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Salvo

Salvatore Saieva

President

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Salvatore Saieva hails from Piana degli Albanesi (Palermo), a town known for its Arbereshe language and traditions (ancient Albanian). Actively involved in politics and volunteering since his teenage years, he served as a City Council member in Piana degli Albanesi and collaborated with local associations on projects exploring historical memory alongside schools in the area.

He graduated in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology from the University of Palermo. Following his selection for the International Doctoral Program in Neuroscience, he earned two PhDs: one awarded by the University of Palermo in 2018 and the other by UTMB (Galveston, Texas) in 2021.

He worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at UTMB from 2021 to 2023, studying mechanisms for preventing Alzheimer's disease. Currently, he works at UT Health Houston as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, continuing his research on Alzheimer's and neurodegenerative diseases.

Salvo aims to make Com.It.Es. a point of contact for Italian researchers wishing to undertake study periods at academic institutions in our consular district, thereby contributing to the development of a contact network that fosters the cultural and scientific growth of the Italian community residing in the district.

Loretta Bersani

Executive

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Loretta Bersani has been living in Houston for ten years, alongside her daughter Elizabeth. With nearly two decades of experience in human resource management, she specializes in executive coaching, training, and development. At her workplace, she also champions the Multicultural Group.

In her free time, Loretta shares her insights about the United States on her Instagram page @laziadamerica_, where she has garnered a following of nearly 10,000 followers.

She has been a valuable fixer for prominent Italian journalists on assignment in Houston, including Marta Ciccolari Micaldi, Francesco Costa, and Federico Leoni.

Loretta envisions a Comites that organizes cultural events and debates to enrich the community.

Loretta

Isabella Carrino

President of the Communication Commission

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Originally from Puglia, Isabella moved to Milan after completing her studies and achieved success as a Sales Account Manager for Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

In 2019, she embarked on a new adventure, relocating to the United States to join her husband, and now resides in Houston.

Over the years, her career has diversified significantly. She is currently a social media marketing professional and a private Italian language tutor.

Furthermore, Isabella founded "Italian Experiences," a company dedicated to promoting Italian culture and traditions in the United States.

In her role within Comites, Isabella is driven by a passion to develop initiatives that strengthen the bonds within the local Italian community. She is especially keen on launching programs that facilitate integration into the community, with a special focus on women's empowerment.

Isabella
Lucia

Lucia Fusillo

Secretary

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Born in Barletta and a graduate in Psychology from Rome, she pursued a Master's degree in Psychology at the University of Houston. For the past 22 years, she has been practicing as a psychologist in the public school district of Deer Park, Texas.

In Houston, she met her husband, Sandeep, who is originally from India.

She has always been an active volunteer at cultural events organized by the Italian Cultural Center of Houston.

With Comites, she aims to create a common platform for exchanging ideas and initiatives that can enhance the cultural quality of life for Italians living abroad.

Marco De Prosperi

Treasurer

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Born in Rome, Marco served as a firefighter in the military. He graduated in Management and earned a Master in Business Administration with honors from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri, attending the Leiden campus in the Netherlands.

Later, at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, he completed all courses and passed the Candidacy Exam for the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership. He is currently working on his thesis, which constitutes the final phase of his Doctorate project.

Since 2013, Marco has been residing in Arkansas with his wife and son. He holds the position of Chief Business Financial Officer for the university libraries at the University of Arkansas. Before this role, he spent about a decade at the European Space Technology Center of the European Space Agency in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. During the last seven years of this tenure, he served as the financial administrator and manager of the infrastructure for laboratories specializing in electronic components and materials for space applications.

Marco

Andrea Cudin

Counselor

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With a degree in Philosophy from the University of Trieste and a Ph.D. in the same field, followed by several years as a researcher, Andrea Cudin embarked on a new journey to Texas, where he now lives with his wife and three children.

In Texas, Andrea established Lira Rossa, an artisan cheese shop, with the vision of creating authentic Italian products locally. Today, Lira Rossa supplies many restaurants in the Houston and Austin areas.

Actively involved in the Friulian community in the Southwest, Andrea aims to leverage his position in Comites to build a network of Italian food producers. His goal is to promote local Italian producers through various events and initiatives, thus enhancing the visibility and appreciation of authentic Italian cuisine in the region.

Andrea
Chiara

Chiara Dini

Councilor

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Originally from Maremma, Chiara Dini pursued her studies in Political Science and International Relations in Siena. She began her career in Project Management at Finmeccanica and continued in the Energy sector of General Electric. This job brought her to Austin, where she has lived for 10 years with her husband Francesco, their children Vittoria and Giovanni, and two dogs.

Today, she works at Indeed as a content architect for the Italian market, an experience that has immersed her in the world of Tech companies in Austin, many of which have relocated from California.

