Team

President

Regine Whittlesey

Born and educated in Nantes, in a large family, Régine arrived in Maine in the USA in 1974, as Amity Aide at Mt Ararat School in Topsham. There, I met my husband, David Whittlesey, an English teacher. We went back to live in Nantes where I finished my literary diploma and where we got married. From there began a long life of partnership that continues, more than 40 years later, after four children and two grandchildren. I started teaching French as a Foreign Language at Mt Ararat (Gr 9-12), under the tutelage of Nancy Thompson, an inspiring mentor who shared with me her joy of teaching. In 1980, my husband joined the State Department, which started our international life. Throughout our diplomatic posts around the world, I have always taught, changing levels, or even topics, according to local needs. For example, I taught Icelandic diplomats French in Reykjavik, Iceland, and then FLE in Rabat American School, Morocco. Subsequently I created and taught the French program (KG-G4) at Maret School, Washington DC; for many years I was a class teacher (Gr 2- 5) in the French section of the Collège du Léman in Geneva, Switzerland, before teaching again FLE (Gr 9-12) at International School of Dhaka , in Bangladesh. Then I went back to primary school in the CDL in Geneva before returning to Maine. There, I initially taught two years at the French School of Maine (Gr 1-3) for which I created and taught the French curriculum. I left this school in 2006 to teach at the newly established Maine Coast Waldorf School in Freeport. Twelve years later, I still teach in this school, with the same passion and happiness as in the first days of my life as a teacher in 1976! Needless to say, teaching is my passion! After raising four perfectly bilingual (or trilingual) children, I am particularly interested in helping children or adults become bilingual. I am now on the eve of my retirement and can not imagine my future life without a piece of education, hence my interest in this creation of Alliance Française in Maine. Even if I do not personally teach French, I am very motivated to encourage the local population to join us to discover the French language and cultures that are found here. We are fortunate to be in an environment where French is very present, both because of the historical presence of Franco-Canadian families, immigrants to Maine since the end of the 19th century, and then the more recent presence of many immigrants. Francophone Africa, and finally a smaller but active population of French-speaking European immigrants. So French is alive and well in Maine and I think that our French Alliance will be welcome for rich exchanges between all these communities who share, if not the same culture, at least the same language. I will be happy to help, in any capacity, to build a place for Francophone exchanges, based on fraternity and tolerance.

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Vice-President

Marie-Gaelle Casset-Ford

Marie-Gaëlle Casset-Ford, grew up between Paris and Brittany and lives in Maine where she founded her family. Mother of two young girls, she gave herself the mission of a bilingual, artistic and multicultural education that led her to the creation of a nursery school “La Petite Ecole”, founded in Portland in 2009 and then moved to South Portland in 2018. She is delighted to see a French Alliance in Portland bloom, to bring together an intercultural, Francophile and Francophone community.

Secretary

Stéphanie Looten-Caceres

She grew up in France, in Savoie, in the Alps, in a multicultural, partly Alsatian, Provençal and Malagasy family where meeting and sharing with others was at the heart of her education. Having since created her own intercultural and multilingual family, married to an Ecuadorian, raising two trilingual children (French, Spanish, English) she is passionate about the adventure of the renaissance of the Alliance Française du Maine. She serves as secretary on the board of directors. She is a teacher at La Petite Ecole in South Portland.

Treasurer

Bernard Hidier

Hello everyone!

Members of the board

Lisa Scali

American by birth but francophile of heart, I am delighted with the creation of this organization. I studied French in the United States during the majority of my schooling, with long stays in Poitiers and Strasbourg. After earning a Master’s degree from Columbia University in the field of international economic policy, I Work for an American bank in Paris, for 6 years. It was a beautiful time in my life, where I blossomed personally as well as professionally. Based in Maine for 12 years, I am married to an American who also has a great love for French culture. We have a daughter who is fluent in French and wants to continue to study, speak and live it at all costs. That’s why I get involved in the AF of Maine so that my family can benefit from the cultural and linguistic context it represents. Professionally, I left finance a little while ago, and I’m now running a seaweed start-up called Ocean’s Balance. We manufacture seaweed-based foods and promote sustainable cultivation and harvesting in Maine. I have the opportunity to contact Breton counterparts from time to time about seaweed and every time I see a deepening of my vocabulary …!

