Speakers 2016

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Nancy Albin

Co-founder of Los Angeles Habilitation House (LAHH). Currently, Ms. Nancy Albin is providing vision, management, and leadership in the major corporate economic strategies, objectives, and policies for LAHH, overseeing accounting, budgeting, tax, treasury, administrative functions, and automation efforts. With over nine years of combined experience in corporate balance sheet audits with a Big 4 Accounting Firm and financial budgeting, forecasting, and analysis for a Fortune 500 Company that is a leader in family entertainment, Nancy is excited to bring her talents and experience to LAHH and focus all of her energies on fulfilling its mission. 


Jackie Aldrette

Jackie Aldrette is the Managing Director for AVSI-USA, the liaison office for AVSI Foundation in the United States. Jackie also serves as the Focal Point for USG Relations for the entire AVSI network, including local partners present in 30 countries around the world. Jackie has served as New Business Program Manager for AVSI-USA for the past 10 years, supporting AVSI’s efforts to diversify funding sources and build a foundation of strategic partnerships with USG donor agencies, international financial institutions, foundations, individuals and universities.


Marc Beauchamp, M.D. 

Marc Beauchamp, M.D.FRCSC, is an orthopedic surgeon who owns and runs a private orthopedic clinic in Montreal called ExceptionMD.

He completed his residency at the Université de Montreal in 1993 and his fellowship in 1995 at the University of Toronto. He was assistant professor of surgery at the Université de Montreal from 1996 to 2005, and his main interest is in upper extremity reconstruction and arthroscopy.

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Rose Marie Beebe

Rose Marie Beebe is Professor of Spanish Literature and Robert Senkewicz is Professor of History at Santa Clara University. They are the translators, editors, and annotators of Testimonios: Early California through the Eyes of Women: 1815-1848(2006). They are the co-editors of Lands of Promise and Despair: Chronicles of Early California, 1535-1846 (2001) as well as the translators, editors, and annotators of The History of Alta California by Antonio María Osio (1996), which received the Norman Neuerburg Award from the Historical Society of Southern California.


James Biber

James Biber has practiced architecture in a multi-disciplinary environment for more than 25 years. Trained at Cornell University first as a biologist, then as an architect, his work centers on a belief that architecture as an expression of identity is inseparable from its language of form and tectonics. The result is an architecture tied closely to its context; whether physical, cultural or metaphorical.

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Lindsay Blakely

Lindsay Blakely is a senior editor at Inc., based in Los Angeles. Previously she was a senior editor at CBS Interactive and before that she was a reporter for Business 2.0 magazine.

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Chris Blattman

Chris Blattman is Associate Professor of Political Science & International Affairs at Columbia University. He studies why some people and societies are poor, violent and unequal, and what (if anything) aid or governments can do about it. He works principally in sub-Saharan Africa, especially Liberia, Uganda, and Ethiopia.


Andrew Bloch

Andrew Bloch is a founding partner of Human, one of the most highly regarded and successful music and sound design production companies in advertising today. Since opening its doors in 2001, Human has garnered numerous awards from Cannes Lions, LIA, Clio Awards, AICP, D&AD, the International Andy Awards, ADDY Awards, International Awards, First Boards Awards, and critical praise from all corners of the industry. An active composer, creative director and managing partner, Andy has been involved in the production of thousands of commercials and long form dramatic projects for television and film.

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David Bloom

David Bloom is founding co-artistic director of Contemporaneous, a New York-based ensemble of 21 musicians dedicated to performing the most exciting music of the present moment, and recently lauded in New York Times for a “ferocious, focused performance.” A devoted advocate for new music, he regularly works with living composers to bring new and recent works to life.

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Francesco Boin

Dr. Francesco Boin is Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the Scleroderma Center at the University of California San Francisco.

