Showing posts with label margaret Fontana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label margaret Fontana. Show all posts

Thursday, April 25, 2024

New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission Leads the Way: 2024 Annual Meeting Excels in Enhancing Awareness of Italian Heritage Through Film

 The New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission hosted its annual conference on April 20th, 2024, at Rutgers University. The event, titled "Increasing Awareness of Italian Heritage through Film," was a resounding success, drawing notable educators and other guests from across the state of New Jersey and fostering engaging conversations among attendees.

Commissioner Vice Chair Vito Maione, Commissioner Vice Chair Barbara T. Lazzarro, Chairwoman Emerita Cav. Gilda Rorro Baldassari, Ed.D,  Professor Andrea Baldi, PhD., Commissioner Eileen Poiani, Ph.D., Commissioner Dame Josephine Marchetta, Chairman Bob DiBiase

The highlight of the conference was the panel discussion on the integration of 'An Italian’s Dream,' which explored the origin of Hispanic peoples and beyond. This insightful discussion sparked thought-provoking conversations among attendees, contributing to a deeper understanding of Italian heritage and its intersections with other cultures.

 The conference featured a series of presentations that delved into various aspects of Italian heritage, including the significance of statues, the Roman legacy in the creation of America, and a captivating documentary presentation of Gianni Berengo Gardin's 'Tale of Two Cities' about Venice. Additionally, the conference shed light on the immigration experiences of Italian Americans, with a special focus on St. Frances Xavier Cabrini.

 Attendees were treated to a day filled with enriching discussions, accompanied by delicious refreshments and a musical interlude by Dame Dr. Mary Rorro. The event provided a platform for individuals passionate about Italian heritage to come together, exchange ideas, and celebrate their shared cultural identity.

"We are thrilled with the success of this year's conference," said Robert DiBiase, Chairman of the New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission. "It was inspiring to see attendees actively engage in meaningful conversations and explore the rich tapestry of Italian heritage through film. We are grateful to all who contributed to making this event a memorable one."

Chairman Bob DiBiase & Executive Director Margaret Fontana

The New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission extends its gratitude to all attendees, Commissioners and sponsors for their support in making the conference a success. For those interested in volunteering or interning with the Commission, opportunities are available to support future events. Please contact Executive Director Margaret Fontana at for more information. 

About the New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission:

The New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission is dedicated to building and strengthening the cultural identity of Italians and Italian Americans through public educational programs. By promoting an accurate, bias-free, and non-stereotyped understanding of Italian heritage, the Commission seeks to preserve and celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of people of Italian descent.


Thursday, February 1, 2024

Top chefs from New York City & New Jersey will gather on May 20, 2024 for a spectacular tasting event to benefit The Ashley Lauren Foundation, providing hope & help for children with cancer throughout the State of New Jersey.

 Top chefs from New York City & New Jersey will gather on May 20, 2024 for a spectacular tasting event to benefit The Ashley Lauren Foundation, providing hope & help for children with cancer throughout the State of New Jersey.

BRIELLE, NJ – Join us on May 20, 2024 for the Second Annual Ashley Lauren Foundation’s Chefs Who Care premiere tasting event. Celebrate top chefs from Manhattan and New Jersey at the illustrious Essex and Sussex in Spring Lake while enjoying premium wine and spirits, live entertainment, special guests, an extraordinary auction, and some swag. This premiere gathering of renowned chefs aims to raise funds and awareness for The Ashley Lauren Foundation, which provides much needed hope, help and support for children with cancer and their families throughout the State of New Jersey.

