Raphael (Ralph) J. Ferraro, FounderAware of the many difficulties Italian American writers face in promoting and publishing their books, Ralph Ferraro, an educator and author, founded The Italian American Press in 2001. Its primary purpose was to provide information for Italian American writers as well as to assist them in finding an audience for their books.Ralph was two-years old when he traveled from Reggio Calabria to America with his mother. They settled in the South End of Springfield, Massachusetts with his father and two younger brothers. After graduating from high school, he continued his education majoring in physical education. He changed colleges and his major, graduating with honors and a major in English literature and a minor in teaching. At the time, his greatest ambition was to be a published author.After college, Ralph went to Italy to spend time with his grandmother and relatives, the first visit to the land of his birth. Getting to know his grandmother was one of the happiest and most rewarding times of his life; and he dedicated his first book Child of Wonder, an Italian religious novel about a child mystic, to the “wonderful and gentle woman whom I had come to know and love.”
Janice Therese Mancuso, Owner and Director In July 2011, Janice Therese Mancuso became the new owner of The Italian American Press. Six years earlier, Janice had contacted Ralph to list her book, Con Amore, on The Italian American Press. From there, Ralph and Janice communicated on a regular basis, sharing their hopes and concerns about Italian American culture.Janice had been promoting Italian heritage since 1998, when she created a monthly newsletter for an Italian American women's group. After establishing the newsletter, she began researching and writing about Italian and Italian American history and culture, planned cultural events for the club, and became a board member. In appreciation of her work, and to help with her research, three ladies—three generations of one family—presented her with the book Italians First: An A to Z of Everything Achieved First by Italians written by Arturo Barone. (The fourth edition retitled The Italian Achievement is listed on the IAP.) The book opened her world to her Italian heritage and changed her direction in life.With a desire to further promote Italian history and culture, Janice started to write Con Amore in 1999, focusing on entertaining and educating her readers. During her research, she became even more fascinated with Italian history and realized there was too much information to include in her book. In 2004, she started Tutto Italiano, (at first a biweekly but now) a monthly e-newsletter about everything Italian.After Con Amore was published in 2006, Janice began writing for La Gazzetta Italiana, a print and web media source for the Italian American Community and she founded Thirty-One Days of Italians, another project that promotes Italian American heritage and culture.Ralph felt that Janice was the right person to carry on with his work and he has agreed to be her mentor as she adds new features to the Italian American Press.
Shortly after returning to the United States, Ralph accepted a position teaching English where he taught for 33 years. During that time he also taught psychology and reading, and was the acting Director of Health Education for the entire school system.In 1996, Ralph retired from the school system and became a part time college instructor teaching classes that included stress-management techniques, creative writing, and supervising health education. Little information on self-publishing and Italian American literature was readily available when Ralph wrote Child of Wonder. He remembers the discouragement with each rejection of his manuscript; many by the best-known publishers in the United States. Based on the various comments of editors, he rewrote his book at least ten times, all to no avail.As founder and director of the Italian American Press, Ralph has accomplished what many immigrants aspire to achieve. Maintaining pride in his heritage and culture, he offered valued services to both those of his own ethnic background as well as those of non-Italian backgrounds through the numerous books listed on The Italian American Press.In the future, Ralph looks forward to continuing to be of service to his community and others.