The mission of Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center Inc. (CISC) is to preserve and promote the Italian and Italian American heritage in the greater Washington, D.C. area, and to create and support programs that inform the community about Italian history and culture. CISC’s projects include the Robert A. Facchina Italian American Museum of Washington DC (IAMDC), the Marconi Project of oral histories, the CISC Archives Collection, the Italian Legacy Research Grant Program, an endowed program of grants awarded to area college students, and the Voce Italiana bilingual newspaper. CISC is an all-volunteer, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The Chairman, President & CEO, all CISC Board Members and the museum director serve without remuneration
Francesco Isgrò, Esq.*
President and CEO
Francesco Isgrò is an attorney specializing in immigration and international law. From 1979 to 2018 he held various senior positions at the U.S. Department of Justice, including as Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General. He was an Adjunct Professor of Immigration Law at the Georgetown University Law Center (1990-2000) and the David A. Clarke School of Law (2000-2017). He is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center (LL.M.), where he specialized in International Law, Antioch School of Law (J.D.), and Union College (B.A.). He served in the Peace Corps in the Central African Republic from 1975 to1977. He was the recipient of a German Marshall Fund grant to study comparative immigration enforcement in Europe. Francesco is active in many Italian American organizations, and is a past President of the Lido Civic Club of Washington DC, and of the DC Chapter of the National Italian America Bar Association. From 2007 to 2020, he was Executive Editor of Voce Italiana, the Italian American newspaper that serves the Washington DC area. He is currently the paper's Editor-in-Chief. In 2019, he was bestowed the title of Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia (Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy) by the Italian government for his promotion of Italian culture and friendly relations between the United States and Italy. Since 2018, he has served as President & CEO of Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center Inc.
Ciro De Falco*
Chairman, Board of Directors
Ciro De Falco has had a long and distinguished career in international finance and development. After completing his studies, he went to work for the United States Treasury Department as an economist. From 1966 to 1988, he held a number of important positions in that agency, working primarily on policy formulation and execution dealing with Latin America, Africa and Asia. During that period, he also had an opportunity to work abroad, serving as the Treasury Attaché both in Brazil and in Italy.
Ciro went to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in 1988 to participate in a major reformulation of Bank’s role in the Latin American Region. He was originally the manager for policies and country strategies and subsequently was made Manager of one of the regional departments, responsible for lending to the English-speaking Caribbean countries and to four of the Andean countries (Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia). In that capacity, he managed a portfolio of several billion dollars per year.
In 2005, he was promoted to be the Executive Vice President, which made him the Chief Operating Officer of the institution. He served in that capacity until he retired in 2008. He graduated from the City College of New York in 1963 and finished his PhD work at the City University of New York in 1966. Since 2021, Mr. De Falco has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center Inc.
James Yankay, Vice-Chairman
James Yankay is the Chief of Revenue and Cost Analysis Branch within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the domestic immigration benefit agency. James has worked in various government roles in the field of immigration and data analysis for more than ten years and is considered an expert on U.S. immigration policy and operations. James earned his undergraduate degree in International Political Economy from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in 2010. James has also earned a Master's degree from the University of Maryland. James lives in Arlington, VA with his wife, Claire.
Cav. Mary Ann Re, PhD, Secretary
Mary Ann Re served as the first Director of the Joseph and Elda Coccia Institute for the Italian Experience in America at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey from 2008 through 2020. Her primary responsibilities included the development and implementation of educational and cultural programs for K-12 and college students, as well as outreach/relationship building with other academic, cultural and diplomatic institutions. Prior to leading the Coccia Institute, Mary Ann served as the Executive Director of the State of New Jersey’s Italian Heritage Commission. She serves on the boards of several cultural and academic organizations including the Italian Heritage Culture Committee of New York (IHCC-NY), the NJIHC Board of Academic Advisors, UNICO National, and the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America (OSDIA). Having relocated to Washington, Mary Ann now serves as DC Liaison for both the NJIHC and the IHCC-NY.
Earlier, Mary Ann worked in social service policy research in New York and Washington State; and later, in a number of positions at AT&T Headquarters, Basking Ridge, NJ, including Director of the Consumer Testing Laboratory at Bell Labs; Director of Global Employee Research; and Program Analyst in Business Market Research/Strategic Alliances. She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology at St. John’s University.Mary Ann’s father was born in Santa Marina Salina, Isole Eolie (Province of Messina/Sicilia) and immigrated with his family to Brooklyn, NY in 1928. A ten year labor of love, Mary Ann and her husband have restored the long abandoned family home and have enjoyed vacationing there and renewing family relationships.
In 2012 Mary Ann was honored to be decorated as a Cavaliere, Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana, for her promotion of Italian language and culture within the academic and larger communities.
