Meet Our Society

Executive Director: Raymond Guarini
 
Ray began documenting Italian enclaves and Italian National parishes about nine years ago. The desire to create a finite list of Italian enclaves and corresponding churches in the United States propelled an almost decade long journey during which Ray realized the breadth of the endeavor would require a team of dedicated individuals from different walks of life who commonly possessed an interest in Italian American culture and history. Ray is a Managing Director of a venture capital firm in New York City and specializes in equity financing for companies in biotechnology, medical devices, healthcare and fintech.
 

Board Member: Michael DeSapio

Mike is a life long resident of Kingwood Township located in rural Hunterdon County, New Jersey. While not necessarily an Italian enclave, it certainly felt like one growing up  in the close-knit (and sizable) De Sapio family – instilling in Mike, his five brothers, and numerous cousins a strong sense of pride in their Italian roots and culture.Mike first connected with his ancestral homeland during a study abroad experience, living in Milan for six months. His time abroad enabled him to study the Italian language and history, tour most regions of the country, and visit the hometown of both his paternal (Monteforte Irpino, Campania) and maternal (Benestare, Calabria) families. The highlight of the experience was the opportunity to become acquainted with his cousins from the De Sapio family still living in Monteforte, a relationship that continues today.  Mike has since made a dozen trips back to bellItalia, and tries to return whenever possible.  It always feels like going home again.Throughout the years, Mike has worked to promote the Italian and Italian-American cultures. He is a longtime member of several Italian American organizations, including the National Italian American Foundation, past president and Board member of the Italian American Heritage Club of Hunterdon County, and board member of the Italian American Baseball Foundation.Mike’s educational experience includes a B.A. in Political Science and International Studies from Penn State University, a J.D. from Widener University. The love for all things Italian prompted Mike to established De Sapio Dual Citizenship Services to assist applicants for Italian Citizenship.

Board Member and Communications: Michael Grillo

Michael Grillo is an Italian Teacher and the proprietor of a tour company specializing group excursions to Italy. He enjoys promoting the rich Italian culture among both his students and travelers. Michael is very involved in the Italian Parish of Saint Lucy in Newark, NJ, where he proudly assists in carrying on the more than 120-year tradition of the feast of Saint Gerard each October as well as the Italian Parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, also located in Newark. A proud Italian American, Michael, is a founding member of The Rutgers University Italian Cultural Organization and is a long time member of The Federation of Italian American Societies of New Jersey. Throughout the years Michael has been a part of numerous Italian American philanthropic organizations specializing in scholarships for students in need. Michael looks forward to working with Italian Enclaves and is very proud of the work they are doing..

 
Board Member and Content Creator: Michele Di Pietro

Italian food blogger and professional culinary consultant Michele Di Pietro is the creator and founder of ‘It’s All About The Food LLC’ Culinary Consulting and ‘Mangia With Michele, the expression of her lifelong passion and (self-admitted) obsession with all things Italian and Italian-American food-related, where she regularly serves up innovative and classic family-style inspiration and nostalgia in La Cucina Italiana online, creating delicious and easy-to-follow recipes based on a lifetime of cooking, eating and culinary travels to Italy. She is also a regular guest host on the Flavor of Italy podcast.

Her professional culinary experience in the foodservice industry spans more than 20 years at both large-scale retail establishments and growing start-up companies. With a degree in business from Georgetown University followed by 5 years as a Certified Public Accountant for Ernst & Young prior to graduating with top honors from The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, Michele brings a unique “right brain + left brain” approach to her culinary business style and all of her projects. Thanks to this unique background and blended skill-set, Michele has become a valuable advisor and strategist for an eclectic lineup of foodservice operations, developing and commercializing hundreds of menus and recipes along the way.

