The Italian American Executives of Transportation will honor a trio of luminaries at its dinner dance on Feb. 27 at Ashton Place in Willowbrook. (708-212-1051) Frank Grimaldi will be hailed as Man of the Year at the event, and Anthony Ambrose and Anthony Pucillo will be honored as Humanitarians of the Year. The following profiles were provided by the organization.
Frank Grimaldi Jr.
Frank Grimaldi Jr. has faithfully served the Chicago airport community for nearly 40 years in senior Airfield Operations and Design and Construction capacities. He has more than 21 years of airfield operations experience and 18 years of experience managing the design and construction of capital projects for O’Hare and Midway International Airports.
Frank’s parents, Frank Sr. and Lidia, hailed from a small town about 40 miles outside of Rome called Isola del Liri. They immigrated in 1950 and settled in Chicago, living in the “Little Italy” area, where Frank’s first home was. In the early 1960s, they moved to the Galewood neighborhood, where Frank and his younger sister, Lorella, spent their formative years. Frank Sr. earned his living as a Metallurgical Chemist, and Frank’s mom was proud to be a seamstress for Hart, Schaffner & Marx in Chicago’s West Loop.
Soon after arriving in Chicago, Frank Sr. was introduced to the Maroons Soccer Club. First, he became one of its players, then a coach, and eventually president and board chairman. Frank Sr. also became a founding member of the Mazzini-Verdi Club. Frank Sr. and Lidia’s social circle grew from these affiliations within Chicago’s Italian-American community, and Frank and his sister grew up within this Italian-American microcosm with the values of love of family, loyalty and service to one another as part of everyday life. One of Frank Jr.’s favorite activities as a youth was watching the Maroons play calcio while at his dad’s side.
Frank started singing at the age of 6. “Franchino,” as he was known, sang with local Italian-American bands all over the Midwest for many years. He even sang with the great Connie Francis at Lyric Opera House for a Villa Scalabrini benefit in the 1970s! He thought of becoming a professional singer, but the sacrifice to his personal life was too great, so he changed direction and started working for the City of Chicago.
Like all good and normal Italian siblings, Frank and his sister, Lorella, fought like crazy, but the love was always there. In fact, Frank has fond memories of he and Lorella working at O’Hare airport; Frank for the City of Chicago and Lorella for Alitalia Airlines, allowing for almost daily interactions. Lorella now works elsewhere, but Frank and his life partner, Carmela, are able to connect with Lorella and her husband, Larry, as well as Frank’s nephews, niece, and their respective spouses and partners from time to time.
Frank began his career with the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) as an Airfield Operations Supervisor, where he managed day-to-day logistics, including airfield maintenance, snow removal, airfield/terminal construction, terminal management, aircraft incidents and recoveries, airfield certification and training with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). He also participated in and represented the CDA at various aircraft incidents and recoveries around the country. Frank has worked closely with the FAA on various Runway Safety Programs at O’Hare, as well as advising on multiple airfield topics throughout the aviation community.
In his current role, Frank serves as the Assistant Commissioner of the Design and Construction Divisions for the CDA. He leads a team of professionals in developing a five-year, $1 billion Capital Improvement Program at O’Hare that includes a $250 million program modernizing all major systems in the Heating and Refrigeration plant; a $250 million airfield improvement program on aging taxiways and runways; and $500 million in upgrades to terminals and related infrastructure to ensure that aging buildings and utility systems are capable of supporting future demands.
Frank provides comprehensive knowledge, oversight and leadership for all airport development and planning activities, including development, design, and management of capital projects, facilities projects and tenant projects. He is also part of the Terminal Area Program (TAP) team, the signature component of the $8.5 billion O’Hare 21 program, which will greatly expand O’Hare’s capacity and enhance the passenger experience. He has played an integral role over the 15-year construction history of the O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP), the $7 billion airfield reconfiguration that has reduced delays and made the airfield more efficient by adding four new runways and extending two others. The OMP is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2021.
Frank serves as the CDA’s liaison with its airline partners and other City of Chicago departments on all capital and tenant projects. He serves as a representative for the CDA at the O’Hare and Midway Airports Construction Operations Working Group.
