderborg 2017 generally. The Kunsthal is an important element in Frank Gehry´s master plan for the development of Sønderborg’s harbour area and is scheduled for completion in 2016.

The board further benefits from the advice of German businessman Hans Julius-Ahlmann who is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of global company ACO Gruppe headquartered in Büdelsdorf. Hans Julius-Ahlmann is a dedicated and diligent cultural innovator and was one of the driving forces behind NordArt, Kunstwerk Carlshütte in Rendsburg.

The German partners in the border-defying cultural capital project are represented by Flensburg’s Mayor Simon Faber. Amongst other things, Simon Faber’s CV includes positions as Chief Secretary to the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Southern Schleswig Consultant to the Danish Parliament. Simon Faber has been Mayor of Flensburg since 2011.

Naturally, the man whose idea it was for southern Denmark to bid for the cultural capital is also part of the team. His name is Stephan Kleinschmidt, and he is the Chairman of Sønderborg Municipality Kultur og Erhvervsudvalget (Culture and Business Committee). Stephan grew up as part of the minority German community in the Danish town of Rinkenæs near Sønderborg and is deeply involved in breaking down the borders that, traditionally, have separated the German and Danish populations of southern Jutland and Slesvig.

Sønderborg Municipality is further represented by Mayor Aase Nyegaard, Center for Kultur (Centre for Culture) Manager John Frederiksen, Secretariat Manager Else Christensen Redzepovic and 2017 Secretariat Communications Manager Henriette Pilegaard.

And, last but not least, the board also numbers Christian Have. Christian is one of Denmark’s leading communication consultants in the art and culture sphere, and has worked with PR and communication for cultural events of all descriptions since the mid 80’s.