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Our staff


Michael Simmonds
Acting Director 
Meetings by appointment only.

Michael will be overseeing Prato and taking on the Centre Director responsibilities on a part time basis during Cecilia’s absence. Michael has been involved in working with the Centre for over a decade, including a year based in Prato as Associate Director. Michael’s full-time role is Director, Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement). 

Cecilia Hewlett, Director - on maternity leave

Dr Hewlett leads the strategic planning and direction of our centre's activities with the guidance of the Prato Centre Board. The director of the centre since mid-2012, Dr Hewlett played a key role in the centre’s establishment alongside its founding director, the late Emeritus Professor Bill Kent. A Renaissance historian herself, Dr Hewlett's recent publications include: Studies on Florence and the Italian Renaissance in Honour of F.W. Kent edited with Associate Professor Peter Howard and published by Brepols in 2016; ‘Locating Contadini in the Renaissance City: Food Circulation and Mobility in the Marketplace’ in I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance, vol. 19, n. 1 (2016); and an article about the sack of Prato published in Prato Storia e Arte. Contact Dr Hewlett if your institution or organisation has a proposal for academic or industry collaboration with Monash University in Europe.



Annette Pitcher
Acting Manager
+39 0574 436921

Annette is responsible for operational management, strategic planning and deployment, in addition to overseeing the centre's vibrant annual education program and research activities. You can contact Annette if you wish to book the centre for an international conference or meeting, teaching program, or event.

Cathy Crupi, Manager - on maternity leave

Loredana D'Elia

Loredana D'Elia
Academic Programs and Internships Coordinator
+39 0574 436928

Loredana is the key contact point for all academic programs at the centre. Contact Loredana if you are interested in either running or attending a course at Monash Prato. Interested in our internship programs? Loredana will help place you if you are a student, or if you are an employer, she will find you a Monash intern with the perfect profile for your organisation.

Photograph of Mariagiulia Da Riva
Mariagiulia Da Riva
Student Engagement and Support  
Community engagement initiatives enquiries
If you're a student coming to Prato, Mariagiulia will help you navigate the local scene, both inside and outside the centre, to maximise your study abroad experience. Born and bred in Prato, Mariagiulia will advise you on our community engagement initiatives such as Conversation Exchange and Buon Appetito! family meals. Don't forget to drop her a line to tell her how you went once you return home!
Sarah Gore


Sarah Gore
Events Officer and Receptionist
+39 0574 43691
Australian secondary school enquiries

Sarah will immediately make you feel welcome when you walk into reception for the first time at Palazzo Vaj. Originally from England, Sarah has been living in Italy for over 20 years. If you're organising a major conference, Sarah will be your local liaison support to ensure the event runs smoothly.  If you're interested in running an Australian secondary school program at Monash Prato, Sarah is the person to contact.  She will advise you on your next cross-cultural encounter whether you're a student or visitor.

Samuele Grassi
Lecturer, Italian Studies

Samuele is a lecturer in Italian Studies, delivering both intensive beginners and intermediate units, for the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics, Faculty of Arts, as well as the Parliamo! not-for-credit course designed specifically for students and staff visiting the centre. Samuele joined Monash in 2010; he previously taught Italian as a second language in international institutes in Florence. Samuele holds a PhD in English and American Studies and a Masters in Translation Studies from the University of Florence. His research interests include queer and performance studies and anti-authoritarian political thought, Italian contemporary theatre and performance studies, and Irish culture.

Photograph of Heather MacLeod

Heather MacLeod
Receptionist and Student Support
+39 0574 436954
Student services enquiries

Originally from Scotland, Heather looks forward to welcoming you to Monash Prato on your arrival at reception. A language graduate with a passion for Italy and travel, her background in university admissions and more recently in student services and housing in Florence, ensures she is well-equipped to support students visiting our centre. She’ll be happy to share ideas and chat through any travel plans for your stay in Italy.

Narelle McAuliffe

Narelle McAuliffe
Senior Coordinator, International Campus and Major Alliance Support
+61 3 990 54677
Prato alumni enquiries

Now based in Melbourne in the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement), Narelle has worked for our centre since 2009 and coordinates our communications and marketing. Did you study at Monash Prato? Narelle will help you stay connected with the centre and other Prato alumni.


Leonardo Piovesan
Finances and IT Support
+39 0574 436924
Finances and billing enquiries


Leonardo is responsible for various aspects of the centre's administration, including finances and event coordination. He also provides IT assistance to visitors. If you're organising a conference or event at the centre, Leonardo will provide you with on-the-ground assistance and help you liaise with local suppliers to secure the best price for services or products.

Leonardo Tinti

Leonardo Tinti
Network and Systems Administrator
+39 0574 436936
IT service enquiries

Since 2009 Leonardo has been managing all IT-related matters at the centre, from audio-visual, to pc software and hardware trouble-shooting, to server management. Contact Leonardo if you are organising a conference or course and need advice on our technical facilities.

Francesca Vivarelli



Francesca Vivarelli
Receptionist and Accommodation Officer
+39 0574 43691
Accommodation enquiries

Francesca will greet you with a smile at reception and help you find the right accommodation in Prato, whether you're a student looking for a suitable long-term option, a conference delegate who's after the convenience of a hotel or residence, or Monash visiting staff who may be interested in our apartments located on the third floor. Francesca’s extensive experience in the tourism industry means that you will always be in good hands.

Donata Batisti Maria Donata Batisti
Building maintenance
+39 0574 436927

A graduate of the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Florence, Donata specialises in interior design and renovation. She has collaborated with the centre on facility-related projects since 2009.