Food has always been central to Michele’s life – raised in an Italian-American family in southern New Jersey, her culinary education began with a collection of relatives as teachers in a household where food and cooking were central daily household activities. With both Sicilian and Abruzzese roots, Michele experienced distinctive regional cuisines of Italy in an American setting while growing up and fell in love with the act giving of herself through preparing food for others. It was this beginning that eventually led her to her true professional calling. 
She is thrilled to be a Board member of the Italian Enclaves Historical Society and aims to document the enclaves through its traditional foods and unique food culture.
LINKS:
Podcast Name: Flavor of Italy
 
                                                                                                          
Board Member, Social Media, and Content Creator: Peter Battaglia
 
“I was born in Staten Italy NYC to parents of the first generation born in the USA.  My Maternal grandparents came from Avellino, Napoli, and Grassano (Matera).  My Paternal grandparents were both born in Sciacca, Sicily.  I’m a blend of Southern Italian regions and this was a huge part of growing up.  Being Italian American and from NYC has always been a source of pride for me.  My passions are my family, my wife of almost 40 years and our two beautiful daughters. My other passions are world travel, all things food, and especially Italian cuisine and Italian American cuisine.  For 40 years I’ve worked on Wall St, currently a Managing Director of Celadon Financial Corp. and currently living at the Jersey Shore.   On line I have a large presence with my Social Media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as A FOOD OBSESSION where I highlight my passions, especially Italian and Italian American food and culture.  It’s a privilege to be working on the Board of the Italian Enclaves Historical Society.”
~ Peter Battaglia
 
Board Member, Research and Social Media: Dominic Brusca

Dominic was born and raised in an Italian American family in a small town in metro Detroit. He competes as a track athlete at DePaul University, and has been able to expand his knowledge of Italian American culture through his experiences living in Chicago. He has always been interested in his heritage, and grew to love the stories and history of Italians in America. He aspires to continue learning about Italian American culture with the goal of preserving the history and traditions for generations to come. 

 

Research and Social Media: Matthew Glenn-Cirillo
 
Matthew Glenn-Cirillo is a proud Italian-American with roots in Salerno. He is a member of  NIAF, OSDIA, and IACRL, and frequently lends a hand to Italian-American businesses. His ethnic culture has been a natural part of every aspect of his life, and now with a major in film-making at Montclair State University, he intends to integrate his heritage into his career. He fights hard against the erasure of the culture by sharing it with his generation, and fully intends to pass down the traditions and language to his children later in life. He has found a perfect home with Italian Enclaves, where everyone shares his passion to keep the Italian-American experience alive in this ever-changing world.
 

Board Member: Dominique Sessa

Dominique is a disabled Italian American woman with a passion  for inclusion, being a leading voice for the Italian American disability community, accessibility in preservation work, and Italian history and culture.

She founded The Girl in The Pink Wheelchair. She’s known locally, statewide, and nationwide for advocacy. It also has allowed women and young girls to find a connective solution through her platform. 

Dominique is the founder of Italo American Imagery. It’s the first accessible Italo-American digital archive. The project focuses on telling the stories of Italians and Italian Americans, historical enrichment, genealogy, and preservation of Italian and Italian Americans.

She also founded and created the Italian American Disability Alliance. This platform allows all disabled Italians and Italian Americans to engage in both community and culture. 

She proudly serves her state in these roles: Chairwoman of the Assistive Technology Loan Program Board of Directors of Maryland, a Commissioner for the Maryland Commission on Disabilities and the Maryland Advisory Council on Hereditary and Congenital Disorders. For her beloved city of Salisbury on the Eastern Shore, she serves on Committees, including being Chairwoman of the Disability Advisory Committee and a Commissioner for #KINDSBY. Dominique is an active community member, enthusiastic about Italian history, and a published poet.

 

Advisory Board

Advisory Board Member, author and expert regarding Italian enclaves in northeastern Pennsylvania: Stephanie Longo

Stephanie Longo is known as an expert on the Italian American history of northeastern Pennsylvania and has authored several works on the subject, including Italians of Northeastern Pennsylvania (2004), Italians of Lackawanna County (2018) and Dunmore (2012), all published by Arcadia Publishing. Her most recent book, Italians of Lackawanna County, was recognized with a Gold Award in the History category in the 2019 Nonfiction Book Awards.

A graduate of both the University of Scranton (BA, Italian and French; MA, History) and Regent University (MA, journalism), she has made it her mission to continue to preserve the history that her ancestors brought to the United States from Guardia Lombardi, Italy. She also possesses a Women in Leadership certificate and a Women in Entrepreneurship certificate from Cornell University and is a graduate of the Leadership Lackawanna Core Program.

Ms. Longo is the associate producer and administrative officer for The Italian American Podcast. An award-winning journalist, she is the former editor of The Villager newspaper (Moscow, PA) and The Abington Suburban (Clarks Summit, PA), as well as a former correspondent for Go Lackawanna (Scranton, PA). She is also the former director of marketing and communications of The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce.

