Born in Manhattan in 1921, Jo grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where her family relocated in 1926.

Jo credits her paternal grandparents (who spoke no English) for her bi-lingual abilities. As a child she learned to speak their native language, Sicilian. English became her second language when she entered first grade at PS 14 in Manhattan.

As a student at Abraham Lincoln High School, she discovered the exciting world of competitive swimming. She was captain of the Woman's Swimming Team through her Junior and Senior years. She was presented with the coveted Louisa Wingate Underhill award in recognition of her proficiency in athletics. She continued to compete when she enrolled in Columbia University as an undergraduate student always dreaming of a place on the US Woman's Olympic Swimming Team.

In 1942  Jo was awarded a diploma from the Red Cross Aquatic School.  In 1944 she graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Science and that same year married her childhood sweetheart, Nick.  They traveled to his assigned air stations during WWII when he served as an Ensign/Lieutenant JG until he was assigned to duty in England.  Jo and Nick have three sons and reside in Oyster Bay Cove, New York.

Jo taught health and physical education at the College of Mount St. Vincent’s, St. Barnabas High School, and the Brentwood Schools.  Founder and president of the Bellmore Auxiliary for United Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County, she became a public speaker for CP informing her fellow Long Islanders about this disability and the need for funds to carry on its work.  She went on to instruct public speaking and was an active speaker and fundraiser for the UCPA.  She currently volunteers at The Nature Conservancy in Cold Spring Harbor, NY and participates in fundraising activities for cancer research.

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