Lou Carlozo

Lou Carlozo is award-winning journalist who spent 20 years reporting for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Chicago Tribune. He began writing for Fra Noi in 2007, and claims maternal and paternal southern Italian lineage. The monthly Lou&A columnist and a music reviewer/writer, his work has appeared in Reuters, Aol, The Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor and news outlets around the world. In 1993, he was a Pulitzer Prize team-reporting finalist for his contributions to the Tribune’s “Killing Our Children” series. He resides in Chicago with his wife of 21 years, a hospital chaplain, and their teenage son and daughter.

Military historian Peter Belmonte

By bringing stories of Calabrian-American bravery to light, he is adding chapters to our history that would otherwise have been lost. The saying “history is written by the winners” typically applies to military forces that dominate and subjugate, but one person has turned that notion on its head in the most positive sense. In his painstaking research into long gone Calabrian-American veterans, Peter Belmonte has achieved a victory for scores of humble heroes whose stories would otherwise have been lost in the trenches of World War I. Why do this? It helps that Belmonte is a retired U.S. Air Force …

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OSIA President Vera Girolami

As the second female president of the recently renamed Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America, she taps into a long history of volunteer leadership. Honoring tradition while staying open to unprecedented change is one very tough balancing act. It takes a strong, sure-handed leader to make it work. Enter Vera Girolami, who became national president of the recently renamed Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America in August after serving for more than a decade in other executive roles. By the way, she’s only the second female president in the 112-year history of the organization, which added …

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Highland Park High instructor Maria Barbanente

  Prior to arriving at Highland Park High School two years ago, Maria Barbanente had already blazed a trail where life’s adventures had added depth to her linguistic skills. The daughter of native Italians from the Puglia region, Barbanente had a master’s degree in education, and a certification in Spanish, by the time she arrived in Madrid, Spain to teach English for two years. It was hardly her first time in Europe. “Learning the Italian language and having been fortunate enough to travel to Italy every summer as a child, I was able to further explore the Italian culture and …

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Walgreens Exec Andrea Collaro earns national honor

Walgreens is fond of telling its loyal clientele that it’s “at the corner of Happy and Healthy.” If you’re looking for someone special at that intersection, someone who’s dedicate to making the happy and the healthy happen, you’re likely to find Andrea Collaro. As Senior Director of Brand Management and Product Development for the Walgreens Boots Alliance, Collaro oversees all products under the Walgreens banner. If it sounds like an incredible responsibility, it is — not just to Walgreens customers, but also to young women who look up to strong female business leaders. If anyone needs proof she’s a role …

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Fantasia stands the test of time

  Imagine 40 years of launching “just marrieds” into their first moments together as husband and wife. If nothing else, that’s enough performances of the Chicken Dance, Macarena and “Daddy’s Little Girl” to fill several hundred wedding albums full of musical memories. But it’s also a story of steadfast devotion and true adoration among Chicagoland’s Italian-American families. For since their first wedding gig at Mr. Duke’s Villa DiDomenico Banquets in Wood Dale, bandleader Frank Trimble (guitar, vocals) and his younger sister Gina Frasca (keyboards, vocals) have turned their musical talents into several generations of celebrations. Today they’re the core of …

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Four C Notes founder John Michael Coppola

The music of The Four Seasons — even as it enthralled a new generation of fans through the hit musical “Jersey Boys” — also marks a point of pride for Italian Americans, as the group’s original lineup boasts Italian roots through and through. There’s just one problem, though: When “Jersey Boys” ended its wildly successful Chicago run, demand to hear energetic performances didn’t end with it. How appropriate, then, that a “Jersey Boys” veteran has risen up to carry the musical torch. In fact, John Michael Coppola had the role of Frankie Valli down cold during a run of more …

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Extraordinary healer Carmi Fazio

Becoming a healer is a calling and, certainly, many in the nursing field can rightfully claim that title. But in mid-April, Carmi Fazio — who works with Molina Healthcare of Illinois — was picked as one of three finalists for the CURE Media Group’s Extraordinary Healer Award for Oncology Nursing. Fazio — who is Sicilian on her father’s side, Genovese and Romano on her mother’s — traces a direct line between her nursing skills and her family background. “Perhaps I am a bit biased but I have never met an Italian who wouldn’t help those in need,” says Fazio, who …

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Mobile pizzaiuolo Gianni Gallucci

It’s been more than a century and countless pies since Raffaele Esposito popularized pizza as we know it today in 1889. His pizzeria is still open in Naples. And Gianni Gallucci, owner of the Chicago area’s Zero Ottantuno Mobile Pizzeria Napoletana, has worked hard to master that region’s style. “I’ve been making pizza professionally for more 10 years now and suddenly decided to do the unthinkable: I went back to school,” Gallucci says. In 2013, he attended the Academy of Pizza, a school hosted by the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani, and earned his APN certification: as in, really earned it. “Everyday …

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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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Crooning state trooper Jonn-Paul Oliveto

As he completed his studies to become an Illinois state trooper in 2010, Jonn-Paul Oliveto was pulled out of class and into a room where he stood opposite a captain, sergeant and master sergeant. To earn a passing mark, he had to sing the National Anthem. “I had an appointment to perform in front of them, without any rehearsal, so you can imagine my nerves,” recalls Oliveto, a trooper who works the Chicago area for the state police today. “But I’d come up with an idea: Instead of having the bagpipes play the National Anthem for our graduation ceremony, I …

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