BOARD OF TRUSTEES, 2022-2023

Benoit Lamontagne, President

Benoit is employed at the State of New Hampshire’s Dept of Business and Economic Affairs in Economic Development serving the good people of Carroll, Coos and Grafton Counties. He was born in Granby, Quebec but a Benoit Lamontagnefew months later his parents moved to Stewartstown, New Hampshire. He is fluent in French due to his parents and also attending 8 years of grade school with the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary who insisted on a half a day in English and half a day in French.

Benoit was a business owner for 30 years in Colebrook and Littleton operating two Radio Shacks.  Along the years he has served on many boards including Selectman in Colebrook, the Colebrook and Coos Economic Development Corps., the Community Development Finance Authority in Concord and is a current member of the NH-Canadian Trade Council in Concord.

Benoit enjoys speaking French on the State of New Hampshire Trade Missions and also with family and friends. He also enjoys playing keyboards in a classic rock band in the North Country where he also spends time boating on Maidstone Lake in VT. He currently resides in Ashland, NH.

 

Nathan R. Deleault, Esq., Vice-President

Nate Deleault was born in Manchester, New Hampshire and grew up in nearby Hooksett. He graduated from Manchester High School Central in 1996 and went on to earn a B.S. from the University of Maine at Orono. After graduation, he returned to New Hampshire and worked as a research scientist at the Giesel School of Medicine at Dartmouth (formerly Dartmouth Medical School). He earned an M.A. from Dartmouth in 2007, and continued as a full-time researcher until 2010, when he began a part-time program at Vermont Law School. Nate received his J.D. in early 2014 and worked as an attorney with a well-established firm in Concord for six years. Nate is now a partner at Stebbins Bradley, PA, a law firm located in Hanover.

Nate is a member of his town’s budget committee and is the president (Master) of his local masonic lodge. He recently served as co-vice chair of the Trusts and Estates Section of the New Hampshire Bar Association. Nate is passionate about preserving and promoting Franco-American history and culture in New England and has been an incorporator with the FAC since 2019. He is excited to now be a member of the Board of Trustees.

In his free time, Nate enjoys spending time with his family, fly fishing, waterfowl hunting, canoeing, skiing, hiking and rooting for the Habs. He currently lives in Canaan, New Hampshire with his wife and two sons.

 

Daniel Chapman, Treasurer

 

 

Josée Vachon, Secretary
Josée Vachon
Josée Vachon has been involved with Franco-American culture for more than 30 years. Born in Quebec and raised in Maine, she discovered other Franco-Americans while a student at the University of Maine in Orono.

During that time, she was managing editor of the Le Farog Forum (now Le Forum), began singing at local festivals and concerts, and was on the board of ActFANE (Action for F.A. of New England). She continued singing after graduation, and has performed hundreds of shows for all ages ever since.

Her warm vocals and increasing popularity led to an 11-year run (1987 to 1998) as host of Bonjour! produced in Manchester, N.H., by ACA & MediaOne Cable. It became the most widely seen French language cable TV show produced in the U.S., airing in markets from Eastern Canada and New England, down to Louisiana.

Vachon has 12 solo albums, and two with the folk group Chanterelle. She has performed internationally in Martinique, Germany, France and Canada, and has appeared on Paris television’s Le Grand Echiquier and Espace Francophone, as well as on shows on TV Ontario and Radio-Canada.

Awards include the 1999 National Culture Through the Arts Award from NYSAFLT for her work in schools and induction in the AFGS French-Canadian Hall of Fame Class of 2007. She was chosen for NEA´s American Traditions Training and Touring Project, and has proudly been given the key to the city of Woonsocket, R.I. She made Yankee Magazine’s Top 40 Music picks (July 2001), and has an original song on Smithsonian Folkways’ CD, Mademoiselle Voulez-Vous Danser: Franco-American Music from the New England Borderlands, a Top Ten Folk Music pick from NPR in 1999. Josée recently had one of her songs used for a Christmas commercial in South Korea.

Learn more about Josée’s music at her website – joseevachon.com

 

Joanne Craighead, Esq.
Joanne Craighead, Secretary

A native of New Hampshire, Joanne received her Bachelor’s degree from Notre
Dame College in 1983 and her J. D. degree from the University of New
Hampshire School of Law (formerly Franklin Pierce Law Center) in 1986. In
1992, she and her husband, Rodkey, opened the law firm of Craighead & Martin,
P.L.L.C. in Manchester, New Hampshire. Joanne’s practice concentrates on real
estate, estate planning and probate matters. Her professional memberships
include the NH Bar Association, the Manchester Bar Association and the
Hillsborough County Women’s Bar Association.

