Jón Hákon Magnússon ’64

2004 Distinguished Citizen Award

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A native son of Iceland, Jón Hákon Magnússon exemplifies Macalester internationalism in his life experiences and global perspective. A longtime journalist, he started Iceland’s first and now largest public relations firm, KOM, in 1986. Later that same year, he managed the International Press Center for the Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Reykjavik, attended by 3,000 members of the news media from all over the world. The event put Iceland permanently on the world map.

Through his journalism, his public relations agency and his worldwide business contacts, Magnússon has been instrumental in building the current reputation of Iceland as a cosmopolitan nation with a global outlook. He was Reykjavik correspondent for the Financial Times from 1971 to 1984 and has regularly contributed features on Iceland to such foreign publications as the Economist, Det Zeit, Christian Science Monitor and others.

His has been a life of commitment in many ways. During the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War, he helped bring relief to Africans on behalf of the Nordic churches. He later laid the groundwork for an annual forum for the international seafood trade and industry; it is now attended by 200 top management members of the world seafood business. He has served on the boards of many business and civic organizations, including the Iceland Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Reykjavik Preparations Committee to mark the 1000 years of Christianity in Iceland in 2000. For years he has been an active member of Iceland’s Independence Party.

Magnússon and his wife, Áslaug Hardardóttir, who were married at Macalester’s International Center in 1961, frequently host international visitors and delight in showing them around their homeland. Both are deeply proud of their Icelandic heritage and committed to bringing the world closer together.