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Officers

The Alliance Française de Philadelphie is dependent upon its Board of Directors as its governing body. This group of individuals guides and oversees the strategic and fiscal direction of the organization, as well as investing their time, expertise and financial support. We are deeply grateful for their leadership.

L'Alliance Française de Philadelphie est gouvernée par son Conseil d'Administration. Les personnes qui le composent guident et supervisent les opérations fiscales, tout en donnant de leur temps, leur expertise, ainsi qu'un soutien financier. Nous sommes reconnaissants de leur engagement. 

Beth Diffley President

Elizabeth Diffley is a partner with the national law firm, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath, where she serves as co-lead of the firm’s capital markets team. Beth is an accomplished and pragmatic adviser to public and private clients on corporate and securities matters, including capital-raising transactions, public company reporting and compliance and corporate governance. 

She has an accounting background and spent several years living and working in Paris.  Beth is committed to gender justice, inclusive economic development and community engagement. She supports these efforts through leadership in local nonprofit organizations and has been a member of the Alliance Française de Philadelphia for nearly 15 years.

Alicia Porter Secretary

 Alicia joined the board in April 2021 with 15 years’ experience in language education. She double majored in Creative Writing and French Studies at Lycoming College and studied at the Université Grenoble Alpes her junior year. From 2008-2010, she was an English Language Assistant in Lyon for the French Ministry of Education. In 2012, she joined the Alliance Française as an instructor and subsequently gained French teaching positions at the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University-Camden, and Drexel University, the latter at which she taught beginner, intermediate, and advanced undergraduate courses for seven years. In 2017, she earned an M.A. in Linguistics & Cognitive Science from the University of Delaware, and in 2020, she joined JEVS Human Services as the Education Director for Project WOW and IT Pre- Apprenticeship where she oversees the educational operations for young adults. Alicia is a passionate education advocate with a strong commitment to DEI and educational equity and is excited to promote the continued presence of the French language and culture in the Philadelphia area as a board member.

Amanda Barber Vice President

Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, Amanda expressed an interest in French language and culture from the tender age of seven. She began her studies in high school, earned her BA in French from Penn State University in 2001 and her MA in French literature from the University of Delaware in 2010. As part of her studies she spent a semester at the Université d’Aix-Marseille III in Aix-en-Provence, taught French to American students at the American University in Paris and English to French university students at the Université de Caen Basse-Normandie. She has also taught French as a graduate student at the University of Delaware and as an adjunct at Villanova and the University of Pennsylvania. A recent addition to the board of the Alliance Française de Philadelphie, Amanda wishes to advance the Alliance’s mission to help people learn French and deepen their knowledge of Francophone cultures.

Sheree Petrone Treasurer



DIRECTORS

Danièle Cohen Grossman

Raised and educated in France, Danièle is a graduate of the Université de Strasbourg, School of Law. She later attended the Annenberg Graduate School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on Interpersonal Communication and Visual Arts. She worked for many years as Director of Development for an international non-profit institution. She edited its international newsletter and authored numerous articles and grant proposals. In the past 20 years, she consulted and coached executives and professionals in public speaking and conducted workshops in media presentations. She is presently an educator and guide at the Barnes Foundation. She serves on the board of several organizations and is a former member of the Ecole Française Internationale de Philadelphie. She has been on the Board of the Alliance for over 10 years. 

Nancy Gabel

Former President of the Alliance Française, Nancy spent her professional career teaching high school French and heading the Foreign Language Department in the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District where she became president of the tri-state chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French. After retiring, she joined the board of Main Line School Night and served as president of the organization for several years. Mrs. Gabel was a founder of the French International School in Bala Cynwyd, served as a board member and then also as president. In 2003, Nancy was named Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques, an honor bestowed by the French Government in recognition of her contributions to the field of education as well as her efforts to promote the French language and culture in the United States.

Michelle Erickson

 Michelle is an experienced and well-rounded educator, dedicated to cultivating inquisitive and responsive learners. She created an arts-collaborative history curriculum at a performing arts high school before moving to Philadelphia. Today, she teaches language arts in the format of Art History for students who have specific reading and information processing challenges. Michelle has been a student of French for many years, slowly absorbing and using the language. She is currently working on a Masters in Art History and Visual Culture. She considers Philadelphia to be a wonderful setting for working and learning, with an international environment and incredible arts and culture. Ballet performances are a particular favorite arts activity for Michelle. Crediting the Alliance Française de Philadelphie for connecting Michelle to the life of the city in her first years here, she is thrilled to deepen my connection and serve the AF mission as a board member.

