The Cegliesi Italo-American Association presented Dr. Luciana Burdi with a Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual feast in honor of Maria SS di Buterrito. The event took place at Alta Villa Banquets on Oct. 18.
Dr. Burdi is the deputy director of Massport’s capital program and environmental affairs department.
Massport serves as the Port Authority for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It owns and operates three airports — Boston Logan International Airport, Hanscom Field and Worcester Regional Airport — and public terminals in the Port of Boston.
As deputy director, she oversees 84 professional staff members and is responsible for the management, planning and development of construction budgets. One of her latest projects was the unification of the two sides of Terminal B at Boston’s Logan International Airport, the new home of United Airlines and American Airlines.
Born in Ceglie del Campo, Bari, she received encouragement to pursue her passion for architecture from her father, Michelangelo, a retired engineer and current deputy mayor, and her late mother Gabriella, a physical education teacher. After receiving a degree in architecture from the University of Venice, she became convinced that learning English, her least favorite subject in high school, would be indispensable in advancing her career.
As a result, she came to Chicago, where she was warmly received by her cousins Maria and Vito Del Zotti and their family. They hosted her for what was originally intended to be a brief visit to learn English.
After spending some time learning English in Chicago, she decided to continue to pursue her education in the U.S. She then traveled to Boston to visit another cousin, Gino. While there, she applied and was accepted to MIT, where she earned her master’s degree. She did not stop pursuing her education at MIT, instead continuing on Harvard University, where she received her doctorate in architecture.
While in school, she met her husband, Michael, an architect originally from Montana. They are the proud parents of four children. Currently, her life is full with family, her career as deputy director, and her role teaching at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She was also recently elected secretary of the Boston chapter of COMITES, an organization representing Italians in the U.S.
A devout Catholic, Luciana is proud of her faith. “I would not exist without my faith and everyone around me knows and accepts that, including my agnostic husband,” she says. Rain or shine, she attends the Italian morning Mass at St. Leonard’s Catholic Church in Boston’s famous North End Little Italy, reads scripture and helps elderly churchgoers receive Holy Communion.
What was intended to be a brief visit to the U.S. to learn English has now lasted more than 15 years.