Who Are We?

Lavinia Bracci, Founder and Director

School of Translation and Interpreting (SSIT), Rome: Specialized degree in Translation and Simultaneous Interpreting in German and Russian. Università degli Studi di Siena, four year course in Portuguese Language. Università per Stranieri di Siena, Specialization in Glotto-technologies and Glotto-didactics. Lavinia has most recently co-authored a text on the FICCS (Full-Immersion: Culture Content and Service) instructional approach that she has developed with the core team of instructors at SIS for the development of reflective intercultural competence entitled L'educazione riflessiva interculturale: L'approccio FICCS allo studio della lingua e cultura italiana. She has also published several articles on language learning, as well as an Italian language text called Dimmi Tutto!, She co-founded and co-directed the StudyinSiena Program, and is founder and director of Siena Italian Studies and the International Center for Intercultural Exchange.

Fiora Biagi

Università degli Studi di Siena: M.A. in Foreign Languages and Literature. PhD in Linguistics from the University of Siena. Fiora holds the DITALS specialization in teaching Italian as a second language from the Universita per Stranieri di Siena. She has worked as a Professor at the Università per Stranieri of Siena as well as an Italian/English translator. She has most recently co-authored a text on the FICCS instructional approach called L'educazione riflessiva interculturale: L'approccio FICCS allo studio della lingua e cultura italiana and currently teaches Italian language at Siena Italian Studies.

Marianna Bolognesi

PhD in Applied Linguistics from a consortium between the Universities of Torino, Basel, and London. She also holds a M.A. in Applied and Computational Linguistics (University of Pavia). Her research interests are: cognitive linguistics, bilingualism and modeling of the mental lexicon. She has most recently co-authored a text on the FICCS instructional approach called L'educazione riflessiva interculturale: L'approccio FICCS allo studio della lingua e cultura italiana and currently teaches Italian language at Siena Italian Studies.

Nevin C. Brown

University of Virginia, M.A. in American Southern History, University of California Santa Barbara B.A . in History. Nevin Brown has built an extensive career with educational organizations in the Washington D.C area such as the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC), the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE), The Education Trust, and District of Columbia Public Schools. He has most recently worked as Dean of Academic Programs and President of the International Partnership for Service-Learning and Leadership, and as Senior Fellow in Postsecondary Initiatives at Achieve. Nevin has published numerous articles regarding higher education, global civic engagement and service-learning. At the IC he acts as a Senior Fellow, contributing to the development of IC initiatives regarding intercultural exchange.

Alfonso Casella

Università degli Studi di Siena: Degree in Law with specialization on the History of the Italian Legal System. In addition to teaching, Alfonso works as a journalist for a local newspaper. Alfonso currently works for the University of Siena and has worked for the European Parliament in France. In 2007 he published a novel entitled Cicoria, which has received critical acclaim.

Elena Cellai

Università degli Studi di Siena: Masters Degree with Honors in Political Sciences with a concentration in History of International Relations and European Integration. Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali di Roma: Post-graduate course in Management of European projects. In addition to teaching, Elena works as manager of EU co-funded projects for several public bodies and private entities of Southern Tuscany.

Antonella Filippone

Universita degli Studi di Siena: M.A. in Modern Letters with a Modern Languages focus. Antonella holds the DITALS specialization in teaching Italian as a second language from the Universita per Stranieri di Siena. She is President of the Associazione Culturale Ulisse. She worked as a professor at the Universita per Stranieri di Siena for more than a decade. Antonella has most recently co-authored a text on the FICCS instructional approach called L'educazione riflessiva interculturale: L'approccio FICCS allo studio della lingua e cultura italiana and has published several articles along with the Italian language text, Dimmi Tutto!.

Alfredo Gatti

Università Commerciale "L. Bocconi" di Milano: M.A. in Business Administration. Chartered Accountant (Albo Dottori Commercialisti di Milano) and Registered Auditor (Revisore Ufficiale dei Conti iscritto all'Albo Ministero Grazia e Giustizia). Alfredo has an extensive experience of Treasury and Capital Market products gained with Citibank, one of the world's largest and global Corporate and Investment Banks. He has also strong technical accounting skills and deep working knowledge of Back Office and Accounting systems gained in Caboto (IntesaSanPaolo Group), one of the leading Italian Investment Banks. Alfredo is now Group Finance Controller at the Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the third largest banking group in Italy.

Antonio Giorgi

Università degli Studi di Siena: M.A. in Law with specialization in Bankruptcy Law. Antonio spent many years working with Sienese Agricultural Commission and then for the Studio Notarile Coppini, where he specialized in inheritance law. For the International Center he serves as a financial and legal consultant. Antonio currently acts as an administrative consultant for various International Education structures and is also a founding member and Treasurer for the Associazione Culturale Ulisse.

Giulia Grosso

Università per Stranieri di Siena, M.A. in Linguistics & Intercultural Communication, with a didactic focus. Giulia holds the DITALS specialization in teaching Italian as a second language from the Università per Stranieri di Siena. She works as an Italian L2 teacher for immigrants at the Associazione Corte dei Miracoli of Siena, in primary and secondary schools of Siena. She works as well as member of the Coordinamento of the Italian teachers at the Scuola di Lingua e Cultura Italiana per Cittadini Immigrati located at the Corte dei Miracoli Association, where she has also authored and run the project for immigrant women, "Lingua e cittadinanza per donne immigrate" for the last two years, and has co -authored the project "Scuola di Cittadinanza" during last year.

