Tuesday February 23rd at 9 AM CST-Dialogue on COVID-19 in Education

Tuesday March 2nd at 9 AM CST-Public Policy and the fight against COVID-19

Tuesday March 9th at 9 am CST-Italy’s Cuisine

Tuesday March 16th at 9 am CDT-Iowa Cuisine

Tuesday March 23rd at 9 am CDT-Cultural Heritage of Padova

Tuesday March 30th at 9 am CDT-Iowa Art & Culture

Italian-to-English and English-to-Italian translation will be provided.


An Iowa-Padova Project of Citizens’ Diplomacy

Virtual Zoom Meetings

Sponsored by Iowa Sister States (USA) and

Province of Padova-Veneto, Italy

The Iowa-Veneto sistership agreement has thrived on the exchanges among citizens that have met and learned from each other for over the last 20 years. The agreement has been a fantastic example of the merits of the citizens’ diplomacy. The engagement of citizens has served as a support to the policies for peacekeeping and prosperity in many parts of the world.

If you missed the live discussion, watch the videos here!

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented citizens from meeting in person and learning firsthand about their respective cultures, societies, and social systems. This unprecedented event is expected to mark a milestone in the resilience of the communities and to change forever the lives of the peoples throughout the world.

These one-hour virtual dialogues between the citizens of Iowa and Padova/Veneto are designed to show solidarity and hope in a better future in this difficult time of a world-wide pandemic.

Dialogue on COVID-19 in Education

Tuesday, February 23rd at 9 AM CST

Teachers, students and school administrators will exchange new ways of adapting to a fast-changing educational landscape.

•    Building resilient communities of teachers, students and families

•    Experience working through the pandemic: challenges of distance learning/teaching, what 

     methodology to be kept, how future learning might be affected

•    Impact of the pandemic on socializing

•    Distance learning vs. Classroom lessons

•    Infrastructural and logistical issues regarding the education of student body



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Language Arts Teacher – Hampton-Dumont Middle School Hampton, Iowa, USA


BA in Elementary Education from Buena Vista UniversityMA in Teaching from Morningside University 


K-8 Reading ; 5-12 Reading; K-12 English as a Second Language;

K-8 English/Language Arts

Training Certification:

Literacy Coach: University of Northern Iowa

This is my 19th year teaching. Now in my  my 5th year at Hampton-Dumont and I am currently in my first year as the 8th grade Language Arts teacher.



Math Teacher – Roosevelt High School Des Moines, Iowa, USA

Bachelor's degree from Grand View University in Applied Mathematics and Secondary Education.

I teach at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa. I teach Algebra I and ELL Algebra I. I have taught for 22 years. I am married and have 4 children. In my free time, I enjoy coaching soccer, being outside, and reading. 




Language Arts Teacher – Hampton-Dumont Middle School Hampton, Iowa, USA

I have been in education for 17 years, teaching high school social studies courses in both Iowa and Washington State. After serving for six years as the K-12 Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator in DMPS, I am currently serving as an instructional coach at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines but spent the past few years as the district's the Advanced Placement Coordinator and a high school social studies teacher at Roosevelt High School. My specialty is in project-based learning.



High School Education Senior Manager, Province of Padova Padova, Italy

Senior high school manager since 2000, Stefano is in charge of the facilities management of 38 high school for a total of 64 school buildings. In order to open the new school year in safety, in the summer of 2020 his team has planned and implemented the regulatory system for social 

distancing and safety of students inside the school buildings.





President and CEO of Catch Des Moines Des Moines, Iowa, USA

Greg Edwards has over 35 years of hospitality experience. He began as President & CEO of the Greater Des Moines Convention & Visitors Bureau 

(Catch Des Moines) in 2000, previously leading convention & visitors bureaus in Illinois and Kansas. He is the recipient of many awards, including Manager of the Year with Marriott Hotels


Edwards has championed many accomplishments while in Des Moines. He reorganized the Des Moines Area Sports Commission and his team has tripled convention and event bookings since 2000. He (along with a strong team of others) led the charge in hosting the NCAA Wrestling Championships and multiple NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournaments.




Des Moines City Councilman Des Moines, Iowa, USA

William (Bill) Gray was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa. After graduating from Dowling High School in 1970 and the University of Iowa in 1975, he began his career in telecommunications. Much of his career was with AT&T, the world's largest telecommunications company (the former Bell System), until his retirement in 2018. Bill has always been an active community member and advocate for his hometown. 

