Click on each photo to be introduced to each officer
Ray LaVerghetta is a second-generation Italian-American born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. His paternal grandparents were born and grew up in Vasto, in the province of Chieti, in Abruzzo. His maternal grandfather was also born and raised in Vasto, Abruzzo, while his maternal grandmother called home Pizzone, a small mountain town originally part of Abruzzo but incorporated into Molise, province of Isernia, in 1861.
Ray graduated from Loyola University in Maryland and went on to earn a Ph.D. in Linguistics at Georgetown University. He divided his career between academia and government (DoD). In the academic world, he taught at Georgetown University, Loyola University, the U.S. Naval Academy, the National Cryptologic School, the Community Colleges of Baltimore County, and Howard Community College. In government, he worked as a linguist, writer, and analyst, focusing on European issues of interest to a broad swath of U.S. Government policymakers. He retired in 2013 and is now working part-time as a government consultant and adjunct professor at Howard Community College. In his spare time, he is working on a language documentation project targeting one of the latin-derived languages that was spoken in Italy (and still is by some older residents) prior to the dominance of Italian.
Ray is married to Michele and they have two daughters, Gabriella and Maria.
Nancy DeSanti was born in Massachusetts and while growing up, lived in Athens, Greece for 4 years, and in Manila, the Philippines, for 3 years. For the past 11 years, she has been a legal specialist with Reed Smith LLP, a top-15 global law firm. Prior to that, she was an editor at The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., a legal publishing company.
As the daughter of immigrants, Nancy appreciates and loves her heritage and is interested in Italian genealogy, history, culture, and language. She is a member of the National Italian American Foundation and enjoys traveling to Italy each year. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
Lynn Sorbara has been a member of AMHS for a number of years. She served briefly on the Board of Directors in 2008, but was forced to resign for family reasons. In 2002, she made a presentation at an AMHS general membership meeting on “Finding and Fighting Diseases in the New World of Bio-Terrorism.” She earned her doctorate in Molecular Pharmacology from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Since 1991, she has worked at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD. Currently, she is Program Director in the Division of Cancer Prevention. Lynn is the Past-President of the DC Chapter of the Catholic Alumni Club and is a board member (term to 2015) of the Washington Chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America.
Carmine James Spellane was born and raised in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia, to which his maternal grandparents emigrated from Molise. He has lived in
Washington, D.C. since 1969, first as a student at American University, then as a 40-year communications professional, mostly for the trade union movement. Carmine was the Media Director of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers for 21 years before his
retirement in 2015. He has served on the governing boards of several organizations devoted to communications and education. Since his retirement, Carmine taught for a semester at John Hopkins University’s D.C. campus, taken classes in playwriting and acting, and continued his two-decade love of horseback riding, an interest he shares with his wife, Susan Noon and their daughter, Nora Spellane. He has had a lifelong interest in the culture, history and music of Italy and the Celtic and Nordic nations where he has roots on his father’s side.
Peter Bell is a lifelong resident of the Washington, DC area, growing up in Silver Spring, Maryland. He is , on his mother’s side and has lived on Capitol Hill since 1974. He is retired from the Federal government with over 35 years experience as an auditor and financial manager with three different Federal agencies. Currently he heads his own consulting and training practice, providing support for the needs of the affordable housing industry. He has been a member of AMHS for four years.
Americo (Rico) Allegrino grew up in upstate New York. His father came from Chieti in the Abruzzo region of Italy and his maternal great grandparents came from Sicily and Naples. He earned a Master’s degree in Meteorology from the University of Maryland. He current works as a government contractor for NOAA’s satellite division providing programming support to the next generation of weather satellites. Rico has worked for NOAA for 21 years. Previously, he worked at Goddard Space Flight Center studying sea ice and snow cover using various remote sensors. He has volunteered as a special events coordinator for an organization of single Catholics called the Catholic Alumni Club. There, he organized picnics, happy hours and dinners. He was also membership chair for several years for this group. Currently, he leads a group of volunteers from his local parish to provide a monthly dinner for homeless men in Prince Georges County. He also volunteers his gardening services to his local parish. He is an avid gardener. He has been an AMHS member for 4 years.
Mr. Jeffrey (Jeff) Clark grew up in Utah and has lived the last ten years in the District of Columbia. He works as chief financial officer for a small government contractor holding an MBA degree and CPA designation. He is the single father of three children, 24 and 17-year old sons, and a 21 year-old daughter who all live with him. In addition to the AMHS, Jeff is a member of the Lucchesi nel Mondo Tuscany Club, and in 2011 served as the Secretary of the Festa Italiana Foundation. He claims Italian heritage through his 6th great grandfather who was a native of Naples and immigrated to New Orleans in the early 1700s.
Jeff previously served on the Board and was the AMHS Treasurer from 2014 through 2015.
