Our Team

The Bronx Italian American History Initiative is curated by a dedicated team of Fordham University professors and student assistants interested in the field of oral histories and digital humanities.

Kathleen LaPenta, Ph.D.


Senior Lecturer in Italian at Fordham University, Kathleen LaPenta is a co-principal investigator and director of the BIAHI who focuses her research on modern Italian culture, diaspora studies, Italian American identity and representation as well as memory at the intersection of literature and cinema.

Jacqueline Reich, Ph.D.


Dean of the School of Communication and the Arts at Marist College, Jacqueline Reich is a co-principal investigator on the BIAHI who has written and published widely on Italian American cinema and culture and lectured on early twentieth-century physical culture in the United States and Italy.

Mark Naison, Ph.D.

Director of BAAHP

Founder of the Bronx African American History Project (BAAHP), one of the largest community based oral history projects in the nation, Mark Naison has brought his research into many schools, Bronx based cultural organizations and NGOs. 


Graduate Assistant

 Graduate student of Public Media Strategic Communication at Fordham University in Lincoln Center. Esi Valbona graduated from Fordham University in May 2021, and her major was Communication. She is currently working for an Insurance Company and taking part in the BIAHI project.


Graduate Assitant

Graduate student in Strategic Communication at Fordham’s PMMA program, Gabrielle Doré graduated from Fordham University in May 2021 with a degree in Culture & Communications. With her Bronx Italian American heritage to inform her work, Gabrielle is working to expand BIAHI’s research into the food culture.

Undergraduate Student Researchers:

Carolyn Wiedenhoft

Past Graduate Student Assistants:

Desislava Stoeva

Rachel Meyer

Esi Valbona 

Gabrielle Doré

Lisa Betty (with the Bronx African American History Project)

Rafique Louison

Alexandra Ponti

Louis Santelli III

Past Undergraduate Student Assistants:

Juliana Esoldi

Kraig Puccia

Aly Rini (with the Bronx African American History Project)

Sarah Cavanagh

Gabrielle Di Meglio

Administrative Support:

Michelle O’Dwyer – Budget and Administrative Support


Timothy de Ganon

Katherina Fostano

Tobias Hrynick

Where to find us?


441 E Fordham Rd, The Bronx

New York NY 10458

Email requests

For all media inquiries: 
Desislava Stoeva, dstoeva@fordham.edu

For oral history interviews:
Kathleen LaPenta, klapenta@fordham.edu

For fundraising:
Jacqueline Reich, jreich8@fordham.edu

For photo archive questions:
Rachel Meyer, rmeyer15@fordham.edu

Support the BIAHI