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Meet the profs of l'Alliance Française de Milwaukee

Meet Our Profs

Ivan Ascher

Eric Anderson

Geraldine Besnouin

Géraldine, a native French speaker, grew up in the suburbs of Paris. She got a Master’s Degree in Urbanism and became an engineer in transportation.

But Géraldine is not new to teaching. After a few years as an engineer, she decided to become a teacher. She used to teach in France at all grades from 3 to 11 years old.

Since she moved to the USA in 2019, she’s been teaching to kids and adults at all levels.

Géraldine loves to teach and share the French language and the French culture with her students.

Audrey Cauvet

Audrey, a native French speaker, grew up in Orléans and spent her adult life in Nantes. In 2020 Audrey joined Alliance Française de Milwaukee as a French teacher, before she used to be a financial auditor and financial controller in France and Singapore.

She got her undergraduate degree and Master’s in Finance from the Management Business School in Nantes. Audrey is well-traveled and looking forward to sharing the French language and culture with all her students.

Paula Champion

Swiss, born in Colombia, and with France in her heart, Paula has just joined the family of the Alliance Française de Milwaukee, with all her energy, sympathy, creativity and above all her enormous passion for the world and its cultures.

Graduated in Business Administration with a Master's degree in Marketing from Paul Valéry University in Montpellier (France), Paula then converted to her true passion, interior design, where she was able to leverage on her education and combine business with pleasure, a motto she practices with her students.

Barbara Collignon

Barbara Collignon earned a BA in French from UW-Milwaukee, an MA in French from UW-Madison and earned many credits in French literature after that. A year teaching English in Toulouse, France, enabled her to experience French culture first hand. That year of immersion resulted in near -native fluency. She taught French in public schools for more than 30 years and has taught children of all ages. She also taught college level classes at UWM. For 20 years she worked as an interpreter in healthcare. Certified by the American Translators Association, she enjoys translating documents of all kinds, medical, legal, literary and person. Collignon has taught many classes at the Alliance over years. She especially enjoys teaching the Cabaret class.

Barbara Collignon has a Master’s Degree in French and has taught French at many levels for decades! In addition to teaching, she enjoyed a 20-year career as translator and interpreter in health care. “Learning French was the best thing I ever did. It gave me two careers and countless hours of fun with French."

Sylvie Deniaud

I was born and raised in France and have always had the desire to share my unique cultural knowledge. I moved to the US in 2002 and have been involved in teaching French for all ages, babies to adults, including my 3 children. I have master's degrees in Science and Food Science from UFR Sciences in Nantes. Since 2013, I have been happily expanding my teaching of French with the Alliance Française.

Debra Desmoulin

Debra is proud to be a French Teacher at the Alliance Française because it offers unique French Language courses which promote fluency. Debra has a “Certificat de Langue Française Degré Supérieur” which she obtained while studying abroad at the Sorbonne in Paris. Additionally she has her Bachelor's degree in French from Central College in Iowa and her Master’s in French Language, Literature, and Translation from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has experience teaching French to middle and high school students, as well as to adults and has served as a French-English translator and interpreter. While living in 6 different regions in France for a total of 15 years, she taught English to native French high school and adult speakers.

Flora Fuller

Flora was born and raised in the region of Picardie, France. She studied English Literature and Civilization with a minor in Education in Lille, where she lived for 10 years, and holds a master's degree in English. Thanks to her love of discovering new cultures, she traveled throughout Europe and North America, and even studied for 2 years in Wisconsin!

In France, Flora worked as an International Relations Coordinator in a French college and taught French and English. Since August 2013, she has been enjoying teaching adults (beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels) at l’Alliance Française and she loves to share her knowledge of the French regions, her culture, and anything related to food.

Martin Gross

Martin grew up in a diplomatic family and learned his French while living in Switzerland.  While French is the language of diplomats and he worked in embassies in Harare and Belgrade, Martin’s career is in international sales and distribution management, mostly in Europe and Latin America.  He has passed by many French châteaux on the way to or from customer meetings and projects, and has picked up an unusual technical vocabulary over years of trainings and technical assistance. He has gained many insights in language and culture from business travel with his regional salespeople, and with building business across the different cultures.  Martin has a global perspective and delights in sharing his insights on language and culture, and spreading his enthusiasm.

l'Alliance Française de Milwaukee teacher, Jamie Gurholt

Jamie Gurholt

Jamie joined the teaching staff in the fall of 2021 while AF Milwaukee was seeking additional educators for Zoom instruction during the pandemic. Fluent in French and a resident of Beloit, she taught in the public high school for 27 years, creating their AP program and establishing bi-annual student trips over summers to France and Québec. Although she is no longer teaching in the traditional classroom, she maintains her passion for French by working for the Alliance Française, tutoring, presenting at conferences, and serving as the Professional Development Chair for WAFLT (WI Association for Language Teachers).

