Thursday Speaker Luncheons


Thursday, January  3, 2019
No meeting in deference to New Year’s.

Thursday, January  10, 2019
The New Exercise Regime: Active Virtual Reality Games and Health
Marialice Kern

Thursday, January  17, 2019
The Frank V. de Bellis Collection:
A Cultural Bridge between California and Italy for 55 Years

Meredith Eliassen

Thursday, January  24, 2019
The Pervasive Italian Influence on Early Education
in San Francisco and Beyond

David Anderson, PhD

Thursday, January  31, 2019
Future State 2035: San Francisco State University Campus Master Plan
Jill Anthes

This month’s programs arranged by Don Zingale.

Thursday, December 6, 2018
No meeting in deference to the Christmas Gala, December 7.

Thursday, December 13, 2018
Locating Your Family Land in Italy
Anthony and Sonia Alioto

“What every Italian-American should know about their rights in Italy”

Anthony Alioto was born and raised in San Francisco, and holds degrees from Saint Mary’s College, San Francisco State University and the Universita de Firenze. He has some 20 years work experience in Italy. Sonia Alioto was born and raised in Ferrara, Italy. She holds degrees from the Universita de Ferrara and the Universita de Camberino including a Doctor of Italian Jurisprudence. 

Anthony and Sonia own the firm Italian Legal Language Services, LLC, located in Novato, CA and Ferrara, Italy. Their firm provides assistance to individuals and law professionals regarding estate filings in Italy, and specializes in locating property in Italy that Italian-American children, grandchildren or great grandchildren may be able to reclaim.

“Anthony helped me locate my grandfather’s property in Verbicaro, Calabria, still in the name of my grandfather, great-uncle and great-aunt!” —Ron Derenzi

This talk will be an exciting and informative experience!

Thursday, December 20, 2018
The Merrie Olde Christmas Carolers

We invite you to enjoy a delightful lunch with your fellow Cenacolisti and guests and listen to the wonderful Carolers singing traditional Christmas songs.


The Merrie Olde Christmas Carolers, the world’s oldest and largest professional caroling organization, has been entertaining and amusing audiences since 1977. The Merrie Olde Christmas Carolers are professional singers and featured artists from opera and theatre companies throughout Northern California. Costumed in Dickensian attire, the Merrie Olde Christmas Carolers perform new and unique musical arrangements of beloved holiday songs, created just for us by founder Ken Malucelli (ascap). Songs are accompanied by the merry sounds of sleigh bells, finger cymbals, tambourines and kazoos.

Thursday, December 27, 2018
No meeting in deference to Christmas.

Thursday, November 1, 2018
“Memoirs of a Field Biology Adventuress”
Margaret Winslow, PhD 

Dr. Margaret Winslow is Professor Emerita of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the City University of New York. She earned a PhD in Geological Sciences from Columbia University, and has forty years of field experience in Central America, South America, Antarctica, Alaska, and the Caribbean. 

In the 1970s, Dr. Winslow encountered many barriers in the essentially all-male world of field geology. Her thesis project was to map the rock exposures around the Strait of Magellan and Tierra del Fuego. As a young woman attempting to hike and camp out during the Pinochet era in Chile, she experienced many misadventures she later incorporated into her award-winning memoirs and lecture series.

Her National Geographic-funded fieldwork on earthquake hazards and archaeological settlement patterns in Alaska and Chile is featured in the award-winning PBS series “Fire on the Rim.” 

She is an experienced public speaker and has been interviewed by NPR’s “West Coast Live,” CBS News Radio, and WABC Eyewitness News. In 2018, she was interviewed by the Scott Polar Research Institute of Cambridge University for their upcoming “Women in Antarctica” series. 

She has published two award-winning travel/adventure memoirs, Over My Head: Journeys in Leaky Boats from the Strait of Magellan to Cape Horn and Beyond (2012) and The Cusp of Dreadfulness (2016) about her misadventures while working as a geologist in South America and Antarctica.

Praise for Over My Head and The Cusp of Dreadfulness

…a pioneering female geologist explores the topography of South America and the shifting landscape of women in the sciences…. A satisfying journey through 1970’s sexual politics and the lands of the southernmost part of the Earth.” —Kirkus Reviews 

“Dr. Winslow must be one of the bravest people -- she undertakes hair-raising adventures in the name of science (geology), discovery and exploration -- and survives to tell the tale. Her book is humorous, entertaining and breath-taking all at the same time.”  

—Brad Borkan, author with David Hirzel of When Your Life Depends on It: Extreme Decision Making Lessons from the Antarctic

Thursday, November 8, 2018
Double Header: Sicily and Tuscany in Real Time

How I Spent My Summer Vacation in Sicily
What Blew my Socks Off on Our Unscripted, All-Island Trek!

