President’s Blog

The Shameful Treatment of Italians during WWII

The Italian Garden
Mary Menitti

Thursday May 3 2018
Organized by Member Name


Mary Menniti is from Pittsburg PA, and now resides in Davis, CA. She will tell us how her “Italian Garden
Project” was organized to preserve old world food and gardening traditions and demonstrate that the
wisdom of the Italian-American gardener is relevant for today and for the future. Mary has documented
gardens throughout the country including in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Cleveland, Pittsburg, San Jose and Sacramento.
Her project is now in the Archives of the American Garden at the Smithsonian Institution.


Plans for the 150th San Francisco Italian Heritage Parade

John Parente

Thursday, May 24, 2018

John Parente is a past President and current Board Member of Columbus Day Celebration, Inc. He is also the Chair of the 150th Anniversary Committee of that organization, and will tell us about the many activities planned for this most important Italian-American event.

John is a native San Franciscan, holds a BBA from Gonzaga University and a JD from Lincoln University School of Law. He has been a practicing attorney since 1976.

Istituto Italiano di Cultura: Its Mission and History

Paolo Barlera

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Paolo Barlera asks: Is the Istituto Italiano di Cultura a treatment center? He will tell us of the many things the Istituto does to keep Italy’s history and civilization alive in the 21st century, and discuss its mission and history.

After studying philosophy and literature, Paolo has served in the cultural division of the Italian Foreign Office for the past 20 years, and is currently the Director of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura of San Francisco.

June 2018 from the Desk of the President

​Dear Cenacolisti,

Welcome to Spring!  And welcome to another bulletin that will provide you with information on what’s happening at your Club. Please read on for news about our members and for information on upcoming events.


The Board is in process of reviewing and revising several aspects of our membership plan. You will hear more about some innovative changes as the plan is rolled-out. For now, membership is improving. Year-to-date we have added 15  new members—including the first women in our Club’s 90-year history. Your effort to identify and recruit new members is paying-off!


Thanks to Ron Derenzi for organizing the May programs (and there were 5 of them!). These presentations (with their emphasis on Italy) were enjoyed by all. This bulletin highlights our June programs. Please support your Club by attending as many of these as possible. 

Regarding programs—This is a repeat request for each of you to provide our program chairman, Alex Kugushev, with your ideas and suggestions for speakers—his e-mail is We will follow-up and confirm arrangements, but your involvement in supplying contact information would be most welcomed. Thanks!

Make sure to check the calendar following, and add our dates to your own calendar!

June 28 is important—the date of our annual meeting. In mid-May, you received the annual meeting agenda and formal notice. As indicated, we plan to (1) update everyone on our club—including our financial position, (2) provide a slate of four new proposed directors for your vote,  (3) vote on revisions to our by-laws and (4) conduct any other business that is applicable to Il Cenacolo. If you have specific matters that you would like to have covered, please contact me. Please note that this meeting is for members only. Your attendance is really important and I hope that you come.


As mentioned above, the Board is in process of implementing several initiatives affecting membership. We hope that the end-result of this will be an increase in membership and an exciting plan to keep our organization vital and growing. 

These initiatives will need your help. Specifically, we are looking for members who would be willing to pitch in and assist. You are needed in the following areas (approximate time
commitment shown):

1) Membership Chair: to direct our entire effort, taking over from Ron Derenzi who has done a great job, but is now handling all of our finance/treasury functions (2-4 hrs/wk).

2) Assistant Membership Chair: to assist the Chair in performing membership tasks (20 hrs).

3) Leader and team to prepare promotional materials: (about 30 hrs).

4) Leader and team to develop and execute a media plan: (about 25 hrs).

5) Liaison to other Bay Area Italian clubs for possible collaboration (about 25 hrs).

Our Club must continuously work on recruiting new members or face the reality of its eventual demise. I know we have a lot of talented people in our group and now is the time for you to step forward to demonstrate your skills and your willingness to become involved. Please let me know by June 15 ( of your interest to become involved—many thanks.


Our regular luncheon scheduled for June 7 IS CANCELLED for the following reason: The mayor of Genoa is visiting San Francisco. It was thought that it would be great if he attended our luncheon on June 7 and addressed us. So we planned accordingly. However, it turned out that he is returning to Italy on June 7. Then, the Italian Consulate and the SFIAC organized a dinner—to which all of the Bay Area Italian organizations are invited—for the evening of June 6. Il Cenacolo will be acknowledged as a co-host. We concluded that the large event on the preceding evening would be the major draw for the week.

If you are interested in joining them, please contact the SFIAC directly. You should already have received the announcement for this event in an email last week, and it is reproduced here on the following page.

With best regards,
Franz Cristiani, President

On Being Program Chairman

During recent recruiting of new Board members, we found that some members expressed reluctance to join the Board out of concern for their duty to be monthly chairman and line up speakers. This is to alleviate some concerns.

As Program Chairman, I maintain a list of potential speakers at all times—anywhere between fifteen and twenty of them. I make it a point to interview them, to assess how well they may be of interest to our membership. These names are available to monthly chairmen who may choose to use them.

On a personal note, I find that the greatest pleasure in serving on the Board is the opportunity to be the monthly chairman once a year. It allows me to plan a set of talks that focus on themes that interest me and that I hope will interest the membership. I prefer topics on Italian culture. I get to select speakers and interact with them, suggesting effective ways to present their ideas. In the process, I expand my knowledge and learn things I often knew nothing about.

—Alex Kugushev, Program Chairman

A Talent Call

Before joining Il Cenacolo, I attended several lunches. On each occasion, I found myself talking with someone interesting and substantial. I was impressed by the members and so I joined. My admiration of Italian civilization, of course, also determined the decision.

Five years on, I have not changed my impression. We have a vast reservoir of knowledge, experience and intellectual curiosity among our members. Life and work experiences, profound personal interests, hobbies and travel. Consider that in recent times a number of us have spoken, some repeatedly : Jim Boitano, Bill Nuerge, Dick Wahlberg, Adolph Capurro, Ron Fenolio, Chris Danesi, Nickolas Marinelli, Alessandro Baccari, Igor Bertolucci, Chris Gulli, Andy Canepa, Dave Litwin, Jorge Escobar, Michael Muscardini, Dom Paino, our President, Chuck Stagliano, and yours truly–among others.

And in the near future, Mel Britton and Tony Rossman will contribute to our bank of knowledge and

So, this is a call for members who have something energizing to say to come forward and send me a proposal for an uplifting talk. How about it, Fellows? If not you, perhaps your fascinating spouse, or equally fascinating significant other, friend or relation?

—Alex Kugushev, Program Chairman