Catherine Zachar Sweitzer, Founder and Executive Director
Catherine Zachar Sweitzer (B.A.- M.A. Rosary College, 1973) is a writer and educator with a passion for theatre. She began her career as a production assistant and script reader for the acclaimed television series, the Hallmark Hall of Fame. After starting a family, Cathy returned to the classroom to teach writing: first at Northwestern University’s University College, then at the Sarah Lawrence Writing Institute in New York, and most recently at her alma mater, Dominican University. While living in New York City, Cathy wrote a series of writing workbooks for Scholastic Publishing and contributed to the teacher’s guide for Scholastic’s Literary Cavalcade Magazine. Returning to Chicago, she served as Production Manager and Communications Director for The University of Chicago Presents, U of C’s concert series. Cathy and her husband Jim, an astrophysicist, have written shows for planetarium theatres around the world. Most recently, Cathy has studied playwriting at Chicago Dramatists and completed the Second City Training Center’s yearlong writing program, along with classes in acting and producing. Cathy hopes that the Italian American Theatre of Chicago will be a means for her fellow Italian Americans to celebrate their heritage, share it with their children and the community, and help the latest wave of immigrants to Chicago.
Mary Campo, Advisory Board
Maria Campo immigrated to Chicago from Sicily in the early 1960’s with her parents and twin brothers. “Mary” has worked in leading administrative roles creating change and social transformation throughout her career. An alumna of Our Lady of the Angels School, she received her undergraduate degree from Wilbur Wright College in political science and general management. She worked for major corporations, like Zenith and Quasar where she managed a team of 25 administrators structuring corporate policy affecting the visual communications industry. Additionally, she helped to build and shape the future education lab at Triton College in neighboring River Grove, Illinois. There she worked with students of many nationalities and backgrounds to help them make a successful social and educational integration into American life. In the mid 1980’s and ‘90’s, Mary worked for the States Attorney’s Office, as a key administrator and chief legal assistant to various judicial branches. In the early 2000’s, Mary became deeply involved with all facets of Italian immigration through the ACLI organization, where she continues to help the elderly with their retirement and disability needs, as well as acting as a notary for Italian American pensions. Today she pursues philanthropic needs and causes including poverty, equal rights and elder rights. Mary lives in Melrose Park with Marc, her husband of 43 years, and enjoys spending time caring for her four grandchildren, teaching conversational Italian and travelling.
Elizabeth Monroe-Cook, Advisory Board
Bio to come…. Stay Tuned…
Maura Junius, Webmaster
Maura Junius (B.A. – College of St. Catherine, 1973, M.F.A (abt) – Southern Illinois University, 1975) manages websites for The Raven Foundation, the Colloquium of Violence and Religion and Playwright Emilio Williams. Her experience in the theatre includes choreography, costume design, producing, and specialty casting. Her video credits include Jesus the Forgiving Victim: Listening for the Unheard Voice and A Higher Cawing. Maura is a Board Member of AstonRep Theatre Company. She believes in the transformative power of theatre to provide people with a new understanding of themselves, their relationships and the world.
Colleen Joy Mraz, Director
A graduate of Illinois State University, Colleen began her theatre career in the Chicago area, where she performed in numerous musicals, including “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Plain and Fancy,” and “Carousel.” A vacation abroad turned into a move to Italy, where she worked as a singer, choral conductor, actress, choreographer, director, and theatre teacher, both in English and Italian. She also wrote, produced, and directed three musicals in Italian, one of which included a cast of 250 and was performed for the Millennium celebrations in Rome. Having recently moved back to Chicago with her husband Lucio Bosco, she’s looking forward to getting back into the theatre scene here.
Roxanne Christofano Pilat, Inaugural Playwright
Roxanne Christofano Pilat teaches English at Dominican University. Prior to earning her doctorate and teaching at the University of Illinois at Chicago, she was a secondary teacher, journalist, and corporate communications consultant. More recently, Roxanne has taught at DePaul and Lewis Universities. Her work has been published in the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, and in a recent anthology of essays on Italian American women in Chicago. She was a founding editor of Packingtown Review. Roxanne is currently working on a book of short fiction and researching the lives of Florence Scala, Ellen Gates Starr, and other Chicago women who have made a difference.