Leadership Roles

Executive Board Officers

Jennifer Landini - President

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 is looking forward to serving AWAR again as President.

Kate McElwee - First Vice President

Kate is Executive Director of the nonprofit advocacy organization Women’s Ordination Conference, where she has worked since 2011. She earned her B.A. in Religion and a Certificate in Buddhist Studies from Mount Holyoke College and an M.A. in International Human Rights Law from SOAS in London. Kate and her husband, Joshua,  moved from Washington, D.C., to Rome in 2014. They are both members of the parish council of the Caravita Catholic Community. Kate loves to jog around Rome, travel everywhere she can, and seek out Italy’s best vegetable and accidentally vegan dishes. An AWAR member since 2014, Kate has previously served two terms as Second Vice-President. 

Melissa Cicci - Secretary

A native of the East Coast, Melissa and her husband had been living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, when they decided, in 2017, to move to Rome. Originally a one- year plan, three years later they are happily still in Rome. She has been an AWAR member since 2018, and is currently Deputy Editor of the Forum. Melissa earned a B.A. in Spanish Language and Literature and an M.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University. She worked for several years in the international trade field before spending time at home with her two children (now 25 and 28). For the past 10+ years, Melissa has been a travel advisor and tour director for both private clients and affinity organizations (museums, university alumni, cultural societies), with an emphasis on Western Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Persian Gulf. 

Committee Chairs

Mary B. Handley - Membership 
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.
Maureen Fant - Forum Editor

Maureen Fant 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).


Claudia Lazzarini - Fact Forum

Claudia Lazzarini was born in Fiume, now part of Croatia. She grew up in Genoa and Chicago where she lived for ten years. She attended the Art Institute of Chicago and she has a master degree from the Academy of Fine Art in Rome. She has studied fresco for four years at the Scuola di Arti e Decorazioni Rome.

She is a multimedia artist who works in her studio in Rome. At the moment she is working on a collection of jewellery.


Antonella Di Donato- Sustaining Member Chair

Antonella is the founder and partner of EvenBetter, a consulting company that provides marketing services in the sector of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods. With a master’s in business administration from Luiss University, Rome, Antonella has worked for more than 30 years in multinational companies (Johnson & Johnson, Colgate, Unilever) in many markets and places. She ended her 20-year tenure at Unilever as Global Vice President of Innovation, after a long experience in marketing. She has a passion for leading multidisciplinary teams across complex strategic challenges, where innovation plays an important role to step up brand competitiveness and outrun competition. She likes cooking, photography, music, and meeting different cultures (she loves Africa). As a person she is curious, talkative, and opinionated, but always with a smile.

Catherine Tondelli - General Meeting Chair

Catherine grew up in Chicago with 10 brothers and sisters (6 brothers and 4 sisters!) She lived in San Diego for 8 years before moving to London to accept the director of marketing position at a global architectural firm before moving to Rome. She came to Rome like many of us for “amore”. Her story is written in her book entitled “Three coins in the fountain” which recounts how after winning a company trip to Italy she brings her mom and meets her Roman husband at the magical Trevi fountain.

She has over 25 years of experience working in the hotel industry including experience in Revenue management, sales and marketing, advertising sales, marketing and PR for various multinational companies. As chair of the monthly meetings she is looking forward to using some of her contacts to help secure interesting places for the AWAR monthly meetings.

A graduate of Northeastern University, BA in business and communication she has had chair positions with associations such as Africare , Impact, Network of Women in Hospitality, and many others.

She lives in the EUR area with her husband and two Siamese cats. Joined AWAR in 2005. She enjoys cooking, golf, tennis and music.

Hilde Niggemann-Purcella - FAWCO Representative

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.

Hilde joined AWAR last year. She was born in Frankfurt, Germany and is married to an Italian. They have one child who is thirty-three years old.

Annual Appointments

Emanuela Dossi - Community Services 

Emanuela Dossi was born in Turin and has lived in Nigeria, Pakistan, Taiwan and India with her parents. She holds a degree in Italian Literature and Philosophy, and different stages about American Literature from Rutgers University. Emanuela is multilingual, speaking English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. From 1969, Emanuela worked for Alitalia Airlines, and later as freelance translator and interpreter for international organizations in Rome and the European Union.

In addition, she has worked as P.R. and fashion consulting for Italian designers such as Laura Biagiotti, Ratti and Brioni. She earned her Professional Sommelier Certificate 1997 from Associazione Italiana Sommeliers (AIS). She obtained certification from Associazione Volontari Ospedalieri in 1998 and then served for almost 10 years at Bambin Gesù Hospital and Padre Pio Bracciano Hospital. At present, she is part of the Board of A.V.O.G. (Associazione Volontari Ospedalieri Gemelli) and serving in the Oncological and Emergency Department at the Policlinico Gemelli in Rome. She his honored to be made Community Service Chair for the second time.


Dorothy Dowling - Historian

Dorothy came to Italy as a young woman, met and married Enrico Scillia and made the decision to live here in Rome.  Dorothy originally hails from New York City, a graduate of Strayer Junior College in Washington D.C. and took Bachelor’s courses at Hunter College of New York. 

Over the years she worked for a number of multinational companies and retired from her position as legal secretary and special events planner in a multinational law firm.  Dorothy is now free to spend time on her interests in traveling, archaeology and free-lancing as a translator.

Dorothy has held the position of AWAR First President, Data Base Coordinator and was President for two terms.


Shannon McCarthy - Parliamentarian, Constitution and Bylaws

Shannon has lived and worked abroad for over twenty years. She joined the AWAR in 2008 and has volunteered her time as an AWAR committee member for three Charity Gala Events and held AWAR Board positions of President (twice),  2nd Vice President (twice),  the FAWCO Representative, and Chair of the 2015 Eternal Woman: Equality, Protection, Empowerment FAWCO Biennial Conference in Rome. Shannon is originally from Santa Clara, California.




Gianna Succi - Social Media Chair

Gianna was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She completed her B.A. in linguistics from Temple University and her M.S. in Global and international education from Drexel University. The focus of her career is in international student admissions and recruitment. In 2017 she moved to Rome to continue her work In the field of international education. Gianna is also a wine lover and photography enthusiast.




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Honorary  Members

Lewis Eisenberg, Honorary President, U.S. Ambassador to Italy


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