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Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation

May 13, 2021 - 2:51pm

Amanda Bergman, senior at Notre Dame High School, is the daughter of Keith and Gina Bergman. She believes her Italian-American heritage can be summed up in how she has been raised with emphasis placed on values stemming from faith, food and family.

Amanda is a member of the National Honor Society, ranking first in her class. She plans to attend Robert Wesleyan College to pursue bachelor’s degree in the Science of Nursing.

She has been involved in Drama Club, Softball, Choir and Winter Cheerleading. Amanda has also volunteered at the Wyoming Association for Catholic Youth, Diocese Youth Board at the Catholic Center in Buffalo, and she is active at the St. Padre Pio Parish in Oakfield.

Amanda has volunteered for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, Crossroads House, and Stone’s Buddies, which is a support group for pediatric patients with Crohn’s disease. She looks forward to caring for patients, working with their families and making a positive impact in their lives.

Natalie Clark, daughter of Paul and Patricia Pellegrino Clark, Batavia High School senior, ranks 13th in her class, and believes her close knit Italian-American family, along with the Batavia community has shaped her into the well-rounded person she represents.

Natalie plans on attending Niagara University to pursue an undergraduate degree in Nursing, with plans to achieve her goal of pediatric Nurse Practitioner.

She is a member of the National Honor Society, BHS Student Government, Source of Strength Club, Link Crew, Prom Committee and a member of Homecoming Court.

Her involvement in sports included Varsity Cheerleading, Softball and Dance. Natalie’s cheer squad was awarded Section V Girls Champions 2017 and Cheerleading Second team All-County (Division 2, Small A school sectional title) in 2019.

Natalie balanced her learning and sports to achieve Scholar Athlete Award from seventh through 12thgrade.  

She also was awarded the Elmira College Key Award and BHS Gold Award Honor Roll.

Her family encouraged Natalie to be active in her community, to give of herself for others. Her volunteering at “Friends of Strong,” Youth Camp Cheer volunteer, and her religious education has given her the confidence of helping others.

Natalie, from a young age, believes the importance of her faith has encouraged her to fulfil her goals. Natalie said “I need to work for what I want and when I work hard, everything is possible.”

Alex Hale, son of Larry and Diane Hale, is a senior at Batavia High School. He attributes the value he has received by growing up in a Italian American household has had a tremendous impact on his life.

Alex plans to attend Niagara Community College to study Health Services, in hopes to one day to become a physical therapist. He has also committed to play baseball for NCC, which has been a huge part of his life,

Alex has been a high honor student since fourth grade to the present, ranking 28thin a class of 153. He has been involved in basketball, football as well as baseball, in which he has received many awards. He was also involved in Faith Formation at Ascension Parish, attending Religious Instructions and as a altar server at Resurrection Parish.

Alex has been active in the community, volunteering for the Michael Napoleon Memorial Foundation, basketball summer camps, Crossroads House, and the Ricky Palermo Foundation, which holds an annual golf tournament and fundraisera for the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

Alex said he is proud of his Italian heritage and "it is very important to carry out Italian traditions.”

Bryn Wormley, senior at Batavia High School and daughter of Christine Cecere and Brian Wormley, is a member of the National Honor Society ranking eighth in her Class of 2021. 

Bryn participated in the Link Crew, received Honorable Chemistry Award, Keuka College Scholarship Award and Top 10 Senior Class Award.

Currently she's a student in the Health Career Academy, a stepping-stone to her next phase in learning at St. John Fisher College in Pre Health Professional studies, with her goal to be a Physical Therapist or Physician’s Assistant. She also looks forward to being on the St. John Fisher College Women’s Basketball Team.

Bryn said she "is more willing to give her time and work hard for others."

Volunteering is part of who she is --assisting in bowling fundraisers, helping out at meat raffles, serving at concession stands, and she likes to write encouraging letters to nursing home residents and those who reside at the NYS Veterans' Home in Batavia. During the coronavirus pandemic, she did chores for the elderly, too. Bryn has volunteered at training camps to help children develop social skills. 

Italian-American values have taught her the value of caring for others.

June 18, 2020 - 10:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation, batavia, news.


With the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation's annual dinner canceled, the organizations annual scholarship winners were honored with check presentations at the Paulo Busti monument next to the Holland Land Office Museum yesterday.

Honored were: Rhorri Fix, Kiaya Condidorio, Chris Gualtieri, Jake Torcello, Isabella Riner, and Megan Smith.

Each student received $800 from the foundation, $100 from the Vincent Gautieri Scholarship Fund, and also gift certificates from Capish! Brick Oven Pizza Ristorante, L.B. Grand, and Main St. Pizza Company.

Previously: Ray San Fratello named Italian American of the Year by Paolo Busti foundation, six scholarships awarded but dinner is off

Photo and info submitted by Annette LaBarbera.

May 18, 2020 - 4:34pm

Student photos and information from the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation:

For the first time ever, the Paulo Busti Cultural Foundation has had to cancel its annual Scholarship Dinner and COVID-19 is the reason.

"It is with great sadness, that for the first time in our history, this event will be cancelled," said foundation board President Michele Fuller. "Italian’s are synonymous with family, generosity and love. These students are our family. The Board of Directors wanted to do something special for them during this tumultuous time. We cannot think of a better way of taking care of our young than to award each one with a monetary scholarship.

