The next general meeting of the Abruzzo Molise Heritage Society of the Washington, D.C. Area will take place inside Casa Italiana on Sunday, November 19, 2023, at 1:30 p.m. The primary order of business, before we get to our wine tasting and social time, will be the nomination and election of a new slate of the top five officers of the Society, as well as three new members of the nine-person board of directors.
The five officers serve for two-year terms and are eligible to run for re-election. The members of the Board of Directors serve for three years and cannot run for consecutive terms.
Additional nominations may be made from the floor during the November 19 meeting, after which the nominations will be closed, and the election will be held. The elected officers and board members shall assume office on January 1, 2024, and will be installed at the January 2024 general membership meeting.
The Nominating Committee has put forth the following candidates for election.
President, Christopher Renneker
Christopher John Renneker has been a member of the Abruzzo Molise Heritage Society since 2017 and has served one term on the Society’s board and is currently serving on the social committee. He has been a member of the National Italian-American Foundation since 2016, the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America since 2021, and Filitalia International since 2023. He has family members from the region of Abruzzo and the city of Foggia in the region of Puglia.
Chris graduated in 2017 from the George Washington University Law School. He also earned an MBA from the Sungkyunkwan University Global School of Business in 2017, and a B.S. from Florida State University in 2011 with majors in Political Science and History, focused on European Union integration and Renaissance Italy, respectively, and minors in Classical Civilization, focused on Etruscan studies, and Philosophy.
Between undergrad and law school, Chris taught overseas, including one year of English in Shanghai, China, and taught one year of English, Social Studies, and Math in Mexico City, Mexico. Chris studied abroad for a semester in Italy while at Florida State. He has since visited Italy twice, including a six-week road trip in 2019.
Chris was admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia in 2017 and currently works at the United States Patent and Trademark Office as a Trademark Examining Attorney. He previously worked as an Attorney Advisor in the Small Business Administration, Office of Disaster Assistance.
Second Vice President-Membership, Americo “Rico” Allegrino
Americo “Rico” Allegrino grew up in upstate New York. His father emigrated from Chieti in Abruzzo and his maternal great grandparents came from Sicily and Naples. He earned a Master’s degree in Meteorology from the University of Maryland. He currently works as a government contractor for NOAA’s satellite division where he provides programming support to the next generation of weather satellites. Rico has worked for NOAA for 21 years. Previously, he worked at the Goddard Space Flight Center studying sea ice and snow cover using various remote sensors.
Rico 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 the membership chairman for several years for this club. 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. Rico is currently in his second term on the AMHS Board, having previously served from 2018 to 2020.
Secretary, Joseph “Sonny” Scafetta, Jr.
Joseph “Sonny” Scafetta Jr. is the son of Giuseppe Scafetta (1896-1975) who emigrated from the city of Vasto in Abruzzo to Washington, D.C., in early April 1915. Sonny earned a B.S. from Penn State University in aerospace engineering in 1969, a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1972, a masters in patent law from Georgetown U. in 1973, and an M.B.A. in the administration of science and technology from George Washington U. in 1983. Before entering the private practice of law in 1975, he served as a law clerk for two years for a federal trial judge in Columbia, South Carolina. He was admitted to practice before the state courts in Pennsylvania in 1972, the District of Columbia in 1978, and Virginia in 1979. He was also admitted to practice before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in 1973, the U.S. District Court in D.C. in 1978, and the Eastern District of Virginia in 1982, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 1982, and the U.S. Supreme Court in 1980. He has worked for several law firms in the District and northern Virginia. Over the years, he has published ten articles in various legal journals and won the prestigious Robert C Watson Award from the American Intellectual Property Law Association in 1976. He is now semi-retired, but works part time as Senior Counsel for Ditthavong, Steiner, & Mlotkowski in Alexandria.
He has been a member of the Abruzzo Molise Heritage Society since 2008 and served on the board of directors from January 1, 2020, through December 31, 2022. He is also on the board of directors of the National Columbus Celebration Association. Sonny is also a member and officer of the Italian Heritage Lodge which is a branch of the Order Sons & Daughters of Italy in America which he joined in 1979. He served as the state president of the Grand Lodge of Virginia from June 1993 to June 1995 and on the state council of the Grand Lodge for a record 24 continuous years from 1983 to 2007.
