Chris R. Vaccaro: EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, Founder

Chris R. Vaccaro is an Emmy Award and Murrow Award-winning media executive, professor, and author from Long Island.

Two-time Emmy Award (11 nominations) and nine-time Edward R. Murrow Award-winning media exec, professor, and author. He is working on an entrepreneurial venture in sports media, which you’ll learn about soon.

Formerly held posts as VP of Digital at Altice USA/ News 12, Editor-in-Chief and head of digital at The Topps Company, and Editor at NY Daily News and AOL. Serves as Professor and Director of Graduate Journalism at Hofstra University. He also serves as President of the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame on Long Island and trustee/former president of the Press Club of Long Island. In 2021, he was appointed Region 1 Coordinator of the Society of Professional Journalists and board trustee of the Italian American Baseball Foundation.

His work has been published in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Associated Press, The Athletic, and more. He is the author of seven books (and editor of one) and has produced seven documentaries and three commercials (featuring Mike Trout, Marshawn Lynch, and Jordan Henderson). He was named national sports columnist for Ambassador Magazine, the official pub of the National Italian American Foundation.

Currently a doctoral student (leadership studies) at LSU, Vaccaro studied journalism at Hofstra, attended Stony Brook for his master’s in public policy, and studied leadership in executive education programs at Harvard’s Kennedy School, NYU’s Stern School of Business, Columbia University’s Business School and MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Has lectured at numerous universities and colleges, including the Univ. of Oklahoma, Scuola dello Sport in Italy, CUNY Newmark, Stony Brook, Long Island Univ., Roger Williams Univ., Middle Tennessee State Univ., Northeastern Univ., and Hofstra, and dozens of conferences across the country.

He was inducted into the Sachem Athletic Hall of Fame in 2021 and Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame in 2022. In 2023, the Long Island Press named him to the Long Island Power List. Vaccaro was also recognized as Hofstra’s Alumnus of the Year, is Stony Brook’s most-honored 40-under-40 awadree (4x), and was selected to Long Island Business News’ 40-under-40. Crossing an item off his bucket list, he threw out the first pitch on Italian Heritage Day at Nationals Park in DC in 2023 (yes, it was a strike!). He was an honored guest of the 97th annual San Gennaro Feast and accepted the Spirit Award from the New York Mets in 2023. The Town of Brookhaven on Long Island designated Sept 21, 2023, “Chris Vaccaro Day.”

He lives in Lake Grove, NY, with his family.

Lou Bernardi: OPERAting DIRECTOR, Founder

Lou Bernardi is a proven and dedicated community leader, philanthropist, mentor, and coach. 

With over a decade of NCAA experience mentoring top-level athletes Lou has achieved much success on the diamond. From being part of numerous championship programs to being named the 2021 “Collegiate Baseball Newspaper” National Pitching Coach of the Year, his ability to make others around him better is one of his most impressive attributes. 

His competitiveness and desire to succeed derive from his playing career at the NCAA Division 1 level and independent professional ranks. 

He stays committed to the game by serving as an active member of the Association of Professional Ball Players of America, The American Baseball Coaches Association, an Advisor to the Italian American Baseball Foundation, and Director of Valor Sports. He is a member of his High School (Herricks) Athletic Hall of Fame and the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame. 

As impressive as his accomplishments on the field are, Lou takes enormous pride in his contributions off the field as a philanthropist and community leader. 

Lou has been named an honorary member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, a Hometown Hero by News 12, and a top Faces to Watch by Newsday for his involvement in bringing others together and his overall dedication to community engagement. Additionally, at the United States Merchant Marine Academy, he was awarded the Power of Inspiration award for his sacrifices during the Pandemic, and in 2022, he received the Mark J Paradiso Service to Community Appreciation Award. 

Axcess Baseball, a leading authority in amateur sports on Long Island, named Lou the 2021 Service to Community Man of the Year, and the Chapters Community Foundation awarded Lou a Community Leadership Award. 

He has been honored with numerous Citations, Certificates of Appreciation, letters of Accommodation, and Proclamations for his selfless acts of kindliness from the U.S. Congress, NY State Assembly, Nassau County Legislature, Town of North Hempstead, City of Glen Cove, Town of Huntington, Nassau County Police, NYPD, and the Glen Cove Police Department. 

He works tirelessly assisting numerous charities yearly, organizing food, clothing, and toy drives. He was recently honored at the Gary Brown Dream Foundation gala as an award recipient for his contributions to assisting communities and creating experiences to encourage positive youth growth. 

He received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award directly from the Oval Office and a Distinguished Humanitarian Award, A Leadership Award, and an Integrity Award from three different United Nations-sanctioned organizations. 

Lou graduated from NY Tech with a degree in Criminal Justice in 2011 and later served on the Alumni Association Board. A lifelong resident of New Hyde Park, Lou currently resides in Glen Cove, where he has served on the Board of Directors and is a past president of the Village he resides in


Nick Luisi is an entrepreneur, restaurant owner, and hospitality executive. Luisi is the Tao Hospitality Group General Manager in New York City and a partner at Pizzeria Undici in Massapequa Park. He formally owned and launched the Roslyn Social bar/restaurant. Luisi is an ambassador of the National Kidney Foundation.


Frank Antonetti, Owner, Rust & Gold, Huntington

Christopher Iacona, Owner, Fiore Designs, New Hyde Park

Calogero Troia, Owner Rosa’s Pizza, Great Neck

The Italian American Heritage Society of Long Island will expand and add leadership over its first year of operation. If you share a passion for Italian heritage, care deeply about Long Island, and can help create momentum and impact, reach out and let’s talk: [email protected].