The students have met all the necessary requirements, according to Scholarship Chair Annette LaBarbera, who has worked diligently to file all their applications.

The six awardees will be featured in the foundation upcoming newsletter, and their accomplishments will be celebrated at their next event.

They are: Kiaya Marie Condidorio, Rhoori Adea Fix, Christopher Gualtieri, Isabella Marie Riner, Megan Elizabeth Smith and Jacob Torcello.

The Gautieri family is also awarding each student with a monetary scholarship. This is given annually, in honor of their late father, Vincent Gautieri, an avid supporter of the foundation, and proud of his Italian heritage.

"We hope the kids take this opportunity to reflect on the hardships, prejudice, poverty and loneliness their ancestors endured when they came to America," Fuller said. "Their sacrifices made it possible for them to live The American Dream. They prevailed and they will, too!”

The Foundation also honors the 2020 Outstanding Italian American at the annual dinner. This year the recipient is Raymond San Fratello, formerly of Genesee County, and currently a resident of Clermont, Fla., who will be recognized at a future date (inset photo, right from his Facebook Page).

"He is an incredible man and we look forward to showcasing his many accomplishments," Fuller said.

Kiaya Marie Condidorio (left), graduating senior from Le Roy Jr./Sr High School, is the daughter of Thomas and Charity Condidorio. Software Engineering will be Kiaya’s major attending Genesee Community College in the Fall.

Responsibility, passion, courage and accountability are the values Kiaya demonstrates with strong Italian roots. Both sets of grandparents arrived to the United States shores from Italy and Sicily.

Kiaya has learned to balance her academics and sports to achieve the Honor Roll consistently. She played soccer, softball, and basketball during her high school years and will continue to play soccer in college. Kiaya said that playing sports helped her realize her strengths and weaknesses, and grew from these challenges. Kiaya was awarded Scholar Athlete in soccer and basketball.

Volunteering at the school sports concession stand, cleaning and organizing at the fire hall, working at the Knights Closet, teaching youth basketball camp, and school peer counselor has helped to be a better leader.

Rhoori Adea Fix (right) is a graduating senior at Batavia High School, daughter of Aaron and Kristen Fix, and is the best version of a kind, hardworking student, whose involvement in school and community has helped her to accomplish her goals.

Rhoori’s goal is to achieve her bachelor of science degree in Nursing with a specialty in Obstetrics -- Labor and Delivery. This demonstrates her desire to apply integrity, leadership and caring to her goal. Rhoori will be attending Genesee Community College in the Fall in Health Studies.

She's a member of the National Honor Society, qualified for the National Art Honor Society, and a Public Relations officer of the National Art Honor Society. Rhoori was the communication liaison between students and teachers on society events and the recipient of the BHS Silver Award.

As an active member of Ascension Parish, she assists in various parish events, assisting as an instructor for the younger students in the Faith Formation classes, student tutor for the district’s Extended Year program, assistant teacher/mentor at Center Stage Dance Company, and a volunteer for Ricky Palermo Foundation.

Rhoori said she feels “caring for others, no matter what, is something that I grew up valuing on a day to day basis."

A 2020 Le Roy JR/Sr High School graduate Christopher Gualtieri (left), son of Michael and Deborah Gualtieri, possesses a strong Italian heritage.

His great-grandparents arrived in the United States from Italy, Sicily and Capri and settled in our community. This has instilled in Christopher the importance of family.

His plan in the Fall is to attend Fredonia College, majoring in Computer Science, with a minor in Athletic Coaching. He will be participating in track.

During his years at Le Roy HS, he participated in indoor / outdoor track team, and cross-country and was the captain on all three teams.

He is a member of the National Junior Honor Society, National Honor Society, Design Club and Mock Trial.

Christopher appreciated the time he volunteered at Our Lady of Mercy Parish as an altar server, student volunteer for Religious Education, Vacation Bible School and fish fry dinners. At summer Camp Stella Maris, Christopher was a leader in training and counselor in training.

“I am a person of strong faith, a community giver, driven and dedicated to achieve my goals,” Christopher said.

Isabella Marie Riner (right), a proud graduating senior from Elba Central School, is the Class of 2020 Valedictorian. The daughter of Michael and Alison Riner, Isabella's ancestors arrived in the United States in the early 20th century, raising their family in Genesee County.

Participating in extracurricular activities was a big part of her high school years. She received a Sportsmanship Award from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association; attended a World Leadership Conference; was a participant in the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadershiop Foundation program and named an Air Force Scholarship Athlete.

Isabella was Class President, Student Council Officer, President of National Honor Society, participated in the Page Turners, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Student Athletic Association, and Masterminds.

Sports was also a part of Isabella’s High School years, participating in Soccer, Basketball and Tennis.

Volunteering contributed to Isabella qualifications, a Bell Ringer for The Salvation Army, waitressed for Byron Presbyterian Turkey Dinner Church, Brayden Day of Play, Christmas Craft Show, Halloween in the Park, Secret Santa, cleanup at the cemetery, and Friends of Strong.

Isabella has been accepted at University of Rochester majoring in Bio-Medical Sciences and Anthropology. Her ultimate goal is Pediatrics.

Isabella states ”I am a strong Italian-American, and I take everything my family worked towards and I will keep it close to my heart."