Peter Sherwood, Cenacolista 

Pete Sherwood has been a Cenacolista for 18 years. He worked with Man of the Year Dave Lombardi as a mediator at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco for many years. He has traveled in Italy extensively this century and the last and never tires of this fascinating and beautiful land. His presentation will be a personal account of what he found most amazing and mind-blowing about this wonderful island/province/different world.

Susanne Segal
Video Short: “Una Mattina a Montevignoli: A Day in the Life of Rural Tuscany”

Susanne Segal will present a 10-minute video of Tuscan rural life featuring traditional methods of making Italian specialties including cheese and tratalia. You will see the goings-on from the early morning to the end of the day, including goats and pigs, Nona and Nono, and delicious things to eat! 

Susi (aka is a native San Franciscan, an undergradutate alumna of the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and has an MBA from Simmons Graduate School of Management in Boston. She is a graphic designer and editor and has been the invisible hand behind the communications of Il Cenacolo for over twenty years. She is one of the Club’s biggest fans!

Thursday, November 15, 2018
The Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915
Laura Ackley

This lecture will take the audience on an amazing tour of the Fair from its original concept in 1904 through its development and all the way to its gala opening in February, 1915. We’ll peek inside the gorgeous exhibit “Palaces” for a look at just a few of the wonders therein, and finish with some of the attractions on the Joy Zone, the Pan-Pacific Internationala Expo’s midway. Illustrated with dozens of amazing photos, lantern slides, postcards, souvenirs and panoramas, this Whirlwind Tour will appeal to any audience with an interest in history.

Laura Ackley holds graduate degrees from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and the University of California at Berkeley College of Environmental design, as well as an undergraduate degree in architecture from Berkeley. She has worked for such diverse firms as Lucasfilm, Bechtel Engineering, and Autodesk, and taught 3D computer modeling for more than a decade. Her book, San Francisco’s Jewel City: The Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 was co-published by Heyday and the California Historical Society.

 Accolades for San Francisco’s Jewel City:

•  The Gold Medal at the 2015 California Book Awards in Californiana sponsored by the Commonwealth Club

•  The National Independent Publisher Book Awards Bronze Medal for United States History

•  The Oscar Lewis Award from the California History Association

•  Finalist for the Northern California Book Award for General Nonfiction

•  Finalist for the NCIBA Book of the Year Award

Thursday, November 22, 2018
No meeting in deference to Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 29, 2018
"How an Airline Crew Gets you from Here to There, Safely (2.0)"
Chuck Stagliano, Cenacolista

Chuck Stagliano, Cenacolista, is a native of Tarrytown, New York, and graduated from Roanoke College in Virginia. He joined the US Navy as a Naval Aviator, and served as a squadron pilot on an aircraft carrier, on two deployments, during the Vietnam War. Afterwards, Chuck joined Pan Am and then Atlas Air; he flew commercial aircraft including 707, 727, A-300 Airbus and 747. Chuck retired as a 747 Captain and company instructor. 

Last July, Chuck spoke to us about some of what goes into the planning and operation of a safe airline flight. In this discussion (“Version 2.0”),  he will continue this discussion with some of the items that didn't make it into the previous talk.  Included will be, in no particular order:

  • How can a flight be dispatched legally without the legal minimum fuel for the flight?
  • The system which informs the crew of details and changes regarding the departure and arrival airports.
  • The system and procedure used to avoid collisions in a very congested airspace.
  • What's the story with deicing and anti-icing?
  • Crew briefings before every departure and arrival. An absolute must. And what are NOTAMS?
  • Landing when visibility is zero: Training, equipment and procedures.
  • Crew training: every six months!
  • The worst disaster in aviation history: What happened? What were the causes? What are the lessons learned? 
  • The Lion Air crash.


Thursday, October 4, 2018
“From North Beach to the Hindu Kush: A Correspondent’s Journey”
Mike Cerre, TV Correspondent

PBS News Hour Special Correspondent Mike Cerre shares personal stories and professional insights from his more than forty years of reporting and documentary productions around the globe. It all started with a lively debate in the Dolphin Club’s sauna. From his initial reporting in the Bay Area for KRON to crisscrossing the country for ABC Good Morning America and his embedded reporting in Iraq and Afghanistan for ABC News, Mike’s latest series of reports, appropriately called “Nextracks,” focuses on one of the most foreboding and mysterious subjects of his career which many Il Cenacolo members should be able to relate to—what’s next for boomers given the new social, economic and retirement paradigms. (There will be video, but no quiz.)

