History Of The Alliance française de Portland
The Alliance Française was founded in 1883 in Paris by (from left) the scientist Louis Pasteur, the diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps, and the writers Jules Verne and Ernest Renan. Today the Alliance is an international organization represented worldwide.
The Alliance Française of Portland was created in 1933 as a social club for Francophones, Francophiles and French residents. The club faded away in the 1960s and was largely dormant for two decades.
In the early 1980s the organization was revived by Jean-Claude Paris, the founder the French American International School. Paris encountered Sabine de Carbonnel de Canisy, a fluent French speaker, who had lived in the former French Algeria, the former French Indochina, and the Philippines. Paris suggested that she should re-establish the Alliance Française in Portland and offered to host it at his school.
The first board of the Alliance consisted of Guylaine Iliff, Kitty Cassarno, John Marks, Sabine Artaud-Wild, Gordon Gilkey, Sabine de Carbonnel de Canisy, and Bill Buck. Jean-Claude Paris became the organization’s first President in 1983. Sabine de Carbonnel de Canisy taught the first French classes at the Alliance with five students the first year.
In the late 1980s PSU professor Claudine Fisher became the group’s president, and lawyer Bill Buck worked to secure the group’s non-profit status. The group received their 501(c)3 nonprofit status in 1989. In that era, due to the efforts of Sabine Artaud-Wilde, the Portland Alliance was chartered as a teaching Alliance by the Paris-based Fondation Alliance Française. Today, it flourishes as a teaching Alliance and French cultural center.