The North Carolina October Mission of H.E. Mariangela Zappia, Ambassador of Italy to the United States
CCI-NC and the Honorary Consul of Italy to North Carolina were honored to welcome H.E. Mariangela Zappia to North Carolina in October of 2022. While this was Ambassador Zappia's first mission to North Carolina, this marks the second time in five years we have been able to organize an official mission to the state by the Italian Ambassador to the United States (click here to read about Ambassador Varricchio's visit in 2017).
Over the course of two days, Ambassador Zappia made connections with North Carolina's government, spoke about the ties between North Carolina and Italy at the 6th Round Table of Italian Technology and Italian FDI, met with Italian business leaders, mingled with community members, and addressed over 150 people at the World Affairs Council of Charlotte's Ambassador Circle Series program.
Ambassador Zappia is a career diplomat and the first woman in Italy to hold this position. She has been a trailblazer in her 35+ career, which included also being the first woman to be the Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations in New York and to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). In addition, she was the first woman Diplomatic Advisor to the Italian Prime Minister and the G7/G20 Sherpa.
Ambassador Zappia holds a Master's degree in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Florence and a Postgraduate degree in Diplomatic and International Relations from the same University.She is published, speaks fluent English and French, with a good knowledge of Spanish, and speaks regularly at international conferences on a variety of topics.
She has been awarded the decoration of “Commendatore” (Commander) of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. She is also an active member of the International Gender Champions Network, which promotes gender parity and women’s participation in decision-making. In 2019 she was awarded the “Mela d’Oro” (Golden Apple) by the “Fondazione Marisa Bellisario” in recognition of her contribution to the advancement of women in public institutions.
On Monday, October 17, Ambassador Zappia flew into RDU. Her first stop was a visit to the Executive Mansion in Raleigh, where she met with Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina's Secretary of Commerce, Machelle Baker Sanders. Attending with Ambassador Zappia was the Hon. Cristiana Mele, Consul General of Italy in Philadelphia, who helped organize the mission, and Dr. Valentina Cecchi, Honorary Consul of Italy to North Carolina. Ambassador Zappia committed to sending more delegations of Confindustria to North Carolina since there was a great support system in the state for Italian businesses. There were also discussions about potential sister city programs.
From there, the delegation made its way to the 6th Round Table on Italian Technology and Italian FDI, which focused on the Pharmaceutical and Chemical Industries this year. A full recap of the event and more pictures can be found here, where Ambassador Zappia was the guest of honor. She spent much of the Reception before the event speaking with North Carolina's Secretary of State, Elaine Marshall, as well as NC State students - both Italian and American - about their experiences thus far. Everyone was thrilled to have her attend and to hear her speak about the relationship between North Carolina and Italy, particularly when it comes to business and foreign direct investment. With more than 120 Italian-owned businesses in the state, the connections are strong indeed.
Following the Round Table, special guests were invited to the Private Dinner. Ambassador Zappia continued her work promoting cooperation and trade between North Carolina and Italy through lively conversations at her table. She was joined by Sec. Marshall and her husband, Mr. JT "Tommy" Bunn; Dean Frank Buckless with NC State's Poole College of Management; Dr. Cecchi; Dr. Mark Schmidt, NC State's Associate Vice Chancellor of Partnerships; Hon. Mele, and Mr. Kevin Howell, NC State's Vice Chancellor for External Affairs, Partnerships, and Economic Development. Mr. Howell and Sec. Marshall also welcomed the group and the Ambassador through moving speeches. The dinner was attended by the panelists and industry contacts, as well as students from Poole's International Business Dual Degree Program.
The following morning, on Tuesday, October 18, Ambassador Zappia and Hon. Mele flew to Charlotte. Ambassador Zappia accepted an invitation to speak at the Ambassador Circle Series organized by the World Affairs Council of Charlotte (WACC).
Here Ambassador Zappia first mingled with the community at the VIP reception. Then, the over 150 attendees were welcomed by Dr. Valentina Cecchi before Dr. Claudio Carpano, former Hon. Consul of Italy to North Carolina, and Board member of both CCI-NC and WACC, introduced Ambassador Zappia.
After taking the stage, she spoke about Italy’s diplomatic and trade relationship with the United States and offered insight into ways to continue strengthening the cooperation between the two countries. Mr. LJ Stambuck, WACC's President & CEO, fielded questions from the audience. Ambassador Zappia deftly answered questions that ranged from the current political climate in Italy to how diplomats find common ground with those of opposing views, how to handle the current migration challenges, and even fashion. Those posed by the attending students were particularly well-thought-out and a joy to have.
At the end, Mr. Joël Gallegos, WACC Board Member, Assistant Provost for International Programs at UNC Charlotte, and Honorary Consul of France to Central and Western North Carolina, presented Ambassador Zappia with a certificate and thanked her for her time and wise words. The event wrapped with the Ambassador taking photos with students, the CCI-NC Board, and additional people in attendance.
The slide show below highlights the WACC luncheon, where CCI-NC was the Ambassador-level Sponsor, thanks to additional support from our donors - Biesse America, Comi Polaris Systems, Forvis, KASK, Management inSites, and Salice America.