Joanne’s public service work includes past membership on the Pamphlets
subcommittee and the law week subcommittee of the NH Bar Association and
The United States Commission on Civil Rights. She has been an incorporator of
the Franco-American Centre for several years and has served as Secretary for
the last three years. Both of Joanne’s parents are of French Canadian ancestry.
Joanne resides with her two sons in Manchester, New Hampshire.

 

 

Chantalle Forgues, Esq.

Chantalle Forgues is an attorney and associate professor of business law at Plymouth State University. Chantalle relied on her French-Canadian work ethic to earn a JD at Boston University School of Law, an LLM in Global Business Law at Columbia University Law School, an MBA at Plymouth State University, and a BA in Political Science and Classical Languages at Middlebury College. She also recently earned a graduate certificate in Data Science from HarvardX, and is widely published in the fields of law and data analytics.

Chantalle loves aviation, sports, and recreation of all kinds, which she enjoys pursuing with her husband and three children. She is an avid Montreal Canadiens fan, and hopes that they will win the Stanley Cup someday soon.

 

Rebecca Fortgang

Rebecca Fortgang is a French teacher at Fall Mountain Regional High School in Langdon New Hampshire. She started learning French in high school and continued her studies in college earning a BA in French from Keene State College in 2010. Rebecca’s love of teaching has led her to teach both French and Spanish in public and private schools with students ages 3 to high school. 

Rebecca become involved with the Franco-American Centre when she moved back to NH in 2019. You’ll see her students interning at the Centre and volunteering at events. Rebecca also serves on the board for NHAWLT (New Hampshire Association of World Language Teachers) and is president of Fiber Arts of Vermont. 

Outside of teaching Rebecca spends a lot of time hosting extra-curriculars for her students and doing volunteer work. She enjoys traveling abroad and takes students on trips each year through the school. Rebecca joins us on the board after hosting Teen Prêt-à-Parler though FAC with John Tousignant during the school year since 2020.

 

Katharine Harrington, PhD

Katherine HarringtonKatharine Harrington is Associate Professor of French at Plymouth State University where she has taught since 2010. She teaches a wide-range of courses in the language, culture, literature, and film of the French-speaking world. Previously, she had taught at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. She holds a PhD in French Studies from Brown University.

Her research interests include contemporary French and Francophone literature, French and Québécois film, Francophone communities of New England, and innovative approaches to language teaching. She is the author of Writing the Nomadic Experience in Contemporary French and Francophone Literature.

She is co-founder of the Bienvenue au New Hampshire initiative that works to develop visibility for French in New Hampshire by celebrating the Franco-American heritage of the state and in assisting local businesses and tourist attractions with French language services to help attract and welcome Québécois visitors to the region.

She serves as President of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French as well as Secretary of the American Council of Québec Studies.

 

Janis Hennessey

Janis Hennessey grew up in Louisville, KY where her French relatives had settled. She received a BA in French from Ursuline College, a MA in French literature from the University of KY, and a Diplôme d’Etudes de Civilisation Française from the Sorbonne.
Marriage brought Janis to New England where she and her husband raised their three children. She taught French for ten years at Newton South High School – MA becoming Chair. For nineteen years, Janis taught French at UNH, where she created the French Studies course taught in English in hopes to excite students about French literature, history, and art, and then sign up for a French language course.

For sixteen years at Dover High School, Janis taught French and was Chair. She worked hard to increase World Language teachers from six to thirteen. She believed French culture was best experienced first-hand, so she took hundreds of students alternatively to Quebec and to France.

During her thirty years on the NHAWLT (New Hampshire Association of World Language Teachers) Board, Janis was President four times. She was the Director of the NH Guidelines for World – Ready Language Learning and the Director of the NH World Language Competencies aligning them with national standards.

The NH Department of Education invited Janis to be part of their team to evaluate college certification programs. The DOE asked her to serve on the American Sign Language Certification committee. Most importantly, they asked her to revise the requirements for NH Modern Language teacher certification. On the national level, she worked on the French Praxis exam required by French teachers for certification in states across the country Janis has received state and national awards: World Language Teacher of the Year in 1999. In 2020, this award was renamed “The NHAWLT Janis Hennessey World Language Teacher of Excellence Award”. In 2018, the Northeast Conference of the Teaching of Foreign Languages chose Janis out the teachers in fourteen states to award their most prestigious award: “For Outstanding Leadership in the Profession”.

