10 luminaries receive JCCIA Bernardin Awards

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Michael andufrano and Victoria Villaflor, M.D.

The Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans pulled out all the stops for its 2017 Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Gala, honoring 10 local powerhouses from all walks of life.

Renato Bacci (Military)
U.S. Army Colonel, Retired
Chair, Illinois Committee, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve

Retired U.S. Army Colonel Bacci received his commission in 1969 through the ROTC program at Loyola University. During his 30-year career, he served as an Infantry, Armor, and Civil Affairs Officer. His active-duty tours included Bosnia, Croatia, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. While mobilized for Operation Joint Endeavor (Bosnia 1996), Ron worked directly with the World Bank to develop a functioning financial support structure for rebuilding activities in Bosnia. His work was highlighted in a June 10, 1996, Wall Street Journal article “An Army Reserve Unit Guides Reconstruction of Postwar Bosnia.”

Upon retiring from the Army Reserves in 1999, Ron became an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve volunteer. He currently serves as Chair of the Illinois Committee leading 90 volunteers throughout Illinois, and also serves on the ESGR Board of Directors.

Ron’s extensive career in financial operations culminated as Senior Vice President of LaSalle Bank. Over his career, he had significant managerial and staff experience in all aspects of financial services, including serving as chief operating officer of a community bank, as well as manager of a night-shift lockbox processing operation with 150 staff. His foreign assignments involved automating banking units in 13 countries of Europe and South America.

Ron instructs undergraduate courses in Business as an Adjunct Faculty at Dominican University in River Forest. He also developed and facilitated a Community Leadership Program targeting professional development of aspiring community leaders.

Ron volunteers in various capacities with Knights Templar doing charitable activities. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Civil Affairs Military Association and the Italian American Veterans Museum. He was recently honored by the Order of the Sons of Italy in America with the Columbus Patriot Award for outstanding military service.

A Chicago native, Ron graduated from Loyola University and received his MBA from DePaul University.

Gaetano Ciccone (Manufacturing)
Owner, Nino’s, manufacturer of fresh frozen pasta and entrees

Gaetano “Guy” Ciccone is a second-generation pasta maker and the owner of Nino’s LLC. He is the son of Adelina and Sebastiano Ciccone and the father of three children: Adelina, Gaetano and Isabella.

Guy learned to make pasta while working with his mother at their first location in Bellwood. Making pasta soon became Guy’s passion, and in his teenage years he started working in the family business when they expanded their facility in Melrose Park.

Early on, Guy demonstrated the ability to run the entire pasta manufacturing process, and soon after began focusing on creating new items that would set their company apart from the competition. With the creation of new products came manufacturing innovations that Guy developed and implemented as the business grew.

Never losing sight of customer service and always making sure the customer was satisfied, Guy would regularly visited the chefs at various restaurants to get feedback on his products. After a fire destroyed their first facility in Melrose Park, Guy was determined to come back even stronger.

With the construction of a new facility, Guy developed a new line of products that allowed him to venture outside of the food service business. Complete entrees and retail products were his next challenge, and they all proved to be viable product lines.

You can now find many of Guy’s products in local and national grocery stores.

Mariann Gullo (International Business)
Board Member, Elk Grove Village Italian Sister Cities Inc.
COO, Gullo International Development Corp.

The daughter of Giovanni and Maria, Mariann Gullo was born and raised in Elk Grove Village and graduated from St. Viator High School. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree from DePaul University with a major in Marketing and Communications and a minor in Italian, and pursued an MBA at Loyola with a concentration in Finance.

At the young age of 22, Mariann began working at Gullo International Development Corporation. A commercial and industrial real estate and management firm specialized in the O’Hare industrial market, the company was founded and has been lead by her father since 1968. Today, she is the COO of Gullo, overseeing all areas of the multifaceted organization. Through her commitment and hard work, Mariann has established herself as a knowledgeable and well-respected leader in the real estate market.

Her mentor-style leadership and vision have made her an inspiration to others, positively influencing and providing support to her peers and our aspiring youth. Independent and progressive in her thinking, she has taken on important leadership roles and serves on many area committees such the Elgin O’Hare Western Access Project of the Illinois Tollway.

