Board of Directors

Genie Gannett

President and Founder

Genie's professional career was as a public school educator. A granddaughter of prominent Maine publisher Guy P. Gannett, her initial interest in this project was the restoration of his former home. Genie and her sister, Terry, decided that a museum of the First Amendment was the perfect use of this historic architectural gem.

Terry Gannett Hopkins

Vice President and Founder

Terry Gannett Hopkins is a retired newspaper publisher/executive having worked for the "other" Gannett, the USA Today media group. She was publisher of The Ithaca Journal, which earned "Best of Gannett" two years in a row. She went on to head the Norwich Bulletin in CT and the News-Press in Fort Myers, FL, another paper that won Gannett's top award. She also ran regional newspaper groups for Thomson publishing. She grew up in Augusta but retired to her mother's family roots in Ocala, FL, where she was born. She has served on numerous boards in the cities where she lived. In Ocala she worked with a group that successfully stopped a proposed landfill on karst soil. She, along with her 104-year-old grandmother, protested a locally proposed book ban. She has also served as a trustee for the American University in Bulgaria. She was brought up in Augusta and earned her bachelor's degree at the University of Florida.

Susan Gross

Susan was formerly an educator in public schools with experience as a high school classroom teacher, a coordinator of a program for gifted/talented students, and K–12 learning results coordinator. Her volunteer work includes establishing a school volunteer program, raising funds for a town library expansion, and serving as a docent at an art museum. Her commitment to the First Amendment Museum's mission is grounded in her belief that enhancing citizens' understanding of the First Amendment and supporting the practice and defense of the rights it guarantees will strengthen our democracy and improve the lives of all. She holds a BA from the University of Maine and an MS from the University of Southern Maine.

William Shepard

William H. Shepard has over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry.

Bill has been married for 26 years to his wonderful wife, Debbie. They live in Ocala, where they raised their four children, Will, Lindsay, Christina and Jim. As a family, the Shepard’s invest in the community by donating their time and resources at a local not-for-profit.

Denis Thoet

Denis has had a career of more than 50 years as a journalist, organic farmer, commercial fisherman, and nonprofit fundraiser at the Friends of the Maine State Museum (eleven years), Maine Maritime Museum in Bath and Maine Audubon Society. He has a bachelor's degree in international affairs from Georgetown University and a master's in journalism from Syracuse. He lives in Augusta, Maine.


Rebecca Lazure

Executive Director

Rebecca Lazure is a museum professional with experience in administration, fundraising, education and outreach, curatorial planning and volunteer management. Her academic background includes an MA in American and New England Studies from the University of Southern Maine and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware in History and Material Culture studies. While at UD, Rebecca took to the airwaves at the radio station WVUD. Rebecca started work after college for one of Maine's highly respected weekly newspapers as a reporter at the York County Coast Star, where she dealt first hand with the investigative process and developed a commitment to freedom of the press.