This year’s Chef lineup begins with Michelin Star Joseph Sergentakis (Boschetto, Allendale Social), Angelo Competiello (Alta Irpinia), Fabrizio Facchini (Facchini Food Services), Cesare Casella (Casella’s), Joe Tartamella (Felina Ridgewood), Roberto Caporuscio (Keste’ Pizza e Vino), Jesse Jones (Chef Jesse Concepts), Bryan Giron (Perquin by Santelli’s Hospitality), Stephan Yen (Liberty National Golf Club), Chef Joe Settepani (Bruno’s Bakery), Joe Murphy (Bakehouse by Joe Murphy), German Rizzo (Plado Tasting Bar), Hong Thaimee, Jessica Bucceri (JB Couture Cupcakes) with many more to come.  Sponsors include Italian Food Guys Inc., San Pellegrino, Urbani Truffles, Calvisius Caviar, Wines with Causes, D’Artagnan Gourmet Meats, Artisanal Cheese, DeCecco Pasta, Partanna Olive Oil, 21st Amendment Imports (Swift Sure Sauvignon Blanc) and Serena Prosecco, Casa Komos Brand Group (SUPERBIRD Tequila and SUPERBIRD RTDs, Doladira) and 1881 Creativity (Prosecco DOC Brut Organic.) We will also be featuring entertainment by The Event Specialists - Paul Anthony Entertainment. Also making an appearance during VIP hour will be renowned piano sensation NGXB.

              John Dalton                      

“We are so honored to announce our Humanitarian Award Recipient for the event – entrepreneur and philanthropist, John Dalton,” stated Monica Vermeulen, Founder/CEO of The Ashley Lauren Foundation. John Dalton is the CEO of Monmouth County based company, IT Initiatives, an award-winning technology solutions design and delivery partner for senior living, hospitals and healthcare, education, and government sectors. John has served on various charitable boards and committees throughout his career while striving to support those in need philanthropically and through his work at IT Initiatives.

The Ashley Lauren Foundation, the beneficiary of this remarkable event, has been providing vital assistance to children with cancer and their families in New Jersey for almost two decades. “I founded this organization in 2005 based on my own experience when my daughter, Ashley Lauren, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of three,” shared Vermeulen. Through various programs and initiatives, the Foundation offers financial, emotional, and material support, ensuring that families have the resources they need to navigate the challenges of pediatric cancer. “We help with Direct Financial Assistance (all household bills, traveling expenses to and from hospitals, funeral expenses and much more); Material Assistance (food, clothing, household items); Emotional Support (for the entire family); 2 Major Parties for the Children and their families (Spring Party at the Boardwalk and Christmas Party); Advocacy; “Making Dreams Come True” Program; Birthday Brigade (each child is celebrated on their Birthday); Outings and anything else that is needed to make their lives easier and bring smiles to their faces. This event will strengthen our ability to bring much-needed resources and assistance to children and their families who are facing the horrific disease of pediatric cancer,” continued Vermeulen.

Co-chairs of Chefs Who Care are Eric Vitale (Eric Vitale Photography) and Gennaro Pecchia of The Ashley Lauren Foundation. Tickets are $195 per person (6:00 pm – 10:00 pm) and $250 for VIP package (5:00 pm – 10:00 pm) and may be purchased by going to Proceeds will go directly towards supporting the programs and services provided by The Ashley Lauren Foundation. For more information about the Chefs Who Care event, including sponsorship opportunities and media inquiries, please contact: Monica Vermeulen, Founder/CEO, 732-414-1625.

About The Ashley Lauren Foundation:

The Ashley Lauren Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing hope and help to children in New Jersey who are affected by cancer. The foundation offers direct financial assistance, emotional support, and various programs to improve the quality of life for children and their families as they undergo treatment. For more information, please visit

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Happy Anniversary 15 years of Italian American Girl!

Another year its now 15 years from when I started the Italian American Girl web site.   Facebook was just starting, Twitter just launched and no Instagram then, my site took off so quickly just because of our tight knit Italian American community.  The support I received from my fellow Italian American friends from all over the country and in different parts of the world was amazing.  Till this day, we still have the same connections, its pretty amazing.  Being Italian American is definitely a very unique experience, I had the best of both worlds, growing up Italian American in the USA.   I think in today's climate of heavy immigration discussions, we are experiencing a new wave of immigrants who may or may not come into the country through the proper channels, but its also a severe economic and dangerous climate in the world.  When my father came over from Italy he was the oldest of his family expected to support the family after his father died in World War II, my father's uncle worked to get him to the USA to help him, everyone in Italy was poor, he knew if my father stayed there he would not make it to support an entire family.   My father is in the USA now close to 60 years, came over on a ship the whole nine...  true immigrant experience, yes my father is now almost 90 years old.   

