Meet the Officers

Officers

Ray LaVerghetta

President

Ray LaVerghetta

President

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. In the academic world, he taught at Georgetown University, Loyola University, the U.S. Naval Academy, the Community Colleges of Baltimore County, and Howard Community College. In government, he worked as a linguist and analyst, focusing on linguistic issues of interest to multiple government agencies. He retired in 2013 and is now working as an 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 older residents) prior to the dominance of Italian.

Ray is married to Michele and they have two daughters, Gabriella and Maria. He is Chair of the AMHS Scholarship Committee.

Nancy DeSanti

Nancy DeSanti

1st Vice President, Programs

Nancy DeSanti

1st Vice President, Programs

Nancy DeSanti

1st Vice President, Programs

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. 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.

Lynn Sorbara

Lynn Sorbara

2nd Vice President, Membership

Lynn Sorbara

2nd Vice President, Membership

Lynn Sorbara

2nd Vice President, Membership

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 Society meeting on “Finding and Fighting Diseases in the New World of Bio-Terrorism” and, in 2017, she gave a presentation on advances in cancer research.

Lynn 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 was a board member of the Washington Chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America.

Carmine Spellane

Secretary

Carmine Spellane

Secretary

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. 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

Peter Bell

Treasurer

Peter Bell

Treasurer

Peter Bell

Treasurer

Peter Bell is a lifelong resident of the Washington, DC 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 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 a member of the AMHS Scholarship Committee.

Board of Directors

Americo "Rico" Allegrino

Board Member

Americo “Rico” Allegrino

Board Member

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 Masters’ 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.   Rico previously served on the AMHS Board from 2018-2020.

Frank Bonsiero

Frank Bonsiero

Board Member

Frank Bonsiero

Board Member

Frank Bonsiero

Board Member

Frank Bonsiero has been an AMHS member, along with his wife, Susan, for eight years.  He was raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and lived at an Italian orphanage run by the Pallottine nuns in the Little Italy section of Baltimore.  He Served in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam era. HE is a graduate of Regis College in Denver, Colorado. Frank spent most of his federal career with the Administrative Office of the United States Courts and the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Defense. He has worked as a government audit consultant after federal retirement.

Frank has been married for 48 years to his lovely bride, Susan – they have two children and six grandchildren, who range in age from 21 years to seven months!  Frank is proud of them all, including the oldest who plays second base for the University of Arizona (look for him in the big leagues in couple of years!).

Frank currently resides in Clifton, VA and attends St Andrew the Apostle Church. He loves coming to AMHS meetings and the fellowship that exists. He enjoys celebrating all things Italian. He hopes to serve honorably and proudly.

Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark

Board Member

Jeff Clark

Board Member

Jeff Clark

Board Member

Jeffrey (Jeff) Clark grew up in Utah and has lived the last seventeen years in the District of Columbia. He has worked as the chief financial officer for a several small government contractor s in the DC area and holds an MBA degree and CPA designation. In addition to the AMHS, Jeff is a member of the Lucchesi nel Mondo Tuscany Club and the Centro Espanol de Washington, DC. 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 currently serves on the AMHS Budget & Finance Committee. He previously served on the Board and was the AMHS Treasurer from 2014 through 2015.

Lucio D'Andrea

Lucio D'Andrea

President Emeritus & Board Member

Lucio D'Andrea

President Emeritus & Board Member

Lucio D’Andrea

President Emeritus & Board Member

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 the Order of the Sons of Italy and the National Italian American Foundation.  Continuing his commitment to the promotion of Italian culture, Lucio established the Italian Heritage Society of St. Mary of Sorrows in Fairfax, Virginia, and the Italian Heritage and Cultural Society at the Church of the Nativity in Burke, VA.

