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2022 Festa Della Donna

Updated: Mar 28


JCCIA Women's Division President Rose Mary Ranallo and JCCIA First Vice President Lisa Ryan invite you to join us during Women's History Month to honor and thank many Italian and Italian American women for their contributions to our community. The theme for this year is "Providing Healing, Promoting Hope" honoring Chicagoland frontline workers! Buona Festa!


Officer Onelia Pacocha shares her touching story of growing up as a proud Italian American woman and police officer for the City of Chicago.


Domenique Johnson and Cristina Bucaro share their work as Emergency Room Nurses and how they bonded at work from their shared Italian roots and the journey through the Covid-19 pandemic.


Dr. Linda Renella Salmon, DDS shares her journey to becoming a Dentist in a field where women struggle to be recognized. Dr. Salmon also mentions her associations with the JCCIA and the Arcolian Dental Arts Society as well as a very proud moment for her and her family!


Chicago Police Officer Maria Lisa (Sofere) Ford has discovered just how Italian she really is as a first responder. To be around despair and hopelessness makes Lisa grateful for her tight-knit family and her Catholic faith.


Chelsea Baker, former JCCIA Columbus Day Queen, and proud teacher reveals her journey in the field of education with the help of her supportive family. Covid-19 posed many challenges for teachers and students, and Chelsea shares how both students and teachers thrived during these difficult times.


Kaitlyn Lach narrates a short biography about Dr. Analisa Malara who is the doctor who diagnosed the first case of COVID in Italy. Dr. Malara is a Intensivist and anesthesiologist in Codogno, Italy.

Kaitlyn L. narrates TERESA “CHICCHI” MATTEI (1921-2013) Born in Genova she graduated in philosophy at the University of Florence in 1944. She introduced the Italian tradition of using mimosa as a symbol for the Women’s Day. Mimosa was a flower that was growing wild almost everywhere, was inexpensive and resistant, so it was easier to find and could be within everyone’s reach, even by the many poor of the rural areas of Italy.


Educator, Dr. Michelle Daly, was inspired by her Spanish teacher to become a teacher herself. Listen to her message of hope in honor of this year's Festa Della Donna!


Doctor of Pharmacy, Costantina Capriati Kervin, shares her journey to healthcare which began at a young age. Costantina reveals that her most rewarding experience during the pandemic was administering her first of many Covid-19 vaccines. View more about Costantina and her Italian American pride for her mother, grandmother and sister as well.

Dr. Patricia Tidaldi Monti, Therapy Dog Handler, shares the true therapeutic value of dogs as she recalls special canine visits to patients during the Covid-19 pandemic. Her work with Ellie May and Lucca bring hope and healing with every visit.



Nicole Menotti, an Educator, reveals her profound journey to become a teacher and how teaching during the pandemic was difficult. Fortunately, her school community of staff and parents were and continue to be a lifeline of support for her students and herself and fellow teachers.

Alexandra Scornavacco, RN, in the medical cardiac and Covid ICU candidly shares how difficult it truly has been for nurses throughout this pandemic. Despite these challenges, Alexandra expresses her gratitude for her colleagues who are strong, hard-working and compassionate people who continue to persevere through all of the surges and demands on the healthcare system during this pandemic.


Joann DeSalvo, first-generation Italian American and Chicago Fire Department Paramedic, describes how she would protect herself and her family during the pandemic while serving those in need in the community. This was a very challenging time, she shares so openly. View her full and inspiring story here.


Rosa Rago, Director of Nursing, for the elderly and patients with Alzheimer's. She shares the rewarding times during the pandemic when patients have healed and were able to return home. The difficult times included losing so many patients from Covid-19. Learn more about her journey to become a nurse and her Italian roots.


Gina Mariconda Abruzzo, Early Childhood Educator, shares her passion for education began when she was in Middle School. Her Italian roots influenced her love for education as well. Listen to how she overcame the challenges of the pandemic in the classroom as a teacher and as a Master's student.


Dr. Mia Taormina, 2021 Impresa Awardee, is one of only three doctors with an infectious disease specialty at DuPage Medical Group, a 750-doctor practice. Dr. Taormina spent 20 hours a week specifically on COVID mitigation and strategies with her organization — in addition to seeing an increase in COVID patients, which effectively doubled the usual patient caseload. Learn more about Dr. Taormina and her remarkable career in medicine.


Dr. Giana Paterno, D.M.D., shares the difficulties during the pandemic. Fortunately, Dr. Paterno was able to keep her office open to serve her patients most in need. Her message of hope is to embrace change despite these uncertain times. View more of her inspiring message.

Dr. Elisa Oricchio is an Italian cancer researcher and tenure track assistant Professor at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. She discovered that EphA7 activates the tumor suppressor gene for patients with follicular lymphoma and was awarded the Lorini Foundation Award and Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists for her discovery.


Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini is the joint recipient of a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her work in neurobiology (the first recipient to reach 100 years of age); studied/conducted research in both the U.S. and Italy.


Angela Marie Costanza, a Psychotherapist, realized at a young age that there was a lack of mental health resources and accessibility for people of Italian cultural background and similar communities. Hear more about how Angela has framed her career of helping others, especially those stigmatized, and helping and healing patients who are vulnerable.


Brittany Frachello, Speech Language Pathologist, chose a career in this field because of her passion for helping others. Brittany feels privileged to have witnessed the resilience of children during these challenging times of the pandemic. View more of Brittany's story and her take on navigating the Covid-19 pandemic at the beginning of her career.


Cav.Uff Lyn "Linda" Scolaro an Italian Teacher for 40 years shares how her passion for teaching Italian began in high school. Despite the difficulties of the pandemic, Professoressa Scolaro shares the most rewarding experiences including creative virtual field trips and more. View her message of healing and hope which is truly inspiring.


Registered Nurse, Cynthia Gullo shares how front-line workers like herself have truly been tested these last few years as the world grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic. View her full message and join us in thanking her and all of the front-line workers.


Anna Marie Avino Karkula police officer and proud fourth generation Italian American woman is featured today. She chose a career in law enforcement because she wanted to make a positive influence as well as be an ear to listen to those who felt they had nowhere to turn. View her full inspiring story here.


Austina Cozzi, Chicago Police Officer, chose this career because she was around a lot of police officers growing up on the Northwest side of Chicago and they all had a positive impact on her. Learn more about her treasured Sunday family tradition and her message of hope and healing by viewing her message.


Isabella Bucaro, Nursing Student, and the 2021 Columbus Day Parade Queen shares her journey to become a nurse and the inspiring reasons why she chose this career. View Bella's message here.


Giuseppina Impellizzeri, Art Therapist and Licensed Counselor, was a natural career path as she has always created art and cared for others. The mental health challenges of Giuseppina's patients has been exasperated by the pandemic. Fortunately, she is in a career that she loves. You don't want to miss her inspiring message of hope.


Elk Grove Village Sergeant Kristen Julian shares how her father being a federal law enforcement officer raised her and the family to always help people. Calls for service during the pandemic was cause for concern for each officer's safety. Listen to more of her story and her profound message of perseverance here.


Maria Sciortino, LCPC, a Therapist, who specializes in working with adolescents and their families shares the great struggle her clients experienced during the pandemic, especially the isolation. Listen to her inspirational message for women here.



Francine P. Long, M.D., shares how she came to her successful career in medicine at an early age with influences throughout her childhood growing up on the West Side of Chicago. The pandemic was particularly stressful because of a close family member contracting Covid. Listen to her incredible wisdom and message of hope for women here.




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