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Meet AFMSP


The mission of Alliance Française Mpls/St Paul, an independent chapter of a worldwide organization, is to serve our community by promoting the use and appreciation of French language and cultures through language classes, cultural programs, social events and information resources.

Our vision is to build a community of people passionate about francophone culture in all its global diversity, and want to become–through high-quality native language instruction along with authentic and exciting cultural activities and social events–the indispensable destination for all things French!

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History

Founded in Paris in 1883, the Alliance Française promotes French language and culture. Worldwide there are over 1,135 chapters in 138 countries, with 130 chapters in the United States. The Alliance Française is the largest cultural network in the world.  Each Alliance Française is governed locally and is operated as an independent, non-profit, non-political, non-discriminatory organization.


AFMSP Yesterday

The Alliance Française began in Minnesota in the 1920s with a small group interested in the language and culture of France, led by University of Minnesota Professor Jacques Fermand.  By the 1950s, our local chapter had around 100 members.  On October 29, 1975, the chapter was incorporated as a non-profit organization in the state of Minnesota.  Today, the AFMSP has more than 1,000 members and over 900 students annually.

AFMSP Today

Every month, the Alliance Française hosts many cultural events for French speakers and Francophiles of all ages. Monthly activities include film groups and book clubs of varying levels of French. Also, we have a club for high schoolers, a young professionals group and monthly breakfast conversation groups for the community. Additionally, the Alliance Française hosts a Bastille Day celebration, musical events, concerts, lectures, conferences, holiday celebrations and more throughout the year.

Venez nous rendre visite!

Board of Directors


AFMSP Officers 2020 – 2021

Bryn VAALER, Chair

Carolee LINDSEY, CFO

Pam PAPPAS STANOCH, Vice Chair              

Jonathan VESSEY, Legal Counsel

Tanya GAJEWSKA, Secretary

Directors at large

Philip BARNES
Michelle CHAMPLIN BERGNER
Simin HICKMAN
Chris HOLDEN
Jeremy IGGERS
Allison LINDBERG
Jeff LUNDGREN
Pearce MCCARTY
Lamiaa MOUHINE
Michael MUSA
Jacqueline REGIS
Caroline SELL
Scott STANGELAND
Chichi STEINER

 For a century, Alliance Française has been promoting French language and French-speaking cultures through language classes, social and cultural events and information resources in Minnesota. An independent chapter of a world-wide organization, our Alliance Française is the 6th largest in the United States.

AFMSP plays a pivotal role in representing the global diversity of the French-speaking world in the Twin Cities and Rochester. Regardless of your language proficiency, nationality or background, everyone is always welcome.

Each year, we host 120 cultural events featuring local and international authors, scholars and artists, celebrating international cultures.  In addition to the classes taught at our offices, our programs in schools across Minneapolis, St Paul and beyond, inspire hundreds of children and young adults to become Francophiles and life-long French speakers.

Joly Center Staff


CHRISTINA SELANDER BOUZOUINA

Executive Director

Christina was born in Minneapolis and moved to Europe after college. After living in London and Montpellier, she spent nearly 9 years in Marseille, working as an English teacher and program coordinator in lycées and universities as well as several private institutions. Upon her return to Minnesota in 2007, she joined the Alliance Française de Minneapolis/St. Paul where she became the executive director in 2008. Christina was appointed Honorary Consul of France in Minnesota in 2014 and was named Chevalier dans l’Ordre de Palmes Académiques in 2015.

ANNA SCALLON

Development Director

Anna Scallon has been part of the AF team for over a decade. Her first experience with AFMSP was as a child, when she began her French studies with after-school classes held by the Alliance at her school. Following graduation from the University of Minnesota with a double major in French Studies and Comparative Literature, Anna returned to AFMSP as an intern. Later, she took on the roles of Volunteer and Membership Coordinator, then Development Coordinator. In a new position as AFMSP’s first Development Director, Anna works on the Annual Campaign and Capital Campaign fundraising, grant submissions and sponsorships, and organizes the annual gala and fall fashion fundraiser. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, going out with friends, spending time on the St Croix River and foraging in Wisconsin.

ALIX LEWIS-SADRANT

Education Director

Alix is the Education Director at AFMSP. She manages educational programs and staff. She is from NE Minneapolis and returned close to home after living in France for about a decade. She lived in Nantes, which is definitely worth a visit! She has a BA from St Olaf College with a major in French and History and an MA from the Institute of French Studies at New York University. She also completed a degree in FLE (Français Langue Etrangère). She enjoys spending time with her family, running and biking and she also loves the visual arts.