Living in the USA and living the American dream is a challenge, the economic climate for most people is difficult, and if you don't speak the language even harder and you are treated badly, in my opinion.   America is about a dream, its about working hard.  If my father didn't come here and work as hard as he did, I would not have or do any of the things I've experienced or are able to have and enjoy.  I thank my father for everything he's done for me and my entire family.  Thank you for continuing to support my blog, my brand, my experiences; without you and our community we can't thrive.  Grazie a tutti.  xoxo 


Thursday, August 10, 2023

A Trip Down Memory Lane - The Italian American Girl Story

A little trip down memory lane and retelling the story of why @italianamericangirl is a brand. I started the Italian American Girl blog back in 2008 when social media just came out and blogging was the trend then along with the new sites Twitter and Youtube. I was searching for a way to stay connected to my first generation Italian American friends and acquaintances so we could share stories of upbringing, family and culture. 

Here we are over 14 years later and now the Italian American community has grown online so much due to platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Also, no one was calling us influencers, myself and few others on here who I am still very close with know who we are and were just being authentic and enjoying the connections. The moral of the story is: it wasn’t about numbers, or influence but about connecting and bringing awareness to our culture, upbringing and values. Leave a ♥️ if you agree.  What's your Italian American story? 

Ciao. Xoxo ~Margaret

Monday, February 20, 2023

I'm the daughter of Italian immigrants, first generation Italian American


I’m the daughter of Italian immigrants, first generation in ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ. I’d like to bring awareness to all the accomplishments made by the Italians who emigrated to America and ultimately became the backbone of this country along with other immigrants from around the world. Immigrants have always been the backbone and by now most Italians have assimilated into American society. We are Italian Americans. It’s important to preserve and celebrate our history, accomplishments, contributions, culture, traditions and love for the American dream. 

If you would like to be featured or have an event, book, food product, story, film, PR etc, and you would Iike to be featured on my blog, social media, podcast or be a guest writer for the IAG site please send me an email for consideration.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Interview with On Air Expert & Entrepreneur Dawn Del Russo

NEW! Margaret Fontana Media presents: Interview with Dawn Del Russo; On Air Expert and Entrepreneur

Dawn Del Russo is an author and on-air TV style expert seen on Access Hollywood Live, Meredith Vieira, Extra TV, E News!, Glamour Mag Show Dress To Kill and in print Vogue Italia, InStyle, Cosmo, Real Simple, Life & Style and US Weekly. She is NY’s 95.5 PLJ resident “What to Wear Weather” girl in the mornings.
Dawn is a social media sweetheart and can be found chatting about fashion, beauty, food and lifestyle her Youtube channel,Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Interview: Taylor Taglianetti Founder of The National Organization of Italian Americans in Film & Television

Taylor Taglianetti 

Taylor is a producer and celebrity interviewer. She is currently producing a short documentary, Heirloom, featuring Isabella Rossellini, about the significance of gardens in the Italian American community. It is set to release in October 2020.

A graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Taylor has worked at Paradigm Talent Agency, NBCUniversal, Silver Pictures, and Maven Pictures. In addition to developing various feature length projects, Taylor has experience producing and directing short films. Her debut short film, Generation Hollow, was produced by the leading non-profit, Reel Works, and was an Official Selection at the 2014 Girls Film Festival and the Juror’s Choice for Outstanding Filmmaking at the 2014 Women of African Descent Film Festival.

Check out our interview here: 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

An Early Father's Day Telling My Italian Father's Story & Honoring Him

 As Father's day is closely approaching, I find myself taking more and more pictures and documenting my father and his daily rituals.  This past May my father turned 89, he suffers a multitude of health problems and can't move around like he used to and requires a chair anywhere he goes, its been getting very hard for him as he loses his breath dramatically and can't go far like he used to.   Its been hard to see a man who has always been so strong physically slow down so much and be limited.  Although this is the current reality right now, he continues to inspire me.

