Newly elected ICCC Board members

Dear Italian Cultural & Community Center Members:

As per Section 6.03.4, if the number of candidates who have timely qualified equals (or is less than) the number of vacancies, the President may dispense with sending out ballots and all candidates who have timely qualified shall be declared winners. We are proud to announce that the following became Board Members at the November 8, 2018 Annual Meeting, of the Italian Cultural & Community Center.

Diane T. Aquila is an Italian American, and mother of eleven. Her family relocated to Houston in 2007, when her husband, Dominic A. Aquila, was appointed Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of St. Thomas (UST). Soon after their arrival in Houston, they joined the Italian Cultural and Community Center (ICCC). Dominic served on the ICCC board for three years and was part of the team that brought Festa Italiana to the campus of the University of St. Thomas. They attend the Festa each year and some of their children have worked at the festival. Diane was part of the nominating committee one year and was instrumental in facilitating the Italian summer camp for children at UST. Diane’s Italian culture and heritage are an integral part of family life. She have been an active member of Donne di Domani for nearly four years. Her activities with the Donne include participation in its scholarship committee and various social functions. She is passionate about Italian cooking and culture, which she has passed on to my children.

John Marion Carrabba has served on the ICCC Board in the past and completed his first three-year term. He is a native Houstonian and comes from an Italian-American family who holds its heritage very close to their hearts. His wife, Janice Vento Carrabba and their daughter Jessica are also native Houstonians. They have owned Piatto Ristorante for over 17 years at the Post Oak location. John Marion is a graduate from St. Thomas High School and the University of St. Thomas. In the past he has served on the West Houston Chamber of Commerce Board, the University of St. Thomas President Advisory Board and on the Alumni Board. For the past 8 years, he has served on the Houston Italian Executive Committee Festival Board and in the past as Co-Chair or Chair. During each of these years he has had over $80,000 contributed by Frost Bank, Nestle Waters (parent company of Panna and Pelligrino) and Pepsi Cola in dollars and or products, and feels he can contribute much more to the Board of Directors such with his business skills.

Monica Ercolani has been a member and enthusiastic supporter of the ICCC for over 20 years, consistently attending and participating in many events as well as at the Festa Italiana. Having a lifelong passion for all things Italian she rarely misses an opportunity to attend and to invite others to participate at ICCC events. Monica was born and raised in Tuscany, Italy and recently became a U.S. citizen after living in USA for the past 20 years. She is a graduate of the University of Florence in History of Italian Language and continued her education in the U.S. earning a Masters of Italian Studies at UCLA prior to moving to Houston. She raised her two children here as bilingual in Italian and English and retains deep ties to her native Italy while fully embracing the Italian-American experience. As a professor of Italian Studies at the University of Houston for the past 13 years, and through her long-term participation in ICCC programs and events, Monica has established a great network of friends who support and appreciate this center as much as she does. She is looking forward to the opportunity to help lead this organization that she appreciates so much.

Sandra Celli Harris is a native of Galveston Island and has lived in Houston since 1965. She has three adult children and four grandchildren. Her parents were born in the USA and both maternal and paternal grandparents were born in Lucca, Italy. She retired as a Professor of Italian in the Italian Studies Program at the University of Houston after 25 years in January 2011. Having been a member of the Federation of Italian American Organizations since it purchased the Milford House and participating actively in the Italian Cultural and Community Center since 1988, she feels that she is qualified to be a Board Member. Sandra was a member of the Board of Directors of the ICCC from 1992-1996 and from 2012-2017. Having been a part of the beginning, growth, and development of the ICCC she thoroughly supports the Mission of the ICCC and would like to continue to contribute to its future. She has currently been serving as Cultural Committee Co-Chair and as a member of the Education Committee. Sandra is involved in the presentation of lectures, discussions, film presentations and other cultural activities including organizing annually the Cultural Movie Theatre at Festa Italiana.

Margret Norton was born in Vienna, Austria and grew up in Europe, graduating from high school in Livorno, Italy. She received her B.A. in German at the University of Texas and M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling at the University of Houston, obtaining Mid-Management Certification at the University of St. Thomas. She is the proud mother of a son and grandmother of two grandsons who currently live in Hannover, Germany. Her work experience has been one serving in education for 40 years, beginning as a teacher of German and many years later, retiring as a high school principal in Houston. She also worked at Rice University as Principal of the Rice University Summer School for Grades 8-12 for several years. Margaret’s volunteer experience includes several years of being a member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo which is committed to raising funds for area high school scholarships. Presently, however, she focuses her volunteer efforts at the ICCC and serves on the Education Committee of which she has been a member for three years, helping her fellow committee members develop educational courses of interest for our community. She also served on the ICCC Scholarship Committee this year. In addition, she represented the ICCC as a goodwill ambassador at outside events that the ICCC participates in during the year.

The remaining members of the 2019 Board of Directors are as follows:

Dolores (Dee) Avioli
Livia Bornigia
Raluca Dalea
Tommaso DePoi
Gary DeSerio
Tracy L. Lalasz
Julie Mastroianni
Bernard Marino
Mark Parenti
Peter Scalzitti

Joanna Palasota, Past President