Batavia High School Class of 2020 senior Megan Elizabeth Smith (left) is the daughter of Jason and Lori Smith and the oldest of three. She's an excellent role model for her siblings.

Megan will be attending Niagara University in the Fall majoring in Education, specializing in teaching English to speakers of other languages.

A member of Resurrection Parish, where she is a kindergarten and first-grade Faith Formation instructor. This opportunity brightens her day, reassuring Megan that the choice of teaching will fulfill her.

Megan's accomplishments include: membership in the National Honor Society; working in Student Government and serving as a Student Representative; and participating in Rochester Youth Broadway Theatre, where she received Tip of the Hat recognition for stage crew exhibits.

She also participated in JV soccer, JV track, and band.

Volunteering is also a part of Megan’s life, she assisted at the John Kennedy Primary School Pasta Night, Applebee's Pancake Breakfast, Meals on Wheels, BHS Stage Crew and Link Crew Leader.

"Without my family, I would not be the person I am today!" Megan said. "Now that is Italian!"

A graduating senior of the 2020 Class of Batavia Senior High School, Jacob Torcello (right), is the son of Jack and Danielle Torcello.

"Being a member of an Italian family encourages everyone to work together to keep it running," Jacob said, and he exemplifies this in his studies, volunteer services and sports.

He's a member of the National Honor Society and participated in indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, summer soccer, BHS soccer and cross-country.

Jake demonstrated his leadership as a team captain for indoor and outdoor track and field.

Jacob has volunteered for Team Literacy Extended Year program, Breakfast with Santa, Z-club, Spring cleanup at St. Joseph Cemetery and at the Bethany Presbyterian Church.

A member of Ascension Parish, Jacob has helped at fundraisers and Bingo.

Jacob said “that his family has taught him to trust and love them and himself and it will help to overcome any problems that comes his way!”

Jacob will be attending SUNY Brockport, majoring in Education.

October 25, 2019 - 12:52pm
posted by Steve Ognibene in Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation, batavia, news.


Last night at Terry Hills Restaurant, the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation held its Fall Dinner celebrating National Italian-American Heritage Month.

Each year, proceeds from this event fund scholarships, which are given every spring to graduating high school students of Italian heritage.

“Outstanding Italian-American of 2019” plaques were presented to Bruno DeFazio, a resident of Le Roy, and Anita Dziekan, of Batavia, both pictured above. Proud of their Italian heritage with a history of volunteerism, these honorees have made a difference in their communities.

The idea for an Italian-American organization in Genesee County was conceived in 1977. The first scholarship was awarded in 1985 and since then more than 200 scholarships have been given to graduating high school seniors.

Patrick Mancuso was emcee for the evening, entertainment was provided by Mike Noce, and Clara Wood was vocalist for the National Anthem.

Michele Fuller, president of the Board of Directors, chaired the event.

Story by Terry Fritts, photos by Steve Ognibene.


Mike Noce singing an Italian song with Anita Dziekan.


Clara Wood sings the national anthem.


Michele Fuller, president of the board of the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation.


Bruno DeFazio


Anita Dziekan


Pictured from left, three board members Annette LaBarbera, Michele Fuller and Terry Fritts with award recipients (holding plaques).

September 23, 2019 - 6:02pm

From the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation:

The Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation Fall Awards Dinner will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday Oct. 24th, at Terry Hills Restaurant in Batavia.

The Foundation welcomes two recipients this season, Anita Dziekan and Bruno DeFazio

We will also have our 20/20 Raffle, which supports our Senior Scholarships for high school students.

Tickets event are available from the Foundation board members and VJ Gautieri Constructors Inc., located at 45 Liberty St. in Batavia, and Ben's Appliance, Kitchens and Bath, which is at 634 E. Main St., Batavia.

About Anita Dziekan

Anita Dziekan is the daughter of James R. Mocciaro and Louisa Scammaca from Sicily, who settled in Batavia and had 14 children.

Anita married Richard Dziekan; they had three children Christina, Kathy and Thomas. Anita and her late husband love their grandchildren, Casey, Karlie, Ryan (deceased), Mason and Carson.

A graduate of Batavia High School, she worked at the Surprise Store and the Hiding Place.

But Anita is best known for working at John Kennedy School, where she baked for three Batavia elementary schools. She was the onsite manager at Robert Morris School, Anita worked 26 years for the Batavia School District.

Anita’s ambition for volunteering came from her parents who taught her and other siblings the importance of family values and hard work. She grew up learning to help one another, to love, be respectful of her family and friends, and be proud of her heritage. She is passing this Italian mindset to all who know her.

Anita’s volunteer accomplishments are many. She volunteers at St. Jerome Gift Shop, the United Memorial Medical Center waiting room and she distributes menus to patients. She also assists in the visitor’s booth at the Chamber of Commerce, and for the MOPS -- Mothers of Preschoolers -- at Northgate Free Methodist Church.

In addition, she lends a hand at the Annual Mammoth Sale at St. Joseph Regional School. She's a Counter and Sacristan at Resurrection Parish, helps at the Crossroads House Annual Garage Sale, and donates her time to the American Red Cross blood drive and for Catholic Charities.

Anita is currently a member of OFA Advisory Board, Sodality at Resurrection Parish, St. Jerome Guild, UMMC League, and RSVP for the county Office for the Aging. She serves as an inspector for Genesee County Board of Elections and belongs to the Suncatcher Garden Club.