Mariann is a Board Member of the Elk Grove Village Italian Sister Cities Inc., which fosters relations between Elk Grove Village and Termini Imerese, Sicily, and Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Since 2000, Mariann and her family have spearheaded many educational, medical and business exchanges that unite the peoples of different countries and cultures. She also proudly serves as an officer of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, and is a catalyst for many involving partnerships between the U.S. and Italy.

Mariann strongly identifies with and is very proud of her Italian heritage. Fluent in the Italian language and tireless in her efforts to promote the heritage of our ancestors, she is a true beacon of our beautiful traditions.

Angelo J. Lollino (Business)
Owner, Massa Cafe Italiano, Vero Coffee & Gelato
Trustee, Village of Elmwood Park

Angelo Lollino was born and raised to make amazing coffee, award-winning gelato and great Italian food. He grew up in a family business, the legendary Ristorante Italia and Caffe Italia, where his parents mastered Italian cuisine, coffee roasting and gelato making. To perfect his gelato-making craft, Angelo attended Prodotti Stella Corsi di Gelato in Italy.

In the 1990s, Angelo founded Fratelli Lollino Inc., a specialty coffee roaster that later became Fratelli Coffee Company. Angelo and his wife, Giovanna, also founded Massa Cafe Italiano, a popular Elmwood Park café that has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago magazine and Food Network Channel and others.

In 2008, Angelo partnered with the President and CEO of Roundy’s Supermarkets, Robert Mariano, creating Vero Coffee & Gelato and opening more than 40 Vero locations inside Mariano’s grocery stores.

In addition, Angelo founded Alamode Foods Inc., a food service manufacturer of gelatos, sorbetto, specialty coffee roasting and other fine specialty foods.

Over the course of his 30-plus years of management-level food service and culinary experience, Angelo has garnered many accolades for his work and kitchen creations. In 2016, Angelo’s “Chicago Pot Hole” gelato flavor was ranked No. 1 in America and second-best in the Americas at the Gelato World Tour’s qualifying rounds.

The ranking secured him an invite to the Gelato World Tour grand finale in Italy, where he was one of only 36 gelato artisans from around the globe competing for the official title of “World’s Best Gelato.” At the event, Angelo’s “Cocco Sogno” gelato flavor earned special recognition as the technical jury choice.

Angelo and his wife have three children, all in their 20s. He lives in Elmwood Park and plays an active role in the community, serving in his fifth-year as an elected Trustee in the Village of Elmwood Park.

Michael R. Lufrano (Sports)
Executive Vice President, Community and Government Affairs and Chief Legal Officer, Chicago Cubs

Michael Lufrano serves as Executive Vice President, Community Affairs and Chief Legal Officer for the Chicago Cubs. He joined the team in July 2004 and is responsible for community affairs, government relations, communications, neighborhood relations and charitable activities. He also serves as chief legal counsel for the team.

In his time with the Cubs, Michael has led efforts to develop and maintain positive relations with the community around Wrigley Field, working closely with elected officials, residents and businesses. These relationships have helped gain City Council and Landmarks Commission approval for renovations to Wrigley Field and other improvements. They include $750 million in private investment in development inside and outside the ballpark and the passage of a new night game and neighborhood protection ordinance authorizing additional night baseball games and bringing musical concerts to Wrigley Field while protecting the community.

Michael is actively involved in community service and has spearheaded significant expansion of Cubs Charities. Investments in projects such as Kerry Wood Cubs Field and Margaret Donahue Park are lasting legacies in the Lake View community. Cubs Charities’ three signature programs — the Diamond Project, Cubs Scholars and Cubs on the Move Fitness Program — promote health, fitness and education throughout the city. Support for baseball diamonds like Little Cubs Field at Humboldt Park and Cubs Care Legends Field at Hamlin Park and renovations to Thillens Stadium have enhanced the team’s partnership with the City of Chicago. Since Michael joined the team, Cubs charitable efforts have generated more than $1 million in donations a year, including more than $3 million each of the last two years, to help organizations serving Chicago and its communities. He also initiated the annual Race to Wrigley, which promotes health and fitness while raising funds to support Cubs Charities.

