Amato Berardi, founder of insurance firm Berardi & Associates.
By Pete Kennedy
During the five years that he served as a member of Italian Parliament, Amato Berardi had a 96 percent attendance record. That’s pretty impressive, considering his commute — a 4,300-mile voyage from Pennsylvania to Rome.
Berardi, who owns a financial services company based in Bala Cynwyd, was elected in 2008 to Italy’s Chamber of Deputies, representing Italian citizens living abroad in 12 North American and Central American countries.
Born in Longano, a small village in Southern Italy’s Molise region, Berardi was 12 when his family came to America in 1970 to find a better life and new opportunities. They arrived in the Frankford section of Philadelphia, living with his uncle for a few months before purchasing their own home.
“It made a huge impression on me — because I came from a small town that
was like a big, happy family — coming to Philadelphia with a population of 2 million people,” he said.
In 1975, while he was a freshman at Northeast Catholic High School, Berardi and his three brothers opened Berardi Brothers Pizzeria. After high school, he enrolled at Philadelphia College of Textiles and Business, majoring in business management.
Then a serious automobile accident in 1980 left Berardi in a coma for three weeks. He spent three months in the hospital. After extensive rehabilitation, he embarked on a new career selling insurance, drawing upon his own medical emergency as an example of the value of a good policy.
He opened his own firm, Berardi & Associates Inc., in 1983, offering life insurance and health insurance for individuals and families. His company quickly grew to offer a full range of financial services, including risk assurance, employee benefits, worker’s compensation and other commercial products. It now has more than 80 employees and is licensed in 17 states.
Berardi also co-founded the Italian-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia and has long served as president of the National Italian American Political Action Committee. He is a member of the St. Anthony Society and has raised funds for Sbarro Health Research Organization, a Philadelphia-based cancer institute.
His philanthropic efforts have earned commendations from Philadelphia City Council and the Pennsylvania legislature. In 2015, he received the Award for Leadership and Service from the National Italian American Foundation.
In 2008, Berardi seized the opportunity to run for a seat in the Italian Chamber
of Deputies, the lower house of Italian Parliament, akin to the U.S. House of
Representatives. During his term, he logged more than 4.6 million air miles. He’d fly to Italy each Monday, arriving on Tuesday, and spend the week participating in committee meetings, General Assembly voting sessions, and other activities.
“I’d come back on Friday afternoon and spend some time with my family,” he said.
“Then, Saturday and Sunday, I used to travel to different parts of the territory, between the United States, Canada and Central America. And then on Monday, I’d catch a flight and go back to Rome.”
His constituents’ top priorities were the promotion of Italian culture and the establishment of job-creating economic bonds between Italy and their countries of residence.
“We were successful in bringing over 132 companies, between the United States and Canada, and a couple of them in the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica,” he said.
Berardi also helped to bring the Galileo Galilei exhibit to the Franklin Institute in 2009.
When he left public office in 2013, Berardi’s commute shrank to the roughly 15 miles between his Huntingdon Valley home and his office on City Line Avenue.
He lives with his wife, Maddalena, whom he first met on a soccer field about 40 years ago, when she came out to congratulate him and his teammates after a win. They have two grown children, Carmine and Carmelina, and an 8-year-old granddaughter.
Two years ago, Berardi was named an “Ambassador of Molise in the World,” an honor that recognizes meritorious professional achievement among those with ties to his native region.
Right now, Berardi is working as chairman of the inaugural Mid-Atlantic Italian American Medical Awards, which will recognize Italian-American doctors who’ve made significant contributions, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak. The ceremony will be held Oct. 14 at Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia.
Asked if he would consider a political run closer to home, Berardi said he does not rule anything out.
“If the opportunity comes up,” he said, “we’ll take it one step at a time.”