Mélissa Baril is an ideater and problem solver. Her common thread: publishing. Her approach: transmission. The big idea: to connect people through cultural diversity. Moving to Detroit, she found out a new playground to promote French youth literature and culture in a community surrounded by Francophone roots. As a parent, she was struggling to find books and resources to nurture the language with her children. She figured out she was not the only one and created the Caribou à lunettes: a French youth library with creative workshops and activities with authors and illustrators, for native speakers and learners. She recently launched an online bookstore to support parents and teachers in the United States in their search for books in French, offering quality, diverse and inclusive stories. Because understanding and sharing cultures is the key for just movements.
Timothy Beaulieu is the founder of NH PoutineFest. He was named to the 2019 New Hampshire Union Leader 40 under Forty class for his work on the event. He received his B.S. from the University of New Hampshire and his M.B.A. from Plymouth State University. Tim currently lives in southern New Hampshire. He enjoys being very involved in the Franco community, working on small business projects, and spending with his family.
Dr. Elizabeth Blood is Professor of French in the World Languages and Cultures Department at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts. She earned her B.A. in Anthropology from Connecticut College, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in French and Romance Literatures from Boston College. She is co-author of Je me souviens: histoire, culture et littérature, a Québec culture reader for students of French (Georgetown University Press, 2015). She is also a French to English translator who has established a digital repository of free translations of Québécois and Franco-American texts. Her current research focus is on North American Francophonie, including Québec and Franco-America.
A native Louisiana Cajun, Dr. David Cheramie is the author of three books of French poetry and has published numerous articles about Louisiana French and culture in English and French, notably his regular features, En français, s’il vous plaît and Plus ça change…, in Acadiana Profile magazine. He has a doctorate in Francophone Studies from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and is the former executive director the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana. He is the co-founder of the literary review, Feux Follets, to which he is a regular contributor. He is a Knight in France’s Order of Arts and Letters and a member of Québec’s Order of American Francophones. He is presently the Chief Executive Officer of the Bayou Vermilion District, which operates Vermilionville, a Living History Museum and Folklife Park in Lafayette, LA.
Melody Desjardins is a freelance writer and shares the Franco- American experience through personal stories and lighthearted topics on her blog, Moderne Francos. Through writing blog posts, Melody hopes to reach other Franco-Americans and discuss older topics with new perspectives. She is originally from Wilton, NH, and spent most of her formative years in Lake Sundown, IA. She currently resides in New Hampshire. You can check out her blog at modernefrancos.com.
Anthony Thomas DesRois – Feature Writer for Get French Football News, social media contributor for Franco-Américains pages, husband, and father, Anthony Thomas DesRois was raised in Florida in a Franco-American household with his grandmother until eventually moving in with his wife’s family as a teen. His hobbies include writing, painting, reading, playing soccer, and spending time with his family.
Joseph Dunn’s understanding of Louisiana’s French and Creole languages, cultures, and heritage has afforded him the opportunity to work at the highest levels of the state’s tourism and cultural industries for more than 25 years. He is currently the director of public relations and marketing at Laura: Louisiana’s Creole Heritage Site. In addition to his work at Laura, Joseph regularly collaborates on projects that highlight the social, professional, and economic value of Louisiana French and Creole. Joseph Dunn is a Knight in the French National Order of Merit.
Dr. Georgie V. Ferguson is a member of the Pointe-Au-Chien Indian Tribe. She is a clinical psychologist and devoted parent who is proud to represent her Tribe as the first Tribal member to earn a Ph.D. Dr. Ferguson currently serves as the Pointe-Au-Chien Indian Tribe’s Public Affairs/Communications Specialist, and manages the Tribe’s Twitter account. She also has a background in Mass Communication, that marries well with her training in Psychology, which she applies to her work for the Tribe as well as when advocating for ethical standards of practice in engaging with Indigenous populations by the community at large. In addition, she is involved in a variety of research projects focused on Indigenous Resilience.
Dr. Katharine Harrington is Professor of French at Plymouth State University where she has taught since 2010. She is the author of Writing the Nomadic Experience in French and Francophone Literature (Lexington Books, 2014). She is co-founder of the Bienvenue au New Hampshire initiative and currently serves as President of the American Council of Québec Studies and President of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French.
Marine Havel is an international leader recognized for building bridges between organizations and people. She believes that education can dramatically improve the social and economic outcomes of every child, change societies, and that access to a high- quality education is a right for all. In 2012, she launched a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia to implement a FLAM program (French as a Native language) in Philadelphia for French-speaking kids to be sure that no child will lose her/his/their language, and their cultural heritage, their identity as global citizens, their link to their family and to the Francophone community. She rapidly created new schools in Princeton, Allentown, PA, and she will open one soon in Hoboken, NJ. To support other FLAM associations, she created the Federation FLAM USA with other FLAM in the United States. When the pandemic started, we were ready to support all teachers and be sure that all students could continue to receive a French education! Since June 2020, our support goes to all FLAM in the world, with whom we are creating a Federation FLAM World, with the support of the French government.