James W. Cocco, CPA, Treasurer
Mr. Cocco is managing director of James W. Cocco, CPA LLC of Fairfax, VA with over 35 years of experience in providing financial and tax advisory service solutions, consulting, and business development strategies for both private and public companies. Jim has previously held senior management positions for two local Washington D.C. public accounting firms as well as worked 17 years with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) where he held various positions including being a national tax program administrator and International Examiner in the Large and Mid-cap Business Division.
Dennis Santoli, Esq.
Dennis R. Santoli spent more than three decades founding and leading insurance companies that underwrite liability risks for health care facilities. Before his retirement in 2016, he was president and CEO of The Campania Group and president of Hanover Healthcare. Santoli majored in history at Adelbert College and went on to earn a law degree at Georgetown University Law Center. He has remained strongly connected to Sigma Chi, his college fraternity, serving as chair of the Sigma Chi Leadership Institute and as the 67th Grand Consul (international president). In 2004, he was inducted into the Order of Constantine, the fraternity’s highest honor, and he has been recognized as a Significant Sig. He is currently chairman of the Sigma Chi Risk Management Foundation. A retired major in the U.S. Army Reserve, Sennis has assumed leadership roles in several cultural and educational institutions. He is on the board of directors of the Casa Italian Cultural Center, Language School and Museum in Washington, D.C., and executive director of the Blue & Gold Education Foundation in Vienna, Va.
Tom Sweeney hails from New York and has been a local entrepreneur on the Washington scene for over 30years. He has made contributions in the areas of media, public relations, the internet, and small business management. He was a founding member of a local “young” entrepreneurs organization and has been active in entrepreneurship and small business since. He has lent his talents to local youth sports, the Irish Gaelic language and history and in promoting jazz music and musicians in the local area.
Dona DeSanctis, PhD
Dona De Sanctis is the former deputy executive director of the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America, the oldest and largest national organization for men and women of Italian descent in the U.S. She also worked for ten years as Director of Research at the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) in Washington, D.C.
Dr. De Sanctis holds a Master's degree in Italian and a PhD. in Comparative Literature. Her doctoral dissertation was on realism in literature and opera.
She was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Rome and lived in that city for many years before returning to the United States. She is fluent in Italian and English. During her career, she has also worked as a news broadcaster and translator at the Vatican Radio in Rome; a reporter in Washington, D.C.; and an instructor in Italian at Brooklyn College in New York City, where she was born and raised. Her great-grandparents came to the United States in 1880 from towns near Naples and Benevento.
Eileen Parise, Sc.D
Gianluca Nigro was born in Rome, Italy and was raised in Hingham Massachusetts. After graduating from The George Washington University in 2019, Gianluca began working in the US House of Representatives. He currently serves as a foreign policy advisor to a Member of Congress from Pennsylvania, as well as the Director of Member Services for the House Budget Committee. Gianluca is an avid fan of SSC Napoli. He enjoys cooking and traveling, especially back to Napoli and Roma.
Fr. Walter Tonelotto, c.s.Chaplain
Father Walter was born in Borso del Grappa, Treviso, Italy. He is coming to us from his most recent assignment at San Felipe de Jesus Forest Park, Georgia. Additionally, Father Walter has been blessed with a wealth of rich assignments in Scalabrinian parishes and seminaries which include the United States at New York City, Delray Beach, Florida, and Forest Park; in Canada at Hamilton, Montreal, and Mississauga, Ontario; and abroad in Jamaica, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Guadalajara, Mexico.
Father Walter has also been a lifelong promoter of Catholic Media for Italian Migrants in the USA and Canada. His work in this area includes: TV Broadcasting in Italian Hamilton, ON; Italian Magazine “L’Italiano”; Radio Broadcasting in Italian; “Radio Maria” New York, NY; and TeleMater New York, NY.
*Members of the Corporate Board of Directors
**Non-Voting Member of the Board of Directors
Director of the Italian American Museum of Washington DC (IAMDC)
Elizabeth (Liz) DiGregorio serves as the Director of the Italian American Museum of DC (IAMDC). She served on the CISC Board of Directors and was part of the museum’s design and implementation team. Liz’s government career spans more than 30 years with experience in community preparedness, disaster management, strategic planning, operations, training, and regional and local government planning and grants management. She worked for FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from 1980 to 2007 where she held several management positions including FEMA Chief of Staff during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, FEMA liaison to the White House USA Freedom Corps, and Director of the DHS National Citizen Corps Office where she built a national program on citizen preparedness. From 2011-2015 she was the Senior Director, Community Resilience and Preparedness at the American Red Cross, Washington DC. She directed the nation-wide curriculum development of The Pillowcase Project which teaches youth how to prepare for emergencies. She continues to volunteer for the Red Cross. Liz is a graduate of Colorado College (B.A) and the University of North Texas ((MPA). She is the daughter of immigrants who hail from Cansano (Abruzzo) and is active in a number of Italian American organizations.
Curator of the Italian American Museum of Washington DC (IAMDC)
Executive administrative assistant
Nancy De Santi