BOARD OF TRUSTEES, 2021-2022

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.

 

Thomas Colantuono, Esq., Vice-President
Thomas Colantuono
Attorney Thomas Colantuono joined Bianco Professional Association after having served as the United States Attorney for the District of New Hampshire from December 2001 to March 2009. Tom served as an Assistant Attorney General in the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office from March 1978 to August 1981. He then owned and operated his own law office in Derry from 1981 to 2001. Tom has been a member of the New Hampshire Bar Association since 1976, and has served on the Ethics Committee and the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee of the Bar Association.

In 1990, Tom was elected to the New Hampshire Senate from District 14, where he served until 1996 when he left the Senate to run for Congress. In 1998, he was elected to the Executive Council from District 4, representing the greater Manchester area.

Tom graduated cum laude and with distinction in history from Duke University in Durham, N.C. He earned his Juris Doctor from Boston College Law School. He has taught legal subjects as an adjunct professor at Rivier College, New Hampshire College (now Southern New Hampshire University), and the Nashua Regional Vocational Technical College.

 

Doris Ballard, Treasurer

Doris Ballard was born and raised in Manchester, NH. Her father, Rosario Fortin, was one of 12 children born in Canada, all of who immigrated to Manchester, New Hampshire in the 1950’s to find work in the city’s Millyards. Her sister, a Sister of the order of Holy Cross, resides in Manitoba, Canada, where she holds a dual citizenship with the USA. She now lives in Concord, NH with her husband of 47 years. They have two children and 5 grandchildren who live in the Dover, NH, and Long Island, NY areas.

Doris served as the Executive Director of Concord Community TV, Concord New Hampshire’s nonprofit public access TV station and community Media Center, which is located in Concord High School. She began working at Concord TV in 2001 as Outreach and Development Director and was hired as its Executive Director in 2012. As Executive Director, Ballard managed the day-to-day operation of the seven-person organization and worked closely with the City of Concord and Concord School District in supporting their communication needs.

Doris is also co-owner of Ballard Enterprises, Inc., a retail and wholesale business in Concord from 1980 to 2012, and the family seasonal ice cream business.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Romeo Danais

Romeo is second generation French-Canadian, born and raised in Manchester, NH at Notre Dame (now Catholic Medical Center) hospital. Romeo spent four years in the US Army during the Vietnam Conflict and settled in California after the Army. He stayed there from 1970 to 2007, when he returned to his roots in NH. Romeo currently lives on a non-working 20-acre farm in Nottingham, NH. “I tried farming, but the hours were too demanding!”

Recognizing the need for consistent income to the FAC, Romeo spearheaded the start of the Franco-American Centre Foundation (FACF). The FACF gives 5% of its principal to the FAC each year. Hopefully, FACF earnings will outpace contributions to the FAC.

The FACF provides an avenue for members of the Franco community to give charitable donations which will last into perpetuity to help keep the FAC alive and running well.

 

Nathan R. Deleault, Esq.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.