NATALIA KARCZMARCZUK

Cultural Events Coordinator

Natalia was born in Poland. Arrived to France when she was five, she grew up in Caen, in Normandy, in a multicultural environment, speaking Polish at home and French at school. After living in New-Zealand for a year, she has worked ten years in the cultural sector as a Communication Manager, between Paris and Brittany. Before leaving her beloved Brittany in August 2018, she was working as a project manager in a graphic design agency specialized in real estate and architecture. When not working at the Alliance, she loves discovering Minnesota with her husband and their two little kids. Her highlight? Ice skating on frozen lakes!

MACKENZIE FENNER

Administrative Coordinator

Mackenzie grew up in Minnesota, but has spent time learning French while visiting family in Switzerland, in Montpellier during her study abroad, and during visits to Francophone countries like Canada and Morocco. A graduate in International Business and Marketing from the U of M, she is continuing her studies by taking classes at the Alliance! In her spare time, Mackenzie loves to go biking, roller skating, and dancing with friends.

SANDRA RELLIER

Youth Programs Coordinator

Sandra is from France but left right after high school in 2008. She attended the University of Minnesota from which, 12 years later, she also graduated with her Ph.D in “Hispanic and Lusophone Literatures and Cultures.” Though her degree is not in French, her dissertation focused on the memories of the pieds-noirs which she compared to the memories of the Portuguese retornados. In her free time, Sandra enjoys playing the sport of Squash, spending time with her friends and talking to her family that lives in 3 different European countries.  

BRENNA MOSSER

Office Manager

Brenna Mosser is a dancer. She studied dance for three years in London and then three years in France. She currently dances with ARENA Dances and Threads Dance Project, as well as running her own company, Brenna Mosser Dance Works. Brenna loves working at the Alliance! In her role she oversees AF’s gift shop La Boutique and especially its French Corner Bookstore. Outside of dancing and French, Brenna enjoys spending her free time on prairie restoration projects, reading sci-fi novels, and camping.

ANNIE THOMPSON

Evening Receptionist

Annie’s passion for the French language began in early high school and has only grown since then. She completed a dual degree in French Studies and English Literature at the University of Minnesota, from which she graduated after completing a thesis on identity and the urban environment. After college, she moved to Angers, France where she taught English through the TAPIF program and developed a deep love for life in France. When not at the office, she is working on her never-ending list of books to read, running paths along the Mississippi, and exploring her way through the Twin Cities food scene.

DOMINIC ZAHNER

Facilities Coordinator

Dominic has worked with AFMSP as Facilities Coordinator for nearly four years and before that he served as Bastille Day intern. He was raised in the Twin Cities and discovered his passion for French in Mme. Sweeney's 10th-12th grade classes at St. Louis Park High School, later getting a degree in French from Marquette University. After graduating from Marquette, he spent 9 months in the Indian Ocean on the French island department of La Réunion as part of the TAPIF program. In his spare time, Dominic enjoys riding his bike, traveling the world, and going to baseball games. On Wednesdays you can usually find him in the Target Field cheap seats taking full advantage of the $1 hot dog promotion.

MALIKA BENACHOUR

Instructor

Malika was born in France in an Algerian family. She grew up in the inner city of Orléans. After she earned her Master's degree in Foreign Languages and Cultures, she moved to Spain where she lived for over two years. Her multicultural background expanded when she moved to the United-States and married a Cuban dancer. She completed her teaching license and has been working in ISD622 since 2006. When not working at the Alliance, she loves spending time with her daughter, dancing, drumming, cooking, and gardening.

MARIE-JEANNE HARGITT

Instructor

Marie-Jeanne was born in Lausanne, Switzerland. After receiving a degree in Elementary Education, she moved to Bogata, Colombia, where she taught French in a Swiss school and backpacked through South America. After returning to Switzerland, she did education research with a team of Swiss educators and conducted seminars for teachers. She arrived in Minneapolis in 1982 and has taught at the Alliance Française since 1983. Throughout the years, teaching French to children continues to be one of her many passions, as is evidenced by her work as a founder of the Normandale French Immersion Elementary School, and by her dedication to enriching the children’s programming at the Alliance.

