Formerly known as the Young Professionals Division, the Avanti Club is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization for established and up-and-coming young professionals in the Chicagoland area. The organization is open to people of all ethnic backgrounds interested in exploring the Italian culture and engaging in exciting social events. The mission of the JCCIA Young Professionals organization is to connect young professionals through social and business networking opportunities while advancing the Italian American community. The organization provides entertaining and unique experiences for its members to build lasting relationships, engage in professional development opportunities and become change-makers in the community. The ongoing events organized by the Avanti Club will connect young professionals with a valuable network to help them learn, grow, and develop professionally and enjoy and celebrate the social culture of the Italian American lifestyle. Membership is open It is open to all young professionals between the ages of 18 and 35. Membership Dues are $30.00 annually
President Pasquale G. Gianni shared at the January Installation on the Club that, "Avanti is a beautiful Italian word which means, forward. And that's exactly what we are looking to do. Bring in young folks, get them excited, passionate about their heritage, because we have so many things to celebrate." Gianni then goes on to say, "The Avanti group will be a noble mission of bringing young people to the forefront of this endeavor...the future of our community."
Meet the Board and View our Upcoming Events below!
Pasquale D. Gianni
Pasquale Gianni has been appointed to lead the JCCIA youth initiative. His maternal grandfather and mentor, the late Dominic DiFrisco, served as President Emeritus of the JCCIA. Most recently, in 2019, he stepped into his grandfather’s shoes to serve as master of ceremonies for the JCCIA’s coveted Dante Awards. An attorney by day, Pasquale proudly works in the labor movement for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. He is also a partner in his family’s fourth-generation office furniture manufacturing business, Gianni Inc. Ultimately, his vision is to create greater youth involvement and to foster ethnic pride and awareness amongst his contemporaries.
First Vice President
Anthony Palladino has been appointed as a Vice President of the JCCIA youth initiative. His uncle and mentor, Frank Cerrone, served as a past president of the JCCIA. Anthony works with a variety of businesses to provide employee solutions ranging from payroll to overall HR needs as a small business consultant. He is also the co-founder of an organization called “Ciao Amici”, a networking organization for Italians in the city of Chicago. Ultimately, his passion and ethnic pride as an Italian American inspires his vision to bring together as many young Italians as possible in order to substantially grow this youth initiative.
Second Vice President
Michael’s enthusiasm for more involvement with the Italian community came through attending events for the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. His father, Perry Mandera, is currently director for the hall and received the sportsman of the year award in 2018 in recognition of his philanthropic work. Michael’s goal is to grow with the young Italian community and welcome those who hope to continue to preserve our core values. Michael is currently involved in the cannabis industry and will continue to advance with his real estate license.
Third Vice President
From Arlington Heights, IL, Nick Smeriglio recently left his job in advertising to pursue a career in comedy and entertainment. A second city theater improv alum, Nick loves Entertaining people and making people laugh whenever he can. Coming from a Calabrese and Sicilian family with an immigrant grandfather, Nick has a deep-rooted passion for the Italian culture and making sure the younger generation of Italians, especially Chicago-Italians, understand their heritage. His favorite movie is A Bronx Tale, his favorite dish is rigatoni carbonara, and during the summer he’s at Wrigley Field in the bleachers as often as possible.
Nicolette Lollino has always had a passion for bringing the young Italian-American community together. In previous years, she has dedicated time to planning and hosting networking events for young adult Italian-Americans and was recently appointed as secretary for the JCCIAs young professionals Avanti Club. She is a 2021 graduate of Depaul University with a major in Business Management. Nicolette proudly works for Jos. Cacciatore & Co. as a commercial real estate broker. Ultimately, her future vision is to continue to encourage other Italian-Americans to be involved in this community to keep the ethnic spirit alive for generations to come.
Natalie DiCianni has been appointed Avanti Club’s treasurer and head of social media after being Chicago’s Columbus Day Queen in 2019. Before her involvement, she has been exposed through her father, Pete DiCianni within the JCCIA and CIACO. Natalie is not only inspired by his influence but by her family’s humble and resilient beginnings immigrating from Pizzone Italy. She has spent much of her upbringing and young adulthood volunteering for causes such as autism speaks, the humane society, baskets of love, along with various campaigns. As a young professional she hopes to continue the Italian bond and values with fellow young Italian Americans along with the future generations.
Sergeant at Arms
Sam grew up in Chicago, IL where he spent most weekends over at his grandparent’s house on the Northwest side of the city sharing Sunday pasta meals. Sam graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH with a degree in Finance. His current role is a commercial insurance broker for The Provant Group. Ultimately, Sam’s vision for the Avanti Group is to create a youth
movement of Italian Americans across the city and state.
Gino is the owner of BarTucci homemade Italian food, Gino's Imports, and President of the Harlem Ave business association. Gino is a nationally awarded food and beverage operator and community activist. Serving as the Executive Director of the Avanti Club, Gino hopes to help bridge the gap of tradition and values instilled by the generations before us with today's future Italian American leaders.