Our Board Members

Our board consists of several Detroit-area community, business, philanthropic, and civic leaders.

Anthony Rugiero
Anthony Rugiero is President and CEO of Antonio’s Cucina Italiana Restaurants, Roman Village Inc., and Rugiero Management Group. The Rugiero family operates five growing restaurants. Receiving numerous awards over the past 50 years of business, none is more important than a customer’s compliment of the great food prepared just like mom used to make. He is founder and Chairman of the Rugeiro Promise Foundation providing means for giving to charitable organizations. Mr. Rugiero embraces his heritage and traditional Italian family values. As IHF Chairman he is dedicated to continuing the Foundation mission of supporting programs for immigrant families. Mr. Rugiero also serves on various civic and charitable Boards including: Mid-West Chairman for the Italian Language Inter-Cultural Alliance (ILICA) and Board of Trustee for Michigan Opera Theatre, Italian Film Festival USA, 12th District Finance Chairman Republican Party, Veteran’s Court for Southeast Michigan and Patrons of the Arts of the Vatican Museum Michigan. He makes frequent trips to his family home in Italy and values the time he spends with family. He enjoys taking the kids around to all the places where he spent summers as a little boy, showing them the rich history and tradition of his family as his parents did for him. Remembering who and where we came from will help us becomes who we are.
Edward Haroutunian, Esq.
Vice Chairman
Edward L. Haroutunian is President of Haroutunian Licata Haroutunian, PC in Bingham Farms practicing law with his daughter Krista, and his wife Susan Licata Haroutunian, who is of counsel to the firm. Haroutunian received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Michigan, his Law Degree from Wayne State University and has been published in the Journal of Taxation, and Observer Newspaper, and lectured to various groups. Haroutunian was Chair of the Representative Assembly of the State Bar, elected to the Board of Commissioners of the State Bar, appointed a Wayne County Public Administrator, Special Assistant Attorney General, Special Investigator for the Attorney Grievance Commission, and is a Hearing Panel Chair for the Attorney Discipline Board. Haroutunian was the Founding Chair of the Wayne County Republican Committee, and in 2002 helped secure a Michigan Law recognizing the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
Jeanne Leonard, CPA
Sharon Gioia
Assistant Treasurer
Sharon Gioia is President/founder of Polite America L.L.C., a company specializing in the application of the universally accepted rules of etiquette and protocol for business, non-profit, government and social sectors. A proven track record of success in implementing initiatives for business, organizational advancement, high-profile special events and strategic branding, Ms. Gioia is cited by clients for effective leveraging of interpersonal skills to deliver every detail of quality. Over the past 25 years Ms. Gioia has worked with a wide range of diverse nonprofit organizations, luminaries, politicians, business leaders, students and individuals domestic and international who strive for success. Ms. Gioia has spent a lifetime working with community and charitable endeavors and has held long-term leadership roles on many Boards including Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera Volunteers International and Merrill Palmer Skillman Foundation.
Emanuela Marionni
Assistant Secretary
Emanuela Marionni, J.D. Emanuela Marionni, born and raised in Italy, graduated from Law School at University of Perugia. She is involved in the education field in the Detroit area teaching Italian language and culture. She is currently teaching courses at Wayne State University and U of D Mercy. She published articles in Italian journals and stays in tune with her Italian community both in the States and abroad. Summer 2015 she published a book in Italian and English centered on the food, traditions, and memories of her hometown, Gubbio: Sapori e ricordi di casa mia. Ricette di Gubbio in italiano e inglese / Flavors and memories from my home. Recipes from Gubbio in Italian and English. Arrone (TR): Edizioni Thyrus.
Kathryn Kittides, EdD
Outreach Director
Kathryn Zalevsky Kittides, Ed.D. is a university professor of Master of Arts in Education courses. She also teaches Russian Language, Second Language Methods, World History and Cultures, edits student papers and projects, lectures and writes texts on language, culture, linguistics, and is a published poet. She is elementary and secondary teacher certified in Michigan and California, took students from Birmingham Groves to the USSR on a 2 way exchange from 1987-91, and keeps contacts with and assists many students from her long teaching career. She serves on several Boards and social groups and brings cultural knowledge to her realm of friends and associates.
