Milwaukee Wisconsin Attorney Frank Joseph Schiro founded the Filippo Mazzei Lodge #2763, Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA) in the year 2000. Schiro, a practicing lawyer in the Greater Milwaukee area and past president of the Wisconsin Justinian Society of Lawyers was inspired to start a lodge in the state of Wisconsin so as to invite the Italian American members in the Milwaukee Metropolitan area to become participants and join in the largest and oldest Italian American charitable and fraternal organization in North America. Schiro also served as past president of the National Italian American Bar Association (NIABA) and colleague with one of the former national presidents of NIABA and of The Order Sons of Italy in America,
OSIA was originally started in 1905 in New York City by Dr.Vincenzo Sellaro which now has lodges throughout the United States and has been recognized nationally and internationally for its vastly generous contributions to principal charities of Alzheimer's, Cooley's Anemia, Autism and other deserving and needed individual and societal challenges. Additionally, OSIA provides the most active anti-discriminatory function through its organization by way of the Commission on Social Justice, which actively advocates in opposition to stereotypical demeaning characterizations against Italian Americans.
Schiro, embraced the value of becoming a participant in such an extended cultural family, recognizing the value of such membership to continually acknowledge, remind and define our individual worth and being as reflected through the heralded and unparalleled Italian American culture, in particular the contributions to the formation and continuation of this nation. Schiro learned not the least of innumerable Italian contributors to the American way of life was Filippo Mazzei. He was a brilliant Italian schooled surgeon who became friends with the first five presidents of the United States and who became known as the "Padrino" or "godfather" of the original Declaration of Independence. Through the extended research of Filippo Mazzei Schiro decided to name his lodge after him. Schiro felt whom better to have the Milwaukee lodge named after than such a great contributor to the foundation of America whoâ€™s contribution unfortunately was not acknowledged or taught in the American schools.
Schiro held the position as president of the OSIA lodge establishing a council and conducting bimonthly general membership meetings educating the members with speakers and entertainers related to their Italian Heritage. Schiro also spearheaded the Filippo Mazzei scholarship awards, which are still ongoing to this day and recognized throughout the organization.
In 2008, Schiro presented to his council the opportunity to merge with the Grand Lodge of Illinois; this drew extensive criticism from many members. In time Schiros determination to make the merge with Illinois would prove to be the right decision. Today the Filippo Mazzei lodge holds the highest level of respect across the country for its hard work and professionalism.
In 2009, the merger was approved by the National Organization in Washington D.C. and the Grand Lodge of Illinois/Wisconsin was official. Eventually Schiro surrendered his position as the President of the Filippo Mazzei Lodge and became the 2nd Vice President of the Grand Lodge of Illinois/Wisconsin.
Vice President Joseph Campagna Jr assumed Schiros duties and assisted with the transition in bringing the next president to the lodge. Joseph Palmisano was then sworn in as president and would serve the remainder of the term for 2010 when the Honorable William A. Jennaro was elected to the office. Jennaro continued the practices put in place by Schiro and supported the mission and the objectives of the Mazzei lodge. Jennaro served a two-year term as president from 2010 through 2012. Jennaro and Schiro together were awarded the Leonardo D' Vinci Award of Excellence by the Grand Lodge of Illinois/Wisconsin. Joseph Palmisano took on the position of treasurer, which he continues to occupy and has an influence on the growth and operation of the organization.
In February of 2013, Joseph T. Emanuele was elected President and serves to the present day. Emanuele, the former Vice President of Filippo Mazzei in 2004 and 2005 returned as president to again advance the lodge using new technology and introducing Filippo Mazzei to an electronic era. Emanuele is continuing to implement change within the organization by initiating promotional provisions such as a web site, electronic e-mail and social media outreach to expand the growth of the lodge. OSIA's National President Anthony J. Baratta and OSIA lodges across the country have recently recognized Emanuele for his ambitions.
In April 2017 Emanueles' successful term as president expired, Joe went on to serve as Vice President of the Italian Community Center, however he maintained a trustee of our lodge.
Nicholas DeQuardo was installed as President April 2017, previously DeQuardo held the position of Herald for the lodge.
Schiro now serves as the 1st Vice President of the Grand Lodge of Illinois/Wisconsin and is currently a very influential voice with The Filippo Mazzei Greater Milwaukee Lodge. Schiro has been encouraged to accept the position of the President of the Grand Lodge of Illinois/Wisconsin in its future election.
The Filippo Mazzei Greater Milwaukee Lodge continues to concentrate on growth while welcoming the youth of today to carry on its legacy through the diligence and vision brought forth by Frank Joseph Schiro.