Our team

Our brilliant team:

Pessi AB puhuu by Linda TAmmistoAnne Birgitta Pessi (née Yeung) is Professor of Church and Social Studies at the Theological Faculty, University of Helsinki. She holds a title of Docent both in Theology (University of Helsinki) and in Empirical sociology (University of Eastern Finland). For 2009-2013 she worked as an Academy Research Fellow, and also Deputy Director, at the Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki. Pessi’s research interests cover altruism, civil society, communality, church social work, volunteerism, and individualized religiosity. Her publications include over 220 items, including 40 refereed journal articles. Currently Pessi is co-editing two international high-quality collections (on solidarity, for Lexington forthcoming in 2014, and on morality and Christianity, for Brill, forthcoming in 2015). Pessi is extensively involved in various international research projects and has directed a project funded by the Academy of Finland (2008-2011). She has been awarded several international and national academic prizes, such as the Nils Klim prize.

Henrietta Gro¦ênlund-2Henrietta Grönlund (ThD, docent) works as a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki. Grönlund has studied both individual acts of helping (volunteering, philanthropy) and institutional helping (the Evangelical-Lutheran Church, non-profits, public welfare), especially in relation religion and meaning systems. She has been involved in several international research projects, and has published in Finnish and international monographs, edited volumes and journals (10 refereed journal articles). Grönlund is currently also Director of civic engagement in a Finnish non-profit, HelsinkiMissio. Recently she was awarded (2013) with ARNOVA´s award for Outstanding Dissertation Honorable Mention.

Suvi Salmenniemi works as an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Turku and has a title of Docent of Sociology at the University of Tampere. She is specialist in political sociology, cultural studies, sociology of class and inequality, as well as civil society and citizenship in Russia. Her recent research has been concerned with therapeutic technologies and their consumption in Russia and Finland. She has published vastly in edited volumes and leading international journals.

Jenni Spännäri-3Jenni Spännäri (ThD) has been working since her doctorate on 2009 as a researcher in the University of Helsinki, in a personal post-doc project funded by the Finnish foundations. Her recent projects include an investigation of the role of religion in the community of Finnish retirement migrants in Costa del Sol, Spain. She has an extensive experience of multidisciplinary collaboration from several research networks home and abroad, especially in the European Sociological Association’s Ageing in Europe group.

Anu Toija (Master of health sciences) is working in a project “Vertaisresepti” in a coalition of NGOs. The project develops co-operation between patient organizations and hospitals, focusing on pioneering work in establishing peer support, and conducting research on it.

Anna Sofia Salonen-2Anna Sofia Salonen (Master of theology) is a doctoral student at the Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki. Her research interests include welfare, care and social deprivation and their their interconnections with religion. Previously she has studied well being and trust among the clientele of faith-based substance abuse work. Her current project focuses on food bank users’ experiences of the religious elements of the assistance.


Miia  UusiMiia Paakkanen  (Master of Science in Economics and Business Administration, researcher and trainer)  is inspired by the beautiful potential that lies within us people. Miia is interested in how we can elevate the higher goods in others through compassionate and loving human interaction. Miia researches compassion. She is in search for developing Compassionate Mindset – an attitude and a way of living and leading with compassion. Miia applies her research to organizational context. She also trains work life compassion skills for leaders taking her research into practice. Miia works at University of Helsinki, theology department with background in Economics (Organization and Leadership) and Positive Psychology.


Elina Juntunen (ThD, Master in Social Policy) is currently both working on post-doc research and in expert tasks in the Church Council in Helsinki.

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