Mike Cerre, an Emmy Award-winning network news correspondent and documentary producer, is also the Executive Producer of GLOBE TV, a Sausalito-based global communications and production company.

Formerly an ABC News Correspondent and embedded reporter in Iraq and Afghanistan for ABC News Nightline, he is currently a San Francisco based PBS News Hour Special Correspondent specializing in foreign affairs and defense coverage. His GLOBE TV company produces strategic communications projects for Fortune 500 companies, non-profits and programming for major networks including CNBC, CNN, Discovery, A&E, National Geographic, BBC and NHK.

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, he served as a Marine officer in Vietnam before relocating from his native Midwest to his adopted home in the San Francisco Bay Area. He and his wife Gina, two daughters and three grandsons live in Sausalito.


Thursday, October 11, 2018
“The Capture of the U-505: A Legion of Heroes”
Robert McLaughlin, Author

The capture of the German U-505 was one of the most extraordinary stories to emerge from the Battle of the Atlantic in WWII. The U-505 was the first enemy man-of-war to be captured on the high seas since the capture of the British brig, HMS Nautilus, in the War of 1812. Robert McLaughlin’s book follows Captain Daniel V. Gallery, USN, a naval aviator and master of anti-submarine warfare, in his commands of PBY Squadrons VP-73, VP-84 and Hunter Killer Task Group 22.3. Gallery was determined to capture a German U-Boat on the surface and salvage the intelligence prizes. The U-505 was forced to the surface by HKTG 22.3 on June 4,1944 and captured. The book is a tribute to the courageous heroes, civilian and military, men and women who employed ingenious methods to counter enemy intelligence and tactics and who exhibited amazing bravery in risking their lives to defeat the enemies of the free world during the Battle of the Atlantic

The author describes himself as a patriot. He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1955 to 1957. He had a successful business career: he was the CEO of two NYSE companies and served on the Board of Directors of three public companies and two private companies. Robert and Kathie, his wife of sixty-one years, reside in Tiburon, California.


Thursday, October 18, 2018
“La Dolce Vita University: An Unconventional Guide to Italian Culture from A-Z”
Carla Gambescia, Author

What is it about Italy? Cultural superpower yet merely a mountainous Mediterranean peninsula, Italy has exerted an outsized force on the world, Western civilization and the popular imagination over the course of millennia. Her book is a unique lifestyle compendium of all things Italian: food, wine, history, architecture, art, style, anecdotes, attitude. In it Carla explores the special alchemy of Italy and the “cultural DNA” that has made Italy not only so influential but also so beloved. Even the most sophisticated Italophile will discover fascinating new facts and insights.

Carla’s passion for Italy began early: with her mother’s love of the Renaissance masters and her father’s discourses on Italian geniuses of every calling. In the ensuing decades, she’s written about and toured every region of Italy on foot or by bicycle. Carla conceived and co-led the Giro del Gelato bicycle tour which won OUTSIDE Magazine’s “Best Trip in Western Europe,” and for nearly a decade she owned and operated Via Vanti! Restaurant & Gelateria in Mount Kisco, New York. Via Vanti! won plaudits for its innovative Italian cuisine, extraordinary gelato (named “Best Gelato Shop in New York”) and ongoing program of culinary and cultural events.

Carla was born and raised in South Philadelphia and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Wharton School of Finance.


Thursday, October 25, 2018
“La Piccola Roma in Eritrea”
Joe Casalaina

Eritrea was one of the Italian colonies in Africa from the 1890 to 1941. The Italians used the capital city of Asmara to experiment with radical new architectural designs. By the late 1930s, Asmara was called Piccola Roma (Little Rome). Despite World War II and the 25 years of the Eritrean War of Independence from Ethiopia, today more than 400 buildings are of Italian origin, and many shops still have Italian names (e.g., Bar Vittoria, Pasticceria Moderna, Casa del Formaggio, Cinema Impero and Ferramenta). Joe Casalaina who was born in Asmara and whose family was in Asmara since 1916 will talk briefly about the history of the Italian colony and will show two short documentaries filmed by RAI about the architecture of Asmara and the Italian influence in the current Eritrean cuisine.

Joe’s family was forced to escape Asmara in 1948 and returned to Augusta, Sicily. In 1955 they were able to obtain a war refugee visa and settled in Brooklyn, New York. Joe worked for 40 years for Metropolitan Life Insurance starting in the “brand new” field of computers. He and his wife moved to Rossmoor, Walnut Creek from Princeton, New Jersey seven years ago to be near their son and his family who live in San Francisco.