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Meet the Board
Executive Board Officers
Wendy has lived in Italy for nearly four decades with her Italian family and has been a member of AWAR since she first moved to Rome. She has served on the AWAR board numerous times in various capacities over the years and has also chaired activity groups, including cooking, photography, film, Fact Forum, hiking and walking, burraco, and wine-tasting. Wendy is deeply committed to AWAR and its growth and importance within the international Rome community. Professionally her strength lies in sharing Italian stories, recipes, and unique travel insights through her Flavor of Italy weekly podcast, newsletter, website, trips, and tours. In the past, she owned a baby products company and was vice president at the PNC Financial Corp.
1st Vice President
Liz Grauman was born and raised in Montana and studied photojournalism at the University of Montana. She first came to Rome in 2005 for a college course in history and, like any good American student, promptly fell in love with a local. After returning to Montana to graduate, she worked as an art director at the San Diego Union-Tribune and later moved east to design and edit at The New York Times. She married that Italian guy, returned to Rome with him and their baby girl, and is now the visual director for their portfolio of commercial real estate and vacation rentals in Rome and Florence. They have since added another daughter to the family, and Liz spends her free time cooking, eating, and traveling throughout Italy.
TreasurerMegan Todd, originally from Cambridge, Massachusetts, first came to Rome in 1992 after her graduation from Harvard University and has lived on and off in Italy ever since. After several years in Asia and the Pacific (Cambodia, East Timor, Vietnam) on postings for her husband’s work, she returned to Rome in 2017 and joined AWAR. She is the Program Director for Context Travel and oversees operations in Italy, Greece, and Turkey. Married to a Roman, she is also the mother of two teenage daughters, students at St Stephen’s School and the University of Cambridge (UK). Megan served as Vice President of the Hanoi International Women’s Club and was the Chair of the Community Aid Committee
Mary B. Handley
Mary B. Handley was born in Halifax, England. After graduating from college in Liverpool she spent 2 years on teaching assignments in Kingaroy, Brisbane and Sydney, Australia before settling in Rome 43 years ago. For more than 22 years she was the administrator of a Rome based American university where some of the facets of her multitasked role were recruitment and orientation. She then ran her own business adventure called “Marriage Italian Style”, assisting foreign couples to tie the knot in Rome and now is involved in the organization of the Rome Chamber Music Festival and also represents Untours in Rome. Mary still finds time to contribute in a volunteer capacity to activities in the expatriate community, she has served on the Commonwealth Club of Rome, AICR and American Community Roundtable committees, has been an AWAR member for many years covering diverse committee positions and is currently on the committee of the Association of British Ex-Pats in Italy of which she is a founding member.
Holly Grabow Magazzino
Holly is a native Texan who moved to Italy in 1990 after meeting her future husband, Giovanni, while he was a student pilot at the ENJJPT flying school in Wichita Falls, Texas. In her early years in Italy, she lived mostly in Puglia, before settling down in Sermoneta (LT) with her husband and three sons in 2002. In addition to being a full-time mom and Aeronautica Militare wife, she also taught English throughout her time in Italy. In more recent years, she has been working as a tour associate and interpreter for Bella Giornata Tours, organizing enogastronomic and cultural tours throughout Italy. She has also worked occasionally in the Italian film industry, appearing in two RAI productions as well as in the film House of Gucci. Since 2008 she has consistently maintained her membership in AWAR, although she first joined in 2003 after moving to Lazio from Naples, where she was a member of the American Women’s Club. She currently serves on the AWAR board as Fact Forum Chair.