KARINE CANTIN

Instructor

Karine hails from Vendée, situated in the northwest part of France. After studying at the Université de Nantes, Karine came to Minnesota to teach French. She started with the Alliance Française in 1992 and has continued to be a key component of our teaching staff ever since. Her love of language and her desire to foster an appreciation and understanding of French culture is apparent in each of her classes.

FRANCINE ROCHE

Instructor

Francine Roche is from Montréal, Québec. She has lived in Minneapolis for many years and has three children who all live here. Teaching the French language and francophone cultures has always been very close to her heart. She spent more than 20 years working with children and was a Montessori school director and also worked with French immersion programs here in the Twin Cities. She joined the Alliance Française in January 2011 and has loved every minute of it. She loves music and sings professionally in the Twin Cities.

DAMIEN SADRANT

Instructor

Bonjour from Damien! He has taught French at the Alliance since 2011. He comes from Vendée, on the French Atlantic coast, and now lives in Columbia Heights. He studied history and literature in Nantes. In a previous life he was a sailing instructor in Western France. When he’s not teaching, Damien plays guitar, cooks (he is a trained crêpier!) and he loves to fish and garden. He has a passion for language and culture, and absolutely loves grammar :D A bientôt!

ALAIN PEREZ

Instructor

Bonjour de Alain ! Originally from Cuba, Alain arrived in Minneapolis, Minnesota on December 25th, 2014. Having learned French at the Alliance Francaise in Havana, Cuba, he knew that he wanted to become a French teacher to share his passion for French culture and language. Alain is very happy to be part of the team of teachers of the Minneapolis Alliance.

CÉCILE CROZAT-ZAWISZA

Instructor

Cécile was born in Tarbes, a beautiful city in the southwest corner of France. A professional opera singer, Cécile has performed in renowned theaters in France, Spain, and Austria. She now works with the Minnesota Opera and teaches French diction and voice lessons in the Twin Cities. When not at the opera, Cécile shares her passion for the beauty of the French language in her classes.

WILSON GOSS

Instructor

Wilson was born in California, where he fell in love with the writers of the Lost Generation and dreamed of living in Paris. He realized this dream when he studied for a year at l’Université Paris X, Nanterre. Following this, he earned a degree and a masters in French Literature and French studies at Tulane University (you can read his thesis on La princesse de Clèves here). After finishing his studies, he taught in an French immersion elementary school, and now teaches English. He started teaching at the Alliance Française to re-explore the joys of teaching French. When not at the Alliance, Wilson enjoys hiking, running, playing the banjo, bass, and guitar, and spending time with his wife and son.

ABDEL HAMOUCHI

Instructor

Abdel is originally from Morocco, where he taught English as a foreign language for many years. He joined the Alliance Française team in April 2018, and feels fortunate to work as the host of Alliance Française’s Ciné Club as well as a part of a wonderful team of teachers. He is passionate about education, creative writing and cinema.

MOHAMED CAMARA

Instructor

Mohamed is from Senegal where he spent many years teaching local language and culture to American, Japanese, and Korean volunteers.  He also assisted graduate and doctorate students conducting research in West Africa.  He is fluent in 4 languages and spent several years teaching English in a rural part of the country.  He moved to the US at the end of 2018 and looks forward to exploring the states further.  He enjoys watching and playing soccer, going for walks or runs, having adventures, or just enjoying coffee or tea with good conversation and friends.  

JIM LONG

Instructor

Jim has been teaching French for four decades as an adjunct university professor. He also teaches adults, middle schoolers and high schoolers. The Alliance Française has become like a home away from home for him, having lived and studied in France and Germany, led groups abroad, and tutored families from companies preparing to relocate to French-speaking countries. He works with numerous private and commercial clients, serving as on-site translator for high-tech training audio producers and as a voice talent for a dozen French textbook publishers. His wife, daughter and grandchildren are all French nationals. 

SANDRA VENDÉ NELSON

Instructor

Sandra Vendé Nelson is originally from the Bordeaux region and has been a French teacher for about twenty years. She studied American poetry and got her MA at the Université d’Avignon, focusing on the poetry of Hart Crane. She moved to Minnesota from Southern France in 2001 and has lived in Austria for three years to teach at the French Institute. She has been part of the Alliance Française community for a decade, teaching adults and children. In her free time, Sandra loves to travel, hike, read and write.