Board of directors

The AFC is fortunate to have a talented and eclectic group of dedicated Board Members, each of them bringing something unique to the table. They generously give of their time, expertise, and money for the benefit of our organization.  We are grateful for their hard work and dedication!


Nicole Kardell



Nicole Kardell is an attorney for the Washington D.C.-based firm, Ifrah Law, specializing in privacy law. She earned both her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Virginia. 

French language and culture have been an important part of Nicole’s life since childhood. She began her exploration of French language in middle school and continued her education through college, living at UVA's La Maison Française while an undergraduate, and spending her third year of college abroad in Paris through the Sweet Briar program. She also interned for a law firm in Paris while in law school and has had the opportunity to travel periodically to France for work.

She hopes to make travel to France an annual tradition for her and her daughter, who has been in French immersion schooling since preschool. 

Nicole has been a member of Alliance Française since 2014.


marjorie hirschi

vice president


Marjorie began her career in the Commercial & Investment Banking sector in London in 2003. In her last position, Marjorie worked for Barclays Capital (currently Barclays Investment Bank) in the Credit Restructuring & Advisory Group where she executed European restructurings at the height of the financial crisis. Following this, Marjorie moved with her family to Charlottesville in 2012 and soon after started focusing on a technology start-up project, which she is hoping to finalize in the near future.

Marjorie received her Master Grande École en Management (Master’s Degree) avec mention (with honors) from EM Strasbourg Business School (formerly IECS), France in 2002. Following the completion of an international exchange program, she also received an M.A in Business & Finance with honors from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK in 2002.

Marjorie is a French national and is committed to transmitting French culture and language to her young son as well as spreading the French culture in Charlottesville.


martin Bass


Martin Bass has been a member of the AFC for about 15 years.  He studied French in high school and college, and after a very long break, joined the AFC to "re-learn" what he'd lost.  He has travelled to France several times, including a recent trip to Bordeaux.

He retired from the University of Virginia Physicians Group in 2014, and moved to Staunton, where he lives with his wife, Susie.  He has BS and MBA degrees from U.Va. earned in the mid-70's.




Jean Howell.jpg

Jean Howell was born in Virginia, completing her education at Sarah Lawrence College, majoring in history. She then spent most of her adult life in NYC area, building a career and, with her husband, rearing a family.  Her professional background is in business, focusing on sales and marketing. A lover of travel, and all things French, she spends several weeks to several months each year in Paris and other locations in France. 

Jean’s experience outside of her business career includes broad non-profit board experience, serving in several officer positions, including - President, Vice President, Garth Newel Music Center; President, Vice President, Alleghany Highlands Free Clinic; and various other organizational leadership positions.



2014- photo BE.jpg

Bernard Esclapez is a renowned French commercial photographer who specialized in the cosmetics, perfume & luxury industries. He is past President of the French National Association of Commercial & Fashion Photographers as well as a founding member, past Treasurer and Vice-President of the Association of Creative Photographers (UPP). 

Although he and his wife retired to Charlottesville to be near their daughter and her family, they continue to return frequently to Paris. Bernard is looking forward to participating actively in the French community here and sharing his interest in his native language and culture.



Social and events, co-chairman



Ed Herring.jpg

Edward moved with his family to Charlottesville from New England several years ago after retiring  as an International Business Consultant. Edward, a North Carolina State University alumnus, lived and worked in Europe for many years and has been a life-long lover of the French language.  Since his retirement, he has held several temporary assignments at area high schools teaching French and German. He enjoys leading the AFC's monthly Saturday morning coffees and is a former member of the Charlottesville Sister Cities Commission.


emily martin

development, chairman


john vernon

John Vernon worked for 21 years in United Technologies Corporation until his retirement from the company in 2013, most recently serving as Vice President and General Manager, Global Fire Suppression for United Technologies Climate, Controls, and Security, located in Ashland, Massachusetts. Before this, John served as the Managing Director of UTC Fire and Security Distribution France, where he led a challenging consolidation of French fire businesses into a single entity. For 18 years prior, John held posts of increasing responsibility in United Technologies’ Carrier air conditioning division. In 2007-09, John was the President, Residential Light Commercial International for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, based in Paris, France, where he managed multiple subsidiaries and partnerships and where he previously served as Vice-President of Distribution. Before transferring to France, John spent eight years in the Asia Pacific region, serving as Executive Vice President in the Toshiba Carrier Corporation Japan and as the Managing Director of the Toshiba Carrier Thailand factory, located in Pathum Thani, Thailand. He has held a variety of functional and management positions at Carrier locations in Brunei, California, New York, Italy, and Japan. John joined United Technologies in 1991 through the Carrier Leadership Associates Program. He holds a bachelor’s degree in History and Economics from University of Virginia, a master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Chicago, and an MBA and master’s degree in Asian Studies from the University of Virginia. He also served for four years on Darden Graduate School of Business Corporate Advisory Board at the University of Virginia.


Elizabeth Woodard


Betsy Woodard, an attorney currently in solo practice, grew up in Charlottesville, where her father was a professor at the University of Virginia. A history major at Smith College, she spent her junior year in Aix-en-Provence and Paris, taking courses at Sciences Pô. After graduating, she found a job at a small investment banking firm in Paris and, through a Charlottesville friend, an apartment in Montmartre. That led to a stint in the same firm’s Madrid office, and then to three years as a researcher at an investment bank in New York. She returned to Charlottesville six years out of college to attend the U.Va. School of Law, and re-settled here after meeting her late husband, a law professor. Betsy has practiced both in law firms and as in-house counsel, primarily in the areas of corporate and trust and estates law. She has served on the boards of a number of local nonprofit organizations, including the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, the Legal Aid Justice Center, the Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge Foundation, and Piedmont Virginia Community College. She is currently enjoying resuscitating her French at AFC after a long hiatus.


Ariane Bailey Hiribarne- Served 5 years on the Board, including 4 as Vice President. 

Ann Bearden - Served 4 years on Board, including as Secretary

Marijke Ford - Board President from 2006–2011

Yates Nobles - Served 8 years on the Board, including as President and Secretary

Roulhac Toledano