Hon. Lisa Ann Marino (Law)
Cook County Circuit Court Judge, Housing and Mortgage Foreclosure Sections, Municipal District 1 and Chancery Divisions

Judge Lisa A. Marino was elected and sworn in as a Full Circuit Judge in December 2012. While presiding in the Juvenile Justice Division, Judge Marino utilized her sociology background to encourage juvenile offenders to work towards rehabilitation and restorative justice goals while balancing efforts to achieve justice for the victims and protection of the general public. While serving in Mortgage Foreclosure, she demonstrated her ability to handle a high volume call while balancing the interests of both pro se litigants and foreclosing banks to achieve fair and efficient results for all parties.

Recently while presiding in Housing, Judge Marino effectuated a transfer of property that enabled an abandoned and unsafe building previously used as a drug house to be transformed into a thriving community center serving mothers of children affected by violent crimes. This project was featured on Megyn Kelly’s Today Show as an example of the positive results that can be achieved when the community works together.

Judge Marino earned her B.A. and J.D. degrees from DePaul University. She also studied abroad at Loyola University’s Rome Center in Rome, Italy. Among her many honors, she received the Gerald L. Sbarboro Award for Leadership in Mentoring from the Justinian Society of Lawyers; the David Award from the IANU Foundation for outstanding achievement in her legal career; and recognition from the Illinois Treasurer for her dedication and service to the community.

Judge Marino supports a number of philanthropic endeavors and served on the Board of a non-profit that brought hope and healing to children and families. She is a member of the Illinois Judges Association, the National Association of Women Judges, the Illinois State Bar, the Women’s Bar of Illinois, and in 2005-2006 served as the second woman president of the Justinian Society of Lawyers.

Diva Montell (Entertainment)
Beloved Chicago-Area Vocalist and Entertainer

Diva Montell derive her Italian heritage from both of her vocally gifted parents. Her mother, an opera singer, and her father, a professional entertainer, gave her the name Diva in honor of the record label they created.

With her first songs flowing forth at the tender age of 6, Diva eventually studied Opera/Vocal Performance at the American Conservatory of Music and DePaul University School of Music courtesy of scholarships.

Diva took a detour from singing to create, own and operate a staffing company, “Montell Personnel,” employing both her mother and sister. After the sudden passing of her mom, Diva sold her business in 2005 to focus on motherhood and entertainment.

Blessed with a wide vocal range, Diva is able to perform many musical genres, including opera, pop, Broadway and rock. Her well-known talents allow her to be spotlighted in many ways. She is one of Chicago’s most recognized entertainers, having shared the stage with such stars as IL Volo, Michael Bolton, The Drifters, KC & The Sunshine Band and the Jersey Boys.

Currently Diva keeps herself very busy singing liturgical ceremonies, theatre and lounge shows, as well as being the leader of two bands: This Is It, a seven-piece pop/dance group, and Heart To HeartBreaker, the premiere tribute show to Heart and Pat Benatar.

Diva is the 2011 recipient of the Leonardo da Vinci Award for Outstanding Achievement in Performing Arts presented by the Order Sons of Italy in America and is a go-to entertainer for Onesti Entertainment and numerous Italian-American organizations.

Seemingly without rest, Diva finds time to participate in charitable functions and actively volunteers at her daughter’s school. She believes that voluntary community service is the best way to “feed one’s soul.”

Barry Paoli (Real Estate)
Former Owner, Century 21 McMullen Real Estate
Managing Broker, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage-McMullen Office

As a first-generation Italian-American from the DePaul area of Lincoln Park in Chicago, Barry’s strong work ethic began when he was very young. While growing up, his family worked to make a better life. Because of his strong family work ethic, Barry began working at the very young age of 10.

His first jobs included delivering groceries and flowers, which helped pay for his grammar and high school tuition. After high school, he landed a job at a local printing company. He remained a printer for 11 years. But one day he decided to make a serious change in his career path.

Not knowing where his future would lead him, in 1972 he was offered a real estate sales position by an owner of Ben Friend Realty. With virtually no experience, he became the No. 1 agent in Northwest Chicago in his second year in real estate.

During his third year in the industry, he met Robert J. McMullen, owner of McMullen Realtors (established in 1945). Barry partnered with Robert and ran the small three-agent office, growing it to seven agents in just a few years. When Mr. McMullen retired in 1980, Barry became the sole owner of the company. He grew the company to 15 agents and moved to larger quarters.