Steve George
Renee Hanna
Renee Hanna, Director of Catering sales at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. Renee joined the 1,298-room Detroit property in 1998. Prior to joining the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, Hanna served in various administrative and food/beverage Director Position with the Westin Renaissance Center, which was the Marriott's predecessor until 1998. Hanna received a B.S. degree from Wayne State University's School of Business. She is married with two children and resides in Troy, Michigan.
Dante Stella, Esq.
Dante Stella is a partner at Dykema Gossett, based in downtown Detroit. He previously served on the Foundation Board from 2002-2012 and is in the third generation of his family to support the Foundation and the International Institute. He is also a trustee of the Detroit Historical Society and a past board chair of the Detroit Artists Market.
Kathryn Brennan
Kathryn Brennan, the Brennan Group’s president and founder worked for P.S. Abrams, a Troy-based marketing communications firm for 10 years as executive vice-president and later as president, heading up the creative team and handling all communications programs for the firm. Brennan’s work has been cited for excellence by the International Association of Business Communicators and the National Association of Women in Communications. She has an Emmy and was the recipient of the Headliner Award from the Association of Women in Communications for outstanding leadership in the field of communications and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Life Directions, Inc for her leadership in working with youth and peer mentoring. Her client list has included Global Detroit, Clark Park Coalition, Matrix Theatre Company, the Kresge Foundation, Preferred Dental Group, Cinetic Automation Corporation, Western Waterproofing Company, Ford Racing, and the Baldwin Public Library. Ms. Brennan holds a BS, Education and an MA, Business Management.
Gia Feistel, PhD
Hon Dennis Flessland, Consul of Norway
Hon. Paul Komives
Judge Komives (retired), was one of the first Magistrate Judges in the USA and is the longest serving Magistrate in the history of this country. The Oral History of Judge Komives by the Historical Society discusses everything from the Judge’s parents arrival in this country in the 1920’s through his impressions of over forty-three years in a noted and respected judicial career. A graduate of University of Michigan Law School and acknowledgment of his time at the Department of Justice, as an Assistant United States Attorney in Michigan, as a Special Prosecutor in Wayne County Circuit Court and as a private practitioner. Judge Komives was honored and inducted into the International Heritage Hall of Fame in 2005.
Hon. Melvin Larson
Honorable Melvin Larsen was a member of the House of Representatives, 1973–1978, and co-author of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, 1976. President Larsen & Associates Inc. - Retired Blue Cross Blue Shield Board of Directors
Abe A. Munfakh, PE
Abe Munfakh of Plymouth is Chairman of the Board of the Arab American and Chaldean Council (ACC) where he was recently re-elected to a third four-year term. For more than 30 years Mr. Munfakh worked as a partner with the firm of Ayres, Lewis, Norris & May, Inc. (ALNM) serving as President and Chairman of the Board. ALNM is an engineering and planning firm located in Ann Arbor, with offices throughout the state of Michigan. The firm was sold in 2003, and Mr. Munfakh then founded Munfakh & Associates L.L.C. in Plymouth, where he now serves as owner, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. A registered Professional Engineer in Michigan, Indiana and Louisiana, Munfakh holds an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and several graduate courses in Civil Engineering and Management from the University of Michigan. He has served as President of the Schoolcraft College Foundation Board in Livonia and the Foundation Board of Henry Ford College in Dearborn, as well as on the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, Northville Chamber of Commerce, the Michigan Board of Professional Engineers, the Michigan Board of Architects, the Plymouth Community Foundation and several Plymouth and Western Wayne community and political organizations. Born in Aleppo, Syria, Mr. Munfakh immigrated to the United States in 1966, not knowing the language or customs of the new world. He worked hard to pay for his education and survival. Having no financial assistance and not being eligible for any federal or other student loans, he worked many jobs to finance his education both during the school year and summers. After graduating from college, Abe met and married Darlene Kali, a native of Detroit, and they settled in southeastern Michigan. Abe and Darlene have been married for 45 years, they have two daughters and three granddaughters. Abe is affiliated with the National Society of Professional Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Water Works Association, the Water Environmental Federation and the American Council of Engineering Companies. In addition to his professional and foundation work, Abe is also involved in political action in southeastern Michigan, being elected to the Plymouth Township Board of Trustees where he served three terms, totaling 12 years, and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG). He also served as Chairman of the 11th Congressional District Republican Committee.
