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Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Profiles: Tom Cesarini Named "Italian American of the Year" 2021

 



On Sunday, October 24th, 2021 the Order of the Sons and Daughters of Italy in America (OSDIA) Fratellanza Garibaldina Lodge #1627 in San Diego, California announced their "Italian American of the Year" for 2021. It was at their 89th Anniversary Dinner Dance and unfortunately their honoree, Tom Cesarini was unable to attend, so I acted as his representative, being that I am the Facilities Coordinator for the Convivio Society, a nonprofit Mr. Cesarini founded and chairs, and that I sit on his other creation, the Little Italy Heritage Commission. I spoke a few words about my boss and good friend Tom Cesarini, and shared his nonprofit's website and social media links. Below is a bio of Tom Cesarini followed by photos and videos from the dinner dance.


Tom Cesarini, Advocate for the Italian Community of San Diego & OSDIA San Diego Lodge's "Italian American of the Year"

by Sal Denaro, OSDIA Fratellanza Garibaldina Lodge #1627 President



As an advocate for the local Italian community, Tom Cesarini has helped to promote Italian arts, culture, and heritage for numerous local Italian cultural organizations. Noting an absence of a singular point of reference for San Diego’s myriad Italian groups, Tom founded Convivio in 2003 and the Italian Historical Society of San Diego in 2006 with the goal of establishing a multifaceted Italian cultural center and museum in San Diego. Tom’s vision for a collaborative cultural venue includes a reference library, media lab, historical archives, performance and event space, cafe and market, and an exhibition area. Currently, through Convivio, Tom directs the Amici House in Little Italy, which serves as the event, heritage, and visitor center for the community.


In addition to his work with Convivio and many other organizations, Tom was appointed the Italian Honorary Consul in San Diego in 2019 and proudly serves the community in this important role, helping co-nationals with a variety of needs.


Tom holds a PhD in leadership studies and an MA in nonprofit leadership and management from the University of San Diego. Tom’s doctoral dissertation is titled, The Multiple Meanings of San Diego’s Little Italy: A Study of the Impact of Real and Symbolic Space and Boundaries on the Ethnic Identities of Eight Italian Americans. For this work, Tom was a nominee for the university’s William P. Foster Outstanding Dissertation Award. In this research study, Tom examined identity perceptions of San Diego Italian Americans with a connection to Little Italy by analyzing narrative constructions of the participants’ life stories.


Tom’s family members hail from Aspra, Sicily, and he remains grateful for their stories, lessons, and experiences as immigrants. Tom credits his parents’ and grandparents’ emphasis on preserving their cultural heritage for his passion and his commitment to San Diego’s Italian American community.

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Me (right) with Tom Cesarini, OSDIA San Diego Lodge's "Italian American of the Year"


From Tom Cesarini:


Thanks, Chris, for representing and accepting on my behalf and for the kind words. I regret not being able to attend, but I am grateful to the Sons and Daughters of Italy board for the prestigious honor. I share the recognition with everyone in the community, individually and through their respective groups, who serve the preservation and advancement of our Italian American culture and heritage. For the work we do, we are all Italian Americans of the year--each and every year. And to quote Father Louis, "Sempre avanti!"















From Tom Cesarini:


Thanks, Chris, for representing and accepting on my behalf and for the kind words. I regret not being able to attend, but I am grateful to the Sons and Daughters of Italy board for the prestigious honor. I share the recognition with everyone in the community, individually and through their respective groups, who serve the preservation and advancement of our Italian American culture and heritage. For the work we do, we are all Italian Americans of the year--each and every year. And to quote Father Louis, "Sempre avanti!"
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