The Leonardo da Vinci Society of the Bay Area is celebrating its 70th Anniversary. Founded by Italiophiles who were captivated by the genius of...
If there is an Italian person well known in the San Francisco Bay Area for her community involvement and expertise, that person is Grazia Bennett.
Described by the Italian magazine MarieClaire as “the woman who lived three lives”, Grazia worked for a decade in investment banking both in Europe and the U.S., followed by a professional experience in education when working for the largest American non-profit in the field of international education.
Currently she is working as a realtor for Sotheby's International Realty covering the residential real estate market in the San Francisco area and she has earned a place in the Top Agent Network, which represents the top 10 percent of agents in the city.
While speaking with her, the topic of conversation switches easily from business to culture, and human relationships.
As a matter of fact, she experienced different environments and contexts during her successful career. This cross-cultural knowledge inspires her passions: entrepreneurship, education/ financial education and the global community.
Besides operating very closely with Mauro Battocchi, the Consul General of Italy, with whom she has organized successful events, Grazia spends a lot of her time volunteering for the Bizworld.org and the Business Association Italy America (BAIA).
“I've been involved with Bizworld.org for over twenty years, and today I'm part of the Advisory Board”, Grazia says of the non-profit organization started in 1997 by venture capitalist Tim Draper, to teach entrepreneurship to middle school children through a fun and engaging program.
“The Bizworld’s program teaches young students critical business skills: how to start a company and how the management team has different roles and responsibilities but needs to work together for the good of the company. The program also makes children aware of why it is important to study math, pushes them to think out of the box and teaches them the art of effective negotiation”.
Grazia not only was able to introduce the program in her son's middle school, but was also the first to promote the Bizworld’s program in Italy in an article she helped to write for the newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore in 2012. Last year, Bizworld Italia was eventually launched, by the Italian entrepreneur Adriano Marconetto and through his effort the program is starting to spread all over Italy.
“I love that the program is taught in many underprivileged schools. Because of the Bizworld’s program these kids are exposed to the dynamic of business for the first time in their life and become aware of new professional possibilities” adds Grazia.
Grazia Bennett is also on the Board of Directors of Business Association Italy America (BAIA), the Bay Area business organization created in 2006 focusing on representing and supporting Italian entrepreneurs, executives and managers working in the Bay Area.
“BAIA is an open organization, everyone can join it. The members of the Board and of the Governance Board are all volunteers and they generously donate their skills and time to the organization. BAIA’s financial support comes from corporate sponsors and from the yearly membership fee of those people who value our work’’.
Since its creation BAIA has organized or has co-sponsored more than 130 events both in the U.S. and Italy. The BAIA monthly informal Aperitivo has become a “must” in the Bay Area. Grazia has organized some of the highest profile events for BAIA including “The Startup Game” a conversation between William H. Draper III and Federico Faggin”, “Women Entrepreneurs, the US vs. the European/Italian Experience”, “Beyond Borders, The Age of Global Biotech”, and most recently “Italians and Americans: How We See Each Other, A talk with Beppe Severgnini” and the “Start it! Grow it! Sell it!: the Making of a Successful Exit”.
Finally, when asked about how she sees Italy after so many years living abroad, Grazia reveals:
“Over the past few years a new wave of Italian immigrants have come to the Bay Area. Many of them have an engineering degree. They come here to work for major IT companies such as Google, Facebook or to start their companies. I am delighted to see so many well educated, smart, driven Italians moving to the Bay Area but at the same time I'm sorry for Italy, because it seems that the best and the brightest are leaving the country in search of better professional opportunities.”