Robert Pliska
Robert Pliska serves as a owner/managing director for Sperry Van Ness (now SVN), specializing in the sale, financing, leasing, managing, consulting, auctioning and accelerated marketing of multifamily, retail, office, industrial, hotel and other investment and commercial properties. With over 35 years of commercial real estate experience, Pliska has secured over $1.5 billion in real estate transactions. Prior to joining SVN, Pliska served as president and/or officer of several commercial real estate firms. He was the president of a full-service commercial realty firm providing sales, financing, leasing, property management and consulting services. Pliska’s past commercial development transactions boast a volume of over $400 million and ranged in product type from office, retail, multifamily, industrial and hospitality. In addition, he assisted in the financing of $500 million in real estate transactions. As a certified public accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers, he advised real estate and financial institution clients. Pliska is a local and national speaker, author, radio guest, panelist, and social media expert for many local and national organizations as the Counselors of Real Estate of the National Association of Realtors, the Commercial Board of Realtors, the state association of Realtors, the state association of CPA’s, the Chambers of Commerce, CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member), the Real Estate Answer Forum and others on investment and commercial real estate. He is quoted in numerous publications as Globe Street, CCIM, the Counselors of Real Estate, local news publications, Midwest Real Estate News and others. He is followed by thousands in social media on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. He sits on local, national and international Board’s of CEO’s and organizations. He has been honored as Humanitarian of the Year by several organizations. Pliska’s professional activity includes: former president and member of Detroit Area Commercial Realtors; member and elected chairman of the Detroit Board of Realtors for the Detroit Metro Commercial Investment Division; member of the Michigan Association and recipient of the organization’s “Realtor of the Year” award; member of The Counselors of Real Estate (CRE), and recipient of the CRE designation. Pliska’s community involvement includes: officer and/or board member of numerous community and non profit organizations, former president and recipient of membership growth awards from a CEO/President’s group. Pliska received his MBA in accounting and finance from Michigan State University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Detroit.
Nicholas Stasevich, Con. of United Kingdom
Tallal Turfe
Tallal Turfe is president of an international healthcare firm. Previously, he was an automotive and management consultant executive as well as professor at several universities. He has served on many boards such as social services, hospitals, interfaith groups, international firms, and universities. He was a member of President Bill Clinton’s race relations group. Tallal has delivered presentations on education, parenting for peace, global ethics, public diplomacy, and protection of religious sites at the United Nations as well as being one of 200 world political and religious leaders to participate in the United Nations Millennium World Peace Summit in August 2000. He has published a number of books and articles on Islam. Tallal has been instrumental in securing employment in America for thousands of people with origins from the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and South America, and this was done without a fee! He has received many honors for his humanitarian achievements, for example, being the first Muslim to receive the Knight of Charity Award by the Vatican-based Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions as well as being inducted into the International Heritage Hall of Fame. Tallal is married and has five children, two of which graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, the first Muslims to have achieved this distinction.
Tarik Daoud
Tarik Daoud (January 9, 1937 - May 24, 2015) Born in Basrah, Iraq, Mr. Daoud moved to the U.S. in 1956 and received an engineering degree from Lawrence Tech University. In 1963, Mr. Daoud began selling cars and eventually bought Al Long Ford. He was much more than an outstanding businessman and philanthropist. He was a warm-hearted, personable, and caring friend. He was a dedicated IHF Board Chairman who always took the time to listen and support our efforts as an organization. He will be remembered for his love of travel, community, faith, good food, and strong coffee; all best shared with the company of others. He is saluted for his gentle spirit, leadership, and sometimes very silly humor. He was a wonderful friend and colleague who gave freely of his time, advice and expertise and was proud to serve the people of America, the country he loved, with great distinction in many capacities. He was a true champion who created strong bonds of friendship among the people of Detroit and all over the world. Mr. Daoud received numerous awards for his work and in 2005 as Time Magazine Automotive Dealer of the Year, Mr. Daoud stated, “I knew if I wanted to stay here, I had to be a good citizen. “You have to help other people, vote and be involved. I thought those are all things I should do.”
Frank D. Stella
Frank D. Stella (1920-2010) Entrepreneur and Business Leader; supporter of arts, education, business, community, politics and his home city Detroit are all statements that can describe the late Frank D. Stella. As Founder, Chairman and CEO of The F.D. Stella Products Company and many other companies worldwide. Stella devoted his life to the betterment of others and received numerous awards and worldwide honors for his accomplishments in all areas of his business, community and charity.
Daniel Stella