Pia Svensgaard (1957) headed the Troms regional government from 2009 to 2013. She resigned from the position last December after the Troms Labor party lost support from their two former partners; the Conservative Party and the Christian Democrats.
Pia Svensgaard takes over the position as head of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat after Rune Rafaelsen on November 1st this year.
She was municipal council representative in Tromsø for the Socialist Left Party from 1995 and deputy mayor from 2003. In 2006 she joined the Labor Party.
In the period 2009 to 2011, Pia Svensgaard chaired the Barents Regional Council. Svensgaard became well known for her engagement and commitment to strengthening cross-border cooperation, both on the political level as well as supporting people-to-people cooperation. During the years, Pia Svensgaard traveled extensively in the Russian member counties of the Barents Region, including Murmansk, Arkhangelsk and Karelia.
The fixed-term employment of Rune Rafaelsen expires by year end. Rafaelsen became the leader of the secretariat back in 2002, when he succeeded Oddrun Pettersen, the first head of the Barents Secretariat.
Aiming at developing the Norwegian-Russian relations in the north by promoting and funding Norwegian-Russian cooperation projects, the secretariat has over its 21-years existence supported around 4,000 people-to-people projects across the border. In addition, the secretariat runs the BarentsObserver and participates in several other cross-border initiatives.
The Norwegian Barents Secretariat is located in Kirkenes and has branch offices in Murmansk, Arkhangelsk and Naryan-Mar.