She participates in planting for Business Improvement District on Main Street downtown and assists in maintaining flowers at the Richmond Monument at the Harvester Cementary.

The spice of Italian life is essentially Anita Dziekan. Her family life, upbringing, culture and care are quintessentially Italian and completely deserving of this Paolo Busti Italian American Award.

About Bruno DeFazio

Bruno DeFazio was born in Teglio, Italy in 1952. He lived there for seven years.

In April 1959 with the help of Catholic Charities he was adopted by Alphonso and Genevieve (Caccamise) DeFazio.

He attended St. Joseph’s School and graduated in 1970 from Notre Dame High School. He graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree from Genesee Community College in 1972.

In 1973 he married Elizabeth (Lee) Costa and together they raised two beautiful daughters, Christina (Tim) Carvel and Stacy (Jason) Wentworth.

His family is the most important part of his life. He is always there for them and now can spread the love and support with his six grandchildren as well: Brayden, Nolan, Matthew, Addison, Tyler and Dominic.

Bruno is an active member of Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Le Roy.

He retired from Le Roy Central School District in 2017 where he was a maintenance mechanic.

Living in Le Roy for 46 years, he has been active in many organizations and sports programs. He was one of the first coaches for Le Roy Youth Soccer, and he also coached Le Roy Youth Football and Le Roy Little League. He was supportive of his daughters during their involvement in sports and continues to cheer the local teams.

He has served on several boards including: Le Roy Jaycees; Knights of Columbus Edward Powers Council 2936; the Le Roy Historical Society -- where he currently oversees all building maintenance; the Le Roy Christian Community Project; Oatka Festival Committee; and as councilman for the Town of Le Roy, where was once was deputy supervisor. He currently serves on the Genesee County Parks and Water Commission.

Just last week, the Botts-Fiorito Post #576, American Legion, Le Roy, announced De Fazio is this year's “LeRoyan of the Year."

His community involvement is a tribute to his Italian-American heritage, good work ethics, and strong family foundation instilled by his family. If you live in a community be a part of it. It’s the right thing to do! The Paolo Busti Italian American Award is being proudly presented to him.

(Photo of DeFazio, courtesy of Joan Fernaays.)

June 13, 2019 - 1:16pm
posted by Lauren Leone in batavia, Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation, news.

Pierce Corbelli, winner of the 2019 Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation Scholarship.

To his surprise, the scholarship recipient shared a very similar experience to Outstanding Italian-American Tony Palmer at the 35th Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation Scholarship Awards Dinner Wednesday night.

“I realized I had a deeper connection with someone else sitting in this room … Mr. Palmer, you mentioned your family is from Apuzzi. My grandpa’s family is also from Apuzzi,” said Batavia High School Senior Pierce Corbelli during his acceptance speech.

As he received his award, Corbelli said he, like Palmer, had the pleasure of visiting Apuzzi, Italy, and connecting with his relatives. After his remarks, Corbelli and Palmer shook hands and exchanged congratulations.

The foundation’s dinner at Terry Hills Restaurant, Batavia, celebrated shared Italian-American heritage among Genesee County residents and recognized high school seniors and adults who have embodied Italian-American values through their contributions to the community.

The Paolo Busti Scholarship is given to an Italian-American graduating senior from a local school who has followed the example of pioneering landowner Paolo Busti (Oct. 17, 1749 – July 23, 1824), who was the principal agent of the Holland Land Company from 1800 until his death.

Corbelli was selected among eight candidates, and he will attend the University at Buffalo to pursue a mechanical engineering degree.

The family of Vincent Gautieri also offers a memorial scholarship in honor of Gautieri’s Italian-American legacy. Spencer Misiti (in photo above), of Notre Dame High School, won this award due to his meaningful experiences growing up Italian-American.

Misiti thanked the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation and his family for their support, and he will attend Canisius College in the fall to study marketing and finance.

This year's Outstanding Italian-American Palmer was honored for his dedication to the community and demonstration of Italian-American principles. Palmer described his Italian grandparents as “the forebears of this heritage” who taught him about his cultural food, family and customs.

“I really think this nomination isn’t about me. It’s about my family,” Palmer said.

Palmer, a Batavia resident, thanked his wife, Margaret, for her role in raising their nine children and supporting their 22 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Palmer expressed gratitude to the foundation for this distinction, and he hopes his Italian traditions will be carried on by his ever-expanding family.

Below, is Tony Palmer, named 2019's Outstanding Italian-American at the 35th Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation Scholarship Awards Dinner.

(Photos courtesy of the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation.)

June 6, 2019 - 1:07pm

Photo and information from the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation.

Anthony (Tony) Palmer is this year's Italian-American honoree selected by the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation.

He will be feted at the foundation's Annual Scholarship Dinner at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12th, at Terry Hills Restaurant in Batavia.

One of eight student scholarship candidates will also be chosen.

The family of Vincent Gautieri, also offers a scholarship for members of the Foundation, from Genesee County and outside the County.

Tickets for the dinner are $30 and available from Foundation board members, Ben's Appliances, Kitchens and Bath, and VJ Gautieri Constructors Inc., located at 45 Liberty St. in the City of Batavia.

About Anthony Palmer -- 2019 honoree of the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation

Anthony (Tony) Palmer was born in1935, in an old Italian neighborhood, in New York City.

