Hiking boss hits a new trail

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Kristin Krohn Devold, a former defense minister who’s headed the national mountain trekking organization DNT (Den Norske Turistforeningen) for the past eight years, is setting off on a new career path this autumn. That’s when she’ll take over as head of the tourism division at national employers’ organization NHO.

Kristin Krohn Devold had headed the national trekking organization DNT for the past eight years. Now she'll move over to the tourism industry. PHOTO: Den Norske Touristforeningen/Sindre Thoresen Lønnes

Kristin Krohn Devold has headed the national trekking organization DNT for the past eight years. Now she’ll move over to the tourism industry. PHOTO: Den Norske Turistforeningen/Sindre Thoresen Lønnes

“This will be very exciting,” Devold told newspaper Dagsavisen. “The job involves both business and politics, which I have experience in, and what I’ve learned from the job in DNT. This is a perfect match.”

Devold, age 51, had been a longtime politician for the Conservative Party (Høyre) when the center-right government in which she served lost the national election in September 2005 and Jens Stoltenberg’s left-center government took over. Three months later, in January 2006, she took over as secretary general of DNT, which has tens of thousands of members, takes care of a vast amount of hiking and skiing trails and cabins all over Norway, and functions as one of the biggest lobby groups for outdoor interests.

Kristin Krohn Devold in 2002, when she was Norway's defense minister. PHOTO: US Department of Defense

Kristin Krohn Devold in 2002, when she was Norway’s defense minister. PHOTO: US Department of Defense

Born in Ålesund and educated in both Bergen and Oslo, Devold says she’s always had keen interest in outdoor life and has thrived as head of DNT. In the early 1980s, however, she got involved in politics, rose quickly through the ranks of the Conservatives and won a spot on the party’s list for seats in Parliament in 1993. She was a member of the parliament’s committee on business issues, led the justice committee and ultimately was tapped to be defense minister in the center-right government led by Kjell Magne Bondevik of the Christian Democrats from 2001 to 2005.

Her tenure was fairly stormy at a time when the US administration in Washington led by Presdent George Bush was highly unpopular in Norway and Devold was accused of being too US-friendly. She also had inherited a major cost-cutting plan from her Labour Party predecessor and got caught in a personnel conflict shortly before her government lost power.

She moved over to a less controversial top spot at DNT and said she’s only leaving because the term of her appointment is about to run out. DNT’s membership ranks rose steadily during her tenure, she’s constantly promoted the virtues of fresh air and exercise in the great outdoors, and now she’s keen to do the same at NHO, along with encouraging Norwegians to travel even more within their own country.

She’ll be managing director for NHO Reiseliv, which has around 2,300 member companies within the tourism industry in Norway. “Norwegian nature is about the most exotic you can find,” Devold said. “I found that out through my job at DNT and I want to be part of making it more visible.”

Devold will take over her new post in September, presumably after she’s taken some summer holiday time of her own.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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