The Board

Minneapolis-Tours Board Bios

(Left to Right) Beth Parkhill; Simin Hickman; Gail Beske; Christina Selander Bouzouina, Alliance Francaise Executive Director; Helen Burke; (Back Left) Michael Rainville and Robert Corrick

 

Gail Beske, President

Gail has been a Francophile since 7th grade, which was a very long time ago; that’s when she discovered the French language and culture. During her junior year of college spent in Paris, she visited the Touraine for the first time and fell in love with France. Many visits, and lots of Skype calls later, she still retains solid friendships of French amis whom she met that year and subsequently. Gail had several au pairs over the years, one of whom was from Tours. Visiting her family’s vineyard a few years ago and staying in a little cottage on the property, was very special.

After retiring from her regular job, Gail began to refocus on her passion for the French language and culture and joined the Minneapolis-Tours board last fall to help strengthen the relationship between Minneapolis and Tours. She is happy with the many blossoming friendships that she has made while serving the association and is very excited about the mission and bright future.

Simin Hickman, Vice President

Having grown up in Iran, Simin was greatly influenced by the French culture, music, art, and language. When she had a chance to visit France many years ago, she fell in love with this country and continues to visit any time she has a chance.

At a Petit Dej at Alliance Francaise shortly before she retired, Simin was introduced to Tours and learned about the sister city organization. She knew immediately this was the organization she wanted to work with. The experience has been so rewarding, going to Tours, meeting colleagues and hosting visitors from Tours. It has all been such a fabulous experience. Simin strongly believes that these relationships are an important influence on the future of international communities.

Helen Burke, Secretary

In October 1994, Helen volunteered to be host for Minneapolis’ first intern from Tours. Stephanie stayed five months chez moi while she “worked” at the downtown library. Helen’s biggest concern during her stay? ‘How could any bread here possibly be up to French standards?’ And what was 23-year-old Stephanie’s clear choice, hands down, among all the possible breads? Lund’s “budget” white bread!! That’s proof positive that it’s easier than one thinks to successfully host une Francaise!

Hosting Stephanie led Helen to become involved with Minneapolis-Tours and to visit la Touraine twice. Her favorite chateau? Hard to choose just one, yet Amboise wins. Helen says Amboise is Stephanie’s favorite, too, which is close to her hometown of Blere.

IMG_0485Marilyne Bouteiller

A French native living in Minneapolis for over 20 years, Marilyne joined the organization to stay connected to her roots. She always wanted to find a way to be involved in some kind of relationships between France and the United States. In March 2013, she contacted Minneapolis-Tours Sister Cities and immediately connected with the mission of the group. Having visited the Loire Valley at a younger age, Marilyne remembers the splendor of the region, its castles, wine valleys and the graciousness of its people.  “I am excited to serve on the board and bring a little bit of France to the organization.”

Sarah Johnson PhotoSarah Johnson

Sarah started as a volunteer for Minneapolis and Tours Sister Cities in 2009, when she joined the group at the annual Sister Cities Day Aquatennial celebration, and joined the board in 2014. She graduated as a French major from the University of Minnesota, Morris and studied in Paris in August 1998. She has always enjoyed a love of French culture and history and looks forward to sharing her passion for France with others in the Twin Cities and Tours.

 

Pierre Girard
Pierre Girard is second generation French Canadian from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. His grandparents emigrated from St. Ursule, Quebec. He served as President of La Société Canadienne Française du Minnesota and has been involved with The Pioneers and Les Servivants, local French Canadian organizations. He is also on the board of the French American Heritage Foundation. He has been working on his genealogy and has discovered family origins back to Les Sable d’Olonne, France.

Kim W. Havey, AICP, APA, LEED AP

Kim’s interest in Tours and France stems from his first back packing trip across Europe in 1989 in which he spent a week biking through the Loire river valley touring chateaus and lunching on banquettes, wine and cheese along the river banks.  He has since visited Tours three times most recently in May 2017.  On this trip he had the pleasure of meeting other Tours Sister City board members and decided to join the board in 2018 to support its many outreach activities.

Kim’s full time job is coordinator of outreach and education for the Minnesota Department of Commerce State Energy Office (SEO) which includes the Eco-Experience at the Minnesota State Fair, annual Home Energy Guide, SEO webpages, news releases, program reports and case studies.  Kim also leads the efforts to launch new programs such as the Weatherization Healthy Air and Low Income Solar State Action Plan.  Previously, he served at Commerce as the program coordinator of the state’s largest solar incentive program, the Made in Minnesota (MiM) Solar Incentive Program. In its first four years, the program helped triple the amount of rooftop solar PV energy capacity in Minnesota to more than 25 MWs and doubled the number of distinct solar projects to over 2,000 throughout 52 of Minnesota’s 87 counties.

Previously, Kim established a record of success as the co-founder of Sustology Consulting and Sustology Solar, a sustainable design and consulting firm that focuses on corporate sustainability planning and reporting, renewable energy development and green space design.

Kim earned a BBA in Real Estate from the University of WI – Madison and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) from the University of MN – Humphrey Institute.  He is accredited by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and is a US Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP).

Rachel Cagle 

Rachel came to the Twin Cities in 2003 to pursue a degree in French Studies at the University of Minnesota. After studying abroad in Montpellier, working as an au pair in Lille and coordinating immersion programs in Brussels, she returned to Minneapolis to complete a Master’s in International Education. In 2011, she worked at the Minnesota branch of the French-American Chamber of Commerce and became acquainted with the Minneapolis-Tours Sister City board. She went to Tours as a part of l’Année de la France, to help foster student exchanges, and immediately fell in love with the city and its people.

Also Board Member: Michael Rainville

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