Board of directors

Ciao! 👋 🇮🇹 Get to know our Board of Directors at Italian Portland!

You can email them directly via their email addresses below, or email us with general questions at: We look forward to hearing from you!

Natalie Smargiassi, President -

Natalie is second generation Italian with grandparents coming from Lazio, Abruzzo and Sicily. She spent the major part of her life living in California and working in the field of Information Technology. Now she lives in Portland and enjoys studying Italian, getting outdoors, and cooking. Natalie’s grandmother from Abruzzo would spend the summer with her family when she was a child, so Natalie learned to make the traditional recipes of Abruzzo. She enjoys making these dishes still today. Several years ago she worked on a project to renovate a family home in a small hill town in the northern Lazio region. Natalie keeps close connections with her Italian family in Lazio and Abruzzo and travels to Italy every summer.

Tonya Russo Hamilton, Director of Media & Communications -

Tonya Russo Hamilton is a teacher and author in the greater Portland area. Her first published work, ‘Wrestling with the Devil; A Story of Sacrifice, Survival, & Triumph, from the Hills of Naples to the Hall of Fame,’ is an inspirational memoir inspired by her father's journey from a small town in southern Italy to Brooklyn, New York and eventually Portland, Oregon. Her children's book is titled, ‘Tino and the Pomodori’ and is about a young boy who plants and harvests tomatoes with his grandfather in a small town just outside of Naples. It celebrates the wonders and beauty of Italian culture and the extraordinary bonds of family. You can check out her published works at

Michela Navarria, Italian Language Consultant & Director of Programs -

Michela is a real estate agent licensed in Oregon. She grew up in southern Italian speaking Switzerland and traveled around the world. After graduating in Arts, Music, and Theatre at the University of Bologna she started her journey into Cultural Management, until she moved the the US with her husband and daughter. As a cultural promoter she feels obliged to keep her origins, her language and her culture alive. Because of this she is happy to be part of Italian Portland, bringing purpose, value and love for Italy through weekly book readings—Incontri Letterarito all who aim to improve their Italian or simply want to connect through the language.

Sam Romanaggi, Treasurer -

Sam is a 2nd generation Italian whose grandparents immigrated from Conversano, a small town in the Puglia region. Sam spent much of his childhood amongst the Romanaggi cousins and family, and was imprinted with its culture and traditions; raised with an appreciation that we are fortunato’. While in college he studied Italian language at the University of Oregon as well as participating in an exchange program in Perugia Italy. That left a lifetime appreciation for the Italian culture and way of life. Sam lives in Tigard and works as a commercial real estate appraiser (MAI), with a niche in timberlands. He heads Romanaggi Valuation Services as well as working with a forestry consulting firm. What spare time he gets, he’s either with his daughters, working in his yard and garden, or out-doors enjoying hiking, biking, or skiing.