The Italian Studies Council is a non-profit initiative whose goal is to benefit the teaching and learning of Italian Studies at Chapman as well as to develop the role that the program plays within the city of Orange and greater Orange County. The Council hosts artistic events and scholarly presentations open to the academic and local community. The program aims to bring students and community into contact with the heartbeat of Italy by facilitating direct experience with the culture and its arts. The members of the Council collaborate in constructive endeavors along with the Italian studies faculty and students to promote academic achievement, student and faculty projects, cultural and artistic programming, and community-service initiatives. The Council is interested in projects of mutual enrichment originating from individuals or groups outside academia.
Click here to download the Council’s brochure
For more information contact the chair Vicky Carabini or Dr. Federico Pacchioni
ITALIAN STUDIES COUNCIL BOARD MEMBERS
Joseph Baird is a native of San Francisco and life-long Californian. He has a diverse background in building and running businesses here as well as in Europe. His grandparents came from Piemonte in 1921 after Nonno Senestraro served in WWI in the Alps. Joe is active in his family’s area of Val d’Ossola restoring homes and helping young farmers as well as entrepreneurs. He also serves as an advisor to Italian technology start-ups through LA-based Bridges to Italy.
Elisabetta Bilardi was born in Alghero, Sardinia. Her passion for world literature led her to focus on American literature during her university studies. A born traveler, she moved first to Rome, where she worked for R.A.I, then to Britain and finally to Orange County. Here, she has worked as the event coordinator for the Italian Cultural Institute and then in the motorcycle business for Newport Italian, Vespa, Piaggio, and more recently with Dainese. In recent years she has collaborated on many important events such as: the Andrea Boccelli gala fundraiser in Beverly Hills, the Festa Della Repubblica in downtown Los Angeles for The Italian Consulate, and the Italian Opera Festival at Soka University.
Vicky Carabini serves as the Chair of Chapman Italian Studies Council. Since 2007, she has been the ambassador to Capestrano, Italy, sister city of San Juan Capistrano. She holds dual citizenship with Italy and owns a home in Tuscany where she produces olive oil. Currently she is a board member of the Italian Arts Council, the History Mission Preservation Board, and the Orange County Area Coordinator for the National Italian American Foundation. Her new venture is assisting in coordination of the Orange County’s page in the newspaper L’Italo-Americano.
Erta Matson is a real local! She was born in Orange and graduated with a teaching degree from UC Irvine and teaches for the Newport Mesa Unified School District. Her father was with the United States Air Force stationed in Italy and there met and married her mother. Throughout her life her family has been committed to maintaining strong relational and cultural ties with their Italian heritage and bridged the family's geographical gap with summer travel to Italy. Erta is a member of the Renaissance Lodge Sons of Italy and has dual citizenship with Italy.
Born in Brooklyn, New York at the end of WW II, Paul Romano has served on the Board of Directors of the Patrons of Italian Culture for more than 20 years and as its President the last six. During this 20 year period he has instituted collaborations with the curators of the Getty Museums & Villa, LACMA, and other Fine Art museums nationwide to explore and promote Italian art & culture. In the fall of each year he leads many of his Board members on ‘retreats’ to other cities across the U.S. and Canada that have significant Italian communities and explores opportunities to communicate and share valuable resources. He also acts as liaison to the Office of the Consul General of Italy and the Istituto di Cultura Italiano in Los Angeles, and is an active and supporting member of many of California’s leading Italian American organizations. He oversees the awarding of the PIC’s annual ‘Casola Prize’ scholarships to worthy college and graduate students of Italian descent.
Celeste Signorino serves as the Vice Chair of Italian Studies Council. She is currently the Director, Corporation and Foundation Relations at Discovery Cube Los Angeles. For the past seven years, she has worked in the non-profit sector including OCTANe Foundation for Innovation and most recently serving as Vice President, Investor Relations and Business Development for Orange County Business Council. Prior to this, she was the Public Affairs Director for Conexant Systems, Inc. Celeste began her career doing PR for Neiman Marcus and studied International Business at George Washington University. Since 2002, Celeste has visited Italy nearly every year and in 2005, she lived in Florence, where she studied Italian, cooking, and Early Renaissance Art History.
ITALIAN STUDIES COUNCIL SUPPORTING MEMBERS
Frank DeBenedetto has been a resident of California since 1973, where he’s been involved in real estate development and the investment field. Prior to his business enterprise in O.C., Frank worked a professional actor in theater and cinema. His grandparents immigrated from Italy in 1921. His grandfather was a WWI veteran for Italy, having fought on both Austrian and French front lines. After his first visit to Italy ten years ago with his family and 80-year old father, Frank has renewed his passion for his Italian heritage.
Kristan O’Donnell graduated from the University of Southern California and resides in Santa Barbara. Kristan has been active supporter of Mission San Juan Capistrano gala committees, also gala committee member of the Shea Therapeutic Riding Center. As a Dame in the Order of Malta, Kristan has served as coordinator of the Serra Pantry (local food pantry serving the surrounding community). Kristan’s heritage is Italian with her maternal grandparents from Abruzzi and her paternal grandparents born in Rome. She also serves on the Vatican Museum’s Patron’s California board.