A dual citizen of the United States and Italy, Ms. Longo has spoken both regionally and nationally on the subject of Italian immigration to the United States, including at the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum (Scranton, PA), the Lackawanna Historical Society (Scranton, PA), the Dunmore Historical Society (Dunmore, PA), the Forest City Historical Society (Forest City, PA), I AM Books (Boston, MA), the IDEA Boston festival (Cambridge, MA), the Order of the Sons and Daughters of Italy in America (Rockville, MD) and the History of Italian Immigration Museum (Philadelphia, PA). She has also been a panelist on Italian American culture for Pennsylvania’s Mining Heritage Month. Her works are also part of the Biblioteca del Senato “Giovanni Spaldini” in Rome, Italy. She currently resides in Dunmore, PA

Visit me online at www.stephanielongo.net

Advisory board member: JOHN M. VIOLA – The Professional Italian American

John’s Bio from: https://italianamericanpodcast.com/ :

If around here we’re afflicted with a passion to celebrate our Italian American heritage, then John may be the sickest of us all—his professional and personal interests continuously land him in the world of Italian America. His appreciation for The Italian American Podcast goes back to his time as President and Chief Operating Officer of the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF), where he served with incomparable energy and passion from 2012-2018 as the youngest president in NIAF’s history. Under John, NIAF became the podcast’s first major sponsor, and in 2018, Anthony and Dolores eagerly welcomed him into the fold as a creative partner and visionary, who helped expand and invigorate the show’s platform with the addition of The Italian Power Hour. You can regularly hear him sighing on air, trying to wrangle in the rest of us as our tireless moderator.

As the professional Italian American, John serves as co-vice president for New York City of the Italian Sons and Daughters of America (ISDA) and on the Boards of Directors of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in Chicago, La Scuola d’Italia-Guglielmo Marconi in New York City, the Two Sicilies in America Foundation, and the American Initiative for Italian Culture (AIFIC) in Washington, DC. He was fundamental in the creation of Pope John Paul II Family Academy in Brooklyn, N.Y., serving as the Academy’s General Director, and the Director of the Madonna della Neve Foundation for many years before joining NIAF. Committed to living his passion for our history, he is a Knight of Merit with Star of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George, one of the oldest Orders of knighthood in the world, and serves as the United States Delegate for the Constantinian Order and the other Chivalric Orders of the Royal House of Borbone of the Two Sicilies. He is also a Knight of the Order of Merit of Savoy, the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus, and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre…so, yeah, he spends an inordinate amount of time wearing capes at High Mass. He used to have a sword, too, but it got lost in transit on a flight home from Palermo.

In his rare ventures away from things Italian, he serves as president of the Florida Panthers Foundation, enjoys reading, travelling, and forcing friends and loved ones into indulging his constant desire to sing karaoke. A native of Brooklyn, John traces his ancestry to the Vallo di Diano in the province of Salerno, Puglia, Basilicata, and his beloved Sicily.

Non Voting Board Member and Marketing: Danielle Ferrante

Danielle Ferrante Surace is Vice President of Sports Marketing company in New Jersey specializing in sponsorships.  Danielle serves as a mentor to young women seeking education and employment in the sports marketing industry.  A proud Italian American Danielle is a founding member of the Farleigh Dickinson University’s  Italian club and has been a long time member of the Federation of Italian American Societies of New Jersey. Danielle looks forward to lending her marketing and fundraising expertise to Italian Enclaves.  Danielle and her husband Anthony enjoy spending the summer in Anthony’s hometown of Pellegrina, Calabria. They are both active in philanthropic efforts with a focus on promoting Italian culture and heritage.
 
Non Voting Board Member: Steve Cerulli
Steve was born and raised in the Cove section of Stamford, Connecticut. His family has lived in that neighborhood for over 100 years. However, now he is based out of Ridgewood, Queens. He is a 5th-generation Italian-American with roots in Abruzzo, Campania, Puglia, and the former Terra di Lavoro. He holds a B.A. from The University of Connecticut, an M.A. from The Graduate Center (City University of New York), and is a Ph.D. candidate at Fordham University. He works at the Calandra Institute, Queens College/CUNY where he conducts research on the Italian diaspora. He is currently working on a project involving Italian-American educators and education. Steve is looking forward to sharing his knowledge of Italian-American neighborhoods in Connecticut and in Queens.