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Trustee Spotlight: Hans Carstensen

Trustee Spotlight: Hans Carstensen

Hans Carstensen came to the Northwood Board six years ago. During Mike Maher’s time as Head of Berkshire School, Hans served as the Chair of that school’s board. He is a graduate of Stanford University and currently resides in Stanley, Idaho with his wife, Terry. They spend the winter months in Shelburne, Vermont, which is closer to their daughter, Lee, and son, Ted, and their families. He and Terry enjoy backpacking, camping, flyfishing, and scuba diving. Both are also general aviation pilots who have the joy of flying their family all over the US and Canada.

After graduating from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in Finance, Hans worked as a member of the finance staff for the Weyerhaeuser Company, took a leave of absence to work for the Governor of Washington, and later served for Weyerhaeuser as a lobbyist in Washington, DC. After executive positions at both GNA Corporation and Aviva Life Insurance Company, Hans became President and CEO and a member of the board of directors at Shenandoah Life Insurance Company in Roanoke, Virginia. He has also served on numerous boards including the United Way of Roanoke Valley and is currently Chair of the board of the Sawtooth Society, a conservation non-profit group in Stanley, Idaho.

From his experience as a pilot, he offers wisdom as applicable to life as to flight training:

The many experiences I’ve had at the controls of an aircraft over all the years of flying in ever-changing weather, often over inhospitable terrain, and almost always with my entire family with me, have made me particularly sensitive to the importance of and difference between perseverance and resilience.

Every six months for over forty years, I attended four hours of recurrent instrument flight training in sophisticated flight simulators. This drilled into me the harsh reality that in the flight environment (and in life) nothing is predictably, reliably stable. Much is out of your control, constantly changing, and perseverance under such circumstances can get you killed.

Maintaining constant situational awareness and the resilience to abandon your old plan for a new one based on what is happening around you will save your life and the lives of those who may be depending on you.