The Paris American Club began as informal luncheon meetings in 1940, but was officially incorporated as a Type A corporation on August 24, 2001 for the purposes of a 501(c)(7) non-for-profit corporation, with its principal offices in the city and state of New York.
Its purpose is to:
- Conduct, operate and maintain a social club;
- Provide friendship and socialability among its members;
- Foster, develop and promote better understanding among citizens of the community;
- Continue the tradition established by Benjamin Franklin in 1777 in Paris, France by organizing meetings where members, all involved in the Franco-American community of New York, can interact and foster bonds of friendship between France and the United States.
The seven-member Board of Directors has the control and management of the affairs and business of the club, which is administered by the Officers, who by virtue of their positions, are members of the Board.
The Officers include a President, the chief executive officer of the association, who is responsible for the general management of the affairs of the corporation and carries out the resolutions of the Board of Directors, a Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary.
Any member in good standing who has attended at least three events during the prior year may be a candidate for Director. Candidates shall inform the Board of his or her candidacy prior to the date of the Annual Meeting, held at the January meeting.
The Directors hold a calendar-year term of office for two years and may be re-elected upon the expiration of their term. Once elected, the Directors appoint the Officers. The Board may also establish committees of interested members to manage various activities as needed.
Board of Directors (2018 – 2019)
John F. Bennett, President
John F. Bennett joined the Paris American Club in 2007 and served as its vice president from 2011-15. A native of Newburgh, NY, and lifelong Francophile, John earned his BS in French at Georgetown University, spending his junior year at the Faculté de Lettres in Nice.
John enjoyed a 28-year management career with Berlitz Languages, eventually directing North American operations, where he was responsible for 50 language centers and some 2,500 employees.
John founded Alouette Communications, originally with French partners as MAYA Press in 2006. Alouette provides marketing and communications services to many New York-based French organizations, including the Taste of France.
Among his cultural affiliations, John is a member of the French-American Chamber of Commerce, Non-profit Coordinating Committee of NY, Chefs de Cuisine Association of America and the James Beard Foundation.
John studied the history of graphic design at Parsons, the New School for Design, speaks French, some Spanish and Italian, and loves to cook and entertain an eclectic group of friends at Château Village, his apartment in Greenwich Village of 25 years. Ever the bon vivant, his motto is: “On ne vit qu’une fois!”
Francis Dubois was born and raised in Alsace, France, and had a very distinguished career with the United Nations. He started his career in Uganda, and then served at Headquarters in New York before being assigned to the Palestinian Territories as the Deputy Coordinator of the UN Secretary General. Francis was then posted to Iraq as the Head of the UN Office (with the rank of Ambassador), and subsequently in Algeria and Tunisia in the same capacity.
Since his early retirement, Francis is an active member of several non-governmental organizations and serves on their boards. Presently, he serves on the board of the Paris American Club and is also President of Le Comité La Fayette, in New York; both organizations promote French-American relations.
Catherine Godbille-Koechlin, Speakers Committee
Catherine was born in Paris and attended the University of Nanterre in France, later relocating to the United States, where she studied business and law at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
She began her innovative business career by making the most of her bilingual education, founding and serving as the president of International Language Experts, a Southfield, Michigan translation company that served the needs of General Motors and Midwestern law firms, among others. Following her tenure at ILE, she served as Vice President of Bowne International and Managing Director of Bowne Translation, where Catherine launched offices in key financial cities throughout the world in order to provide top quality financial printing services and financial and legal document translation.
Catherine incorporated a lifelong interest in architecture and civil engineering into her career when launched her real estate business, joining Douglas Elliman, where she specializes in luxury residential listings on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. She also represents buyers and sellers across the U.S. and internationally.
Catherine’s business experience, consummate negotiation skills, and talent for executing high level deals have made her a top real estate broker. Her consistent focus on the big picture while maintaining scrupulous attention to detail, as well as her integrity and discretion, are the essential elements of her success. Catherine’s high personal and professional standards have earned her the trust and loyalty of clients and friends everywhere.
A prodigious fundraiser, Catherine chaired the Lycée Français de New York’s Annual Fund campaign, helping to increase their receipts from $300k to $1.4m. She also raised funds for the organizational alliance YRF Darca (formerly Youth Renewal Fund) in order to build a school and provide innovative education for disadvantaged students in Israel.
Engagement with New York City is important; Catherine is involved with Change for Kids, which provides resources to enhance literacy, art, health to more than 3,000 students at eight schools across the city. She is also a member of the Central Park Conservancy.
A longtime resident of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Catherine, her husband, Nicolas Koechlin, and their two sons also spend time at their country home in South Salem, NY, where she enjoys gardening, tennis, horseback riding, and entertaining.
Hilary J. James, Vice President
Hilary J. James is a Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker with Brown Harris Stevens. As an accomplished professional with more than 25 years of experience, Hilary is respected by her colleagues and her clients for her expansive knowledge of the Manhattan real estate market. Hilary’s buyers and sellers benefit from her professionalism, discretion and vast understanding of the often-complex process of buying and selling in the City.