He is the son of George and Angelina Ambroselli Palmer. He is proud to say he is 100-percent Italian!

He moved to Olean at 7 years old where he attended school, and later graduated from St. Bonaventure University.

From 1954-1957 he admirably served his country in Far East Korea.

Two years later he married the love of his life, Margaret Cruess. Together they raised an amazing nine children: Theresa, Angela ,Joe, Ann, Mary, Eileen, Dan, Katie, and Ryan. They have 22 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

To say he is a family man is certainly an understatement! He and his wife have spent countless hours watching and volunteering at school events, sports events and, most importantly, their Catholic Church.

In 1966, Tony and his family moved to Batavia. He worked at Graham Manufacturing until his retirement in 2001.

He embraced the community and was a familiar face at numerous events and fundraisers. He credits his strong work ethic and willingness to help others, to his roots growing up as an Italian-American.

Tony has been an avid supporter of St. Joseph School and Notre Dame High School. He was past president of both schools, and ran ND Bingo for many, many years. He was inducted in Notre Dame Hall of Fame in 2001.

He has been a volunteer at the VA Hospital for an amazing 40 years. He is an Election Inspector for Genesee County.

He is a member of St. Nick’s Club, Right to Life, and St. Vincent DePaul. He is an active member of St. Mary’s Parish, where he is a Eucharistic Minister.

Tony is an excellent role model to young and old. He possess all the qualities to be awarded the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundations 2019 “Outstanding Italian American.”

To read about this year's eight scholarship candidates, click here.

October 5, 2018 - 4:47pm

Jacqueline Corbelli

Submitted photos; bios and event information from the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation:

October is National Italian-American Heritage Month and also the month that Paolo Busti was born, on the 17th actually, in 1749. He established the Batavia office of the Holland Land Company, and was its principal agent starting in 1800 until his death in the summer of 1824.

The native of Milan, Italy, is of course the namesake of the Batavia-based Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation, which holds a fall fundraiser every year honoring two outstanding movers and shakers in the local Italian-American community.

The feast funds one of the deepest scholarship coffers for high school seniors in Genesee County: all proceeds go into it.

This year, the foundation honors Jacqueline Corbelli and Dr. Matthew J. Landfried.

They will be feted at a sit-down Italian dinner, replete with Cannoli cake, at Terry Hills Banquet Facility next Wednesday, Oct. 10. It is located at 5120 Clinton Street Road in Batavia.

Cash bar opens at 6 p.m.; dinner is at 6:30.

Tickets are $30 each. For reservations, tickets or more information, call Michelle Fuller at (585) 768-7016.

Tickets are also available at: Ben’s Appliance, Kitchen and Bath at 634 E. Main St. in Batavia; V.J. Gautieri Constructors Inc. at 45 Liberty St. in Batavia; and from Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation board members.

About Jacqueline Corbelli

Jacqueline is the daughter of the late Octavio ("Tubby") Corbelli and Patricia Panepento. Her stepfather was the late Alfred Panepento. Her paternal grandfather, Carlo Corbelli came from Camarda, Province of L’Aquilla, Italy in 1920, and her grandmother, Dominica, came from Tacca, Assergi, Italy, at age 7. They married in 1921 and had 14 children!

Her maternal grandparents were the late Anthony and Catherine (Pricola) Gringer. Her grandmother’s family came from Rocconova, in the Naples region. As the matriarch of Jacquie’s family, Catherine was not just her maternal grandmother, but a rock of guidance and steady support in her life that Jacquie credits for her steely will and determination to both personally succeed, and for bringing kindness and Italian passion to her family and community.

Jacquie graduated from Batavia High School in 1982. She was named Batavia High School Graduate of Distinction in 2008 and is a proud member of the NYC Italian Gun Club, Tiro a Segmo, in Greenwich Village. She married her husband, Mark Joseph Modzelewski, in 1990. They are the proud parents of Kaitlyn Rose, 19, Kristiana Grace, 17, and Alexandra Maria, 14.

Jacqueline is a transformational leader that drives positive business growth and societal change. She tackles issues that redefine industry verticals, reshape culture and rebuild communities.

As the CEO, founder and chairman of BrightLine, Jacqueline built and continues to lead a technology platform company that ushered in the reinvention of television advertising from 30-second interruptive spots to immersive, interactive units. BrightLine is the cornerstone of advanced TV advertising and interactive content for all of America’s leading broadcasters, including NBCU, ABC/Disney, CBS, and Fox, among others.

What drew her to advanced TV advertising was the sweeping change being ushered in by the Internet and digital technologies. As an astute executive, she saw the prospect that shifting consumer behaviors held for media platforms and brands and the opportunity to put her change management skills to work to help redefine the relationship between the two.

Before BrightLine, Jacqueline served as president of Aston Associates, the leading advisory firm for financial institutions and their investors.

Jacqueline applies her transformational change methodologies outside of business and into the world of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) Jacqueline served as chairman of the board of Millennium Promise, overseeing integrated economic development work in 10 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa from 2005-2015. Millennium Promise was the leading international nonprofit organization solely committed to accelerating the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the eradication of extreme poverty, hunger and preventable disease.

Jacqueline serves in leadership roles for both the United Nations and the Vatican. She is extensively involved in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, where she sits on the board of The Sustainable Development Goals Center of Africa and she leads an effort to guide women CEOs in 10 countries and provides strategic oversight on development bank reform in the countries of Rwanda and Uganda.

