Board of Directors
Sandra Gengler, President
Joe Tamburino, Vice President
Alberto Orioles MD, Treasurer
Pieranna Garavaso, Ph.D., Professor Emerita of Philosophy, Division of the Humanities, University of Minnesota Morris
Mariateresa Monaco, Financial Professional
Luke Olson, VP, Senior Corporate Counsel, U.S. Bank
Marco Pavoloni, Honorary Consul of Italy in Minnesota
Massimo Bonavita, Co-Founder
Anna Bonavita, Co-Founder
Emanuela Corbetta, Founding Member
Nancy Schaefer, Founding Member
Elena Wilsey, Founding Member
Tiziana Cervesato, Events Director and Director of the Italian Film Festival
Tiziana joined the ICC in September 2015. Italian and Belgian national, Tiziana was born in Rome and has been immersed in different cultures all her life: Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Niger, Somalia, Morocco, France and the U.S. Although Minneapolis is the 8th place she calls home, Friuli Venezia Giulia, her family's home region, remains her sweet spot.
Cristina Cocchi, Instructor
Cristina was born and raised in Modena, Italy, and moved to Minnesota in 2003. She holds a university degree in Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, from the University of Bologna, Italy, and an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction (Second Language Education) from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She has 25+ years of Italian teaching experience in a variety of settings, including university and adult education. She always strives for innovative and enjoyable ways to help people better learn the Italian language and culture.
On temporary leave
Michelle DeBace, Office Manager
Michelle’s love of Italian language and culture began after studying abroad in Florence during her college years. She began taking language classes at the ICC in 2019 and joined in an administrative role in 2022. She is currently in the process of having her Italian citizenship recognized.
Brook Dell’Anna, Instructor
Brook as a Navy brat, has lived all over the United States, and then spent her young adulthood in Naples, Italy, where she met and married her napoletano husband, Giuseppe. While living in Napoli, she taught at the Anglo-Italian Montessori school, and more recently, she was employed at Iowa State University as a Lecturer of Italian and International Studies. Brook attended St. Mary's College of Maryland, where she earned a bachelor's degree in Political Science. Soon after, she earned a Master's degree in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma. Brook moved to Minnesota with her husband and their three children in 2020 and looks forward to joining the Italian community here.
Carlotta Dradi, Instructor
Carlotta was born and raised in Ravenna, Italy. Trained as a professional cello player and Opera singer in Italy, she moved to the US in 2000 and obtained an M.A. in Italian Literature (with a minor in music) from the UMN. She worked as the Italian teacher and diction coach at the Minnesota Opera for several years. In 2007 she became the Director of Italian Language Instruction in the French and Italian Department at the UMN and has been working there, also as Senior Teaching Specialist, ever since. Carlotta loves working with language and technology as well as sharing her passion about Opera, and she particularly enjoys assisting students with pronunciation and diction.
Peggy Bocchi Hansen, Educational Travel
Peggy was born on the Iron Range in northern Minnesota and was raised by a father of Italian, and a mother of Slovenian descent. Peggy graduated from high school in Bloomington and received a Bachelor of Science degree from Minnesota State/Mankato, working many years in medical and dental practice management. She became active in the ICC in 2007, has served on the Board of Directors, and has been involved in every aspect of the organization’s development. Peggy enjoys travel, tennis, photography, visiting family in Italy, and trying to learn Italian.
Mariateresa Maruska Monaco, Instructor
Mariateresa relocated to Minnesota in 2019 with her husband and children. Born and raised in Cuneo, Piemonte, after attending Liceo Classico, Mariateresa earned a Laurea in electrical engineering from Politecnico di Torino and a Diploma in Piano from the Conservatorio Verdi di Torino. During her engineering studies she met her husband, and after working in Italy for a while they decided to follow their “American Dream” and moved to the Boston area for graduate studies at MIT, in engineering and business. They spent many years studying and working in Boston, and then they moved to Iowa and now Minnesota! After raising three bilingual children (now all in college) and a long career in the stock market, she’s exploring her old passions for piano and Italian teaching, along with her finance and investment interests.
Romina Montanari, Food and Wine Events Manager & Instructor
Romina grew up in the food valley in the province of Modena in Emilia Romagna. She received her Bachelor degree in “Economia Aziendale” from the University of Modena and a Professional Diploma in Marketing from the University of California-Berkeley. She has been teaching Italian joyfully for more than 15 years and loves to share her passion about the Italian “Eno-Gastronomic” tradition and culture by organizing food and wine events. She is also pursuing the Italian Wine Scholar Guild Certification.
Anna Olivero-Agney, Adult Language School Director & Instructor
Anna was born and raised in Asti, Piemonte, a region of wines and hills in Italy. She has been teaching Italian and foreign languages in college and adult education since 2002 within various settings, including the University of Minnesota, St. Olaf College, Carroll University, and the Italian Institute of Culture in Chicago. Founder of the ICC Adult Language School, she has been a Board Member since ICC's inception.
Mirella Rossi Heimpel, Instructor
Mirella is a native of Rome. She holds a Laurea in Psychology from the University of Roma "La Sapienza". Mirella has lived in the United States for 23 years and taught Italian privately and through different community programs. Besides focusing on the four basic skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing, she attaches equal importance to learning about Italy and its rich culture.
On temporary leave
Rosanna Staffa, Instructor
Rosanna is an Italian writer living in Minneapolis. Born in Naples, she holds and MFA in writing from Spalding University and a PhD in Foreign Languages and Literatures from Statale University in Milan. She has taught at The Loft, NYU, UCLA, and The Getty Institute. Her work is included in the Best Small Fictions 2021. Her essays and short stories are published by New Rivers Press American Fiction Anthology, The Best New and Unpublished Writers Vol. 15, Tampa Review, The Sun and others. Her novel ‘The War Ends At Four’ will be published by Regal House in the Summer 2023. Teaching combines sharing her passion for languages and literature with the joy of creating a community of curious learners.
Ileana Tamberlani Kraft, Instructor and Administrative Support Manager of the Italian Film Festival
Ileana was born and grew up in a town by the coastline 30 miles south of Roma. She studied Political Sciences at the University in Roma. After living in Belgium for four years and traveling around Europe with her family, she met her husband and moved to the Twin Cities in 2010. She has been teaching Italian online to students from all over the world since 2011 and she also does interpreting and translating jobs. She strives to integrate Italian culture in her classes and daily life with students, family, and friends.
Teresa Walsh, Volunteer Coordinator
Teresa was fortunate enough to have experienced a year of high school and a semester of college with a wonderful family in Nettuno, Italy. She continues to stay in touch with her host family after 20+ years. Her desire to practice Italian led her to start volunteering for the ICC five years ago. Teresa enjoys meeting the diverse ICC members, and especially looks forward to the Italian Film Fest every year.
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