Lucio D’Andrea is a native of Roccamandolfi in the region of Molise. He immigrated to the United States in 1948 along with his brother Joseph and mother Candida to join his father, who lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Upon completion of his secondary school education, he enrolled at the Univeristy of Pittsburgh, graduating in 1957 with a bachelor of Science degree in Petroleum Engineering and a commission as Second Lieutenant in the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Following his military service, he moved to Wyoming to work for an oil company. He later accepted a position with the Federal Power Commission in Washington, DC. He served in a number of government agencies and in 1986 he accepted an appointment by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to serve as Senior Economic Officer with the Economic Commission of Europe (ECE) in Geneva, Switzerland, becoming deputy director of its Energy Division. He retired from the ECE in 1983 and entered private practice as an energy consultant.
During his long professional and military career, Lucio received numerous awards and recognitions. One which he is particularly proud of is the “Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy,” which he received in 1972 for his involvement with the Italian Cultural Society in promoting Italian Culture in the Washington, DC area. He has maintained a steadfast commitment to the promotion and development of Italian culture, traditions and values. His pride in his heritage was demonstrated when he took the initiative to establish the Abruzzo and Molise Heritage Society of the Washington DC area. He remains active in the Italian-American community by also being a member of Order of the Sons of Italy, National Italian American Foundation, Council for the Promotion of the Italian Language, and Committee to Represent Italians Abroad (established by the Government of Italy). Continuing his commitment to the promotion of Italian culture, Lucio recently established the Italian Heritage Society of St. Mary of Sorrows in Fairfax, Virginia, the parish that the D’Andrea family joined in 1969, when they settled in the area. Lucio is married to Edvige (Pitassi) D’Andrea, a native of Pacentro, in Abruzzo. The have six children and seven grandchildren.
Maria D’Andrea-Yothers is proud to be a first-generation Italian-American: her mother was born in Pacentro, Abruzzo and her father in Roccamandolfi, Molise. She has been an active member of the Society since it was founded by her father in 2000. She has served as a member of the Board, 1st Vice President-Programs, 2nd Vice-President-Membership and editor and co-editor of the AMHS Notiziario.
In her professional life, Ms. D’Andrea-Yothers is a Supervisory International Trade Specialist with the Office of Textiles and Apparel, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC). She is responsible for domestic policy issues, and the textile and apparel trade portfolio for Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania. Prior to joining the DOC, Maria worked on textile and clothing trade issues as a member of the Secretariat of the Word Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.
Maria dedicates her time and enthusiastic support the Italian American community in the Washington, DC area, and enjoys travel and spending time with her friends and her very tight-knit family (four sisters, one brother, their spouses, and 8 nieces and nephews). Most importantly, Maria is proud to carry forward the legacy of her father who served as the first President of the Abruzzo and Molise Heritage Society. She is married to Sam Yothers, and has two step daughters, Lauren and Mara.
Helen has taught English at Gonzaga College High School since 1983. She co-founded Italy, In Other Words, a writing workshop based for 5 years in Abruzzo. She co-founded and organized Let’s Blog Abruzzo, a conference to encourage Italian and Italian-American bloggers to write about the region. Currently, she is a co-founder of the Abruzzo Blogger Community.
Jim is a third generation Italian-American; his grandparents were born in the region of Calabria Italy and immigrated to the US in the early 1900’s. Jim and his wife moved to the DC area from West Virginia in 1970. He has college degrees from Fairmont State University, West Virginia University, and George Washington University and he is retired from Northern Virginia Community College. Jim has three sons and four grandchildren.
Joann Bagliere was born in Jersey City, NJ, to a mother from Molise and a Sicilian-American father. Her first trip to Italy was as a child in 1959, to visit with her maternal grandparents and extended family in Montemitro, Campobasso, Molise. This trip included a whirlwind tour of “the boot.” She returned for a summer study in Rome while in college, sealing her love for all things Italian. Joann graduated from the College of New Rochelle with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature, and received a Master of Arts in English from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. While teaching at Georgian Court College (now Georgian Court University) in Lakewood, NJ, Joann continued graduate studies at Fordham University and, after marrying Joseph Novello and relocating to Maryland, at the University of Maryland. She left her studies to raise her family of four. Joann returned to work as director of a pre-school, and is for several years as a teacher at the school. Now in retirement, her greatest joy is being Nonna to her six grandchildren, ranging in age from 21/2 to 8 years of age. Her hobbies include cooking and baking, reading, and traveling, particularly two visits to Italy in the last year.