Dr. Boin received his M.D. degree from the University of Padova Medical School (Italy). He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota) and a post-doctoral fellowship in clinical and experimental rheumatology at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryland). He has been Director of the Translational Research program at the Johns Hopkins Scleroderma Center for a decade before joining UCSF. Dr. Boin’s research has been focusing on the genetic basis and biology of immune cells involved with autoimmune diseases. He has been involved with teaching and mentoring medical students, residents and post-doctoral fellows throughout his academic career.


Carolina Brito

Carolina Brito is currently the Dean of Curriculum and Instruction at Cristo Rey Boston High School, a high-performing inner city college preparatory school in Dorchester, MA. She works as part of a team that follows 375 high-risk, highly-resilient young people towards their dreams of receiving acceptances from four-year colleges across the country. For the past six years, they have reached the goal with 100% of their graduating seniors. 


Peter John Cameron

Father Peter John Cameron, O.P. was ordained a Dominican priest in 1986. In addition to his work as Editor-in-Chief of Magnificat, he is the chairman of the department of homiletics at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, New York, and the artistic director of Blackfriars Repertory Theatre in New York City. He is the author of ten books.

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Paolo Carozza

Paolo G. Carozza is the director of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and professor of law and concurrent professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame. His research centers on comparative constitutional law, human rights law, the role of law in development, and international law. Among his recent publications is “Human Rights, Human Dignity, and Human Experience,” in Understanding Human Dignity, (Christopher McCrudden, ed., Oxford University Press, 2013). 


Julian Carron

Called by Father Giussani to share in the responsibility of the leadership of the Movement, Father Julián Carrón has been President of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation since March 19, 2005, and Ecclesiastical Assistant to the Memores Domini since May 13, 2005.


Maura Kate Costello

Maura Kate Costello is currently pursuing a PhD in English Literature at the University of Maryland in College Park. In particular, she wants to look at the intersection of literature and science in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Before graduate school, she taught high school English and math and hopes to continue her teaching career in the university classroom once she has earned her doctoral degree.

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Timothy Dusenbury

Timothy Dusenbury (b. 1982) studied music composition with Howard Frazin at Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA. He received an MA in Liturgical Music from St. John’s School of Theology • Seminary in Collegeville, MN, where he studied with Brian Campbell and Robert LeBlanc. Recent collaborations include works for the NIH Community Orchestra (2013), The National Catholic Youth Choir (2014), and Trio d’Amis (2015). He is a regular contributor for the WordSong Project in Boston and Washington, D.C. He and his family live in Falls Church, VA, where he teaches music and serves as organist and music director at St. Philip Catholic Church. 

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Cristiano Ferrario

Dr. Ferrario graduated in 2001 and completed his residency in Medical Oncology in 2005 at the University of Milan, Italy.

After a period of training at the Istituto Nazionale Tumori  in Milan, Dr Ferrario moved to Montreal (Canada) to work as a visiting scientist in basic research at the Lady Davis Institute for two years. 


Jonathan Fields

Jonathan Fields is a composer, music teacher and lecturer who in his career has explored many regions of the musical world. After graduating first in his class from Mannes College of Music in 1981, he joined David Horowitz Music Associates, one of the leading commercial music production companies in the world, and has been an award-winning composer of over a thousand television and radio spots.

Peter Fields

Peter Fields graduated from Xaverian High School in 2015, and was accepted into the Groves School of Engineering and Macaulay Honors Program both at The City College of New York, where he now majors in chemical engineering. He currently lives at home with his parents and two siblings and is a writer for his weekly online student newspaper.


Naomi Genuard

Naomi Genuard is a wife and mother. She catechizes young children following the method of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at her local parish.  Naomi resides in Brooklyn, NY with her family.

Abigail Holtz

Abigail Holtz studied English Literature and Italian language at the University of Maryland. Immediately after graduation, she began an internship with AVSIteaching English at the Cardinal Otunga High school in Nairobi, Kenya. After the internship was complete, she continued teaching, but this time at the K-12 school Colegio International Kolbe, in Madrid, Spain. After a year she returned to the D.C. area to pursue a master in Education and has been teaching full time at a local public high school for the past three years. Ms. Holtz has also seen AVSI's activities  in Quito Ecuador where her sister, Sarah Holtz, works.