Appointed to the Des Moines Zoning Board of Adjustment in 2001, Bill staunchly served the final nine years as Chairman until 2014. Citizens of Des Moines elected Bill in 2014 to the Des Moines City Council, then re-elected him in 2017. In 2019, during his second term, Mayor Cownie appointed Bill as mayor pro-tem.




President of the Province of

Mr. Bui, public servant and decision maker.

He is the President of the Province of Padova and the Mayor of Loreggia, a city north of Padova.

He has covered  positions as member of board of directors across several public institutions.

As President of the Province of Padova his powers stretch from environmental protection to school buildings, public transport  and territorial planning.

He is an employee of the Padova hospital with managerial tasks.




Padua Convention & Visitors Bureau, Director

 After a career in sales and marketing for international hotel chains between Florence and Rome, Laura Favaretti returned to Padova  in 2013 to start the Padua Convention & Visitors Bureau, which has the Chamber of Commerce  of Padua as its major shareholder.

The Bureau promotes the territory of Padua and its province in Italy and abroad, as a destination of excellence for congress tourism (MICE - Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) and for individual tourism (leisure).

Laura coordinates the Venice Region Convention Bureau Network that boasts the highest number of tourist presences in Italy.




President of URIPA, Regional Network of Hospices of the Veneto Region

Roberto Volpe has served as the President of URIPA since September 2020.

URIPA’s goal is to provide its members with viable solutions pertaining their core business, i.e. catering to the needs of the elderly people in their care, interact  with national and regional decision makers, provide legal services and promote social and care services.

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Vice President of the Province of Padova

Vincenzo Gottardo is the Vice President of the Province of Padova since  2018. He has acquired city management experience during  his tenure as vice mayor of his home town and member of the provincial council.

Vincenzo is in charge of the Civil Protection Service and of the European Policies Unit of the Province of Padova. As such he has instigated several projects with the EU member states.

Since the early days of the pandemic in March 2020, along with his staff, he has coordinated the early response and aid to the population and distributed the  provisions donated by benefactors from the Veneto Region and beyond.

Vincenzo is an architect by profession and is very engaged in supporting the social development of the communities.

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AICS Associazione Italiana Cultura e Sport Padova, Italy

Maurizio Marcassa is a top executive of AICS, the Italian Association of Culture and Sport. 

He started his AICS career in 1983 and has climbed up the ladder ever since. Regional President of AICS and later national vice president, Maurizio has been awarded with the silver medal by CONI, the National Italian Olympic Committee for his role in promoting sport. 

Maurizio has dealt with health issues since  his hospitalization in November 2020 due to Covid19 and will tell us about his experience as a patient in an Italian hospital.




Vice Principal

Guglielmo Marconi High School, Padova

Alessandra Potenza is a teacher of English and the school coordinator of linguistic and European projects since 2000. 

She has been taking part in the management of the school since 2014 and she is currently the school vice principal. 

Guglielmo MARCONI is a technical high school with 4 branches; chemistry, mechanics and mechatronics, electronics and transport and logistics. The student age range from 14 to 19.





President of the Province of Padova, Italy

Mr. Bui, public servant and decision maker.

He is the President of the Province of Padova and the Mayor of Loreggia, a city north of Padova.

He has covered  positions as member of board of directors across several public institutions.

As President of the Province of Padova his powers stretch from environmental protection to school buildings, public transport  and territorial planning.

He is an employee of the Padova hospital with managerial tasks.





Hotel Verdi, Abano

Chef Squizzato has attended the prestigious culinary school of Castelfranco Veneto, near Venice. 

He has made a career in the hotel business with various tasks, commis, chef entremetier, garde manger, chef tournant.

He  was also a teacher at the Kenwood Chef School, Italian chapter. From 2005 to 2011 he and his team have been acknowledged at several  contests and festivals in Italy, Russia and Luxembourg. From 2014 to 2017  he has trained chefs at the vocational school Enaip Veneto.

Chef Squizzato has received the Escoffier, Chaînes Des Rôtisseurs and Collegium Cocorum Prize.

He has featured in various TV shows and is the author of the recipe book "Un rompiscatole in cucina".

Since 2019 he is the chef of  the 4 stars  Verdi Hotel.

He speaks English, French and some German.

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President of the Euganean Hills Chef Association

Alessandra Potenza is a teacher of English and the school coordinator of linguistic and European projects since 2000. 

She has been taking part in the management of the school since 2014 and she is currently the school vice principal. 

