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Nuova Generazione

Activist storyteller Tori Hagerty

A trip to Ghana in the summer of 2011 was a wakeup call for Tori Hagerty, serving as a catalyst for a project that now encompasses hundreds of interviews, two books and a nonprofit foundation that aids the orphanage where she volunteered for a month-and-a-half. “It changed my entire worldview and made me appreciate all the luxury that we have here in America,” Hagerty says of her trip. It also inspired her to combine a longstanding passion for storytelling with her desire to make the world a better place. While volunteering in Ghana in 2011, Hagerty met Amara, a young ...

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Youth sports advocate Anthony Isabelli

Sportivo Management Group founder Anthony H. Isabelli has parlayed a deep appreciation for his Italian heritage into a new role that he hopes will allow more Italian Americans to examine their own roots. In December, he was appointed to the position of United States Foreign Committee president for the Association of Sport, Culture and Leisure (ASCI), an Italian organization headquartered in Rome. This new post will allow Isabelli to further his mission of encouraging cultural exchanges between America and Italy by creating opportunities for young athletes from both countries to compete against each other. In an official statement, Isabelli expressed ...

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Restaurant exec Gabriella Littleton

  “I grew up in the kitchen. I didn’t walk in the front door of the restaurant, I walked in the kitchen door.” Gabriela Littleton has a little more skin in the game as director of banquets and private dining at Chicago steakhouse staple the Erie Cafe. To be exact, she has four generations worth, having spent the past two years working in concert with her grandfather, father, uncle and sister at the Lenzi-family owned business. Growing up in the restaurant world didn’t initially pave the way to Littleton’s current career. “We were really pushed NOT to be involved in ...

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Tech entrepreneur Salvatore Camarda

What do Microsoft, GE, and the Chicago Police Department have in common? They’re all working to reach community and team members in a more meaningful way with the help of a Chicago-born tech entrepreneur with deep Sicilian roots. MeetApp North America co-founder and CEO Sal Camarda has taken his smartphone app from a lean startup to a company boasting some of the most powerful and well-known clients in the world in just over a year. While MeetApp boasts a variety of features and services, Camarda puts it simply: “We’re trying to solve problems using a vehicle people understand, and that’s ...

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Linguistic activist Vincent Cerda

It’s not as common as it once was for American kids to learn Italian as their first language — and even when they do, it often fades as they grow. That’s exactly what happened with Berwyn native Vincent Cerda, who grew up speaking Italian fluently but didn’t rediscover his love for the language until he entered high school at Nazareth Academy. “After some formal study all the language that I remembered from my youth quickly came back in a flood of memories,” says Cerda, 21. “At that point I knew I wanted to help others have the same experience.” He ...

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An afternoon with “The Sister Project”

During the holiday season, I met at one of my favorite Chicago landmarks, the Palmer House, with the three women who founded the lifestyle blog “The Sister Project.” When Nicole, Michelle, and Lauren Massarella walked in, I immediately knew we would become fast friends. Although I knew quite a bit about them already from reading their blog, it was another experience entirely to watch them interact with each other. Each in their own way is unique and beautiful, and together the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. We settled in for a fun few hours surrounded ...

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Restaurateur Gino Bartucci

Gino Bartucci is no stranger to the food industry. His father, Gino, ran the legendary Gino’s Italian Imports in the family owned Piazza Italia on Harlem Avenue for many years, and his uncle, Tony, has run Pasta Fresh in the same cluster of shops for decades. Bartucci grew up in both businesses, so it should come as no surprise that he has made a name for himself, not only as the food and beverage director for the Dana Hotel & Spa, but as the new proprietor of BarTucci, which he opened late last year in Piazza Italia with his business ...

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Event and wedding planner Michelle Durpetti

    Entrepreneurial roots run deep within event planner Michelle Durpetti. The daughter of Tony and Marion Durpetti, owners of Chicago’s legendary Gene & Georgetti restaurant, and granddaughter of the restaurant’s late cofounder Gene Michelotti, she boasts an impressive hospitality industry pedigree. Never one to rest on her family’s laurels, she co-founded McGowan Durpetti & Associates, later flying solo with Michelle Durpetti Events, a full-service wedding and event production company. Since the inception of Michelle Durpetti Events in 2008, she has planned and produced over 300 weddings and special events, including such celebrity-studded festivities as Chicago Gateway Green’s annual Green ...

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Theater scion Drew DeSantis

From a young age, Drew DeSantis, (grandson of the late Anthony DeSantis, founder of Drury Lane dinner theatre) recalls helping his grandfather update the Rolodex, clean banquet chairs and peel carrots in the theater kitchen. It was good, honest work that prepared him to follow the family dream, and prepare it for a robust future. Having recently graduating from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business with a masters degree, DeSantis serves as the CFO of Drury Lane, where he’s helped produce more than 41 productions. It’s still a family affair; his brother Kyle is Drury Lane’s CEO. And ...

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Rising vocal star Gianna Capra

Melrose Park is a town with deep Italian roots, and Gianna Capra draws from those roots daily as she reaches for the stars. A lifetime resident of the near western suburb, Capra plays an integral part in the business, spiritual and cultural life of her community. By day, she is a familiar face at Pan American Bank, where she serves as teller. And each Sunday, she is a beloved voice at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, where she performs as a soloist at Mass. A classically trained soprano, Capra has been singing at church since she was 12 years ...

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