Tom Jones

Thomas D. Jones, PhD*, is a scientist, author, pilot, and veteran NASA astronaut. In more than eleven years with NASA, he flew on four space shuttle missions to Earth orbit. On his last flight, Dr. Jones led three spacewalks to install the centerpiece of the International Space Station, the American Destiny laboratory. He has spent fifty-three days working and living in space.

After graduation from the Air Force Academy, Tom piloted B-52D strategic bombers, earned a doctorate in planetary sciences from the University of Arizona, studied asteroids for NASA, engineered intelligence-gathering systems for the CIA, and helped NASA develop advanced mission concepts to explore the solar system. More...

Joakim Koech

Joakim Koech is the principal of Cardinal Maurice Otunga High School in Nairobi, Kenya. Founded in 2005 and further developed with the help of the Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI), the school aims to develop students’ awareness of themselves as human beings, with a particular focus on needy students who would not otherwise have access to schooling. Koech has spent 16 years as a teacher, coach, and deputy principal. The former chair of the Cardinal Otunga Charitable Trust and the co-editor of Reality and Education, he has been involved with AVSI capacity building for secondary school teachers and principals. He holds a Master's in Education in curriculum studies from the University of Nairobi.

Priscilla La Porte

Priscilla is a Guidance Counselor at a high school committed to educating and transforming students into young women of competence, compassion, and commitment in a Catholic Felician-Franciscan tradition of leadership and service. She received a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Delaware, and an M.A. in Counseling from Montclair State University. 

Margaret Laracy

Margaret Laracy

Margaret Laracy, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist with an undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame and a doctorate in clinical psychology from the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, where she wrote her dissertation on the role of beauty in psychotherapy. She trained in community-based and hospital settings and is currently in full-time practice at Vital Sources, LLC in Frederick, MD. She has taught at several institutes of higher learning and is an adjunct faculty member at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family and at the Mount Saint Mary's Seminary.

Maurizio Maniscalco

Maurizio Maniscalco

President of New York Encounter. Mr. Maurizio (Riro) Maniscalco has been playing music and writing songs since the age of 10, while studying first and then working in human resources. Though born and raised in Italy, Mr. Maniscalco has been living in New York City with his family since 1994. A self-taught guitarist and percussionist, and a skilled singer and talented song-writer, Mr. Maniscalco throughout the years has developed a deep love for the blues—a music he knows thoroughly and performs in a very passionate way. He has recorded 3 albums with the Bay Ridge Band and one – Blues and Mercy – with his friend Jonathan Fields. He is also one of the authors of Educating through Music.

Msgr. Ronald Marino

Msgr. Ronald Marino, Episcopal Vicar for Migrant and Ethnic Apostolates of the Diocese of Brooklyn, NY has over 25 years of experience working for immigrants in the Catholic Migration Office of the Brooklyn Diocese of which he served as Director for 17 years. He was ordained a priest in 1973 after having obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from Cathedral College in Douglaston, NY and a Master of Divinity Degree from Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, NY. He continued his post graduate studies and obtained a Master's of Science in Education (Counseling) from St. John’s University in NY. In 1994, he founded Resources, Inc. a nationally recognized job opportunity program for immigrants. He is frequently called upon to speak on immigrant pastoral issues both nationally and internationally.

Maria Elena Monzani

Maria Elena Monzani received her PhD from University of Milano and University of Paris 7, working on Solar Neutrinos. She was a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Columbia University in New York, before moving to the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in 2007. Her research field is astroparticle physics, which focuses on issues at the intersection between particle physics and astrophysics/cosmology. Her main research interest involves the search for Dark Matter, which makes up for most of the mass of the Universe but has an unknown origin and composition. As a member of the LUX-Zeplin collaboration, she is building a new multi-ton Dark Matter detector to be installed in the former Homestake mine in South Dakota. She also leads the Science Operations Team for the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope. Dr. Monzani is very passionate about science outreach and education: she has collaborated to several science exhibits with the Euresis association and most recently she was the instructor for the "Nature of the Universe" course at Stanford University.

