Skip to content

Tom Cesarini, PhD

tom cesarini
Tom Cesarini, PhD
Chief Leadership Officer

Tom Cesarini holds a PhD in leadership studies and an MA in nonprofit leadership and management from the University of San Diego (USD). Tom has extensive experience in the social sector as an executive director and consultant with a focus on narrative building, writing and editing, group relations, nonprofit-organization infrastructure, resource development, program design, and capacity building. He is the founder and chief leadership officer of Convivio, a nonprofit organization that promotes Italian cultural identity, and he is the founder and lead consultant of Chiaroscuro Consulting, providing a host of services to social-sector organizations.

Tom’s academic interests include leadership theory and practice; group relations; adult development; organizational culture; communications studies; arts and humanities; cultural and ethnic studies; film and society; ethical, philosophical, and psychological components of leadership; Emergent Leadership Theory; Integral Theory; nonprofit-sector trends.

A nominee for the USD William P. Foster Outstanding Dissertation Award, Tom’s doctoral dissertation is titled, The Multiple Meanings of San Diego’s Little Italy: A Study of the Impact of Real and Symbolic Space and Boundaries on the Ethnic Identities of Eight Italian Americans. For his research, through the narrative constructions of participant life stories, Tom examined the perceptions of Italian Americans in San Diego with a connection to Little Italy. Other publications include two pictorial-history volumes: San Diego’s Fishing Industry (2009) and San Diego’s Little Italy (2006).

As an advocate in the local Italian community, Tom has helped to promote Italian arts, culture, and heritage for numerous local Italian cultural organizations. Noting an absence of a singular point of reference for San Diego’s myriad Italian groups, he founded Convivio in 2003 and the Italian Historical Society of San Diego in 2006 with the express goal of establishing a multifaceted Italian cultural center in San Diego. Tom’s vision for a collaborative cultural venue includes a reference library, media lab, historical center and archives, performance space, cafe and market, and event/exhibition space.