In 1983, Barry bought a Century 21 franchise. And just recently, Century 21 McMullen merged with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, joining the largest residential real estate company in the whole country. Barry is now the Managing Broker of this prestigious office.

Today, the award-winning company has more than 180 licensed brokers, an experienced management team and a full-service support staff that is housed in a beautiful, state-of-the-art, 16,000-square-foot building at the corner of Harlem Avenue and Northwest Highway that Barry named Tuscany Terrace in honor of his family’s Tuscan roots.

Lyn Scolaro (Education)
Italian Teacher, Prospect High School
Co-President, American Association of Teachers of Italian-Midwest Chapter

Professoressa Lyn Scolaro has been at Prospect High School for the past 27 years, and has been teaching Italian for 36 years, beginning her career at Mother Guerin High School in River Grove. Lyn earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Rosary College, now Dominican University, in River Forest. She holds a minor in Spanish and a Master’s Degree in Administration and Supervision from Roosevelt University as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching Degree from Aurora University.

Lyn is a longtime member and officer of the American Association of Teachers of Italian-Midwest Chapter, where she currently serves as co-President. She is on the Board of the Osservatorio in Chicago and Italidea-Midwest, which governs the new Scuola Italiana Enrico Fermi. She also serves as a Board Member and Convention Co-Chairperson for the Illinois Directors of Student Activities. Lyn has recently been re-elected to serve another three-year term as the Vice President, K-12, of AATI-North America and is serving a four-year term as a member of the College Board Development Committee for the AP Italian Language and Culture Exam.

Lyn’s AP Italian Class was awarded a $100,000 grant over 3 years from the Frantoi Redoro in Grezzana (Verona) in 2016. Her Italian 4 Honors class is currently working with the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in Chicago to create a visitor’s guide in Italian and in English for the museum.

A regular presenter at conferences and symposiums, Lyn has represented Italian on Capital Hill during Advocacy Week. She has contributed to Fra Noi, Il Canguro of the A.N.E.A, the book “Italians in Chicago,” and to the North American supplement of the Italian pedagogy journal In.it. Among other recognitions, Lyn received the Distinguished Service Award from the National AATI, the Shining Star Award from Mt. Prospect, the Heart of Gold Award from Arlington Heights.

Victoria Villaflor, M.D. (Medicine)
Associate Professor of Medicine, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Northwestern University

Victoria Meucci Villaflor, MD is an associate professor of medicine and director of the esophageal cancer program at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Northwestern University in Chicago. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology at the University of Iowa. She completed her medical training at Rush University in Chicago including medical school, internal medicine residency and hematology/oncology fellowship. She has been on faculty at Rush University, University of Chicago, and more recently Northwestern University. She has been named as regional Chicago top doctor. She specializes in the treatment of malignancies of the lung, esophagus, and head and neck.

She develops and leads clinical trials focused on novel therapies including oncogene exploitation and immunomodulatory approaches with an added interest of concurrent radiotherapy. She is most interested in personalized therapies and how to best optimize their use in clinical practice to ultimately improve both survival and toxicity outcomes in patients. She is actively involved in a multi-disciplinary group focused on chemoradiation protocols and immunomodulatory protocols for patients with esophageal, lung and head and neck malignancies.

She serves on research committees for Southwest oncology group and Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium and oversees research conducted at Northwestern Medicine. She has published extensively.

Victoria is very passionate about patient care. She is proactive in preventing symptoms caused by therapy to improve quality of life and treatment adherence, which may translate to improved outcome. She feels patient education is important to help patients navigate their way through treatment successfully.

In addition to her research interests and very busy clinical practice, Dr. Villaflor is devoted to the education of future doctors, and serves as a clinical and research mentor to both students and colleagues. She also serves on an ASCO education committee.

About Fra Noi

Fra Noi produces a magazine and website that serve the Chicago-area Italian-American community. Our magazine offers our readers a monthly feast of news and views, culture and entertainment that keeps our diverse and widely scattered readers in touch with each other and their heritage. Our website offers a dizzying array of information drawn from every corner of the local community.

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