BOARD OF TRUSTEES, 2020-2021
Joseph Theriault, President
Joseph (Joe) Theriault has over a decade of involvement with the Franco-American Centre. He discovered the FAC looking to deepen his cultural roots and became a student member to take French classes in 2007. He has steadily become more involved as a volunteer by chairing the program committee, helping to manage the FAC’s busy event calendar and, more recently, being named to the board.
Joe’s interest in his Franco-American heritage led him and his wife, Joanne, to live briefly in Québec to take French immersion classes. While there, Joe interned at Le Centre de la francophonie des Amériques, an organization dedicated to supporting French and peoples of French heritage throughout the Americas. He participated in their inaugural Young Ambassadors’ Forum in Québec City as a representative of New England.
Joe is a professional software engineer at Meltwater Inc., an international software-as-a-service (SaaS) company providing media monitoring and business intelligence. Throughout his career, he has provided product development and custom software solutions to universities, government agencies, and large retail and industrial businesses. He has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston.
Joe was born and grew up in Nashua, New Hampshire. Today he lives in Goffstown with his wife and two children.
Jo-Ann Bélanger, Vice-president
Jo-Ann C.E. Bélanger, originally from Suncook, NH, is proud of her Franco-American, Scots-Irish, and Indigenous heritage. Growing up with all these cultures, it is no wonder she became a certified teacher in New Hampshire and Maine. She attended Plymouth State University, First Nations University, and University of New England. She has taught Indigenous Studies and French at all levels from pre-kindergarten through university and is a Museum Educator for the Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum.
In addition to being a trustee at the FAC, she is also a trustee for the Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum and a board member of the New Hampshire Association of World Language Teachers. She has worked as an event coordinator and project coordinator for numerous non-profit organizations in New England and Canada. Jo-Ann has also competed in numerous bagpipe band competitions throughout the United States and Canada as a tenor drummer.
She is a long-standing member of the American-Canadian Genealogical Society, where she was also a volunteer briefly in the early 1990s, and still sends numerous people there who are trying to trace their Franco and Indigenous roots.
Currently, she lives in the Lakes Region with her cat Duke and would like to bring events for the FAC to the Lakes Region.
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.
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 is currently 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
ConcordTV in 2001 as Outreach and Development Director and was hired as its Executive Director in 2012. As Executive Director, Ballard manages the day-today operation of the seven-person organization and works 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 (currently still in operation), where she continues to serve as the LLC’s
Thomas Colantuono, Esq.
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.
A native of Quebec, Céline Desrosiers has lived in New Hampshire since 1992. She is the producer and host of “People, Places and Things with Céline,” which can be seen on her website ManyRoses.com. Named one of the 20 Most Outstanding Women in New Hampshire in 2013 by WZID-FM, she is a professional photographer and a graduate of the New Hampshire Institute of Art. Céline runs the “Prêt a Parler” French conversation program at the Franco-American Centre at Saint Anselm College in Manchester. She has three children, Viviane, born in 1994, Yanick, born in 1995, and Vincent, born in 1997. When she isn’t helping at the Franco-American Centre, Céline enjoys volunteering at local hospitals and at the Bedford schools. Proud and grateful for her French heritage, Céline works at the Euro Skin and Body Spa at The Executive Health Club in Manchester.
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.
Tim currently serves as program committee chairman and works to build the Centre’s social media presence.
As a child, Tim’s parents and grandparents taught him to “educate” people on how to pronounce their last name correctly. That one small connection to the family’s history started a curiosity and affinity for Franco-American heritage and culture that is still with Tim today.
Professionally, Tim has over ten years’ experience in the financial services industry. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire (Go Wildcats!) and went on to receive his M.B.A. from Plymouth State University. While at Plymouth he studied at the University’s renowned Small Business Institute (SBI). Tim’s SBI team won 1st place at the National Small Business Institute® Project of the Year Competition. Tim is also a member of Delta Mu Delta, international business honor society, and Tau Kappa Epsilon International Fraternity.
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.
Katherine Harrington, PhD
Katharine 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.
Jesse, like his parents, grew up in Manchester. Jesse’s parents attended L’École Saint-Georges which was a bilingual school with instruction received in both English and French. Jesse has traced all branches of his family tree back to towns in Québec.
Jesse is a product of Manchester’s Catholic school system, having attended St. Anthony Elementary School, St. Joseph Junior High School and Trinity High School. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History from the George Washington University in DC and a Juris Doctor Degree from Temple University in Philadelphia. At Temple, Jesse was a member of the Temple Law Review.
Jesse has served two terms as a State Representative in the New Hampshire General Court. He currently works as an Academic Advisor at Southern New Hampshire University.
Henri Vaillancourt has been self employed builder of birchbark canoes for over 32 years. In that time he has built more than 120 canoes ranging in size from small 9′ hunting canoes to the large 24′ cargo canoes like those used during the fur trade era. His work has been sought by discriminating collectors throughout the USA, Canada, Europe and Japan.
His work has been featured in numerous books and publications such as, The Wood Ship by David Larkin, Building the Maine Guide Canoe by Jerry Stelmok, Wooden Boat Magazine, Field and Stream, Yankee Magazine, and Readers Digest Book – Back to Basics among others.
Since 1965 Henri has been actively involved in the study of birchbark canoe construction and other aspects of Native material culture. In 1977 he and Todd Crocker founded the Trust for Native American Cultures and Crafts a non-profit organization dedicated to the recording and perpetuation of northern Native American material culture. Since that time they have collected hundreds of hours of video and thousands of color and black and white stills of bark canoe construction, snowshoe making, hide tanning, clothing and tool manufacturing. Edited programs of some of these skills including bark canoe construction, are available through the Trust for Native American Cultures and Crafts.
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 few 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.
John Tousignant – Executive Director
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.