Maureen is a freelance editor, translator, and writer from New York who has lived in Rome since 1979. She holds degrees in Classics and Classical Archaeology from Manhattanville College and the University of Michigan. Her first job in Rome was as a volunteer on the Forum, but she subsequently joined the editorial staffs of two magazines in Rome, Ceres, at FAO, and Italy Italy. In the late 1980s she discovered a talent for explaining Italian food, which led to her becoming a food writer and teacher of Roman cooking. Since 2014, Maureen has partnered with Elizabeth Bartman, an archaeologist, in Elifant Archaeo-Culinary Tours, one-week small-group tours to different parts of Italy that they plan and lead themselves. Maureen’s many publications include numerous articles and translations on Italian food and food history, antiquity, and, culture. Among her books are the now-classic source book Women’s Life in Greece and Rome (with Mary Lefkowitz), Dictionary of Italian Cuisine (with Howard Isaacs), Foods of the World: Rome for Williams-Sonoma, and the award-winning Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way (with Oretta Zanini De Vita).
General Meeting Chair
Hildegard Niggemann-Pucella holds degrees in Political Science with a specialization in economics from the University of Rome, La Sapienza, a doctorate obtained in 1978, and Certificate of Management, Business and Administration in July 1994 from the John Cabot University Institute in Rome. She has recently retired after working for over thirty-six years at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization ( FAO) Headquarters in Rome. Her main area of work was management responsibilities for the development and implementation of FAO's field emergency programs, including related fund-raising. Hilde speaks several languages including, German (mother tongue), Italian, English, French, and Spanish. Hilde's interests include advocacy for gender equality, particularly for socially vulnerable groups in developing countries related to agricultural based livelihood. She was born in Frankfurt, Germany and is married to an Italian. Previously, Hilde served as FAWCO representative.
Laura De Filippo
Laura has recently returned from London, where she was a Senior Digital Marketing Manager with more than eight years’ experience working with international brands across a wide range of industries. She graduated from Sapienza University, Rome, with a master’s degree in Economics followed by further studies in IT, web marketing, and interior design. Born and raised in Rome, she returned to the Eternal City to be closer to her family but still wants to continue to experience cultural diversity and be part of a community of women where you can learn something new from one another and create long-lasting relationships. Having found AWAR, she is thrilled to have this opportunity to help the organization and looks forward to connecting with all the wonderful women that are part of it.
Giulia Di Ruscio
Giulia was born and raised in Rome and has dual Italian and American citizenship. She holds a degree in multilingual studies and international relations from the University of London at Royal Holloway in London. An AWAR member for many years, Giulia is looking forward to her role as the FAWCO representative and attended a 2013 FAWCO Region 8 conference in Genoa. Giulia is a primary school teacher at her high school alma mater, Marymount International School in Rome. Married and the proud mother of two small children, Giulia is also a passionate animal lover and film buff and loves to explore her Rome.
Archivist & Historian
Julia was born and raised in NYC but quickly discovered the world beyond the USA which led her to study multiple languages and allowed her to work around the world starting very early, including teaching in Japan and later working in film and photography in Rome, Milan, New York, and Paris. After a back injury, she had to stop shooting and took a class in professional egg pasta rolling in Bologna that set her on her most recent path. In 2017, she moved back to Rome and joined her Milanese husband in his professional kitchen, where they started their Culinary Training School & Test Kitchen called Grano & Farina. Her collaboration with the Pasta Grannies project and use of the Encyclopedia della Pasta (translated by our own Maureen Fant) has allowed her to expand her knowledge and expertise in hand made and traditional pastas to a repertoire of over 80 different kinds/shapes using no machines at all. In 2021, she and her husband moved to the Sabine Hills north of Rome to offer a more ecologically sustainable service and live as much as possible off their land.
A native of Chicago, Jennifer, known as Jenn, is a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University with a Master of Business Administration from North Park University. She moved to Rome in 2015 and is self-employed as an operations management consultant and real estate manager. Over the past two years, Jennifer has worked to update the AWAR website, social media and database. She hopes to continue that work while incorporating the AWAR traditions and values that mean so much to the members. Jennifer previously served three terms as AWAR's president.
To be announced
Honorary President, U.S. Ambassador to Italy, to be announced