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Giving Creates Strong, Connected Communities

Updated: Apr 3

On a walk at Lakefront Park in Hudson, Kris Tjornehoj decided to become a lifelong resident of the St. Croix River Valley. A saxophonist and pianist by trade, Kris earned a PhD from the University of Minnesota before returning to the Valley that raised her. She taught middle school

and high school in Hudson before moving to the University of Wisconsin River Falls 30 years ago. (Pictured above: Kris Tjornehoj conducts - photo courtesy of UW River Falls.)

Kris also invests her time and talents conducting numerous community choirs, bands and symphonies, including the multi-generational St. Croix Valley Community Band, which she founded in 1982. Summertime is busy for Kris as she conducts free, outdoor concerts throughout the Valley, from Shell Lake Pavilion to Riverfest in Hudson to the amphitheater at UW River Falls.

“The most important thing that you can do in the whole world is to give back to your community,” says Kris. “That is my vision and all I really, truly know is that what you invest in your community comes back to you bountifully.”

Another way Kris gives back is through serving on the Music Education Grants committee at the St. Croix Valley Foundation, helping select grantees since the program began around 20 years ago at the time of writing. Since its inception through a generous donation from Nyda Swason, the program has granted over $614,000 to schools throughout the region to enhance the quality of music education for K-12 students.

For Kris, who is also a donor, the idea of charitable giving resonates.

“Charitable giving is the way that you can sustain the quality of life in your region,” says Kris. “And whether it's scholarships, family foundations, special interest groups or special interest events – all of those things really come together to bless the region.”

To learn more about free, outdoor concerts in the Valley, visit or donate to the Valley Music Education Fund.


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