Dr. Fabrice Jaumont is a scholar-practitioner, award-winning author, non-profit leader, and education advisor based in New York. He currently serves as Education Attaché for the Embassy of France to the United States, a Research Fellow at Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris, and an adjunct professor both at New York University and Baruch College. He is President of the Center for the Advancement of Languages, Education, and Communities, a nonprofit publishing organization based in New York and Paris. He has published six books on bilingualism and education, philanthropy and higher education, including The Bilingual Revolution: The Future of Education is in Two Languages. Jaumont holds a Ph.D. in Comparative and International Education from New York University.
Dr. Marguerite P. Justus is a native of Lafayette, Louisiana, and an activist for the state’s French-speaking minority. She took an interest in the language of her maternal grandparents at an early age and completed her doctorate in French Studies (with a specialization in Linguistics) at Louisiana State University in 2017. She is currently in charge of community programs for the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana and serves on the board of directors for Louisiana Folk Roots and the advisory board for the upcoming Saint- Luc French Immersion & Cultural Campus in Arnaudville, Louisiana.
Dr. Emmanuel K. Kayembe received his Ph.D. in French Language and Literature from the University of Cape Town. He was the recipient of the Golden Key International Honour Society Award for his outstanding achievement at the University of Cape Town in 2012. Former Research Fellow at American Council of Learned Societies (Carnegie Corporation, New York, 2012), he has served as a Senior Lecturer and a Teaching Assistant respectively at the University of Lubumbashi and at the University of Cape Town, before joining the University of Botswana, where he taught French Language, Literature and Culture from 2013 to 2017. He is currently working as an Instructor of French and Latin and a Research Associate for Franco-American Studies at University of Southern Maine Franco- American Collection, whose mission is to preserve and to promote culture and heritage of Maine’s Franco-American population. Apart from having extensively published on Francophone literatures and cultures, he is the author of a book on the Francophone Congolese writer Pius Ngandu, Professor at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge). He has contributed to several AUF funded-research projects on French and Francophone literatures and cultures. He is a member of the Association pour l’Étude des Littératures Africaines (Université de la Lorraine), the Modern Language Association, the Association Internationale d’Étude des Littératures et Cultures de l’Espace Francophone (McGill University), the Conseil International d’Études Francophones, the American Association of Teachers of French, and of the Centre de la Francophonie des Amériques.
Dr. Etienne A. Kouakou is affiliated to Hostos Community College, where he has served as an instructor in the City University of New York’s Language Immersion Program since January 2013. His primary area of interest is English as a Second Language. However, he is also interested in writing and rhetoric, and he currently teaches various freshman English composition courses at Queens College. Many years ago, he was a secondary school English as a Foreign Language teacher in his native Ivory Coast. When he moved to the United States in 1996, he became a middle and high school English teacher here in New York. He also spent a year teaching middle school English in Washington, DC in the 2009-2010 school year. Back in New York after this stint, he taught French in the French Heritage Program administered by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, writing, and practicing Shotokan Karate, a Japanese martial art, which has been his passion for over forty years.
Mark Labine graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1977 and received a J.D. from Hamline University School of Law in 1980. He practiced Law and worked part time as an Administrative Law Judge, Arbitrator, Magistrate, Referee and Mediator until June 2005 when he appointed to be a full-time Judicial Referee for Hennepin County District Court. He retired in March 2020 and has served in temporary judicial assignments since his retirement. Mark has served on numerous non-profit boards and is currently the president of the French-American Heritage Foundation and past president of La Société Canadienne-Française du Minnesota. He is also on the board of directors for Dispute Resolution Center, Community Mediation Minnesota, the State Office of Collaboration and Dispute Resolution, and the ADR Section for the Minnesota State Bar Association. Mark has taken a keen interest in his French- Canadian ancestry and genealogy. He has written a number of books on his family history and ancestors. His book, Ancestral Pathways, documents over 1700 of his ancestors, including many French ancestral lines that go back to France. He also is the chief author or compiler of three books published by the French-American Heritage Foundation, including They Spoke French, In the beginning there was a Chapel, and Where the Waters Meet.
Ben Levine is a documentary filmmaker, trained as a clinical psychologist. Aspects of his video feedback approach to filmmaking to deepen and recall emotional response and creative action to further the story, starting in 1971 at a camp for teens with disabilities, are illustrated in the 2020 Oscar-nominated film Crip Camp. Julia Schulz, trained in Cultural Anthropology and French, became a French Teacher, curriculum innovator, and co-founder of a nonprofit language school. Together they founded Speaking Place, a nonprofit with support from grants from the Administration for Native Americans, the National Science Foundation, the CDC, the Maine Community Foundation, and other donors. For more information about their current work, see speakingplace.org, especially “Key Concepts” in the Archives section.