Currently, Sonny resides in Falls Church with his wife of 37 years, Teresa Talierco, who is currently on the AMHS board of directors. They have a son, Joseph Scafetta III, who is currently a grad student studying data science at Marymount University in Arlington.
The following officers have graciously agreed to continue serving in their current positions for another year.
First Vice President-Programs, Nancy DeSanti
Nancy DeSanti was born in Massachusetts and while growing up, lived in Athens, Greece, for four years, and in Manila, the Philippines, for three years. She was a legal specialist with Reed Smith LLP, a top-15 global law firm and 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 resides in Alexandria, Virginia.
Nancy has served three terms as First Vice President and has graciously agreed to remain in office for one more year.
Treasurer, Peter Bell
Peter Bell is a lifelong resident of the Washington, D.C. area, growing up in Silver Spring, Maryland. He has lived on Capitol Hill since 1974. He is retired from the Federal government with over 35 years of 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. Peter is also a member of the AMHS Scholarship Committee.
Board of Directors
Article VII, Section 6 of the AMHS bylaws states:
“The Board of Directors shall consist of nine (9) members who have been in good standing for at least two years. The Board shall be divided into three groups of three members. Each group shall be elected for three years and thereafter have three, two and one remaining years of office. The group serving its last year in office shall retire at the end of the year. Each year a new group of three Directors shall be elected for a three-year term to replace the retiring Directors. No elected Board member may serve consecutive terms or serve simultaneously in any other officer position of the Society.”
Accordingly, the Nominating Committee has put forth the following candidates for the term that begins on January 1, 2024.
Anthony “Tony” Andreoli is a native of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and is extraordinarily proud of his Italian heritage. He is a cum laude graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He earned his Juris Doctorate from Villanova Law School, and is currently corporate counsel with a technology company that focuses on artificial intelligence.
Tony is also a member of the Italian Heritage Lodge in Fairfax. He fondly recalls pasta Sunday at his grandparents and is a steadfast advocate for the preservation of Italian culture and our ancestors’ legacies. He enjoys playing the drums, skiing, martial arts, and most importantly, spending time with his son, Michael. They reside in the Crystal City section of Arlington.
Maria D’Andrea-Yothers is a second-generation Italian American. Her mother and father were both born in Italy, her mother Edvige in the region of Abruzzo, her father Lucio in the region of Molise. They immigrated to the United States in 1949, after World War II, and met in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, where they were married before moving to the Washington, D.C. area. Maria was raised with her four sisters and one brother in northern Virginia. Maria has spent over 20 years promoting and working with the Italian-American community in the Washington, D.C. area, mainly as an officer and past president of the Abruzzo Molise Heritage Society, which was co-founded by her father in 2000.
Maria is Director of the Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She is responsible for managing a staff of 12 International trade specialists, international economists, and business and industry specialists. She is responsible for administering the U.S. textile trade program, and she has been involved in the negotiation of several top trade priorities including special safeguards against China and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. She is considered an expert in the field of domestic and international policy issues related to textiles and apparel. Her advice is sought by industry stakeholders, as well as by U.S and foreign government representatives. Prior to joining OTEXA in 1992, Maria worked on textile and clothing trade issues as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.
Maria married Sam Yothers, an “Italian by Marriage,” on February 11, 2016, on the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii. She has two stepdaughters, Lauren and Mara. She and her husband enjoy all types of outdoor activities, especially hiking, camping, and cycling.
Mark’s paternal family hails from Avellino in the Campania region. He has been a member of the AMHS for nearly 20 years. Mark is currently serving on the board, and his term expires at the end of 2023. However, he has generously agreed to serve another year in his position.
Mark was born in East Boston, Massachusetts. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Boston College and a Ph.D. from Cornell University. For the past 33 years, he has been employed as an economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture where he works on food policy and programs. Outside of work, he enjoys reading mysteries and wine tasting.