Destined to make a difference – for Imme

“It is the friendship of women around the world that can and does make a difference” Irmeli Torsonen

It is with great sadness that we share news of the passing of our beloved Soroptimist Friend and Past President of Soroptimist International (SI), Irmeli Piela, formerly Torssonen, affectionately known to her friends as Imme.

Born in 1945, Imme was President of SI for the biennium 2001 – 2003, which included the Convention, held in Sydney in 2003. Imme led two President’s Appeals: ‘Building Peace Among Children, partnering with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scout (WAGGGS) to develop a peace ambassadors network of young people in Africa; and, ‘Continuum of Carewith Medecins Sans Frontieres, supporting mothers and their children, affected with HIV/AIDS.

Imme’s President’s Appeals were a demonstration in many ways of her incomparable empathy and nature as a human being. With great intention and endless tolerance, Imme handled even the most complicated of problems with ease. A great listener, Imme spoke many languages and had a great understanding of different cultures. Known for her positivity and sense of humour, she was able to instantly release tension; turning frowns into smiles, and joy. Known for her warm heart, honesty and encouragement, Imme was never one to let her friends down.

Building Peace Among Children

A Development Manager with particular responsibility for Tourism in Turku, Imme loved nature, people and their history, and singing – a vocalist in a pop music band when she was young. Actively encouraging new membership and promoting the Soroptimist message, her inspiring career included the role of Soroptimist International of Europe President from 1995 to 1997; Convention Chair, Helsinki, 1999; Member of the Finnish Union; and, a long-term and an honorary member of SI Turka Club.

SI Past President Irmeli with ACWF in Beijing 2003



Special thoughts to all those who knew Imme, and thanks to those who helped us prepare this article, including Pam Lee, SIGBI President 1998/9, and Kirsti Varis, SI Helsinki.

“That was our Imme – she was our Star!” – “Destined to make a difference, and she did.”



  1. Martti Piela 4 months ago 16th August 2019

    Thank you for this record of my youngest sister’s work within Soroptimists International and elsewhere.
    I feel humbly astonished at learning how much Imme really achieved in her too short lifetime.
    She was modest – just another “soror inter sorores et fratris” in the family – and never boasted about her achievements. Every now and then, though, she might tell us that she had been to some faraway country and met a few interesting people and sometimes even send me and other family members a few publications of the Soroptimists International. She tried to keep personal contact with the large family for instance by coming to the family meeting at the Sannäs Manor House in Porvoo, Finland, a year ago.
    Everybody in the family loved Imme from the very first morning of her life.
    The four remaining members of our family of ten children miss her very much.

    • Chris Knight 4 months ago 21st August 2019

      Imme was very much loved all around our Soroptimist World. I had the great pleasure of meeting her many times and continued to keep in touch with her after she had completed her term of office as our SI President.. I am writing a book called Destined to Make A Difference of the Soroptimist International Presidents from 1983. – 2017 Imme will be affectionately remembered by all who knew and loved her. Namaste Chris Knight Australia SISWP.

  2. Linda Alexander 4 months ago 16th August 2019

    Although I did not know Imme personally, I do know many SI women who share the same vision and passion for helping others. I appreciate her Leadership and can only aspire to be like her and make a positive impact on others! Condolences to her loved ones and friends around the globe!


    Linda Alexander
    Soroptimist International Dallas Director

  3. Katy Castro Logotheti (ex Saliverou)) 3 months ago 1st September 2019

    I knew personally Irmely Torsonen ,dear Imme, when she came in Athens. She was a wondeful person!

    My condoleances to her family and to her Club.
    Katy Castro logotheti Club Byzantio Thessaloniki Greece
    SIE Secretary when SIE President was Nina Koumanakou


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