Jamie is a dynamic and creative instructor who uses diverse strategies, extensive background knowledge and her personal experiences to lead her students to successful levels of conversational French. She is currently employed at a local nonprofit community foundation as Program & Communications Coordinator, putting her technology and interpersonal skills to use. While instruction is limited to evenings and remains distance-only, Jamie makes every effort to attend AF events and volunteers at Bastille Days in order to meet students in person!

Gillian Keller

Céliane Labouret

Céliane was born and raised in Paris and studied French literature before starting her career as a French teacher. She has taught French for over thirty years, from the French Lycée in New York, to a middle school in Guadeloupe, to the French immersion program at a Montessori School in Milwaukee. She has been teaching at the Alliance Française since 2000, thoroughly enjoying teaching all ages. Céliane teaches various subjects, including world news, French literature, French songs and games; however, she is still not able to teach cooking!

Fanny Liard

Born in Switzerland in a French-speaking family, Fanny went to school first in German in Zurich, then in French, and graduated from the University of Lausanne with a master’s degree in German and minors in French and English. Teaching languages has always been her profession and passion, both in Europe and in the United States. After teaching in high schools and to adults of all levels and also young children, she joined the Alliance Française de Denver for 8 years and now at the Alliance Française de Milwaukee since 2005, specializing mostly in conversation classes and advanced grammar.

Nelly Saiki

Ruba Sam'an

Born in Jordan, Ruba speaks 4 languages: Arabic , English, French, and German . Her love of the French language started when she was 6. She holds a B.A .in Modern Languages (French and German) and a master’s degree in Women Studies. Ruba did part of her language study in France (L’Université Stendhal of Grenoble) and in Bremen University in Germany.

When she moved to the USA in 2003, Ruba finished her teaching program at Concordia University and is licensed as a K-12 French Teacher. Ruba doesn’t only teach school age students, but has a great experience teaching all ages and levels.

Ruba founded many cross-cultural clubs and international fairs in Madison and is a great advocate for bilingual programs and the importance of learning a foreign language.

Ruba worked for 2 years at the Milwaukee French Immersion School as a K-4 Teacher. She joined l’Alliance Française 5 years ago and she is so excited to share her cultural and language experiences with all students. Ruba is a certified A1/A2 Level DELF Examiner.

Margaret Schmidt

Margaret Schmidt is an experienced French teacher, having taught all levels of French from early elementary to advanced composition at the college level. She taught AP French at Shorewood High School for eighteen years. Margaret is a consultant for the College Board, and provides workshops for AP French teachers throughout the United States. In addition, she has served as the president of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French, and on the Executive Board of the Wisconsin Association for Language Teachers. She is an active member of SWAAF (Southeast Academic Alliance in French) and a strong promoter of French all over Wisconsin. Having studied in Aix-en-Provence, France, Margaret holds a BA and MA in French, and an MS in Curriculum & Instruction.

Bernard Zinck

Bernard Zinck is currently Associate Professor of Violin and Director of Chamber Music studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In 2018, he received the “Excellence in Studio Teaching Award” by Milwaukee’s Civic Music Association. He is the artistic director of Lakeside Chamber Music Workshop ( and the wine tasting and chamber music festival Musiques et Vignes en Confluence ( Dr Zinck has served on the faculty of the Eastern Music Festival, Cologne Hochschule fur Musik summer program in Montepulciano and the International Lyric Academy of Rome, Italy, Flaine Académie des Arts and MusicAlps (France), Holy Trinité Camp in Haiti, and he regularly gives master classes throughout North America, Mexico, Brazil, Asia and Europe.

A graduate of the Conservatoire Supérieur de Musique de Paris (first prize winner in violin and chamber music), the Juilliard School (Fulbright Scholar, BM and MM), and Temple University (DMA), Dr. Zinck started his concert career after winning the 1992 Yehudi Menuhin Trust Award in Paris. He has given recitals in the United States, Austria, England, his native France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy,  the Netherlands, Switzerland, Brazil, Canada, Haiti, Japan and Korea.