Archbishop Amel Nona

Archbishop Amel Nona was born November 1, 1967 in Aqlosh – Nineveh, Iraq. He was ordained a priest on January 11, 1991 in Baghdad. From 2000 – 2005 he studied in Rome, and from 2005 – 2010 he served as a parish priest in Alqosh. On January 8, 2010, he was ordained a bishop. He served as Archbishop of the Mosul Chaldean archeparchy (archdiocese) from 2010 – 2014. On March 7, 2015, he was appointed the Bishop of St. Thomas Chaldean eparchy (diocese) of Australia & New Zealand.

Archbishop Nona received his PhD in Theological Anthropology in 2005 from the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome. He is the author of many books, including: The Word of God in the Story of People (2007), 100 Questions About Love (2008), Meditations on Liturgical Prayer of Chaldean Rite (2011), Via Cruces (2012), and Family and Society (2013).

Seán Cardinal O’Malley

His Eminence Seán Cardinal Patrick O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., was born June 29, 1944 in Lakewood, Ohio, and was raised in Western Pennsylvania, where he entered a Franciscan seminary. At 21, he was professed into the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin and at 26 he was ordained a Catholic priest. After earning a master’s degree in religious education and a Ph.D. in Spanish and Portuguese literature from the Catholic University of America, he taught at Catholic University and founded Centro Católico Hispano (Hispanic Catholic Center) in Washington, DC, an organization which provided educational, medical and legal help to immigrants.

Since his ordination to the episcopacy on August 2, 1984, he has served as the Bishop of the dioceses of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands; Fall River, Massachusetts; and Palm Beach, Florida. Pope John Paul II appointed him Archbishop of Boston in July 2003. Pope Benedict XVI named him a Cardinal in 2006.

Giulio Piscitelli

Giulio Piscitelli (b. 1981, Napoli),  earned a degree in Communication Studies, approached photography in 2008, and after graduation began working with Italian and foreign news agencies (AFP, Controlucepix). He collaborated with the historical photo archive Parisio of Naples, as post producer of images and archivist until 2010. More...

Fr. Pier Battista Pizzaballa, OFM

Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM was appointed Custos of the Holy Land for the first time in May of 2004, for a period of six years, and reconfirmed by the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor in May of 2010 for another three-year term.

Born on April 21, 1965, in Cologno al Serio in the diocese and province of Bergamo, he began formation with the friars of the province of Emilia Romagna, to which he still juridically belongs. He was ordained a priest on September 15, 1990, and entered into effective service of the Custody of the Holy Land in 1999. Upon completion of philosophical and theological studies, he received a bachelor's degree in theology on June 19, 1990, from the Pontifical University Antonianum in Rome. He completed his studies of specialization at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Jerusalem, obtaining his license in biblical theology on June 21, 1993, and afterward received his master's degree from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He was a professor of modern Hebrew at the Franciscan Faculty of Biblical and Archeological Sciences in Jerusalem, and has done pastoral work with the Hebrew-speaking faithful for the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Jeffrey Sachs

Jeffrey D. Sachs is the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals, having held the same position under former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He is Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. More...

Stephen Sanchez

Stephen Sanchez is originally from El Paso, TX but lives with his wife in Brooklyn. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a major in Philosophy and Government and is currently pursuing a Masters in Educational Leadership at Fordham University. He was a teacher and Pastoral Youth Director for thirteen years and more recently served as the Founding Director of ComUnidad Juan Diego, an educational, pastoral, and social services initiative for Latin American immigrants in the Archdiocese of New York. He is currently a first year principal at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel - St. Benedicta Catholic School on Staten Island.