She is also a Leadership Council member of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and a governor at the New York Academy of Sciences.  Jacqueline also plays a leading role for the Vatican as a founding member of Pope Francis’ Ethics in Action Forum created under the auspices of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, where she assists the Vatican to identify how technology, media and data can generate justice in society.

Throughout her career Jacqueline has been recognized for her important achievements. In 2017 alone Jacqueline was named as one of Adweek’s Disruptors, a Broadcasting and Cable Digital All-Star, a Cynopsis Top Woman in Digital and New York Business Journal’s Woman of Influence. 

Jacqueline frequently publishes and speaks on her work in business and NGOs. She shared her extensive expertise and learnings as the author of “REVEALED: Thoughts on the Connected Television Ad Revolution,” published in 2014. She followed her first book with a collection of articles she wrote in 2017 titled “TVTOPIA.” Jacqueline provides industry knowledge regularly in articles and on the airwaves of Variety, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Radio, Business Insider and Advertising Age.

Jacqueline sits on numerous boards, including the Atlantic Theater Company, International Radio and Television Society, Second Curve Capital, Luminari Capital, Women’s Voices for Change, and NBCU Women’s Advisory Board.

Jacqueline received her master’s in International Banking, Business, and Finance from Columbia University.

Dr. Matthew J. Landfried

About Dr. Matthew J. Landfried

Dominic and Vincenza Rizzitti Greco immigrated to Pennsylvania from Calabria, Italy, in 1903, beginning Dr. Matthew J. Landfried’s deep connection to his Italian heritage through his great-grandparents. Matt was raised in Greenville, Pa., strongly influenced by his Italian mom with lots of tradition, stemming from his rich ancestry.

Matt has made two recent trips to connect with his Greco family relatives in Calabria, and of course to experience some amazing food and wine! On recent visits there, Matt was excited to spend time with cousins – to whom he bears a strong resemblance.

He graduated from Temple University School of Medicine in 1985; spent the next few years at Hamot Medical Center completing his residency in Orthopedic Surgery; and joined the Batavia community in 1990. Matt is currently the medical director of Surgical Services, and chairman of the Department of Surgery at UMMC as well as serving on multiple committees at UMMC and its partner Rochester Regional Health.

Dr. Landfried is an Adjunct Professor at LECOM Medical School and D’Youville College and mentors PA students, medical students and residents.  Professionally, Matt is well respected in his field and has been published in multiple medical journals. Among other honors, Dr. Landfried has been named a “Top Doctor” by U.S. News & World Report.

He is a member of the HHS (NDMS) Trauma and Critical Care response team. Through this volunteer commitment, Matt has spent significant time in Haiti, Texas, and other disaster sites supporting the critical medical need of communities struck by disaster. He has recently returned from continuous training and was certified in Bio Chemical/Medical Hazmat Preparedness.

Dr. Landfried is the medical lead for several area sports programs including the Batavia City School District and Notre Dame High School, as well as assisting with various sports medicine needs at Genesee Community College. He donates his time, and often medical assistance, outside of the office to athletes in need.

On a larger scale, Matt has served as an orthopedist for the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals and Florida Marlins, both at the local Muckdogs level and at the higher professional tier. He and his wife, Kerry, have hosted several baseball players on our Batavia farm team over the years and have maintained long-lasting relationships with those who had the pleasure of being welcomed by the Landfrieds while playing in Batavia.

Personally, Matt and Kerry are the proud parents of two children -- Bekah and Matthew, as well as their “unofficially adopted son” Jermaine. He and Kerry have been married for 36 years and he proudly states that his family is his most valuable treasure.

Family is a theme for Matt and the stories of him helping a family in medical need are endless -- and not simply as a doctor – but as the person who has helped the whole family through the difficult times that often surround older relatives, young ones or just everyday injuries. If there is an athlete, elderly person, or anyone of any age that needs an orthopedic surgeon, Matt turns no one away.

His office staff would tell you that he adds long hours to their days by squeezing in friends, before or after hours. The thing is, with Matt being Italian, everyone he meets is “family” and you treat family well -- always! Home visits, special treatment and donations for whatever is needed, are his daily focus. He is not simply a doctor in business; he is a talented, compassionate man who has made it his business to use his gift to help his community.

Throughout Matt’s 28 years in our area, he and Kerry have financially supported too many causes to mention; he has physically shown up – FOR YEARS -- to support young athletes on hours upon hours of donated time; and stayed in the background of the causes he passionately believes in such as our local hospital, his local church, The Ricky Palermo Foundation (to name a few) – while selflessly donating his time, talent and treasure. Our community is infinitely enriched by the presence of Dr. Matthew J. Landfried.

The good doctor is also an apiarist and viticulturist. In his small amount of free time, he can be seen in his beekeeper suit tending to his hives or picking grapes in his garden for homemade red wine. Winemaking is certainly a passion rooted in his Italian genes, and Matt’s yard mimics that of his great-grandfather’s with grapevines, chestnut and fruit trees. Also, like Grandpa Greco – Matt generously shares his wine with friends and proudly boasts about his Italian heritage!

February 23, 2018 - 6:06pm

The Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation is doing a St. Joseph's Table at Sunny’s Restaurant at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 15. A traditional meatless meal will be served. Profits will go to the foundation's high school senior Scholarship Fund. 