Guglielmo MARCONI is a technical high school with 4 branches; chemistry, mechanics and mechatronics, electronics and transport and logistics. The student age range from 14 to 19.


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Provincial Councillor Mayor of Rubano, Italy

Sabrina Doni is the Mayor of Rubano, a city in the outskirts of Padova.

She is also the Provincial Councillor with responsibilities covering bicycle routes, and territorial urban planning.

Mrs Doni has a university degree in foreign languages and has worked for the Padova Diocese until her election as mayor.

Alessandra Potenza is a teacher of English and the school coordinator of linguistic and European projects since 2000. Guglielmo MARCONI is a technical high school with 4 branches; chemistry, mechanics and mechatronics, electronics and transport and logistics. The student age range from 14 to 19.

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Diego Bonato is  a under 35 winemaker with a large international experience. 

His passion for winemaking originates from his personal backround. He was raised on a farm in the hills and has continued his family winemaking traditions.

Since his university graduation  in Agricultural Sciences and Winemaking he has worked in his homeland, in New Zealand and Australia.

Since 2008 he has managed the Tolaini Winery in Tuscany. 

He is a member of the Colli Euganei Winemakers Association.

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Dr. Paolo Bellingeri is a nutritionist and a clinical pathologist of international standing.

His approach to a healthy nutrition is based on the idea that food is like a medicine, that can both prevent and cure illnesses.

He is particularly known for his  book on the  "cancer diet", i.e. healthy nutrition habits that prevent cancer and treat patients affected by this disease. -nella-prevenzione-e-terapia-oncologica/






Executive Chef

Des Moines, Iowa, USA

With more than 20 years experience in the hospitality business in USA, Italy, United Kingdom and France, Diego brings his passion for food and his art of receiving to Grand Living at Tower Place. He studied business and economy before discovering his real passion for food and restaurant management. Diego managed fine restaurants in Italy and in the UK. He worked in Paris at “L’Enoteca” a fast pace wine-bar with an extensive wine list.

Moving to Iowa he joined an Event Company where he was in charge for the food in multiple location in Des Moines area. Chaine Des Rotisseur professional member. Awarded as Premier Chef’s Award and Media Choice Award at Iowa Taste of Elegance 2020. J





Teacher Meucci-Fanoli High School Cittadella

Sarah attended the University of Padua and studied American and European Literatures and Languages. In September 2016 she passed the qualifying teacher certification for the permanent position in the technical high school Meucci (Cittadella), where she is currently teaching and she is in charge of the exchange programs and “orientation”. She has been teaching English and Spanish for five years and leading European interchange programs for students, organized inter-school projects, and projects related to education for students with special needs. Her main focus in teaching is the “lab class” where students play a major role in practicing and communicating, while books are left aside in favour of technology and creativity. 

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Student Meucci-Fanoli High School, Cittadella

Mattia studied at Giovanni XXXIII Middle school, and now he is studying at Antonio Meucci High school in the mechanics mechatronic and energy’ s field. He learns how to project beams and he tries to solve infrastructures problems. In this school he won the project MOVE, which consisted in a two weeks study trip in the UK. He has two big passions. He loves repairing motorbikes; he created a small workshop where he spends a lot of time working with the engines and he believes that motorbikes are like people: you have to treat them well. The second passion is the gym.

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Prof. Calderaro Giuseppe and students

Mr. Calderaro is the culinary teacher who will

assist Chef Squizzato during his preparations

along with ten of his students.

He is also going to unveil the secret recipe of one of the world's most famous desserts.

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Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival

Des Moines, Iowa, USA

(tours in Colorado, Iceland, and Japan)

The Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival is an annual festival in Des Moines, Iowa. Founded by members of the Iowa Bacon Board, the festival sold 200 tickets to the first festival in 2008. Today, the bacon celebration has grown to host approximately 14,000 bacon-lovers in all. Ticket holders can compete in a bacon-eating contest, listen to lectures about bacon, and sample bacon from vendors. Festival organizers have extended the celebration internationally through the Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour.



Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival Des Moines, Iowa

Keystone Bacon & Bourbon Festival Keystone, Colorado

Reykjavik Bacon Festival Reykjavik, Iceland

Bacoon Ride Raccoon River Valley Trail Central Iowa

Pigtails at Prairie Trail Ankeny, Iowa

Japan Bacon Festival Kofu, Japan

Paul's Bacon Ride Brainerd, Minnesota








Meucci-Fanoli High School, Cittadella

Marco is currently studying at Meucci-Fanoli which is a technical high school in Cittadella. He attended mainly biology, chemistry, and anatomy classes, his major is in health science. It’s the last high school year for him and he is now preparing for the Maturità (National State Exam). Next year he will enrol in a Bachelor’s degree in Strength and Conditioning at Setanta College in Thurles, Ireland. His biggest achievement is to become a trainer for competitive sports teams. He believes that having a good diet allows people to reach their sporting goals.




