NEWARK, NJ — The 2016 Essex County Italian-American Heritage Month observance was held Wednesday, Oct. 5, in the lobby of the Essex County Hall of Records. Decorated in the festive Italian colors of red, white and green, the lobby was a standing-room-only backdrop for the cultural festivities.
During the cultural event, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. recognized Silvia Farro, founder and owner of Tec-Con Contractors in East Orange, and Barry E. DiBernardo, plastic surgeon and international lecturer on cutting-edge medical technology, as “Stellas della Contea di Essex,” or Stars of Essex County. The honor recognizes the entrepreneurs for their commitment to improving the lives of all residents and their leadership.
“Our celebration is an opportunity to recognize the contributions that Italian-Americans have made to the history and culture of Essex County. Today, we are honoring two proud Italian-Americans who have positively impacted our world,” DiVincenzo said at the event. “Silvia Farro and Dr. Barry E. DiBernardo are both well-respected and accomplished professionals in their respective fields.”
Farro left her village of Guasto, Italy, with her mother and younger brother at the age of 8, to be with her father and older sister who had immigrated to the United States two years earlier. They settled in Newark, residing in a two-bedroom apartment with her grandparents. She began her education at St. Ann’s Grammar School, without speaking a word of English and continued to St. James High School in Newark’s Ironbound.
At the age of 13, Farro began her first job, serving ice cream cones at Lee’s Custard Cream in Newark. Her family moved to Maplewood, where she attended Columbia High School. After graduating, she attended Berkley College in East Orange and began to help her father with a small concrete sidewalk company that he had started called Guasto Construction Company. To learn more about business, she took courses, such as estimating, takeoffs and purchasing, at Essex County College and Seton Hall University. In 1980, Farro branched off and started her own company, Tec-Con Contractors in East Orange, concentrating solely on public projects. Shortly after, she became certified as a woman business enterprise by the state of New Jersey. Her company now specializes in recreation projects such as playgrounds and sports fields. Farro’s company has successfully completed many projects in Essex County, including the wolf exhibit at the Turtle Back Zoo, playgrounds in several parks, and resurfacing sidewalks and plazas at the Hall of Records.
“It’s an honor to be here and I want to thank the county executive for honoring me with this Italian Heritage Award,” Farro said at the event. “This is such a special and personal award for me, not only because it recognizes my achievements as a woman business enterprise, but also because it highlights my Italian culture and my background as an Italian immigrant. My dedication to my family and to my business is a direct result of the example given to me by my parents. I saw their motivation and determination to provide a good life for their family in their new country.”
DiBernardo is the medical director of New Jersey Plastic Surgery in Montclair, past president of the New Jersey Society of Plastic Surgeons, an associate clinical professor in plastic and reconstructive surgery at UMDNJ, and is on the board of directors of the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation of ASAPS. He also serves on the advisory board to many of the leading skincare and injectable technology companies worldwide.
DiBernardo is a widely published author, committed to providing his patients with the most advanced surgical and non-surgical options. He is a 1984 graduate from Cornell University Medical College, where he received the school’s Charles H. Horn Prize for outstanding leadership and service to the medical community. He spent five years in general surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Fla., before embarking on a two-year residency in plastic surgery at the Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. In 1991, DiBernardo began his work in private practice. Also in 1991, he received the Leo M. Davidoff Award for teaching distinction at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and, a year later, the American Society of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeons’ National Scientific Exhibit Award in Washington, D.C. He is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and is the certified international instructor for multiple laser and energy-based systems. He continues his ongoing research on cutting-edge technologies with numerous publications in medical literature.
“Thank you to County Executive DiVincenzo for considering me for this award and to my family for always supporting me and putting up with my extensive traveling and long hours,” DiBernardo said at the event. “We are a training and research center in Montclair and it is a great honor to have doctors come to or facility from all over the world, to support the work that we do and aid in us being industry leaders.”
Father Luigi Zanotto from St. Lucy’s Church in Newark gave the invocation; Essex County Newark Tech student Aliyanah Carter sang the national anthem; and Frank Gesumaria from Newark performed during the musical interlude.