Cost is adults $20, children $5.

Tickets are available at Sunny's Restaurant in the Centre City mall, or from Paolo Busti board members.

According to Buffalo Folklore Etc., the St. Joseph's Table is a ritual meal done by Sicilians and Sicilian-Americans in fulfillment of a promise made to St. Joseph for his assistance in a time of family or personal crises. The Table is held on or as close to his feast day of March 19th as possible.

It is a very compelling and complex celebration with meaning for the people as a whole and even more specific meaning for the particular group or family celebrating the day.

The Table includes the altar with an image of Saint Joseph, flowers, candles, fruit and bread as well as the special meal of meatless dishes served at what is traditionally an open house at the home of the person/family giving the Table. The St. Joseph's Table tradition was brought to the United States by the late 19th and early 20th century Sicilian immigrants into Louisiana, Texas, California, Colorado and New York.

For more information about St. Joseph's Table, click here.

In 1992, the executive committee of the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation published a 240-page book titled "The Legacy of Italian-Americans in Genesee County New York" (Heart of Lakes Publishing). Common terms, names and phrases are searchable online here, plus you can read this Google Book and download its contents (directions on how to do so are online), which publishers provide via Google's Library Project.

October 12, 2017 - 7:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation, batavia, news.


The Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation presented Outstanding Italian-American awards last night at Terry Hills to Thomas Cecere and Justin Calarco-Smith.

Cecere and Calarco-Smith, both lifelong Batavia residents, were honored for their service to the community.

For more about Cecere and Calarco-Smith, click here.

Photos by Frank Cupuano.






October 4, 2017 - 11:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation, batavia, Announcements.
tonybustimc.jpgPress release:

Anthony (Tony) Peca Jr. was born and raised in Batavia with five brothers and sisters. He is descended from Italian heritage on both sides of his family.

His mother’s family came from Rome and his father’s from Chieti. He attended Notre Dame High School, graduating in 1970. He was proud to be an All-Catholic wrestler, Class President, and Student Council President.

He has been happily married to Gerrie (Sandlin) Peca for the past 44 years and has three children Theresa (Peca) Pellegrino, Kelly Peca and Anthony Peca lll, along with seven, soon to be eight grandchildren.

Following college he worked with his father and brother at Batavia Turf Farms Inc. Since 2000 he has been Sales and Operations Manager at Reisdorf Oil and Propane.

He is a proud Italian-American.

The dinner is Oct. 11 at Terry Hills. Tickets are available at Ben's Appliance, V.J. Gautieri Construction or any board member.

September 13, 2017 - 8:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation, news.

Press release:

The Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation will gather on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at Terry Hills Restaurant to honor two Outstanding Italian American Men of the Genesee County Region. The Honorary recipients are Thomas Cecere and Justin Calarco-Smith.  They are two of many Italian American volunteers, who have given their time to help others.

This event will please your palate with fabulous Italian cuisine and great entertainment from the St. Joe's Reunion Brass Ensemble. October is National Italian American Heritage Month. This is a great time to celebrate the Italian heritage and our outstanding recipients, Tom and Justin.

Tickets are available at Ben's Appliance and V.J. Gaultieri & Sons Construction and Paolo Busti Board members. All proceeds are directed to the Paolo Busti Scholarship Fund.  

Any questions and reserved seating please contact Michele Fuller (585) 768-7016.

Justin Calarco Smith

justinsmithphoto2017.jpgJustin was born in Batavia, a son of James and Mary Calarco Smith, of Batavia. His paternal great-grandparents, the Calarco family, were born in Varapadio, Italy, which is in the province of Reggio Calabira. His maternal great-grandparents, the Tessitore family, were born in Naples, Italy. Both families immigrated to the United States.

A 1991 graduate of Batavia High School, Justin graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in Psychology from SUNY Geneseo in 1995. While at Geneseo, he was a member, founding brother, chaplain and president of Tau Kappa Epsilon International Fraternity. During his college career, he made the decision to enter in his family business, and work alongside his father in the funeral industry.

Upon his graduation from Geneseo, he entered Simmons Institute of Funeral Service, where he graduated with an associates degree in Funeral Service in 1996. He graduated from Simmons with high honors and received the Mu Sigma Alpha Award and a Certificate of Merit in Mortuary Sciences at graduation.

He has been a licensed funeral director since 1997; caring and guiding the families in Genesee County during some of their most difficult times. In 2012, along with his brother Joshua and Randy McIntire, he assumed ownership of H.E. Turner & Co. Inc., where their main focus continues to provide the family and friends they serve with exceptional and personalized service.

His spirit of volunteerism was instilled at a young age as he watched both his parents generously give their time and talent to their community. Upon his return home from college, Justin has been involved with the Batavia Area Jaycees, where he served as the treasurer in 1998 and was honored as the treasurer of the year in New York State in 1998. A member of the inaugural class of Leadership Genesee in 2001, he served on the Board of Directors for CASA, United Memorial Medical Center Foundation, Genesee Cancer Assistance and the YMCA. Justin served on the board of directors, foundation board, finance committee, development committee and chaired the annual awards dinner committee for GCASA.

