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The Italian American Podcast

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IAP 200: A Thousand Years' Worth of Stories: Robert Barbera and the Mentoris Project

• 49 min

If you were set out to tell the stories of every great Italian and Italian American to leave their mark on human history, you could probably speak for a thousand years without even scratching the surface of such an illustrious list. And for businessman and philanthropist Robert Barbera, that’s exactly the task he has set out for himself. At 89 years young, this proud Italian American dedicates each day, as he has since his boyhood in Depression-era Brooklyn, New York, to the promotion and promulgation of his Italian heritage. His immigrant parents taught him the value of hard work and the importance of family.  As a young man, Robert made his first stock investment when he was only four years out of high school in 1954, and he bought his first building in 1961.  Through hard work, dedication, focus, and the support of his family, he now has 500 units and multiple subsidiary companies, making real estate the cornerstone of his success. He launched The Barbera Foundation in 1994 and has donated his time, expertise, and financial resources to many worthy organizations, including Pepperdine University, Thomas Aquinas College, and the California State University system.  The founder of numerous organizations to promote Italian culture and language, this tireless community leader even purchased and revived L’Italo-Americano, the last surviving Italian newspaper in his adopted home of Los Angeles, California. But of all of his works, the Mentoris Project best represents Robert’s legacy. A series of novels and biographies about extraordinary Italian and Italian American men and women, Barbera sees the books that form this series as an inspiration to all those who are seekers, trying to find enduring principles to guide them on their own life’s journey, while sharing many untold stories of the countless contributions Italians have made in every field of human history. As inspired as you will be by the dozens of stories the Mentoris Project has shared with the world, perhaps none will affect you as much as that of  this indefatigable champion of the Italian culture. For more information, visit This episode was sponsored by Mediaset Italia.

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