Joe Novello was born in Montazzoli, Provincia di Chieti, in Abruzzo on August 23,1941, the youngest of six children . With his parents and the younger of his two sisters, he emigrated to the U.S. ( Scotch Plains, N.J.) in May, 1955 to reunite with his paternal grandmother, four uncles, many cousins and many paesani . By 1966 his three brothers and his older sister and their families reunited in the US. Most of the family still resides in and around Scotch Plains, N.J. where they often reunite for social events. When Joe arrived in the U.S., he was enrolled in the sixth grade of the local Catholic school, but quickly advanced in his studies and graduated from high school in 1960 and from Rutgers University in 1964 with a BS degree in Electrical Engineering. He received a MS in E.E. in June 1966 from N.J. Institute of Technology. In June 1965, he accepted a job with NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, MD, and continued his graduate education at Catholic University of America in Space Science and Applied Physics (1966 to 1969). At GSFC, Joe started working as a computer programmer. Two years later he joined a group of electronic engineers developing a small, lightweight low power general purpose central computer for satellites that became the NASA standard central computer (NSCC-1) baseline on many NASA LANDSAT missions and a few DOD missions. He worked as a digital design engineer responsible for many special electronics, data processors and as a commands and telemetry systems engineer on many missions. Joe served as section head, acting branch head, and project coordinator for instruments development, retiring in January, 2006 after 40 ½ years service inorder to pursue personal interests. In 1976, Joe married Joann Bagliere Novello. They have four children: Katherine, Stephanie, Laura, and Peter and six grandchildren (three boys and three girls). His hobbies include financial investments , real estate, gardening, photography, and travel.
Albert Paolantonio was raised in Alexandria, Virginia, and has remained in the Arlington area for most of his adult life. He graduated in 1983 from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, and then started working for the Department of Defense as a Budget Analyst. In 2014, he retired after 32 years of service!
He has studied the Italian language on Sundays for about 20 years at Casa Italiana, and is a lover of all things Italian. His grandfather moved to the Boston area from Roccasicura (Isernia) in Molise in 1913. He has visited there several times, as well as many other towns in Molise, and throughout Italia. His interest in the Abruzzo Molise Heritage Society began shortly after the club began in 2000. He has been a member since, and enjoyed discovering more information about the two regions, and, in the process, has developed some very close friendships among the Society. He has supported the Society over the years in various capacities, and, at this time, is very interested in bringing his passion for the Society, and Italia, to the next level as a board member. He is also interested in Genealogy, and has a variety of other active interests, such as travel, exercise, gardening, and socializing with family and friends.
Sarah Scott is second-generation Italian-American; her mother’s family is from Poggio Picenze, Province of L’Aquila, Abruzzo. Her father’s career in the United States Navy enabled Ms. Scott to travel throughout Italy and live in Naples for several years. Although Sarah was born in New Jersey, she traveled extensively with her Navy family.
Sarah most recently lived in Texas while completing a Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Dallas. She holds degrees in Economics, Finance, Political Economy, and Public Policy. She relocated to the Washington, DC area in May 2010 to work as an International Economist at the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Since moving to the Washington DC area, Sarah has become very involved in the local Italian-American community. She is also a member of Lucchesi nel Mondo-Tuscany Club, National Italian American Foundation, and Italian Cultural Society of Washington DC. Sarah is the Organizer of Passatempo, the first Italian meetup in Washington DC., which hosts 10-15 events each month such as Italian language conversation groups, happy hours, and Italian-language movies (with English subtitles).
A native of the Washington, DC area, Jonathan’s maternal grandparents are from the small town of San Pio delle Camere in the comune of L’Aquila in Abruzzo. An interest in his Italian roots inspired him to study Italian as a student at the University of Richmond, which led him to study abroad in Perugia and Ferrara. After graduating, he returned to Washington and worked as an ophthalmic technician for six years in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
His passion for Italian culture led him to complete a Master’s degree in Italian Studies at Georgetown University. Currently, Jon works as the Italy Programs Manager for CET Academic Programs, a provider of study abroad programs for college students.
Lourdes Tinajero joined AMHS through her association with Holy Rosary Church, where she assists as a catechist for young children. The parish and her love of Italy, the Italian culture, language and cuisine are “a piece of heaven.”
Ms. Tinajero serves as a Program Manager and Analyst at the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). Her primary duties include the development and management of program initiatives, particularly those concerning resource management and communications. Prior to her role at GPO, Lourdes served as the Director of Legislative Policy and Government Relations for the Cuban American National Council, a national non-profit organization providing direct services to individuals in the areas of education, healthcare, housing, and civic responsibilities. Other experience includes roles at the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Census Bureau, Community College of Denver, and New Mexico Minority Business Development Council. She has also served as a consultant to the Smithsonian Institution, Harvard University, AARP, American Social Health Association, and authored publications on higher education, business and industry. Personal interests include cooking, fashion design, and global cultural diversity. A guiding point comes from her paternal grandfather, Antonio Tinajero, who showed that “Education never ends!”
“I’m so proud of AMHS and its continuing growth. I hope to contribute to the Society’s valuable relationships with the Italian and Italian-American community, as well as to the public’s knowledge and love of Italy!”