Justin married Elizabeth Allen, of Elba, on Sept. 15, 2007 and they have three children, Noah, Nicolas and Lucia. Residents of Elba since 2009, Justin is a member of Padre Pio Parish where he is a member of the church’s parish council, The Men’s Group and serves as a lector of the church. Justin currently serves as a commissioner for the Elba Joint Fire District. A 3rd degree member of Monsignor Kirby Council, Knights of Columbus, he has been a member of the Batavia Rotary Club since 1998. He has served on their board of directors for six years, co-chaired the annual pancake breakfast for five years, worked on the stage crew during the annual Rotary Show and was stage manager during the production of Beauty and the Beast. Justin also served on The Rotary Club Memorial Foundation for three years. He has served on Board of Trustees for The Jerome Foundation since 1999, vice-president from 2005-2007 and has been the acting president since 2007.

He is grateful to his parents for providing him with a strong work ethic and responsibility to give back to your community. A strong devotion to his family and deep sense of pride for his Italian American heritage, Justin acknowledges that his accomplishments, whether personal or professional would not be possible without the love and support given to him by his wife, Elizabeth and his three children.

Thomas Cecere

tomcecere2017.jpgThomas Anthony Cecere was born in Batavia, to Louis and Mary (Glannan) Cecere. He was the oldest of seven children. He has a son Thomas, a daughter-in-law Sandy and three grandchildren, Taylor, Thomas and Tori. He has been married to his wife Felicia for 22 years.

 His paternal grandparents both immigrated to the United States, his grandfather, Angelo Michael Cecere, at 5, in 1880 from Valva, Italy, and his grandmother in 1890 from Lithuania. They were married in 1900 and had 14 children. His parents met during World War II in England and after the war were married in Batavia. His mom was a “War Bride.”

Growing up as a member of one of Batavia’s largest families was very special. Every Sunday all his aunts and uncles and their families started out by going to church, then home for a real Italian meal.

Tommy says, “four things were very instrumental in molding me into what I am today. They are my family, my Catholic upbringing, the time that I spent in the Navy, and the many years that I spent in St. Joseph’s Drum and Bugle Corps. Being a member of “Mighty St. Joe’s of Batavia is an honor and a privilege.”

In 1966, he enlisted in the Navy. He served four years and spent two and a half years in Vietnam, all of which he is very proud of. He worked at Doehler Jarvis, Eastman Kodak Co., and Rochester Products. He retired in 2008.

When he retired he gave back to the community. He joined the “Genesee County Joint Veterans Honor Guard. They provide an Honor Guard, a Firing Squad and a live Bugler for Military Funerals and Memorial Services.”

“It is such an honor to play Taps for these Veterans that gave so much for all of us,” he said.

He’s played Taps for many years. In 196I playing for Batavia’s first Vietnam Casualty. He’s been the Bugler for the “Vietnam Traveling Wall” every time it’s come to Genesee County. He is a member of “Buglers Across America.” They accept assignments to cover funerals and memorial services covering a 100-mile radius. Since 2009, he’s averaged playing Taps 104 times per year and averaged driving 3,201 miles per year.

Currently, he belongs to “The St. Joe’s of Batavia Brass Ensemble.” Its sole purpose is to give back to the community. They do fund-raisers for “Crossroads House,” school band programs, concerts for veterans and for hospitals and nursing homes. They’ve even gone to private homes of individuals who were in the last weeks of their lives and played out on their lawns for them.

His accomplishments include: the 1965 New York Canadian Individual Soprano Bugle Player. While on board the USS Princeton, recovered the Apollo 10 Space Capsule, made all of the ships PA announcements and played the “Boatswain's Pipe," all of which were heard on worldwide television. In 1987 while competing in the “Unlimited A Class” against pistol shooters from all over the world, won first place in the “Metallic Silhouette International Pistol Championships.” In 1991 along with Robert “Sully” Sullivan co-founded the St. Joe’s Alumni Corps of Le Roy. Also in 1991 ran 26.2 miles in the Boston Marathon. In 2013 was part of the Ghost Riders Mini Drum and Bugle Corps from Batavia that won first place in the “World Mini Corps Championships” in Annapolis, Md. In 2014 was one of four people from all over the world who was inducted into the “Buglers Hall of Fame” in Bridgeport, Conn.

He thanks God for the opportunity of growing up in Batavia as part of such a wonderful Italian Family and for being born in the United States of America.

June 15, 2017 - 10:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation, batavia, news.


Alexis Hoerner is the winner of the 2017 Paolo Busti Scholarship, which the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation awarded at its annual dinner last night at Terry Hills. Alexis, known as "Lexi," was among five finalists.

She is a student at Batavia High School. She holds an overall GPA of 95 and ranks 19th in a class of 175. Lexi is a member of the National Honor Society as well as the National Art Honor Society. She has received numerous honors and awards, including a commendation in the 2016 Congressional Art Competition NY 27th District, and the Bob Heischman Award for Excellence in Creativity in Drawing as well as various school awards for outstanding achievement in art, printmaking, portfolio, sculpture, and excellence and creativity in drawing.

Lexi is a member of the BHS varsity swim team and has volunteered with various local community organizations including the Lions Club, YWCA, Crossroads House, and Genesee County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). She has also served as a BHS Link Leader and with the Art Department Stage Crew at Batavia High School.

Lexi plans to attend Canisius College in the fall where she will continue her studies in Studio Art.

Below, she is pictured with her parents Karen Cutitta and Michael Hoerner.


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