So, as he slows down at this fast rate, I'm faced with thinking about all the great things about him right now and in my whole life.  My father's story is this:  He came to America in 1956 and took a ship ( The Olympia, and Andrea Doria, which are famous historical ships) to get here, it was a 10 day journey on his first voyage. This trip he made several times over the first years as he went back and forth to support his family after he made his first minimal money here in the USA. 

My father landed on Ellis Island, as one of the last immigrant groups to actually dock there, but obviously the more modern version.   He settled in Newark, N.J., where my great uncle put him to work right off the boat.  My father also worked for the American Can Company, which was also American Can Company ranked 97th among United States corporations in the value of World War II military production contracts)

After earning some money, my father religiously sent money back to his mother and sister in Reggio Calabria, literally just to survive.

My parents both grew up very poor and poverty was common in Calabria.  Its was a very rural area (farm and agriculture) and with minimal work.  Even to this day if you're not in law enforcement, educator or government employee you're basically living the poverty line.  Today some families do well with their own businesses, but for the most part many emigrated out of Calabria and still do to this day and go towards either in Northern Italy or another country to sustain economic stability.

After World War II, my father was urged by my great uncle to come to America, so he could work and gain a better life.   The reason this all unfolded during that era was my father was the oldest of the family and was basically responsible for the family after my grandfather was killed in World War II.  My father's family never received official notice or my grandfather's body back from war, the government at the time sent a soldier to tell you that your loved one was killed in action.  It was a tragic time then for my father.  For my father when he was a small child he still remembers when German bomber planes were going over the mountains in Calabria and dropping bombs.  They were all living in bomb shelters built in the mountains, my father said there were actual true stories where German soldiers took Italian and American soldiers and would drown them in the wine vats.   My father also owned a goat who he loved that he said suffered a bomb injury from the shrapnel and eventually died.  My father was was just a little boy, can you imagine the horror?  Then fast forward to getting on a ship (mind you my father does not swim)  to a country you know nothing about because you have to make money and basically hope your family survives, it was the 1950s but even so, poverty was a reality.

My father married my mother when he went back to Italy for a visit and year's later in the 60s, she came to the USA on one of the first ever Pan Am flights.  My parents ended up having four children and I am the youngest.  Growing up there was never a time I remember my father not working.  He worked his day job in construction and then would come home eat and leave again to hustle and work other side job till late at night and then wake up and do again the next day.   What I learned from him was the hustle.  He worked his ass off, invested in buying his first homes in Newark, NJ - he would buy, refurbish and sell when he could, he did this all by himself and obviously at a time when the American dream was accessible.   My father was always an entrepreneur, he was busy none stop, but one thing I always knew was that he loved me, if he was leaving early in the morning, which was everyday at 5 am - he would stop in our rooms and say good bye and even as a smaller child he would bring me milk in the morning.  I mean you just can't make it up, so as Father's day comes around the corner, I celebrate my father for all things he did, does, and continues to do.   Let's celebrate all of our father's and Papas. 

Ciao- xoxo

Monday, September 3, 2018

Latest Podcast - My 10 Year Anniversary of the Italian American Girl Brand

Listen to my latest podcast as I reminisce about the last 10 years on the Italian American Girl site. This was my first ever web site and social media brand, I launched this site as the new social media revolution was coming to the surface. During the launch and through the years, I've partnered with great brands like Barilla, the Today Show, Keurig, Saeco and more, Artist, authors and celebrities have made their way onto the blog. Listen below, if you're a brand, artist, culinary expert, author and would like to be considered to be interviewed on my podcast, email me at Ciao, grazie! <3 frameborder="0" height="102px" iframe="" scrolling="no" src="" width="400px">

Monday, June 16, 2014

Guest Speaking at Rider University on Digital Media and the Italian American Girl Site

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Italian American Girl - Garden State Film Festival 2014

I'm on the board for the Garden State Film Festival and we had another great year this time in Atlantic City, NJ. The venues and parties were larger and lived up to the expectations.  Throughout the weekend there were over 184 films to see and Q & A sessions with industry leaders and actors from film. Overall, this year was amazing - looking forward to 2015. Here are some pictures with Laura Dern, Bebe Neuwirth and Ed Asner.