Chair: Peter Torkildsen

Peter Torkildsen
Public Member, Massachusetts (MA)

Peter G. Torkildsen is a Government Affairs and Business Development Consultant and former member of the US House of Representatives (1993-1997) from Massachusetts. As a Republican member of the House, he spoke out in favor of the NEH and spearheaded an effort, primarily by sponsoring the state humanities councils’ first “Dear Colleague” letter, to gather support among both Republicans and Democrats. It was a risky move at the time to stand against the tide of opinion to eliminate funding for NEH, but as a history-lover, he knew the value of the humanities and braved the storm. Since then Torkildsen has worked closely with the Mass Humanities to persuade Massachusetts Republicans to be advocates of the NEH. His expertise and knowledge of Congress, coupled with his passion for history, literature, philosophy and other humanities disciplines makes him a strong ally in the advocacy work of the Federation. He believes that federal support for the arts and humanities is an appropriate, indeed a necessary, function of our government.

Torkildsen was an early advocate of the humanities, when he served as editor of the UMass-Amherst fine arts magazine, Spectrum. Prior to starting his own business, Torkildsen was the Director of Business Development and Government Affairs for Ora Inc., an ophthalmology drug research and development firm. He has worked in several positions with the Massachusetts Department of Labor and Workforce Development and was chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party where he oversaw all aspects of candidate recruitment, training, and targeting, party fundraising, and message development.

Since 2003, Torkildsen has volunteered in the Congress to Campus Program, where former members visit colleges and universities to meet with students and faculty during a three-day intensive series of lectures and meetings to discuss how Congress functions. He has been a Massachusetts delegate to the Republican National Convention three times. Torkildsen is also a volunteer with Community Action Partners, organized by the Harvard Business School Alumni of Boston, to assist nonprofit organizations in Massachusetts. Torkildsen lives in North Chelmsford with his wife and daughter. He enjoys reading history and other subjects, and painting watercolors.