USM's Franco-American Collection is governed by a Board of Directors who represent the interests of the University of Southern Maine and the Franco-American Community. A number of positions are therefore reserved for staff, faculty and students of the University of Southern Maine, Lewiston-Auburn College.
Appointments to the board, and responsibilities of board members are determined by the Collection's by-laws.
Ex-Officio Board Members:
USM Director of Libraries: David Nutty
Franco-American Collection Fellow: Emmanuel Kayembe
Franco-American Collection Archivist: Anna Faherty
Doris Belisle-Bonneau (Treasurer)
Doris Bonneau is a retired educator. She served as the Chair of the Board for 4 years and is currently its Treasurer. During that time, she was inducted into the Maine Franco-American Hall of Fame. In 2013, the French Government also recognized her work in education by awarding her the medal of Chevalier des Palmes Académiques. In 2017, she received a second decoration entitled Chevalier de l’Order de Mérite which recognizes Frenchmen and foreigners who have been prominent in community service to enhance French connections in the US. In the past, she has been a trustee of the Lewiston Library and a Trustee of the State Community College, where she served as chair of its Education Policy Committee. In addition, she served on numerous local boards and committees such as the Board of Directors of the Gendron Franco-American Center. Currently, she serves as trustee to the Auburn Public Library and she volunteers and does ministry at D’Youville Pavilion.
Why I serve on the board
Stories are part of the most precious heritage of mankind which is the reason that I continue to be passionate about supporting the Franco-American Collection (FAC) at the Lewiston College of USM. Its mission is not only to archive resources but also to continue to collect and celebrate Franco-American values and traditions that contributed to the development of the State of Maine. Franco-American scholar, Claire Quintal, in her 2005 article on Franco archives, reinforces the significance of Franco institutions to the preservation of Quebecois and Acadian diaspora group records in New England. She notes that “If it is possible to ensure that archives are places of memory, and that their worth not be under-estimated, then we must know where to find them and be able to use them.” I trust that my commitment to the Collection will assist in recording, inventorying, acquiring, cataloguing and sharing the stories of the Lewiston Auburn Franco Community.
George Blouin (Emeritus)
George Blouin was born in Lewiston, Maine, and attended Saints Peter and Paul's Elementary School under the auspices of the Dominican nuns and the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. Following Elementary School, George left Lewiston to study for the priesthood at Eymard Preparatory Seminary in Hyde Park, New York, the training campus for the Blessed Sacrament Fathers. He received his high school diploma at the seminary and his Associate in Arts from New York State. He then received the habit at the novitiate of the congregation in Barre, Massachusetts. After a year and a half, George left the seminary to continue his studies in English at the University of Maine in Orono, He taught English at Bangor High school for a half year and then went to a small town in upper state New York to teach English and drama at the Lowville Academy and Central School for some three years. His teaching career ended after 36 years in Long Island New York at the John F. Kennedy High School. He received his MA in Liberal Arts from the New York State University at Stony Brook.
During his tenure at these schools, he produced plays and musicals while continuing his seminary position organist, composer and choir director. He became the teachers' union representative to the PTA, a member of the teachers' negotiating team and was the committee chairperson for the 30 member merger committee when the two Plainview high schools' numbers decreased.
He returned to his native state of Maine for his retirement and became active on the boards of several local institutions: The Franco-American Collection at the University of Southern Maine, L/A, The Maine Franco-American Genealogical Society and the Senior College at the University of Maine, L/A.
Returning to his Franco-American roots was an inevitability, as within minutes of starting any new class, his students were informed that his Franco identity was one facet that stamped both his life and his teaching.
Alfreda Fournier received her Bachelor of Science in General Elementary Education K-8 and Learning Disabilities K-12 from the University of Maine Farmington in 1976. She received her Master of Science in Education, with a focus in Educational Administration and Special Education Administration from USM in 1988. She has worked as: Educational Technician for Special Education, K-6, Master Teacher; Composite/Resource Room Teacher K-8, Director Special Education, K-12, Elementary School Principal, K-6, and Executive Director, Child Development Services Androscoggin County. She is also heavily involved in service to the community, having served as: Auburn School Committee-Mayor’s Representative (2018-2020), Auburn City Councilor (2018-2020) and Androscoggin County Commissioner (2015-2017). Currently, she is a member of various local boards and associations, including: Community Credit Union, Auburn Public Library, Androscoggin Retired Educators Association (Vice President), Maine Educational Association, and National Educational Association.
Juliana L'Heureux (Board Chair)
Ray was born in Lewiston the third son of a Franco-American father and a Polish- American mother in 1945. He attended St. Peter's grammar school - French speaking initially but graduated from St. Patrick's grammar school - English speaking - after having spent five years in Massachusetts where the nuns helped "correct" the foreign language accent he had when speaking English. Thanks to Mrs. Susan Dore, a French language teacher at Lewiston High School, Ray re-discovered the language key to his paternal heritage and pursued an academic career in modern language education at Providence College (BA 1967) and at the Ohio State University (MA 1969). Immediately after OSU he was hired by Farmington State Teachers College- now UMF - to establish a foreign (modern) Language Department. In addition to teaching all levels of French language and literature he added a second language, German, and additional staff, including exchange personnel from France and Germany. While at UMF, Ray received a Danforth Fellowship for Liberal Arts Education and helped develop a proposal leading to the creation of a Liberal Arts Degree Program at UMF.