Monique Laird

Monique V. Laird is a long-time dedicated francophone, a member of the Alliance Française and Le Centre de la Francophonie des Amériques. Prior to promoting francophonie, she was a senior strategist in health economics; she holds a master’s in economics from the University of Paris-Dauphine. Having earned a degree in French as a Foreign Language, she specializes in teaching and disseminating French-speaking culture in the Philadelphia region from the perspective of a French woman. Her contributions include the creation of a French-language radio program, lecturing at various colleges (University of Pennsylvania, Haverford, Bryn Mawr) and at the Alliance Française. She has served as a board member at the Alliance Française since 2008

Kedra Kearis

Kedra Kearis is Associate Curator of Art and Visual Culture at Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library and is a faculty member in the Winterthur Program Master’s degree in American Material Culture at University of Delaware. She holds a Ph.D. in Art History from Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Temple University, an M.A. in Literature from Eastern Michigan University, and a B.A. in French Language and Literature and Art History from Oakland University. She has received grants and fellowships in support of her research and writing from the Association of Historians of American Art, the New-York Historical Society, the Preservation Society of Newport County, Tyler School of Art and Architecture, and others. She formerly researched the paintings collection at The Barnes Foundation, where she served on the adult education faculty. Prior to pursuing a career in museums, she taught a variety of ages from early childhood to university, devoting nearly ten years to private French instruction and French classroom teaching grades 6-12. She brings to the Board of the Alliance Française de Philadelphie a passion for French language and francophone cultural studies as well as a commitment to a global perspective in education and public programming. 

Remy Nshimiyimana

Remy is a business lawyer specializing in mergers and acquisitions and commercial contracts. He is a partner at Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, a national law firm. He grew up in Rwanda and immigrated to the United States in 2003. He has an undergraduate degree in French and Francophone studies from the University of Pennsylvania. While in law school at the University of Pennsylvania, Remy enrolled in a joint degree program between Penn Law and two French universities: Institut des Études Politique (Sciences Po) and the Université Paris l Panthéon - Sorbonne, which enabled him to spend his third and final year of law school in Paris where he earned master's degrees in Global Economic Law (Droit des Affaires, Droit de la Globalization Économique). During that year, he further experienced and appreciated even more the beauty of the French language and culture. Remy joined the board of the Alliance Française in 2023 with a desire for help foster the study of French and appreciation of not only the beauty of the language, but also the relative historical, cultural, and geopolitical importance of Francophone cultures.

Sheri-Ann Cowie

 She holds a PhD in Counseling Psychology from New York University and a BS in International Business from the College at Plattsburgh, State University of New York. She is a certified consultant who has consulted to civilians, military officers, and emerging leaders in the public and private sectors around leadership, authority, followership, and organizational life. Dr. Cowie works as a psychotherapist and manages her psychology private practice. In her consultant role, she runs a leadership training program and has consulted to local community, educational, and cultural organizations. She is the vice president of the Board for the A. K. Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems and also serves on the board for Alliance Française de Philadelphie and Arch Street Preschool.

Thérèse Dolan

 Emerita Professor of Art History at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Thérèse Dolan received a Ph.d in 1979 from Bryn Mawr College. She has authored many books and articles on art history, and most recently co-authored, Salut, France Meets Philadelphia in 2020 with colleague and Vice President of the Alliance Française, Lynn Miller. In 2002 she received a National Endowment for the Humanities summer fellowship to study with Carolyn Abbate at Princeton University on opera and voice. She was a recipient of the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2002 and a Great Teacher Award in 2006 at Temple University. She served for two terms as chair of the Department of Art History from 1998 to 2004 and served as Interim Dean of Tyler School of Art from January 2008 to June 2009.

Zabeth Teelucksingh

Current Executive Director of the Global Philadelphia Association, a non-profit designed to raise awareness of Philadelphia as a global city including the World Heritage City Project, Zabeth has more than 25 years of international business, b2b and non-profit experience. Zabeth is highly skilled in all aspects of Marketing, Communications and Branding with a global vision. She serves on several boards including USA250, U.S. Global Leadership Coalition Advisory Committee, PA Humanities Council and Alliance Française. Born in Carthage, Tunisia, Zabeth was educated in boarding school in the UK and the French Lycée in London, graduating from Lancaster University with a triple major, she studied French Civilization at the Sorbonne in Paris and recently graduated with a degree in Social Impact from the The University of Pennsylvania.

Catherine Kosman

 Born and raised in France, Catherine graduated from the American University in Paris with a degree in Art History and received her certification from the American Montessori Society in New-York. After teaching for a number of years in a Montessori  School in Larchmont, New York, she joined the faculty at the French American School in Larchmont, NY. Catherine was a founder of the French International School which opened its doors in 1991 and she remained there as a teacher, Program Coordinator and French Interim Head of School for one year until her retirement in 2016. She has been an intermittent member of the Board of Directors of the French International School of Philadelphia in Bala Cynwyd and was a member of the Alliance Française before joining the Board in 2016. Catherine continues to travel and stay in France every year for 3 months particularly on the Normandy coast.

Cecil Jones

Former Treasurer of the Alliance Française de Philadelphie and a board member since 2000, Cecil first displayed his interest in France and French culture when - for reasons still unbeknownst to him - he chose the vineyards of Burgundy as his topic for an eight-grade term paper. Cecil’s studies of French began in high school and continued at Cornell University, at the Philadelphia Alliance Française and the Alliance Française de Paris.  In 1984 he earned a Certificate in French Business Translation from La Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie à Paris.

A former state and federal prosecutor, in 1992 Cecil set aside the practice of law to found Just France, which became North America’s leading agency for the rental of upscale vacation homes in Paris and the French countryside.  He later founded Just France Sales, which assists Anglophones with the acquisition and sale of property in France, and also provides advice on French property law