During her career, Janis has presented teaching workshops at many state and national conferences. She has published numerous articles on teaching languages.

Janis is currently working on her twentieth children’s book. Seven of her books are in French and on the FAC website with videos of her teaching French using her books. All her books are available on Amazon.

 

Adam Schoene, PhD

Adam Schoene received a PhD in Romance Studies from Cornell University, degrees in French, International Relations, and Law and Diplomacy from Tufts University, and certificates from the Cornell Law School and Sorbonne Law School Institute of International and Comparative Law in Paris and from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

He has held research, teaching, service, editorial, translation, administrative, or professional roles at the University of New Hampshire, Columbia University, Cornell University, Tufts University, Harvard University, Swiss Semester, Alliance Française, the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, the Caribbean Philosophical Association, the Rousseau Association, Special Olympics, Concordia Language Villages, the French Cultural Center, the International Language Center, the Institute for Global Maritime Studies, the Center for International Environmental Law, and WilmerHale LLP.

His work has appeared in Eighteenth-Century StudiesThe French ReviewGeorge Sand StudiesThe Journal of North African StudiesLaw and HumanitiesLumenStudies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, and in a range of edited volumes. He served as a member of the Editorial Board of Diacritics, and as Managing Editor of Eighteenth-Century Studies.

 

 

Henri Vaillancourt

Henri is from Greenville NH, a formerly francophone majority community of Quebecois and Acadians, and a fluent speaker of his maternal French Canadian dialect .

Greenville’s rural, land-forest based orientation – where hunting, fishing, farming, lumbering were prominent – strongly influenced his life‘s passions.  A  strong interest in indigenous material culture led to a pastime building of birchbark canoes and – following  a time in UNH forestry programs – evolved into self employment.

He has been featured  in The Virtuoso, Face To Face With 40 Extraordinary Talents ; Yankee Magazine ; Sports Afield ; Wooden boat; The Wood And Canvas Canoe; The Wooden Ship; in juried exhibitions at The Renwick Gallery – Smithsonian Institution, The Herbert F Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell, and The American Craft Museum, NY. Sponsored by the Smithsonian, he has demonstrated at Man and His World, Montreal [Expo71] , and The Folklife Festival, Wash. DC ; at Mystic Seaport Museum, and in Shimane, Japan. His work resides in museum collections throughout the world, and those of Michael Eisner, Lord Palumbo, Edgar Bronfman, and others.

He has written for Fine Woodworking, Wooden Boat, and numerous other publications. His Wooden Boat article “The Enys Birchbark Canoe – A late -1700s treasure rediscovered in a stone barn in England’’ was subsequently selected for ‘Best Magazine Reads’ by the Globe and Mail, Toronto. 

In 1977, Todd Crocker and Henri founded The Trust for Native American Cultures and Crafts , a 501-c-3 foundation. Over 15 years, they documented on broadcast quality videotape, in stills, and notes the material culture of the Cree, Innu, Attikamek and Algonquin in Canada. Info on their birchbark canoe and snowshoe videos can be seen here and here; a book on snowshoe making here.  Currently, Henri is digitizing and editing more research material. 

Promoting awareness of the legitimacy of colloquial French dialects is another of Henri’s passionate interests.

 

MANAGEMENT

John Tousignant – Executive Director

John Tousignant

John P. Tousignant, Executive Director – directeur exécutif

John P. Tousignant has served as executive director of the Franco-American Centre since January 2013. An experienced business executive with successes in operations management, volunteer coordination and international trade, he has applied his bilingual (English/French) skills in for-profit, nonprofit and educational environments.

A life-long New Hampshire resident and product of Québécois and Acadian ancestry, John has been passionate about the promotion of Franco-American heritage since his youth. He started his professional career as a French and theater teacher at the secondary and post-secondary levels. Moving into international business, he served as senior vice president of ACA Assurance, an international fraternal benefit society promoting French language and culture. In that capacity, he was responsible for overseeing the social, cultural and educational activities of 46 local volunteer-led chapters located throughout the eastern United States, Canada and Louisiana.

John also serves as principal of Partnership Frontiers LLC, a management consulting firm that offers relationship development assistance through targeted marketing strategies, training programs and event planning support. Specializing in trade and cultural relations between the U.S. and Canada, he was Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s market representative in New Hampshire for several years. John assists diverse public and private entities from Québec and the Atlantic Provinces as they develop their U.S. market awareness and presence. He provides training and speaking programs throughout North America and the Caribbean.