Military Museum

Our Team

Ralph Santillo

Founder, CEO and President

Ralph Santillo is the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors, and the founder of the Foundation and the Southwest Florida Military Museum. In his role, Mr. Santillo oversees all operations of the organization, providing thousands of Veterans and their families access to social support service programs, special post-military education and counseling services, and affordable housing.

Originally from New Jersey, Mr. Santillo served as a Field Medic, enlisting at the age of 15, in the National Guard’s 50th Armored Division. After his discharge from the military, Mr. Santillo spent the next 50 years leading numerous retail, wholesale, manufacturing, and real estate businesses. A true entrepreneur, he owned and operated two dry cleaning plants, a family operated convenience store and delicatessen, an Italian Restaurant, two retail fabric stores, a ladies sportwear clothing line, and four clothing stores.

In addition to running his business interests, Mr. Santillo has served as the Managing Partner for Real Estate Sales of Pennsylvania, the Managing Partner at Preferred Builders Showcase, and the National Training Director for Real Estate Discounters Corp., located in Cape Coral, FL.

Mr. Santillo is the recipient of the Rotary Foundation’s Paul Harris Fellow Award and was appointed as an Honorable Kentucky Colonel by the mayor. He is a proud graduate of Clifton High School in New Jersey.

Mr. Santillo’s goals are to rejoin Veterans from WWII, the Korean, Vietnam, Iraqi & Afghan Wars, and all other American conflicts, effectively and carefully assimilating them into society and helping them grow to their full potential. In his role leading the Foundation and Museum, he takes seriously the motto: “No one left behind.”

Nicholas Napolitano Jr.

Director and Sr. VSO

Nicholas Napolitano is treasurer and a director for the foundation and serves as a senior Veteran’s service officer and the director of Veteran’s services delivered from our headquarters located at the Southwest Florida Military Museum in Cape Coral, Fla. As senior VSO, Mr. Napolitano acts as works with numerous Veteran Service Organizations throughout the United States, is responsible for the foundation’s VSO Training and Certification program and its Records Recovery Program.

Mr. Napolitano also serves as the foundation’s representative to the museum and Cape Coral properties. Originally from upstate New York, Mr. Napolitano volunteered during the Korean War and served as an airman 1st class with the United States Air Force. After eight years of active duty service, Mr. Napolitano flourished in the private sector as an A&R administrator for Buddha Kama Sutra Records and spent more than 20 years as the director of energy programs for The City of New York before joining the foundation in 2010.

Mr. Napolitano previously served as the president of the Korean War Vet’s and an AMVETS commander-in charge. He is currently a member of The Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA), the largest and oldest national organization for men and women of Italian heritage in the United States.

Missi Lastra

Director of Operations

With a passion for helping Veterans and strong ties to the local community, Missi joined IAVF as the assistant director of the Southwest Florida Military Museum & Library in January 2018. In July she was promoted to the director of operations. She has a particular interest in veteran mental health stemming from her daughter’s and grandfather’s military service. In her role, she is committed to promoting the Southwest Florida Military Museum & Library, implementing successful operating processes and creating awareness for the needs of our Veteran community.

Missi brings 21 years of successful operations and Human Resources management experience with Fortune 500 companies such as Home Depot, Nike and Limited Brands. Training, development and public speaking are also areas of strength for her. Her BA is in business with concentration in HR Management.  She has worked with Veterans and Veterans groups in the areas of VA benefits for burial, as well as, providing service dogs to Veterans with PTSD. She is also an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 90 in Cape Coral, Fla. The mission to Honor, Preserve & Educate is a natural fit with the skills she has acquired along the way.

When she is not advocating for Veterans, Missi is spending time with her husband, five children, seven grandchildren and two dogs. She loves her Miami Heat, UM Hurricanes and Kentucky Wildcats. Reading or walking on the beach are her favorite methods of relaxation.

Judy Petrulavage

Director of Development and Community Outreach

Judy Petrulavage is the director of development and community outreach for the Southwest Florida Military Museum located in Cape Coral, Fla. She is responsible for community relations, strategic relationship management and major fundraising (fevelopment) outside of Cape Coral, also serving as the point of contact for national public relations for the museum.

Originally from Stafford Springs, Conn., Mrs. Petrulavage began her career in the armament industry shortly after graduating high school. There, she served as a supervisor and instructor for missile system infrared assemblies contracted for the military. After 20 years of service, Mrs. Petrulavage transitioned into the private sector where she acquired, renovated and sold a variety of businesses for many years. As one of the early co-founders of IAVF, Mrs. Petrulavage has been a major force driving the growth of the foundation and the museum.

An active leader in the Cape Coral community, Mrs. Petrulavage is committed to helping those in need, especially children and Veterans. She served as president of the

Southwest Florida Foster Care Association for over nine years, personally fostering over 100 children. Mrs. Petrulavage was recently recognized by the Republican Women of Cape Coral as the 2018 Humanitarian of Distinction and a finalist for the 2018 Women of the Year Award.

 

Department Heads

Sonia Raymond

Museum Curator

Irma Center

Office Secretary

Denise Wood

Event Coordinator

Michael Ambazis

Kitchen Manager

Leslie Borecki

Store Manager

Tory Renza

Social Media & Marketing Specialist