Lucio is married to Edvige (Pitassi) D’Andrea, a native of Pacentro, in Abruzzo. They have six children and eight grandchildren. Lucio and Edvige reside at The Westminster at Lake Ridge, where they enjoy an volunteer in the local community, teach Italian language to the residents, and overall enjoy an active social life. Lucio is a member of the AMHS Scholarship Committee.

Maria D'Andrea-Yothers

Maria D'Andrea-Yothers

Immediate Past President & Board Member

Maria D'Andrea-Yothers

Immediate Past President & Board Member

Maria D’Andrea-Yothers

Immediate Past President & Board Member

Maria D’Andrea-Yothers is proud to be a 2nd-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 served five years as President; prior to that, she served on the Board and in various officer positions. Maria is a member of the Board of the Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center, and she served a three-year term on the Board of the National Christopher Columbus Association. She is also a member of the National Organization of Italian American Women (NOIAW) and the Lucchesi nel Mondo-Tuscany Club – a testament to building and nurturing relationships in the Italian-American community in DC. In January 2020, Maria was honored as one of three Wise Women by NOIAW’s Washington, DC chapter.

Maria is the Director of the Office of Textiles and Apparel in the International Trade Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), responsible for executing and implementing U.S. textile and apparel trade policy.  She has traveled the world as a member of the U.S. Textile Trade delegation to negotiate Free Trade Agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. 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 enjoys travel  and spending time with her friends and her very tight-knit family. Maria married Sam Yothers in February 2016 on the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii!  She has two stepdaughters and, in October 2021, welcomed her first grandchild, Lillie Jade Gardner.

John Dunkle

John Dunkle

Board Member

John Dunkle

Board Member

John Dunkle

Board Member

John Dunkle is of German and Irish heritage. However, 56 years ago he married a beautiful Italian lady whose name was Alice Riccadonna. Therefore, he became an “IBM” – Italian By Marriage. Excellent Italian food and wine and a welcoming family made their marriage quite special.

John received a degree in Physics from Syracuse University and a Masters’ Degree in Engineering Physics from the Air Force Institute of Technology. Alice completed a PhD in Biology from Cornell. They were in the Air Force for twenty years and then John worked in industry for 18 more years.

When John and Alice moved to Great Falls, Virginia, they helped build the church that is now St. Catherine of Siena. There he served as a lector and as a Eucharistic minister.  Alice wanted to be involved with the Italian community so, after a call to Father Cesare at Holy Rosary, John and Alice joined the parish.  Over the years they have participated in parish activities and more recently, John became a member of the Holy Name Society and the Abruzzo and Molise Heritage Society (AMHS).  John looks forward to contributing to the AMHS mission and to support the parishioners of Holy Rosary Church.

Mark Lino

Mark Lino

Board Member

Mark Lino

Board Member

Mark Lino

Board Member

Mark Lino’s paternal family is from Avellino in the Campania region of Italy. He has been a member of the AMHS for about 15 years and is looking forward to serving on the Society’s board. Mark was born in East Boston, Massachusetts and holds degrees from Boston College (B.S.) and Cornell University (Ph.D.). 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.

Benjamin O'Hara

Benjamin O'Hara

Board Member

Benjamin O'Hara

Board Member

Benjamin O’Hara

Board Member

Benjamin O’Hara was born and raised in Washington, DC. He graduated from Georgetown University in Spring 2021 and now works as a housing counselor in DC. He hopes to attend law school and work in housing/immigration law. Benjamin’s great-grandfather was from Savoia di Lucania, Potenza, Basilicata and his great-grandmother from Ancona. His dad is also from Ireland. He learned Italian in high school and had the opportunity to live briefly in Bologna, Italy. He is interested in learning more about Italian history and promoting Italian culture. Benjamin was also a National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) Congressional Fellow in 2020. In his free time Benjamin enjoys playing soccer and watching his favorite team Juventus, as well as cooking and spending time with family and friends.