Robert Senkewicz

Robert Senkewicz is Professor of History at Santa Clara University and Rose Marie Beebe is Professor of Spanish Literature. They are the translators, editors, and annotators of Testimonios: Early California through the Eyes of Women: 1815-1848 (2006). They are the co-editors of Lands of Promise and Despair: Chronicles of Early California, 1535-1846 (2001) as well as the translators, editors, and annotators of The History of Alta California by Antonio María Osio (1996), which received the Norman Neuerburg Award from the Historical Society of Southern California. They also jointly edited Guide to the Manuscripts Concerning Baja California in the Collections of The Bancroft Library (2002). Their latest volume is Junípero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary (University of Oklahoma Press, 2015).   They have received numerous teaching and scholarship awards at Santa Clara University. They have also received awards from The Bancroft Library, the Historical Society of Southern California, the California Mission Studies Association, and the California Council for the Promotion of History.

Valerie Smaldone

Valerie Smaldone is a 5-time Billboard Magazine Award winner and is well known for her unprecedented success holding the #1 on-air position in the New York radio market. She has hosted, produced and created several nationally syndicated programs featuring in-depth interviews with top recording artists such as Paul McCartney, Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, Elton John and Mariah Carey, among others. Having interviewed hundreds of celebrities, performers and entrepreneurs, she is an accomplished interviewer who is always interested in procuring each individual’s unique story. More...

Dario Snaidero

Dario Snaidero, President and CEO of Snaidero USA, was born on March 13, 1953 in Majano, Italy.

 The son of Snaidero R. S.p.A founder Rino Snaidero, he studied at the University of Trieste and served as the President of the Snaidero Basketball Team, distinguishing himself as the youngest leader in the league. In 1979, he earned a Doctorate in Political Science, with honors, from the University, and immediately joined his fathers company as an executive manager in charge of international marketing. More...

Roberto Snaidero

Roberto Snaidero

Born in Majano, in the province of Udine, in 1948. Degree in Economics and Commerce from the Università degli Studi of Trieste.

He began his professional career in 1973 as President of Lamborghini Spa, a manufacturer of skis and sportswear. More...

Joshua Stancil

Joshua Stancil is currently a candidate for a B.A. degree in English at Arizona State University. His writings have appeared in Magnificat and Traces, and most recently he contributed to the Magnificat Year of Mercy Companion, available from Ignatius Press.

Marcie Stokman

Marcie Stokman is the founder of Well-Read Mom. She writes and speaks to encourage women. She homeschools and teaches high school literature and writing. Marcie and her husband Peter live in Crosby, MN. They have seven children and six grandchildren.

Margaret Stokman

Margaret Stokman is a high school senior living in Crosby, MN and one of seven children. Growing up is often reduced to jumping through endless hoops, but as a part of the Human Adventure Series this year Margaret will share how reading the classic Frankenstein changed the way she works and studies.


Peter Stokman

Cardiologist, Minneapolis Heart Institute, Crosby

Evelyn Troester Degraf

Evelyn Troester Degraf

Evelyn Troester DeGraf (Founder and Artistic Director of GHOSTLIGHT) is an internationally accomplished musical director, choral conductor, and music educator. Originally from Germany, Evelyn received her Masters degree with a dual concentration in performance and music education at the renowned University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich in 2005. She is currently a Doctoral Candidate and Teaching Assistant at Columbia University’s prestigious Teachers College. More...

Christopher Vath

Christopher Vath was born in New Orleans and attended North Texas State University, where he received a Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance with Joseph Banowetz.

After doing graduate studies at the Julliard School in New York with Martin Canin, he resided in Italy, where he worked as a solo pianist, chamber musician, and chamber music teacher. On his return to the US, he started teaching piano and working as the music director/choir director at a church in New York City, activities that continue today. He has worked as composer, arranger, and pianist in the field of commercial music (VISA, Mercedes Benz, Anderson Consulting) and co-written music for two film scores, as well as incidental music for the theatrical production The Sacrament of Memory.