Over these 10 years in Texas, she has observed the social fabric that forms around citizens who, while integrating into these territories, maintain the need and desire to stay connected to their common Italian heritage.

At Comites, Chiara aims to help shape a distinct identity for the Italian community and give a voice to all Italians living abroad, whether they have been residents for many years or have arrived more recently. She is committed to bringing various cultural initiatives, ranging from cultural events to simple gatherings and exchanges, to the community.

Antonio Iocchi

Counselor

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Antonio Iocchi, born in Rome, is a graduate of the Hospitality sector. His career took off at an early age in the industry, where, by just 20, he was already the first Executive Chef at a nationally renowned establishment.

In 1993, he moved to the USA, settling on the West Coast, where he lived and worked in California and Hawaii in the hospitality and culinary sector. He quickly distinguished himself as a successful pioneer and ambassador of contemporary authentic Italian cuisine.

In 1997, Antonio embarked on a new professional journey, becoming an executive in the Corporate America Hospitality business. From then on, he has played a significant role in the development of multiple restaurants in terms of research, development, marketing strategy, and operations across North America, South America, Asia, and Europe. He also successfully assisted numerous Italian food companies in entering the international market.

He currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Global Innovation for Food and Beverage at a renowned international restaurant chain based in Dallas.

Antonio

Christian Di Sanzo

Counselor

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Christian Di Sanzo, originally from Prato, has an esteemed academic background. After earning a degree in Energy Engineering from MIT, he went on to complete a Master's in Mechanical Engineering at UCLA and a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from UC Berkeley. Following his professional stint in the San Francisco Bay Area, Christian moved to Houston for work.

Having resided in the United States for 17 years, he has been living in Houston for several years, where he has served as a consultant in the energy sector.

Since 2022, he has held the position of an elected Deputy Abroad for the North and Central America Division. Committed to helping newcomers navigate bureaucratic challenges and fostering community spirit, Christian is dedicated to transforming Comites into a proactive entity supporting the Italian community.

 

As member and former president of Comites, he focuses on organizing informative seminars, welcoming events, and networking activities, aiming to strengthen cohesion and support within the Italian community abroad.

Nick

Paolo Papi

Vice President

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Paolo Papi was born in Rome and has a degree in Electronic Engineering.

More than 20 years ago he moved with IBM to Austin; currently works for IBM Watson and manages artificial intelligence projects. In Austin, Paolo lives with his wife Patrizia and their son Pierfrancesco.

Paolo has always made himself available to newcomers for any kind of bureaucratic, logistical and personal advice. He believes that Comites can and should play a similar role, becoming a reference for Italians in our territory.

Papi

Alessandro Pauri

Counselor

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Alessandro Pauri, born in Texas to an Italian father, is a professional lawyer. He works as a legal and commercial consultant for businesses and individuals.

As a member of Comites, Pauri aims to advocate for the promotion of Italian language and culture in Texas. He is also dedicated to providing support to newly arrived Italians seeking to establish their new lives in the region.

Alessandro

Marilisa Prestigiacomo

Councilor

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Maria Lisa Prestigiacomo (also known as Marilisa Prestigiacomo Patel) is from Palermo, with a degree in Economics and Commerce and a Master's in Marketing & Communication from ESC Bretagne in France.

She has had a diverse and international career, spanning from sales management in the agri-food sector to marketing management in large retail under the Me.Ca.Des group.

After moving to France in 2001, where she worked in contract negotiation for the Carrefour distribution chain, Marilisa began teaching Italian in her free time.

Since relocating to the USA in 2004, she has taught at Purdue University, IN, and continued her teaching career in Dallas, where she moved in August 2006. She taught at Southern Methodist University and collaborated with the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce INC to promote Italian companies in North Texas.

Currently, she specializes in International Relocation and is the founder of HPLingua, a company offering comprehensive interpretation and foreign language translation services.

Married with two daughters, aged 16 and 11, she is actively involved in their academic and sporting activities.

Since her time in Texas, she is proud to have assisted over a hundred Italo-American families in acquiring Italian citizenship by descent (ius sanguinis).

Marilisa

Richard Ret

Co-opted Director

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Richard Ret was born in New York City on September 25, 1945, to Italian parents. His first trip to Italy was in 1953 aboard the Andrea Doria, lasting nine months, during which he celebrated his First Communion.

Richard visits Italy almost every summer and has owned a property near the Aviano Air Base for over 20 years, which he rents out.

A real estate agent since 1975, he continues to practice his profession and is actively involved in local Italian communities. Richard has had the privilege of contributing significantly to the country he loves. "My brain may be American, but my heart and stomach remain Italian," he often says.

Richard also had the opportunity to appear on Little Big Italy, a show hosted by Francesco Panella that features Italian restaurateurs abroad. His dream is to become an Italian citizen, and he plans to retire there soon.

Richard
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