Lyn Scolaro – President

Cav. Uff Lyn “Linda” Scolaro has been an educator for 39 years teaching Italian at Mother Guerin, Prospect, Resurrection College Prep respectively. She is the daughter of Veneto parents. She has represented high school teachers in various organizations locally, nationally, and internationally. Her students have also participated in various local Italian-American activities as well as an International internship with an olive oil company in Verona. She is a member of the JCCIA, IAET, and SADIA. She is also currently a member of the Osservatorio through the Consulate of Chicago, the Co-President of the AATI-Midwest, 3rd Vice President of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, and the Ente Gestore of Italidea-Midwest.

Tonia Bernardi Triggiano – Vice President

Tonia Bernardi Triggiano is a professor of Italian and Director of the Mazzuchelli Scholars Honors Program at Dominican University in River Forest, IL, where she has been working and teaching since 1995. She has a doctorate degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison; her field of study concentrates on Medieval Italian literature, art history, and linguistics. At Dominican University she teaches all levels of Italian language, literature, and culture and is also directs the Florence study abroad program. Her publications include articles and chapters on Franciscan women’s poetry, Dante’s Commedia, the fifth-century mosaic programs of Ravenna, and translations of modern writers of the Dominican Order. Tonia is the Vice President of Italidea-Midwest Ltd since 2020.

Daniela Cavallero – Executive Director

Dottoressa Cavallero hails from Torino, Piemonte, Italia.  Dottoressa Cavallero is an Adjunct Professor of Italian of the Modern Languages Department of DePaul University and President, instructor, and course coordinator at Sentieri Italiani in Chicago.   She has taught on the high school Level (in Italy) as well as, other Universities in the Chicagoland area.  She has presented her research at numerous conferences, seminars, and symposiums and has written articles and publications on teaching Italian language and culture to American students.   

She served as AATI North America Vice President for higher education, is a valued member of the AP College Board Italian Language and Culture Reading and has engaged in the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Committee, an advisor for the CILS exams in Siena, and the Illinois State Board of Education Evaluation Systems for the Illinois Licensure Testing System for the Italian Language and culture exam.  Her resume reads with a plethora of initiatives and experiences in and out of the classroom teaching and promoting the Italian Language and Culture

Barbara Tomasina — Secretary

Barbara Tomasina received her Master Degree in International Law from the University of Milan. She worked in Human Resources for 10 years and in advertising for Monadori Editore an Italian Publishing Company for 5 years. She moved to Chicago in 2016 and started working at the Italian Cultural Center. She is now working part-time for ICAP, Italian Citizenship Assistant Program as Manager of Italian Record Procurement Department and translator. She is also working part-time for College of DuPage Continuing Education Department as Financial and Reporting Assistant. She also likes tutoring Italian lessons to private students. She has been Secretary of Italidea-Midwest Ltd for 3 years. Barbara looks forward to contributing to her role and continuing to promote her language in the Midwest.

Raffaella Spilotro

Raffaella Spilotro received her BA in English Literature and Italian from the School of Education at DePaul University (2004) and an MA in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University (2010). She was the Italian teacher at Oak Park and River Forest High School for 15 years, where she led students on a bi-annual exchange with a High School in Florence. Throughout her teaching career, she was always searching for innovative materials to make classroom learning authentic, interactive, and fun, thus, in 2012 she embarked on a year long journey to live in Italy and collaborate with the high school in Florence and create instructional vocabulary building videos. Her videos are used world-wide through her website, for the teaching and learning of Italian. Raffaella presented her project at the Italian Language Symposium at Georgetown University. She was also honored as the national recipient of the Award for Excellence and Innovation in The Teaching of Italian from the Coccia-Inserra Foundation in 2015. In 2020, Raffaella turned a new leaf in her career by accepting an Italian teaching position at Glenbard North High School where she continues her passion for teaching and inspiring young minds to travel the world. She has been involved with the Italian and Italian-American community in Chicago since the early 2000s when she joined FIERI. She is an active member of AATI where she has also presented in various symposium and webinars, was a former member of Osservatorio della LIngua Italiana, has worked closely with the Italian-Chamber of Commerce in Chicago, and has been a Board Member of Italidea-Midwest Ltd for 5 years. Raffaella looks forward to contributing to her role as a board member amongst being a wife and mother to two beautiful girls.

Carla A. Simonini

Carla A. Simonini received a BA from Amherst College, an MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Rhode Island and a Ph.D. in Italian Studies from Brown University. Her research interests include 20th century and contemporary Italian literature and constructs of italianità in American and Italian American literature, which was the subject of her doctoral dissertation. She has taught at Brown University, the University of Rhode Island and Skidmore College. From 2010 to 2018, she was an associate professor of Italian at Youngstown State University. She is currently the founding director and endowed associate professor of the Paul and Ann Rubino Italian American Studies Program at Loyola University Chicago.

Graziano Pinna

Graziano Pinna received a Laurea of Doctor in Biology (University of Cagliari), became a researcher at Schering AG, Berlin (DE), and obtained a PhD in Neuroendocrinology at Free University of Berlin, Germany. In 2001, he became an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry, UIC. His studies on mental health contributed to the FDA approval of the first drug for post-partum depression in 2019. He has published over 100 papers in high impact journals of neuroscience and psychiatry, edited two books and attended dozens of national and international scientific conferences. He was a visiting professor at the Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo, at the University of Cagliari, and he is currently a visiting professor at the Universidade de Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Prof Pinna has been involved in many educational and cultural activity organized by the Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago and the Consulate General of Italy in Chicago. He has been a member of Italidea-Midwest Ltd since 2019 and he is very passionate on Italian Culture and fostering educational activities related to learning Italian language for non-native students.

Antonino Bondi

Salve, My name is Antonino Bondì but I go by Nino by my friends, family, and professionals.  This is my 13th year as a teacher of Italian and my 7th year at Rolling Meadows High School.  Being in my second year with Italidea-Midwest Ltd, I look forward to continuing the growth of “la bella lingua” and spread of the “cultura” throughout the midwest.  My free time is consumed by exploring the outdoors and adventurous with my wife and 2 young children.  Additionally, being a foodie, I enjoy cooking various traditional Italian dishes from various pastas to pizzas and breads.

Olivia Szpunar

Olivia Szpunar is a junior at Dominican University, majoring in elementary education and minoring in Italian. She has been studying Italian since middle school and quickly connected to the beautiful language and culture. While at Prospect High, she was part of the exchange program in Verona. Being trilingual in English, Polish and Italian, Olivia’s goal is to finish her studies and gain professional experience in her field. She hopes to one day teach at an American school in Europe. This is her second year with Italidea-Midwest Ltd and she can’t wait to create more opportunities for the younger students in the Italian language.

Loredana Martorana-Weber

Loredana received a B.A in Film & Video at Columbia College Chicago. She has traveled to Italy every other year and has studied the Italian language starting at a very young age. Growing up in an Italian/ Sicilian home she has grown a custom to the love of Italian culture, history, food, and Language Italy has to offer. She is hoping to bring the love of the culture through her work with in the Italian Community and Italidea Midwest Ltd.