New JCCIA management at first assembly – Fra Noi

The Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans came out of the gate at its first official meeting after installing its officers in January 2021-22.

Recently elected President Ron Onesti and an emerging cadre of JCCIA leaders have the organization hit all the cylinders as they shift up into their two-year term.

The meeting took place on February 24th in the recently renovated Italian-American common room in the community center at Casa Italia. The 80 plaques that had already been sold as part of the casa’s massive fundraising campaign could be seen. More than 60 community leaders from over 30 organizations attended either in person or through Zoom.

President Ron Onesti provided insight into the organization’s approach to the ongoing Columbus controversy. Onesti also announced the launch of Il Bollettino, a weekly video e-blast designed to keep the community updated on the organization’s activities. To register, send an email to [email protected]

First Vice President Lisa Ryan, Chair of Italy’s Heritage Calendar Committee, invited groups to submit their special events for inclusion in a virtual calendar to avoid duplication of scheduling. According to Ryan, tentative initiatives for Italian Heritage Month include encouraging local theaters and bookstores to showcase Italian and Italian-American titles.

Second Vice President Salvatore Camarda, chairman of the marketing and media committee, reported over 2,000 new website users in six weeks and a 600 percent traffic growth. Facebook and Instagram traffic have also increased, he reported. In addition, the e-mail platform has been improved, lists have been consolidated and a database with more than 600 media has been created. Updating the design of the website, streamlining the membership application and expanding its content are among the committee’s priorities.

Third Vice President Lyn Scolaro, chairman of the education committee, announced plans for an Italian fortification warehouse at Casa Italia this summer. Ways to improve Italian programs within and after school are currently being explored and efforts are being made to bring Italian to Elgin schools’ students. Scolaro also announced national efforts to build a network of teachers of Italian and Italian-American teachers in all disciplines.

Women’s Department President Rose Mary Ranallo urged the community to donate to the grants awarded at the department’s fashion show on August 7th. She announced a Festa della Donna celebration at Antonio in Itasca on March 8, with a video presentation by notable Italian-American women, and reported that plans were being made to bring back the Italian Heritage Ball and Cotillion.

Pasquale Gianni, President of Avanti Group, announced details of the launch event for the newly formed young professional organization, a Festa di Carnevale on February 26th at Victory Italian in Chicago.

Executive Director JoAnn Serpico praised the organization’s “unsung heroes”: volunteer office workers Phyllis Schoene, Jackie Mazza, Christine Cerami, Lilia Juarez and Arlene Ilia.

Carlo Bucaro, chairman of the Columbus Patriot Committee, announced preparations for a panel discussion on Christopher Columbus presented by the Italian-American community and hosted by the City of Chicago.

Legal Defense Committee Chairman Anthony Onesto launched a search for lawyers willing to bring a lawsuit on behalf of Chicago’s Columbus statues, similar to what has been done in other cities.

International Relations Committee Chairman Pat Capriati announced tentative plans to develop closer ties between the JCCIA and the Italian government authorities. Capriati will dedicate portions of its Domenica Insieme radio show to JCCIA events and activities. Visit to tune in.

Onesti appointed Mariann Gullo, Chairwoman of Columbus Day, to co-chair the 2021 Columbus Day Parade and to support the chairman of this year’s event if restrictions allow.

Scholarship Chairman Don Olson reported on the four main JCCIA scholarships: the Fischetti scholarship, which was awarded at the Dante Award; the Annunzio grant awarded at the Columbus Day reception; and the Patti and Vigilante Scholarships awarded at the Christmas party. Details and applications can be found on

A dinner in St. Joseph has been announced for the next JCCIA meeting, scheduled for March 24 at the Old Neighborhood Italian American Club.

More information on all of this can be found at To participate, send an email to [email protected]

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