Board Members



President: Monique Copeland

A French Canadian native, Monique Laniel Copeland is a Sales Manager for Citrix Systems, a digital workspace, networking, security and analytics technology company. She has been on the French Alliance board since 2017. She lived in Paris, Montreal and has been living in Raleigh for the last 28 years.

Vice-President: Polly Lyman 

An American citizen, Polly is a fundraising and communications professional who has worked in French-speaking organizations most of her adult life.  She has a B.A. in French Literature from Trinity College and an M.A. in French Literature from Tufts University.  She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Federation of Alliances Francaises of the United States. She has a much-neglected but formerly award-winning  blog, "Polly-Vous Francais?" which she began when living in Paris from 2006 - 2009.


Secretary: Claire Gellion

A French American citizen, former project manager for the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development, computer engineer in research center in France, Claire Gellion grew up in Africa and lived in several countries across the world. She moved to Chapel Hill  in 2010.


Treasurer:  Edmund Tiryakian

Edmund Tiryakian, US citizen married to a French, is a former lawyer and investment banker who spent his career in Hong Kong, ran marathons around the world, has tracked mountain gorillas in Rwanda and bonobos in Congo.  He has now retired to his native North Carolina, living in the unexplored wilds of Hillsborough, where he tends to chickens, bees, cats and dogs in modest attempts to be a gentleman farmer. 



Stephen Smith, Ph.D

An American citizen, former correspondent in Africa for Reuter and Radio France Internationale, journalist at Libération and Le Monde, Stephen Smith is a writer and a professor at Duke University in the African & African American Studies department. He leads the Center for French and Francophone Studies at Duke.

Michèle Darrah

A French-American citizen, retired teacher from NCSU and musician, Michèle Darrah has chaired the Alliance française for more than twenty years.

Hélène Crié-Wiesner

A French-American citizen, writer, and journalist, Hélène Crié has worked for many years at Libération, a national French news daily, and for the national public radio France Inter. Based in the USA since 2000, she now writes for French media as a freelancer.

Michelle Normand

A Maine native and French-American citizen, Michelle studied art history at La Sorbonne, trained in art restoration in New York, Paris, and Florence, taught English as a foreign language for several years and wrote investment research on Wall Street. She has lived in North Carolina since 2005, with her French husband and their two sons. Her favorite pet is, of course, a French bulldog. 


Employees and Instructors


Claire Barthelemy

Executive Director

I was born in the South of France and raised in Paris.  I obtained a Master's in Literature from University Paris X and a Business degree from INALCO Paris. I went on working as an International Sales Manager in the Medical Device Industry for 15 years, home based in Italy, Germany, Israel, the Ivory Coast and the Netherlands. I moved to the US in 2000 to marry my husband Michael.  We relocated from California to Raleigh in 2017.


Marie Lambert

Program Manager & French Instructor

I am a French native speaker, born and raised in Paris. Thanks to my Spanish parents, I also speak Spanish natively.

I obtained a Master degree in Finance from University Paris IX and a degree in business law from University Paris X. I began working in a French company as an international controller, and then joined the merger and Acquisition department as an expatriate in Argentina and Mexico. 

I discovered the joy of teaching my native languages when I moved to the US after marrying my American husband. I have been teaching French in various settings ever since.


Nathalie Gaut

French Instructor

Originally from Bordeaux, I moved to New York City 27 years ago with my husband who was then studying at Parson’s School of Design. I worked at Air France for a few years while studying for my  Master's degree in Education at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. I went on to teach at the Alliance Française of Boston, where I was named Teacher of the Year in 2003.  I was also awarded a grant to design and implement an after-school curriculum to teach French in 5 Boston public schools.  After we relocated to Chapel Hill in 2007, I took a teaching position at East and Carrboro High School.


Priya Joawn

French Instructor

Originally from Paris, I have lived in Cary since 2011. I graduated from ESGI International Business and Marketing School in Paris. I followed my husband to North Carolina after he completed his Master's degree at NCSU and found a job in the Triangle. 

I became a full time teacher when I moved to the US and have enjoyed teaching French to non-French speakers ever since.

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Rebecca Rumpf

French Instructor

I was born and raised in South Carolina, where I earned a BA in French from Clemson University. During my university studies, I spent a semester at l'Université de Rennes II, Haute-Bretagne.  After completing an assistantship in Normandy, I earned an MA in French from Middlebury College in Vermont and Paris. In the U.S., I have taught high school and elementary School in Vermont, Massachusetts and North Carolina. 


Sophie Acquart

French Instructor

I was born and raised in Lille, in the North of France, where I obtained my nursing diploma. I moved to Chapel Hill in 1999 and stayed home to raise my four children. In 2003, I started teaching French to school students and received my accreditation as a DELF / DALF examiner In 2014.  I have been working as a French tutor ever since.

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Lauren Marlot

French Instructor

I’m originally from Réunion Island, a small French island in the Indian Ocean. I moved to Raleigh in 2015 to complete my Master’s degree in International Business, and have been living there with my husband and husky ever since.

I’ve had the chance to travel to over 15 countries all over the world and have always loved learning new languages and experiencing new cultures. Now I love that I get to teach and share my own language and culture with my students in the Triangle.


Lily Smith

French Instructor

I am a Franco-American soprano. I was born and raised in Paris, France and later moved to the United States. I graduated from Northwestern University in 2019 with a B.M in Vocal Performance and a B.A in French. I am currently completing my Master's program at the Thornton School of Music at USC. I teach private voice lessons on Facetime, Zoom, or Skype to work on your repertoire of choice or general technique.  I also teach at the Alliance Française of Chicago.

Jean-Marc Humbert

French Instructor

I was born and raised in Lorraine, France. I obtained a Master’s Degree in International Business and started my career teaching Business and Marketing in High Schools. I moved to New England in 1990, then spent 2 years in the Midwest. After a few trips around the world, I settled in the San Diego area as a French teacher on both sides of the border.  I also started "Friends of America Cultural Exchanges," a company specializing in French/US cultural exchanges for High Schoolers.