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Katharine Branning, La Médaille d’Or du Rayonnement Culturel

Katharine Branning is vice-president of the French Institute Alliance Française in New York City, where she serves as director of FIAF’s Library, the leading all-French library in the United States. Before coming to FIAF in 1994, she was the librarian at the French Embassy Cultural Services in New York City. In 1982, she was one of the founders of the Library of the French Institute of Architecture in Paris.

In addition to providing the impetus for the creation of the FIAF Library, she is the founder and sustainer of two projects for the network of American Alliance Française chapters: Project Benjamin and Project Merlin, which spearhead the development of libraries and professionalism efforts for Alliance chapters. Through the resources of these initiatives, she has helped to create at least eight libraries and to distribute more than 5,000 books to Alliance chapters throughout the United States and the Caribbean.

Her training programs, workshops, and lectures at national conferences have provided invaluable resource material to more than 25,000 French-language students, teachers, and Alliance Française members throughout the United States, as well as countless others throughout the world who consult the resources on the Project Merlin Internet portal. Moreover, she has created and led numerous public programs at FIAF to promote French thought, most notably that of Café Philosophique and the European Book Club.

Ms. Branning enjoys a wide reputation for her expertise, generosity, and willingness to help others find and enjoy the richness of French culture and literature. Her recently published book Yes, I Would highlights her unique linkage to Turkey and the Islamic community in a time when human bridges between cultures and faiths are ever more important. In this regard, she serves as an ambassador of both French and American cultural values across an international divide. The French government recognized Ms. Branning with the prestigious award of Chevalier dans l’Ordre National du Mérite.


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