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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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Dist. 214 administrator Angela Briguglio Hawkins

  An Italian teacher and administrator in northwest suburban High School District 214, Angela Briguglio Hawkins was known as “the American” when she was growing up in Sicily. That’s because she was born in Oak Park, but her parents decided to move the family back to their native Sicily when Briguglio Hawkins was two-and-a-half years old. They missed their relatives. “I did all my schooling in Italy, up until the equivalent of the first year in high school,” she says. “But then my dad was worried about the lack of economic opportunity in Europe, so my parents moved back to ...

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Police Association elects Langone

  Anthony Langone has stepped up to the plate for a second two-year term as president of the Italian American Police Association. A member for since 1983, he previously served as vice president and chairman of the board as well as president. Tony is the eldest of four sons of Louis and Betty Langone. He has lived his entire life in the Taylor Street neighborhood. “(When I was a kid), from Halsted to Western, everybody knew everybody,” he recalls. “We would play baseball at Peanut Park and ride our bikes around the neighborhood. It was like one big, happy family.” ...

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Mazzini honors worthy duo

  John Mirabelli was honored as Man of the Year and Marianne D’Amico as Woman of the Year at the Mazzini-Verdi Club’s President’s Ball in December. John Frank Mirabelli was born on Feb. 28, 1938, at home near Taylor and Ashland. His parents, Enrico and Mary Anne Mirabelli, migrated from Calabria to Chicago in the early 1900s where they raised their six children: Edith, Irma, Louie, Theresa, Joe and John. He attended Notre Dame and Holy Trinity grade schools and St. Philip’s High School. John met the love of his life, Julie, on a blind date at North Avenue Beach ...

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Academic ace Fred Gardaphè

by Ryan Calabretta-Sajder The American Association of Teachers of Italian recently bestowed its Honorary Membership Award (Socio Onorario) upon longtime Fra Noi Associate Editor Fred Gardaphè. A pioneering voice in the field of Italian-American studies, Gardaphè recently gave a keynote lecture at AATI’s 2016 International Conference in Naples. A Distinguished Professor of English and Italian American Studies at Queens College/CUNY and the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Gardaphè directs the Italian/American Studies Program at Queens College and formerly directed the programs in Italian American and American studies at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Gardaphè is ...

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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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Rolling Meadows instructor Antonino Bondi

  Spending every summer of his childhood in Sicily convinced Antonino Bondi that he wanted a career somehow related to Italy. He never pictured himself as a teacher in those days, but he has realized his dream in a classroom. Bondi, 31, the son of parents who immigrated from Sicily to Chicago in the 1970s, teaches Italian 2, 3 and 4 in northwest suburban Township High School District 214. He starts his day teaching at Rolling Meadows High School, and then travels to Prospect High School in Mount Prospect to teach in the afternoons. For someone who spoke the Sicilian ...

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Amy Mazzolin earns prestigious Kelly Award

Catholic Charities has bestowed one of its most prestigious awards upon Fra Noi President Amy Mazzolin. The retired banker and noted philanthropist was presented with the Dennis F. Kelly Award at the venerable organization’s 99th annual board of directors meeting on Oct. 17 at the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago. Named after a revered past president of the organization, the award is given each year to a member of the board who exhibits outstanding service to the mission of Catholic Charities. A board member since 1989, Mazzolin has long supported the organization’s many efforts on behalf of veterans. Among them ...

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East Leyden instructor Michele Curley

Michele Curley’s love of languages and cultures started at age 14. That’s when her grandmother, Filomena Conversano Pesano, who at 17 had left Basilicata and journeyed alone to the United States, decided to take Michele, her five siblings and her parents back to Basilicata. “It was a really transformative experience,” Curley, an Italian teacher at East Leyden High School, says of the month-long visit. They met relatives, took road trips around southern Italy, returned to Basilicata and then went north to Rome, Florence, Pisa and Venice. When they returned to the Chicago area, Curley wanted to take Italian when she ...

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Accordionist Sam Franco

“I’ve still got all my chords memorized. Let me show you.” Sam Franco takes a moment to collect himself before rising from his easy chair. At 92, he doesn’t move quite as quickly as he used to, but he takes a few slow, smiling steps to his right. He bends over to the flip the switch on and old amplifier, and then sits down at a synthesizer keyboard. “Don’t even ask me what I’m playing,” he says. And he begins. Franco’s playing is slow and measured, in the same vein of his approach to the accordion, his one true musical ...

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