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.

Christopher Vicari

Educational technologist
 Specialized in implementing and evaluating technology in educational environments, Chris Vicari focuses his teaching on game development for social good, education, and mental health.

Esi Valbona

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.

Gabrielle Doré

Graduate Assistant
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 Lisa Betty (with the Bronx African American History Project) Rafique Louison Alexandra Ponti Louis Santelli III Gabrielle Doré 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 Consultants: 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