Jesse Martineau, Esq. and Monique Cairns, like their parents, grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire. They can trace all branches of their family tree back to towns in Québec. Jesse and Monique are products of Manchester’s Catholic school system. Jesse holds a B.A. in History from the George Washington University in Washington, DC and a Juris Doctor from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has served two terms as a State Representative in New Hampshire and hosts the French-Canadian Legacy Podcast. Monique has a B.A. in Social Science Secondary Education from Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island, and a Master of Science in Special Education from the University of Southern Maine in Portland. Monique owns and operates Northern Explosion, a dance studio in Sanford, Maine. Both Monique and Jesse work for Southern New Hampshire University.
Jean Mirvil is a Haitian-American who has specialized in working with immigrant children and their families for nearly three decades as a teacher, administrator, and principal in the New York City Public School system. After studying French Literature and Linguistics at Queens College, N.Y, his studies extended at the Sorbonne in France, followed by three years of teaching English to high school students in Gabon, Africa. During his career, he has served as the Bilingual Coordinator and later, Assistant Superintendent for language and immigrant issues, in District 29 Queens. In District 29, he has been principal of elementary schools in Queens, Lead Principal, and Assistant Superintendent for Special Education and Language Learners in the Bronx. In 2009 he was inducted into the Order of Academic Palms, as a knight, an honor which was founded by Napoleon to honor educators. This award was bestowed to him for his success in achieving a model French-English dual language program at P.S73, which he led until 2013 when he retired from the NYC Board of Education. As a linguist he served as board member and President of the New York State Association for Bilingual Education and many others. He has been involved in initiatives to improve the educational system for bilingual students nationwide. He authored many teacher supporting articles.
Dr. Jerry L. Parker is an instructor, Undergraduate Program Coordinator, and Director of the Foreign Language Resource Center in the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Southeastern Louisiana University (Hammond, LA) and an adjunct assistant professor of Spanish at Morris Brown College (Atlanta, GA). His research centers on issues of curriculum, instruction, and leadership in foreign language education through the framework of critical multicultural education. He also specializes in Caribbean Studies and Louisiana Studies.
Since 1973, Manchester, N.H. native and lifelong resident Robert B. Perreault has worked in various capacities to promote Franco- American culture and Manchester’s history. His works of nonfiction and fiction, in French, English or both languages, include seven books and more than 160 articles, essays, short stories published in the United States, Canada or France. His books include a novel, L’Héritage (1983); a post-card history entitled Manchester (2005); Franco-American Life and Culture in Manchester, New Hampshire: Vivre la Différence (2010); and a collection featuring his original photos of Manchester from 1971 to 2005, entitled Images of Modern America: Manchester (2017). He is the recipient of the following: Historic Preservation Award from the Manchester Historic Association (1994); Prix Spécial du Jury for a short story, Les mains du père et du fils, sponsored by France / Louisiane / Franco-Américanie, Paris, France (2000); Franco-American of the Year, from Centre Franco- Américain, Manchester (2012).
Dr. Kathleen Stein-Smith, Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes académiques, is a dedicated foreign language educator and advocate. She serves as Chair of the American Association of Teachers of French’s Commission on Advocacy and as a member of the ATA Education and Pedagogy Committee and the Modern Language Association’s Delegate Assembly. She is also active in foreign language education associations, including the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Advisory Council, Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Advisory Council, and as a Southern Conference On Language Teaching sponsor. She has presented at numerous professional conferences at the state, regional, and national level, is the author of five books and numerous articles about the foreign language deficit and the importance of multilingualism, has given a TEDx talk on the United States foreign language deficit, has been interviewed by press and radio, and maintains a blog, “Language Matters.”
Scott Tilton is the co-founder and director of the Nous Foundation, a platform for exchange between Louisiana and the French- speaking world. This work was rooted in his growing up in New Orleans in a household that partially spoke French. Prior to Nous, he worked as a consultant at Ernst & Young France on projects for the European Union, the United Nations, and the French government. He graduated with a dual degree in Political & Social Thought and Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia, as well as with a master’s degree in International Relations from Sciences Po Paris. Along with his fellow cofounder Rudy Bazenet, Scott launched and spearheaded the initiative that saw Louisiana become the first United States state to join the International Organization of the Francophonie in 2018.
Born and raised in Senegal, Agnès Tounkara, studied Economics in France where she worked in the private sector before moving to the United States for family reasons. Ever since, her career path has been driven by her passion for French and Francophone cultures. At the Alliance Française of Boston, she led the Education Department; she then moved to New York and joined the French American School of New York where she oversaw the extracurricular activities, promoting the French language through many programs to students but also parents. As a Francophone parent raising children in the United States, Agnès was extremely excited to join the French Heritage Language Program in 2019 as a Program Officer. For the past 14 years, the French Heritage Language Program has been helping Francophone immigrants and young Americans with Francophone background to maintain their linguistic and cultural heritage. Today, the program is present in New York through six schools of Internationals Network for Public Schools, in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan. The program is also present in Massachusetts, Maine, and Florida.
David Vermette is the author of the book A Distinct Alien Race: The Untold Story of Franco-Americans (Montreal: Baraka Books, 2018). He is a researcher, writer, and editor. He has spoken at colleges, universities, and at genealogical and historical societies. Vermette was born and raised in Massachusetts.