Student Meucci-Fanoli High School, Cittadella

Yassmin is studying biotechnology and other scientific subjects, such as Analytical Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Anatomy and Biology. 

One of her dreams is to attend an American University and majoring in Medicine. 

She puts passion in everything she does and aims for the best, making her a very ambitious and goal oriented person. 


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Director of the Padova Provincial Museum ESAPOLIS

Enzo Moretto, entomologist, is the Director of the Esapolis Museum, an insectarium based in Padova since 1871 that ranks among the top Italian research and education centres.


He is the founder of the Butterfly Arc, the first museum of butterflies in Italy and a sample for other  national and international museums that he has helped create.


Along with the University of Padova, the museum scientists research the evolution and functioning of spiders, mantises and ants.


Mr. Moretto is a popularizer at Italian TV shows on nature and has a streaming channel on FB and Youtube called Micromegamondo.

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Director of the Padova Provincial Museum ESAPOLIS

She has been in the field of education for more than 30 years, teaching to children of elementary school while she was still studying for her University degree. 

After that, she started teaching English and French to students of all ages, included adults. Atthe moment she is teaching English language at Liceo "Ferrari" in Este, where she lives. 

In her experience with the students, she has taken part in a few projects aiming at the exchange of experiences in an international environment involving public and private institutions like Rotary and Lions Clubs, People to People, the Twinning Committee of Este and the Province of Padua. 

Her interests, beside foreign languages (she is studying Spanish on her own at the moment}, include drawing, painting, reading, cinema and travelling. 

During the pandemic she joined the Red Cross Organization as a volunteer.




Director of the Des Moines Art Center

Des Moines, Iowa, USA

Jeff Fleming was appointed director of the Des Moines Art Center in the fall of 2005, where he served as acting director, deputy director, senior curator, and curator since 1999. Previously, he held the position of chief curator of exhibitions at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 


Fleming holds a bachelor of fine arts degree from East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, and a master of fine arts degree from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. His numerous exhibition projects have focused on presenting the first one-person museum shows in the United States for younger, international artists. These artists include the American artists Tom Sachs, John Currin, Ellen Gallagher, and Tom Friedman, as well as the British artist Glenn Brown, the German artists Christian Jankowski and Anselm Reyle, and the Chinese artist Yan Pei Ming. Additionally, he has presented the ceramics of Sterling Ruby and the drawings of Neo Rauch. 


In 2009, Fleming, in collaboration with the City of Des Moines, created the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. Located in the heart of downtown, the park includes 31 significant sculptures by 25 internationally-acclaimed artists, such as Yayoi Kusama, Louise Bourgeois, Olafur Eliasson, Richard Serra, Ellsworth Kelly, Willem de Kooning, Keith Haring, Jaume Plensa, and Yoshitomo Nara. 


Fleming’s initiatives as director of the Art Center has been to open its doors to diverse communities, present thought-provoking contemporary art, upgrade the physical facilities, and place the institution on solid financial ground. Art and Living magazine recently named him one of eleven innovative directors of American museums.

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Curator of Prints and Drawings, Emerita

Des Moines Art Center

Amy Namowitz Worthen, Curator of Prints and Drawings, Emerita, Des Moines Art Center, was the founding chairperson of the Iowa-Veneto Sister State Committee. She is closely connected with the art communities of Iowa and the Veneto Region. Beginning in 1997, she has initiated and collaborated on cultural, culinary, and sports exchanges between Iowa and Veneto. Since 2004, she has been a legal resident of Venice. 

In addition to her work as a curator and art historian, Worthen is a working engraver and printer. Worthen has shown her prints in solo exhibitions nationally and internationally, and her works are in important museums’ permanent collections. Since 1989, she has taught classes in engraving at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica di Venezia.

For Nuovi Inizi, she will present some of the images that she created during her time in Coronavirus pandemic lockdown in Venice from February to June 2020. She will suggest that the practice of art during the pandemic and working with one’s hands is a means of survival in this challenging moment. Art provides solace and is a source of inspiration for new beginnings.