Before joining Brown Harris Stevens in 2014, Hilary was a marketing executive and Director of Sales for Bristol Plaza’s developer, Milstein Properties, working with the managing partner and senior executives in launching the luxury condominium at 200 East 65th Street. Responsible for the development, marketing and management of the thirty-day minimum stay concept, she successfully reached a global market of multinational corporations, the diplomatic corps, the entertainment industry and private individuals.
Born and educated in England, Hilary began her career in the film industry and has held positions with Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Warner Brothers. Fluent in French, she lived in Paris for four years until Warner Brothers brought her to the States to work in their New York office.
She subsequently founded her own theater company and produced Off-Broadway plays by Samuel Beckett, Jean Reavy and the Obie Award winning Hess, written and performed by Michael Burrell.
Ms. James, who has been a member of the Paris American Club since 1995, serves as its Vice President and plans and coordinates Club events.
Mathieu Legendre, Secretary and Outreach Committee
Mathieu Legendre arrived in New York in 2016, joining the club in 2017. Born and raised in Meaux, between Paris and Reims, Mathieu studied law in Paris II Assas for five years before coming back to his hometown to work as a junior lawyer. At 25, he founded his own practice with two partners and took the lead of the real estate/construction department. At the same time, Mathieu got involved in the public life of his city, leading a group of young political activists and joining the city board after the 2014 local election, where he oversaw digital policy.
In 2011, Mathieu came to New York for the first time and met his future wife, who joined him a year later in Meaux, where they got engaged and married.
In 2016, they moved back to New York and Mathieu is now the CEO of a real estate investment company, US BATISS LLC.
Mathieu is passionate about French history and uses some of his free time to write a book about World War I and to increase his knowledge of American History.
Quentin Marchal, Junior Member Committee
Quentin Marchal recently received his Master of US Law from Fordham University; he earned his Master’s in Tax Law from Panthéon-Sorbonne in 2015.
He joined the Paris American Club in 2017 and has not only been an engaged and active member, but has taken on the important leadership role of Chair of the Activities Committee. He has been instrumental in bridging the gap between our senior and junior members. At a meeting organized while interning at Baker & McKenzie, he successfully reasoned for the need to support the traditional goals and mission of the club, while at the same time, encouraged innovative programming. Building consensus across generations and even among close friends is not an easy task, especially in volunteer organizations, where tact and diplomacy are key to getting members with diverse viewpoints to buy in to various initiatives.
A competitive athlete, Quentin trains for Iron Man, (Triathlon XL) and is an avid squash, tennis and marathon runner, raising funds for the Thomas G. Labrecque Foundation, which supports lung cancer treatment. This is noteworthy because volunteerism is not as well established in France as it is here in the United States.
Jonathan Wells, Treasurer
Since 2003, Jonathan has been President and Bureau Chief of Sipa USA, an international photo agency with more than thirty partners worldwide. Prior to Sipa, Jonathan managed Picture History, an historical photo collection. He was also a news photo editor at the Associated Press, one of the world’s oldest and largest news agencies.
Jonathan is an international sales and licensing professional with extensive experience in strategic partnerships, content acquisition, marketing, and global business development. He has developed, executed and maintained licensing agreements in more than forty countries.
Jonathan received his BA in Economics from New York University, studied European economics and politics at the University of London, Queen Mary College and holds the DELF (Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française, 1er Degré), in French, which is a diploma issued by the French National Ministry of Education to certify skills in French.
For more than twenty years, Jonathan has participated in Visa Pour L’Image, an international photojournalism festival which takes place in Perpignan, the southern French city near the Mediterranean coast and the border with Spain.
Jonathan serves on the boards of several not-for-profit organization and is a member of the Digital Media Licensing Association. For the past five summers, Jonathan volunteers as a swim leader and banquet manager for Experience Camps; summer camps for children who have lost a parent, sibling or loved one. He also loves traveling and has been known to drive for hours in search of the best olive oil or fresh bread. He has been a member of the club since 2008.
Committee members assume responsibility for various club activities and goals, holding meetings as needed to formulate and then present action plans and proposals to the Board. The President is an ex officio member of all committees.
Chair: Claire Langella
Chair: Gonzague Leroux
Chair: Mathieu Legendre
Cornelia Greenspan – Education
Alexandre Leturgez-Coïaniz – Education
Samantha Trinh – Business
Ramona Xu – Business
Co-Chairs: Catherine Godbille & Terrence Bennett
|FRANCOIS HUGHES DE MONTMORIN||1998-1999|
|MYRON L. HURWITZ||1976-1997|
|ALEXIS C. COUDERT||1972-1975|
|ADRIAN H. ALCAN||1969-1971|
|MICHEL L. DREYFUS||1966-1968|
|RICHARD DE ROCHEMONT||1963-1965|
|H. GREGORY THOMAS||1960-1962|
|THOMAS H. KOERNER||1956-1959|
|FERDINAND V. COUDERT||1952-1955|
|FRED H. HOTCHKISS||1949-1951|
|His Excellency the Ambassador of France to the United States|
|His Excellency the Ambassador of France to the United Nations|
|His Excellency the Ambassador of the United States to France|
|The Permanent Representative of the Principality of Monaco to the United Nations|
|The Consul General of France in New York|
|The Commercial Counselor to the French Embassy in New York|
|The President of the American Club of Paris|
|The President of the Cercle de l’Union Interalliée in Paris|
|The French Deputy of Overseas French for the United States|