A renaissance of interest in Franco-American heritage was growing in 1970 throughout the state from Biddeford - Saco to Ft. Kent. Around that time a St. Dom's High School teacher encouraged her students to gather stories and artifacts about their Franco-American heritage with the goal of creating an historical collection to acknowledge the role played by the Franco-American immigrants who arrived from Canada in the 1800's. Joanne LaPointe had started a "Franco-American Collection,” which she maintained in various locations and eventually at the Healy Asylum building in Lewiston (originally an orphanage for boys named after the first French speaking African-American Bishop of Portland). The current Franco-American Collection at USM/L-A College is the result of that original effort. When the Collection moved to L-A College, Dean Betty Robinson asked Ray to create a volunteer board to oversee the Collection.
Ray and his family left Lewiston in 1975 to accept the position of Resident Director for the American College Program of Providence College and LaSalle College (Philadelphia) [72 students and 43 landladies] at the Université de Fribourg in Switzerland. After one year the family returned to Maine in 1976 and Ray accepted a position in the family business manufacturing metal products and custom machinery. Ten years later he was hired as an administrative assistant at a local printing firm, a position he held for another ten years before returning to the down-sized family operation. Ray has also lived, worked and trained as a waiter at hotels in Lac Etchemin Canada and Davos Switzerland. During those twenty years in manufacturing and printing, Ray continued to teach French language courses for the University of Maine (UMA and USM / L-A College) as well as Language Arts courses for Lewiston Adult Education. Among his favorite courses was the Business French course.
Ray was awarded a national Fulbright-Hays Study/Travel Grant for 8 weeks at the Goethe Institut, Passau, Germany. He has also served on many local boards and delegations, including: Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce (1976-2013), Forum Francophone des Affaires (F.F.A), Maine Delegation to F.F.A International Conference in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (1997), Maine Family Federal Credit Union (1992-1999), Gendron Franco Center (2006-2014), Farwell School Pumpkin Festival, and Holy Family/Prince of Peace Parish. Ray was inducted to the State of Maine Franco-American Hall of Fame in 2016.
Why I Serve:
The Renaissance of Franco-American Cultural awareness that was taking
place upon my return to Maine after graduate school helped me
● to develop a more positive outlook on my family heritage and
● to use my role as a French language instructor to high-light the
benefits of a bi-lingual culture that was often maligned.
I continue to seek opportunities to encourage, support and maintain the
history of Franco-Americans in Maine and elsewhere.
Denis Ledoux (Program Chair)
Denis Ledoux is a writer, educator, teacher, ghostwriter, memoir-writing coach, editor and publisher. He directs The Memoir Network which is dedicated to helping people, often first-time and only-time writers, to preserve personal and family stories.
"Lifestories have always been part of my life,” says Denis, “I was the kid who sat with his grandparents listening to their stories as his siblings escaped outside to play. It was a natural that I affiliate with the Franco-American Collection to do my share to safeguard our collective Franco memory.”
His book Turning Memories Into Memoirs/A Handbook for Writing Lifestories (1992, 1998, 2006) is a classic in the memoir-writing field. We Were Not Spoiled / A Franco Memoir (2013) records the first 30 years of his mother’s life. Franco audiences have often remarked: “this is also my mother’s story you have also written.”.
Denis holds a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Education and, for the last 50 years, has studied Franco-American and Francophone Canadian history.
He lives and works in his native Lewiston-Auburn community, just a mile from his boyhood home. He was a guest on the French-Canadian Legacy podcast: https://fclpodcast.com/2021/02/09/episode-53-the-memoir-network-with-denis-ledoux/
Why I serve:
The Franco community has been central to my identity and I have received much from my being part of this remarkable cultural group. We Francos have interacted with North America for over 400 years and have both helped to shape what it means to live here and have been enormously shaped by its geography and its historical development. I am on the FAC board because I want both to give back to my community and to celebrate our contributions within the larger American nation
Andrea Quaid (Vice Chair)
Andrea Quaid presently works for US Senator Angus S. King, Jr. Before joining the Senator’s staff, she worked for 14 years for Congressman Michael H. Michaud in his Lewiston office. Previously, Andrea spent 12 years living and working in Paris, France for La Caisse des Depôts et Consignations where fluent French was a requirement. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and majored in French. She spent several terms in Bourges and Toulouse with their Language Study and Foreign Study Abroad programs.
Upon moving to Maine, she was delighted to find French-speaking communities where she could continue using her spoken French. Discovering the Collection only added to her delight as a resource for both written French and cultural artifacts.
Why I Serve:
Preserving the cultural heritage of the Franco community is an essential part of both the history of Maine and of the United States. The French language and culture have shaped the Lewiston/Auburn communities and we have a responsibility to save and share all of this with future generations.
Mary Rice-DeFosse is a professor of French and Francophone Studies at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. She offers a variety of courses on the French-speaking world, including French in Maine, a course on the history, literature, and culture of Franco-Americans. She is co-author of The Franco-Americans of Lewiston-Auburn (The History Press, 2015). She served as scholar for a permanent exhibit at Lewiston’s Gendron Franco Center on the Sisters of Charity, also called the Grey Nuns, and their work in the local community. She co-produced and wrote a documentary film with the same title as the exhibit, They Came, They Served /Elles sont venues, ells ont servi. Her students conducted many of the interviews featured in the film. In addition to her research on Franco-Americans, she has published widely on French literature of the nineteenth-century, especially women writers. She is currently President of the George Sand Association and is a past President of Women in French. She earned her B.A. in Romance Languages at Boston College and an M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Yale University.
Why I Serve: When I arrived at Bates College, I asked my students in the course Oral French to interview a French-speaker as one of their assignments. The students often chose to speak in French with members of the college’s staff with whom they interacted on a daily basis. The interviews led to the development of courses and course units on Franco-Americans. The late Madeleine Giguere, Professor Emerita of Sociology at USM and an expert in the field, provided mentorship and guidance and later invited me to join the board. I serve to honor Madeleine and all the generous Franco-Americans and French-speakers who have enriched my own life and those of my students.