About Us

 

Founders and Leaders of Poggioreale in America

 
Ross Todaro, Jr. of Houston, TX

Ross Todaro, Jr. of Houston, TX

President

A lifelong businessman in the Bryan and Houston general areas, Ross has always devoted time to the practice and preservation of the traditions that his maternal and paternal Poggiorealesi grandparents brought with them when they bravely came to America for a better life. From the time he was a little boy, his love of family and their vibrant and emotional stories about their Sicilian roots and experiences when the came to America to begin life anew, it instilled in him a passion for further knowledge of his ancestral home.

Although Ross participated in Sicilian traditions, foods, and values all of his life, it wasn’t until visiting Poggioreale just a few years ago that his passion was set ablaze. He began researching family roots in earnest, looked for “new” family members, and quickly realized that he wanted to meet and connect with people well beyond the boundaries of his immediate family.

In 2018, he met and joined hands with a “new” cousin from Chicago, and they began to turn mutual goals into reality using social media, expanding research, and attracting a following spanning continents. His brainchild of the FB page has attracted nearly 1000; this website is ever growing and developing. And this is just the beginning, he is quick to tell you!

Christine “Tina” Tondola Anderson of Cincinnati, OH

Christine “Tina” Tondola Anderson of Cincinnati, OH

Vice President Adminstration

A former educator and business co-owner, Tina now devotes her time to genealogy research and to Poggioreale in America Association she helped create because it expresses her passion for her Italian and Sicilian family and cultural studies.

Although her maternal Poggiorealesi grandparents were gone before she was born, she became acquainted with them in the stories, writings, and traditions her mother loving taught her starting when she was a small child. As a result, the love of family and tradition culture was indelibly imprinted. It set the stage for her future endeavors.

Her activities over the last several years have led her to find family in Texas, other states, and in other countries. After meeting her “new” cousin in Houston, they refined and developed similar dreams to create modern repositories for such research using social media and websites. Whether the research she collects is from others who studied and recorded it before her, or others who have newly created it, the goal is simply to make this knowledge available to both current and future generations. After all, she is happy to point out, it is through learning about our mutual Poggiorealesi history and relatives that we can see how it has impacted our individual development.

Marilyn Maniscalco Henley

Marilyn Maniscalco Henley

Vice President Research

Marilyn is a native Houstonian with 75% of her Sicilian families from Poggioreale and 25% from Alia, Sicily. Family history and the study of genealogy were brought to life in 1989 by her mother’s double cousin who shared many stories and information about their Sicilian heritage and families. With that seed planted, Marilyn attended numerous classes and seminars, researched at on-site facilities, including archives, libraries, courthouses and other repositories across the country to learn how to find additional details about the families. 

During that process, she became active in both the Austin & Houston genealogy societies, holding several positions, including President for 2 terms each. She was also active with a local POINTers chapter in Austin – one of the first national Italian genealogy groups – Pursuing Our Italian Names Together. 

Marilyn’s association with the Poggioreale in America group has brought about a new passion and excitement to learn and record the family stories that will someday be lost to time unless shared, and to help promote the people and town of Poggioreale. Her expertise has brought immeasurable guidance as the group grows and refines itself with each endeavor.


 

Consultants and Colleagues

Dr. Jeremiah Spence of Austin, Texas

Dr. Jeremiah Spence of Austin, Texas

Cav. Pietro Maniscalco, Sydney, Australia

Cav. Pietro Maniscalco, Sydney, Australia

Sindaco Girolamo “Mimmo” Cangelosi, Mayor of Poggioreale, Sicily

Sindaco Girolamo “Mimmo” Cangelosi, Mayor of Poggioreale, Sicily