Frank is a frequent public speaker and presenter on behalf of the CDA at events around the region, including local chambers of commerce, trade groups, the annual meeting of the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, registered Assist Agencies like HACIA, various colleges and universities, and assorted other outreach events. He is a much-requested airfield tour guide for VIPs, airport partners and associates, and students. Frank takes great pride in representing Chicago’s airport community, as well as in providing an access point for those outside our community to learn about and experience our airports.
Frank graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois, and completed the Project Management Certification Program from Loyola University, Chicago. He also achieved the Accredited Airport Executive (A.A.E.) designation from the prestigious American Association of Airport Executives.
Frank is father to a daughter, grandfather to a little girl, and the treasured Zio Franco to his own nephews and niece, as well as his extended family’s children and Carmela’s family’s younger members.
Tony Ambrose was born on Jan. 7, 1953, the youngest of four children to Anthony and Anna (Grande) Ambrose. Both of his parents immigrated as children from the province of Cosenza, Calabria. Raised in an Italian-Catholic household on the Northwest Side of Chicago, Tony and his siblings were taught to work hard, treat everyone with respect and take pride in everything they did, and he has passed those values along to his daughter, Lauren.
Tony has a BA in Political Science from DePaul University and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Lewis University. Believing he could make a difference, especially with youth, he joined the Oak Park Police Department in 1984. Tony started his career as a patrol officer and was promoted to Sergeant in 1992. In 1995, he was promoted to Commander and immediately assigned officers to the area’s middle schools and expanded the Community Policing Unit. In 2005, Tony was promoted to Deputy Chief, and he equipped all marked police vehicles with cameras and computers. In 2016, he was promoted to Chief of Police, overseeing 125 sworn officers and 37 civilian personnel.
Concerned with the increase in officer suicides nationally, Tony created a Peer Group to provide counseling and education for police officers. In 1986, he initiated a department-wide Mental Illness Awareness Training with the help of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and THRIVE Counseling. Tony is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the Senior Management Institute for Police. He also served on NAMI’s Board of Directors and THRIVE Counseling’s Board of Directors. In 2018, due to health issues, he retired from the Oak Park Police Department.
A firm believer in giving back to the community, Tony is active in the Italian American Executives of Transportation, the Columbian Club of Chicago, UNICO, the Fenwick High School Hockey Board and THRIVE Counseling. He is thankful for the risk his parents took in leaving their homeland and coming to America, where they faced numerous obstacles but never complained. They learned the language, worked hard, raised a family and were excellent role models. “I owe everything to them and the sacrifices they made.”
Anthony Pucillo retired in 1998 as the First Deputy Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation after 33 years of service to the City of Chicago. He served as a Navy Seabee from 1955-58, honing his construction skills by building runways and housing for military use.
A 30-year member of the Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association, Tony worked in the private sector for 10 years as a cement finisher foreman on major construction projects. He then went to work for the city as a cement finisher, rising through the ranks to foreman, district superintendent, deputy commissioner and first deputy commissioner, the position he retired from.
Under his stewardship, the department repaved 2,500 miles of street using a new process called scarification, which proved 33 percent less expensive than previous methods. He earned an award from the Asphalt Recycling & Reclamation Association for his work on the project. He also brought new streets and sidewalks, as well as proper curbs, gutters and drainage, primarily to the Northwest Side through another project he spearheaded. He also oversaw the reconstruction of Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue, the straightening of the S-Curve on Lake Shore Drive, and other major developments that are enjoyed by city residents and visitors to this day.
Tony entered the private sector after his retirement from the city, first as a partner in M & Q Construction, then as a consultant. He learned the value of hard work from his parents, Ernie and Theresa Pucillo, and was inspired by the example set by his father as well as his brothers Ernie and Bill, who all worked in construction.
A dedicated humanitarian, Tony organized the Department of Transportation’s annual golf outing for years, raising more than $200,000 for Children at the Crossroads Foundation, a charitable organization that provides need-based scholarships. He was also instrumental in fundraising efforts for other charitable causes.
Tony lives on the city’s Northwest Side and is the father of four children — Theresa, Rocco, Gianna and Robert — and the proud Papa of seven grandchildren — Alex, Gabriella, Fiama, Siena, Robert, Anthony and Desi.