Sergio Giangrande was installed as president of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans at the organization’s annual Christmas party on Dec. 13. He steps up to the presidency after a banner year as chairman of the 2017 Columbus Day Parade.
Joining Giangrande as 2019-2020 officers are First Vice President Lisa Ryan, Second Vice President Ron Onesti, Third Vice President John Galluzzi, Secretary Joseph Rago, Treasurer Christine Caliendo-Cerami and Sergeant-at-Arms Pasquale Gianni.
The following profiles were provided by the organization.
The son of Vito and Rosalia (Zummo) Giangrande, Sergio Giangrande was born in Chicago but moved with his parents to Italy when he was 3 months old. The family returned to America when Sergio was 8, settling in Schiller Park.
A master baker, Sergio’s dad also worked in construction and his mother worked as a seamstress while they raised a family that had grown to include Sergio’s brothers, Alessandro and Dave.
Armed with his parent’s drive and integrity, Sergio graduated from high school and immediately entered the work force, taking a job as an arbitration clerk at the Mercantile Exchange while studying to become a mortgage adviser.
In 2001, he was hired by a mortgage company and began working toward being the residential mortgage adviser he is today. Now at Peoples Home Equity, a residential lending company with 60 locations across the country, he is a senior mortgage adviser handling loans ranging from hundreds of thousand to millions of dollars.
Sergio has emerged as one of PHE’s top mortgage originators. His company has presented him with its President’s Club Award, CHICAGO AGENT Magazine has named him to its “Who’s Who” in 2017, CHICAGO magazine has named him a five-star mortgage professional for three years running and he is a five-star lender on Zillow.
Married in 2009, Sergio and his wife, Lisa (Campobasso), live in Oak Brook with their two young daughters, Gabriella and Giulia. Being a supportive husband and a dedicated father has been a dream come true for Sergio. “There’s nothing like being a father and experiencing that smile on your child’s face,” Sergio says.
Family and culture are extremely important to Sergio. “I love the U.S.A., I love what it stands for, but I love Italy as well,” he says. “Those roots run very deep.”
Sergio cherishes his family’s traditional Italian Sunday dinners and Christmas and Easter celebrations, and he looks forward to the St. Joseph Tables staged each year at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church.
Lisa (Bottalla) Ryan is thrilled to be following in footsteps of her uncles Anthony and Joseph Bottalla, both past JCCIA board members. Lisa’s father, Aldo, along with his parents and brothers, migrated from Sicily in 1938. She has a deep appreciation for the countless contributions Italian Americans have made to the United States and hopes to use that love for her Italian heritage to further the good work of the JCCIA. Born and raised in Chicago, she has worked for two Chicago Alderman as Chief of Staff and Office Manager. She has served her community in many capacities over the years as an active member of neighborhood organizations including local school and library boards. She’s also a member of the Sicilian American Cultural Association, loves to travel to Italy and is currently taking Italian language lessons. Lisa and her husband, Tom, are avid baseball fans and have two young adult sons, Zachary and Anthony.
Ron Onesti is the president of Onesti Entertainment Corp., which produces concerts, special events and festivals nationwide, and the owner of the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, the No. 1 live music venue in the Midwest. He has produced several projects for television, appeared on numerous radio shows, and write regularly for the Daily Herald and Fra Noi. He donates his time and talents to countless Italian organizations and has been honored by Casa Italia, the Italian American Executives of Transportation, the IANU Foundation, the Order Sons of Italy in America, the Italian American Police Association and many more. He was awarded the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor and was recently honored as a Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia by the Italian government.
John Galluzzi spent many active years in the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, including his time as the president of the Young Professionals Division. He was honored to be given several opportunities to portray Christopher Columbus in the JCCIA Columbus Day Parade. Currently, John is an active member in the St. Rocco di Potenza Society and a new member of the Italian American Executives of Transportation. He volunteers his time at Our Lady of Pompeii Shrine and is an active fourth degree member of the Knights of Columbus. John is currently working in sales and enjoys spending time with his wife, Julie, and three children.
A licensed funeral director and certified public accountant, Joseph Rago is the Vice President of Rago Brothers Funeral Homes and Acacia Park Cemetery. Along with his brother, Anthony, he proudly represents the fourth generation of his family-owned and operated business. He is also the accounting instructor at Worsham College of Mortuary Science. Joe has been active in the Italian-American community his entire life, including volunteer marshal for the Columbus Day Parade, member of the Italian-American Human Relations Foundation of Chicago, and former officer of the Greater Chicago Chapter of UNICO. He has previously served terms as Treasurer and Vice President for the JCCIA. He is a graduate of Loyola University of Chicago, currently residing in Bensenville with his wife, Juliet, and three children.
The daughter of Joseph De Serto, a founder of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, Christina Caliendo Cerami has been actively involved in the Italian-American community for the past 40 years. She previous served as a vice president and board member of the JCCIA and currently serves as president of the Society of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Inc., an organization promoting devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and doing charitable works in the community. A Chicago-area realtor for the past 37 years, Chris is president and broker manager of Caliendo Realty Services in Melrose Park.
Pasquale Gianni is a proud Chicagoan and second-generation Italian American with roots in Sicily and Puglia. His maternal grandfather and mentor, Dominic DiFrisco, serves as President Emeritus of the JCCIA. Via that connection, Pasquale has been a devoted participant within the organization since his youth and has never missed a Columbus Day Parade. He will graduate next year from the Loyola University Chicago School of Law and is an active student member of the Justinian Society of Italian Lawyers. He currently serves as finance director for the re-election of Alderman Michele Smith and works as a law clerk at the firm of Daley and Georges.
Dominic DiFrisco has emerged over the decades as the voice of the Chicago-area Italian-American community. Born to Leoluca and Antonina, immigrants from Corleone, Sicily, he grew up in New York and began his career in public relations with Alitalia, eventually transferring to the city of Chicago and rising to the rank of district sales manager. He is now a senior consultant at the global public relations firm of Edelman. Dominic is a commendatore of the republic of Italy; former Fra Noi columnist; past chairman of the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii board; and past president of the JCCIA. He has received numerous awards and has served as a member of the Illinois Human Relations Commission, board member of the Regional Organ Bank of Illinois, chairman of two telethons benefiting the United Negro College Fund, fundraising co-chairman for Israel Bond and Off the Street Club events, and advisory board member for the Illinois Arts Alliance.
Jo Ann is also a past president of the JCCIA, Calabresi in America Organization and Maroons Ladies Club, secretary of the Italo American Soccer and Social Club “Maroons” and Joseph Gentile Post #2 of the Italian American War Veterans, and a member of the Italian American Women’s Organization. She has been honored by the Italo American Soccer and Social Club “Maroons,” Italian American Executives of Transportation, Cook County Board President John Stroger, Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, Illinois Department of Public Health, Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, JCCIA Women’s Division, Order Sons of Italy in America State Grand Lodge, Sons and Daughters of Italy in America, Italian American Police Association, Comune di Campofelice di Roccella, Provincia di Palermo, Italian American Political Coalition, and Comboni Mission Center.