Nathalie Gorey

Nathalie is a native French speaker, originally from Normandy, but she was born and grew up until the age of 11 in Ivory Coast. After graduating from the University of Angers in the Pays de Loire region of France with her Master’s degree in Applied Languages to International Business and spending her final year studying in Ireland with the Erasmus program, Nathalie was hired by the University of Maine system to come be a teaching assistant for one year. She ended up meeting her future husband and continued teaching at UMM for five years. Nathalie’s first experience teaching had been while in Limerick, Ireland, at the local Alliance Française. Nathalie has now been living in Maine for the past 26 years and has also taught at UMA, as well as at the elementary and secondary school levels, more recently at Mt. Ararat HS in Topsham. Nathalie is also the President of the Maine chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French, and the French translator for the African newspaper for the new Mainers, Amjambo Africa! She is passionate about teaching and sharing her native language, and the Francophone cultures. An avid reader and traveler, the mother of 2 grown up sons and the grandmother of an 8 year-old little girl , Nathalie lives in Edgecomb with her husband and her cats.

Louis-Pierre Lachapelle

I am originally from Montreal, Quebec and lived In Nantes and Rome where I met my wife, Heidi. In the past 10 years or so, we have lived in various places in the United States and are currently living in Portland, Maine with our daughter Chloé who recently turned 2. We are raising her in French and English so she can have the opportunity to embrace both cultures. I am a visual art teacher in the Portland district and I also have a studio practice, where spend most of my time. I joined the Alliance Française du Maine this past winter and I am excited to meet people who are willing to share our language and culture.

Julie Mattei-Benn

Born and raised in Paris, I have dreamed of moving to the States for as long as I could remember and grew up fantasizing of a suburban life, just like I would watch on american sitcoms. My american dream started to take shape in 2006 when I was accepted in a Graphic Design MFA program at the California Institute of the Arts, outside of Los Angeles. I moved to New York after graduating in 2008 hoping to get a job in advertising or fashion. I was lucky enough to find a job immediately upon my arrival, but I really hit the jackpot when I met Leon, a fine artist, during a Bastille Day party at some french friends’ loft in Brooklyn. A wedding and a global recession later, I get a job at J.Crew where I grew professionally and became an Art Director. Leon and I welcome Georgia, our first daughter, in 2014. A few month after her birth, we had the opportunity to move to Maine as I got a job as a Creative Director at L.L.Bean, in Freeport. We have lived in Portland since 2015 and have completely fallen in love with Maine and are so grateful to call this wonderful state home. Our second daughter, Anouk, was born in 2018 and we do our best to raise them in a bilingual and multicultural home.

Camden Martin

I am from Lewiston Auburn and my oirigins come from French Canada. I spent two years in higschool in the South of France in Nîmes. Furthermore, I did my superior education studying protection of the environment at Saint Félicien in the lake Saint John region of Québec. I work now at Museum LA in Lewiston, where teach anbout the industrial period as well as immigration. I have been implicating myself in French Language causes for many years as it is a subject that I hold very precious. I am passionate about foreign languages, history, as well as wildlife amongst many other subjects.

Charlotte Cami

I grew up in Bourges in the Center of France and studied and worked in Paris for 12 years. Early on, I caught the travel bug and never left my backpack in a corner for too long. I then took a sabbatical to travel the world and never really looked back since. I lived in Wellington, New Zealand for more than 2 years, where I was working as an IT Project Manager, then Maui, Hawaii. I settled more recently in Portland, Maine. Traveling made me become an accidental ambassador for the French language and I'm proud to contribute to keep it alive and visible through the Alliance Française of Maine.

Teachers

Cathy Varela

Cathy was born and raised in the North of France. Before she came to the U.S., she studied International Business and enjoyed traveling through Europe. She arrived twenty years ago in Maine as an Amity aid – a teacher assistant – at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham. Her goal was to improve her English but she fell in love with teaching so she stayed in Maine, raised a family and has been a French and Spanish teacher for the past 12 years in the public school system. She loves to share her passion for languages, cultures and travel with her students: she has taken groups to Puerto Rico, Chile, Québec and France. When she is not teaching, Cathy loves to cook for her two boys, do yoga, read and enjoy the beauty of Nature in Maine, especially the beach!

Jacqueline Doiron

Jacqueline has been teaching French for about twenty years. She lived in Belgium and France. When living in Brussels, she gave private lessons in French to employees of the European Commission and diplomats. Since 2001, Jacqueline has been living in Scarborough, Maine. and has her own business called “French By Phone” and give French lessons over the phone. Her experience is not limited to an adult audience; She also has worked with children and is a “Certified French teacher”. For 3 years, she taught at a public school in Freeport. Her experience with children has allowed her to understand the importance of play for learning a foreign language. She also recently had the opportunity to host conversation tables in French at the Scarborough Library.