Johan Jonsson

Violinist and Professor of Music at Montana State University in Bozeman. Holds degrees from Conservatoire Darius Milhaud, France; Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, Sweden; and Indiana University. Active as recitalist and chamber musician in both Europe and the US. Founding member of the String Orchestra of the Rockies, a professional, conductor-less ensemble in Montana. Has led semester-abroad programs to Siena with US university students since 2001. In addition to English and Italian, he also speaks Swedish and French fluently. Johan is the founder of the Tuscany Arts Consortium and currently directs the Tuscany Arts and Humanities Semester in Italy, hosted at the International Center for Intercultural Exchange.

Roni Kennison

State University of New York at Geneseo: B.A. in History. Roni is a founding partner of Nove Culturae Ventures LLC, based in Avon New York, which collaborates with the International Center for Intercultural Exchange at Siena, as well as Siena Italian Studies to organize study experiences in Siena. After more than a decade in Siena, she is currently based in the U.S. and acts as Director of Marketing and Recruiting and North American Representative for the International Center and Siena Italian Studies. Roni also works as a freelance translator and is a founding member of the Associazione Culturale Ulisse, a Sienese association that works to promote volunteerism and service.

Marco LaPorta

Marco is a student at the Università di Siena. He has collaborated with Siena Italian Studies at the International Center for several years in various capacities. He leads excursions and serves as an liaison between the American students and the local community. Marco also directs the Language Exchange Partner Program and coordinates the various exchange activities between American and Italian university students.

Michael Manchester

Lewis and Clark College: B.A. in Communications. Michael is the Vice-President and a founding member of the Associazione Culturale Ulisse and coordinates service-learning projects in collaboration with the International Center for Intercultural Exchange, and Siena Italian Studies. He has worked as the English Program Coordinator for the Siena public kindergartens for four years as well as interpreter for the AC Siena professional soccer team. Michael is also a founding partner of Nove Culturae Ventures, LLC, based in Avon, New York, which collaborates with the International Center for Intercultural Exchange to organize study experiences in Siena.

Cecilia Mori

Università degli Studi di Siena: Degree in Foreign Languages and Literatures (specialization in Literary Philology). Her thesis was published on the writer Nikolas Leskov and the culture of the icon in the history of the Russian-Orthodox church. She also has a degree from the Istituto Superiore di Scienze Religiose with a thesis that focuses on means of social communication. In addition to teaching, she has worked for many years as a journalist. Cecilia has published numerous articles and essays regarding the culture and history of Christianity and literature.

Eliza Nash

Mount Holyoke College: B.A. in Art History, Master from the Università degli Studi di Siena in Oenogastronomic Tourism and Marketing. Eliza, along with Roni Kennison and Mike Manchester, is a founding partner of Nove Culturae Ventures LLC, based in Avon New York, which collaborates with the International Center for Intercultural Exchange as well as Siena Italian Studies to organize study experiences in Siena. She worked as a student affairs coordinator for six years with the University of California's Education Abroad Program in Siena. At the IC she currently serves as a Program Coordinator and works on the development and implementation of future study programs. Eliza is also a founding member of the Associazione Culturale Ulisse.

Jules Martin Bella Owona

Università per Stranieri di Siena, Degree in teaching of Italian Language and Culture, B.A. in Bilingual Studies French/English and M.A. in English Language Studies (University of Yaounde, Cameroon). In Cameroon, Jules has taught in an international school and has worked as translator for a joint venture between a local company and a South African one. He's a certified examiner for the proficiency test for Italian language of the Università per Stranieri of Siena (Certificazione di Italiano come Lingua Seconda, CILS). He got involved with the International Center by completing an teaching internship program and a FICCS teacher training course. Today Jules teaches Reflective Writing, Italian, and Religion and Culture in Italy at Siena Italian Studies and directs the International Center’s newest program Siena Italian Studies for China. Jules Martin Bella Owonais among the EUFICCS project teachers actively contributing to the theoretical elaboration of many key concepts. As a teacher mediator for the Reflective Writing course, Jules is also part of the RICA team, which is a working group dedicated to the reflective intercultural competence assessment research.

Juan Carlos Ruiz-Coll

Juan Carlos is originally from Venezuela, moved to the United States, and has been living in Italy since 2010. During his studies at The Ohio State University, he came as a student to SIS in 2009. He is currently pursuing a M.A. in linguistics and cognitive studies at the UniversitĂ  degli Studi di Siena.

As the SIS Program Coordinator, he is in charge of organizing activities, setting the course schedule, dealing with academic credit transfer, and serving as the main liaison between SIS and the students’ home institutions.

Carlo Tozzi

Carlo is currently finishing his degree in Italian Cinema and Cinematographic Production at the Università degli Studi di Siena. He has collaborated with the Siena Italian Studies Program for several years on numerous activities in the cinematographic field. Carlo has directed two documentaries in collaboration with SIS. The first in 2006, "Ricordati che eri stranieri", focused on the immigrant population in the city of Siena and the second in 2010, "Aquí me quedo", is a work in progress and was filmed entirely in Ecuador and focuses on the Italian migration to that nation. Carlo is involved in Italian Cinema courses and also helps manage the Italian Language Exchange program. He has worked on many Italian short films ("La marea silenzionsa", 2010, "Due di Tre", Stefano Lodovichi 2009) and on international films such as "Letters To Juliet", 2010. His short film, "Incisioni" 2008, was a finalist in numerous national film festivals.

Estela Castañeda

Universidad del Valle de Atemajac, Degree in Mass Communication, Translation and Interpretation. Estela is a co-founder of the Global Mother Divine Foundation of Guayaquil, Ecuador (Maharishi Transcendental Meditation Knowledge) and alumna of Siena Italian Studies. She currently acts as the Central American fellow for the International Center for Intercultural Exchange.