Julia Paola

Julia Paola

Board Member

Julia Paola

Board Member

Julia Paola

Board Member

Julia Paola is originally from Annapolis, MD and will be graduating this Spring from The George Washington University with a Bachelors’ Degree in International Affairs and Political Science with concentrations in International Politics and Europe and Eurasia. She is also obtaining a minor in Italian Literature and Language and has served as the president of GW’s Societa’ di Cultura Italiana since May 2020. She was an AMHS scholarship recipient in 2019 and served as a temporary intern for the Society. Her paternal grandparents are Torinese and Calabrese, and she has been fortunate enough to visit her family in Torino and study abroad in Italy. During the 2020-2021 school year, she worked as a teaching aid for Italian virtually at her former high school. Currently, she interns for a non-profit in DC promoting family diplomacy and hopes for a career in immigration, refugee studies, or international diplomacy. Following graduation in the Spring, Julia intends on staying in DC to attend graduate school for her MA in International Relations or begin a full-time job. She loves her rescue dogs back home, her ever-expanding collection of plants, and despite having Celiac disease, has a great love for Italian food and culture.

Chris Renneker

Chris Renneker

Board Member

Chris Renneker

Board Member

Chris Renneker

Board Member

Christopher John Renneker is a recent graduate (2017) from the George Washington University Law School. He also holds an MBA from the Sungkyunkwan University Global School of Business (2017) and a B.S. from the Florida State University (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.

He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia (2017). He currently works at the United States Patent and Trademark Office as an Examining Attorney. He previously worked as an Attorney Advisor in the Small Business Administration Office of Disaster Assistance. Between undergrad and law school Chris taught overseas, including one year of English in Shanghai, China and 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 six weeks earlier this year. He has family from Abruzzo and Foggia. He has been a member of the Abruzzo and Molise Heritage Society of Washington, DC since 2017 and a member of the National Italian American Foundation since 2016.

Joseph “Sonny” Scafetta Jr.

Board Member

Joseph “Sonny” Scafetta Jr.

Board Member

Joseph “Sonny” Scafetta Jr. is the son of Giuseppe Scafetta (1896-1975) who emigrated from the city of Vasto in Abruzzo to Washington in April 1915.  Sonny earned a B.S. from Penn State U. 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 University 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 is admitted to practice before the state courts in Pennsylvania (1972), the District of Columbia (1978), and Virginia (1979).  He is also admitted to practice before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (1973), the U.S. District Courts in D.C. (1998) and the Eastern District of Virginia (1982), the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (1982), and the U.S. Supreme Court (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 still works part time four days a week as Senior Counsel for Ditthavong & Steiner in Old Town Alexandria.  He has been employed there since 2011.

He has been a member of the Abruzzo-Molise Heritage Society since 2008.  He is also a member of the National Christopher Columbus Association and 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 president of the Avanti Italiani Lodge (1981-83) and was the state president of the Grand Lodge of Virginia (1993-95).  He served on the Grand Lodge Council for 24 continuous years from 1984 to 2007.

He wrote an article about the Jacuzzi brothers for the Italian-American Review in 1994 and articles about engraving artists Anthony DeFrancisci (1999) and Frank Gasparro (2002) in The Numismatist.  He also had biographies about five Italian Americans published in the American National Biography series in 1999.  In the Fall 2005 issue of the Italian America Magazine, he had published a lead article entitled “Columbus & the Indians: Friend of Foe?”  His last publication was a book entitled “The True & Complete Story of Christopher Columbus” which was released by the Columbia Press Co. in 2007 and sold out.

Sonny has visited Italy four times and spent 11 weeks there.  He is fluent in Italian.  He studied French for two years in high school and is now studying Spanish.  He has also visited his Italian cousins living in Canada, Australia and Argentina.  Currently, he resides in Falls Church with his wife of 33 years, Teresa Talierco, whose paternal grandparents emigrated from the island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples.  They have one son, Joseph Scafetta III, who is a junior majoring in math and computer science at Marymount University in Arlington.