Two of his choral arrangements are published by World Library Publications. He gave solo recitals at Carnegie Hall in New York in 2005 and 2006. In 2005, in addition to his Carnegie Hall debut, he gave a private performance for Pope Benedict XVI at the papal summer residence.

Giorgio Vittadini

Giorgio Vittadini

President, Foundation for Subsidiarity
Professor of Statistics, University of Milan Bicocca, Italy

Giorgio Vittadini is the Founder and President of the Foundation for Subsidiarity (Fondazione per la Sussidiarietà), in Milan, Italy, which provides educational and training programs, conducts research projects, editorial and publishing activities, conferences and seminars, and it is also the editor of the online newspaper ilsussidiario.net. More...

Rebecca Vitz Cherico

Rebecca Vitz Cherico

Rebecca Vitz Cherico grew up in New York City. She graduated from Yale University in 1993 with a B.A. in Italian and later did her doctorate in Spanish literature at New York University, where her dissertation focused on the intersection of evolutionary theory and Spanish literature. Since 2004 she has taught both mostly a "Great Books"-style course at Villanova University, as well as Spanish and Italian. Rebecca edited Atheist to Catholic: Stories of Conversion; she contributed a chapter on the priestly abuse crisis to the volume Breaking Through: Catholic Women Speak for Themselves; and she hosted a radio program on conversion for Radio Maria. This past fall, she presented at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. Rebecca and her husband, Colin, have lived in the greater Philadelphia area since 2002. They have five children.

John Waters

John Waters, newspaper columnist, author, playwright and songwriter, was born in Castlerea, Co Roscommon, in the West of  Ireland in 1955.  He pursued a variety of occupations after leaving school, including railway clerk,  showband roadie, pirate radio manager, petrol pump attendant and mailcar driver. He began part-time work as a journalist in 1981, with Hot Press, Ireland’s leading rock ‘n’ roll periodical, becoming a full-time journalist with the paper in 1984, when he moved to Dublin. More...

Andreas Widmer

Andreas Widmer is Director of Entrepreneurship Programs at The Catholic University of America and President of The Carpenter’s Fund. He was previously the co-founder of SEVEN Fund, a philanthropic organization run by entrepreneurs who invested in original research, books, and films to further enterprise solutions to poverty. More...

Christian Wiman

Christian Wiman

Christian Wiman is the author, editor, or translator of eight books.  His most recent book is My Bright Abyss:  Meditation of a Modern Believer (FSG, 2013), which the New Republic called “an apologia and a prayer, an invitation and a fellow traveler for any who suffer and all who believe.”  His most recent book of poems, Every Riven Thing (FSG, 2010), won the Ambassador Book Award and was listed as one of the ten best books of the year by the New YorkerMore...

Gregory Wolfe

Gregory Wolfe

Writer, teacher, publisher, and editor, Greg Wolfe has been called “one of the most incisive and persuasive voices of our generation” (Ron Hansen). Both as a thinker and institution-builder, Wolfe has been a pioneer in the resurgence of interest in the relationship between art and religion—a resurgence that has had widespread impact both on religious communities and the public square. As an advocate for and exemplar of the tradition of Christian Humanism, Wolfe has established a reputation as an independent, non-ideological thinker—part gadfly, part peacemaker. More...

Marta Zaknoun

Marta Zaknoun

Marta Zaknoun was born and raised in Jerusalem. She graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with a degree in Communications and Journalism in 2008. Before moving to Toronto where she lives now with her husband and 3 children, she worked with different Catholic media channels and in the Public Relations Department at her university while finishing her studies. Since she moved to Canada, she has worked in the field of public relations with not-for-profit organizations, as well as in interpretation. She also writes articles about politics and Christians in the Middle East for Il Sussidiario, an Italian online newspaper.