The North Bay Italian Cultural Foundation is the coming together of people of all ancestries who are interested in sharing and enjoying things Italian.
Jeanette Mancini Mitchell, President from 1985-2014, traces NBICF’s origins to the gathering of several Sonoma County residents of Italian ancestry at the Italian Cultural Night sponsored by Santa Rosa City Parks and Recreation in October 1983. Seeing the benefits of celebrating Italian culture, a small group of dedicated individuals, namely Jim and Gertrude Picchi, Jeanette Mitchell, Emil Devincenzi, Arturo Ibleto, Delcisa Biglieri and Grace Battaglia, founded NBICF in 1984 electing Jim Picchi as President. They began the tradition of Italian Dinner meetings at the Veterans Hall in Santa Rosa, plus other activities throughout Sonoma County.
NBICF has nearly 600 active members and offers a variety of programs in addition to the monthly dinners including the annual Festa Italiana, opera and choral groups, travel study tours, language classes, college scholarships, and much more. In 2000, the Brookwood Avenue building was purchased and serves as NBICF’s permanent home, providing office space, classrooms, meeting rooms and a research library.
Chronology of Significant Events
1984: NBICF founded as California non-profit corporation; Jim Picchi elected first President.
1985: Jeanette Mancini Mitchell elected President. Coro Allegro, the folkloric choral group, formed under the direction of Dominic Canale.
1986: College Scholarship Program established. By 2004, more than $63,000 in scholarships awarded. Scholarships offered to Santa Rosa Junior College students and to Florence Study Abroad students.
1990: First Festa Italiana chaired by George Pagni. This event, currently chaired by Virginia Mennucci Wilburn, is held annually in the Fall. In 2007, more than 2000 people gathered to enjoy Italian music, food, dancing, mercato, bocce, classic Italian autos and much more.
1996: The Marianne Pedroncelli Scholarship Fund was established at the Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) with a $10,000 donation for Italian disciplines.
Board meetings, language classes and choral group rehearsals were held in rented office space on College Avenue. During the ’90s, membership experienced significant growth to more than 1,000 active members.
2000: NBICF purchased the Brookwood Avenue building establishing the Italian Cultural Center (ICC). Many NBICF members made generous donations to the Building Fund. The Giovanni Previtali Sala di Lettura, the NBICF Research Library, was established at the ICC.
2003: NBICF celebrates the “burning of the mortgage” as the ICC becomes free and clear of its loan.
2004: 20th Anniversary of NBICF celebrated at an Open House and Special Dinner at the ICC.
2009: 25th Anniversary of NBICF celebrated on May 31 at an Open House at the ICC attended by Fabrizio Marcelli, Italian Consul General, San Francisco.
2014: Jeanette Mancini Mitchell retires from the Board Presidency. The Board elects George Golfieri as the new President on February 5, 2014.