FRANCESCO ISGRO – At its 94th Anniversary and Past Presidents Gala, the Lido Club bestowed the Man of the Year honor on Christopher Clemente, who joins a long list of distinguished individuals to have been honored in recent years: Mario Andretti, General Peter Pace, and Giuseppe Cecchi, to name a few.
Clemente is Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of Comstock Holdings, a real estate development and investment company that he founded in 1985. He is also Managing Member of Comstock Partners, LLC, a family-owned private company that focuses on commercial real-estate
development and investment.
Comstock Holdings has been involved in the development, construction, acquisition, and management of thousands of residential units and millions of square feet of commercial and mixed-use properties around the Washington, D.C. region. Some of the notable projects are Reston Station, a more than 5 million square feet transit-oriented and mixed-use development in Reston, and Loudoun Station, a similar 2.5 million square feet development in Ashburn, Virginia.
Clemente attended the University of Wisconsin and George Mason University, where he studied Business and Psychology. Clemente and his wife, Tracy Schar, have been long-time supporters of numerous local charitable organizations that support international adoptions, foster-care programs, and educational, housing, and other assistance to families and children in need. In accepting the award, Clemente recounted the astonishing story of his Italian roots.
“My father was born in Brooklyn. He was the oldest child of Louis Clemente, a surgeon in the army during World War II and Amelia Giuffini.
The Clemente and Giuffini families hailed from Florence, Italy, and Sicily. My great -grandfather Vincent Giuffini arrived in America in the early 1900s in search of the opportunities that America held promise for. Papa Giuffini, as we called him, started with nothing. He worked hard as a stone mason and eventually became a real estate developer who built thousands of apartments throughout the boroughs of New York City. “Although Papa Giuffini passed away in the early 70s, the Giuffini real estate business still thrives today in New York. I think they still manage some of the apartments that my great-grandfather developed in the mid 1900s.
“My mother, Kathleen Fitzgerald, was also born in New York City. She was the eldest child of Maurice and Catherine Fitzgerald, whose families had immigrated to America from Ireland.
“So I grew up in the earliest years as half-Irish and half-Italian, until — but I’ll get into that later. The elder Fitzgerald raised my mom and her two younger brothers in Queens, where Maurice Fitzgerald was Queensborough president in the 1950s, until he passed away while my mom was still in high school.
“Now this is the part about what I learned about the Irish. When researching our family heritage, we learned that the Fitzgeralds, the Fitzgerald part of our family tree, actually had roots in Italy. They were known as the Gerundinis, until they were run out of Italy for being criminals. Anyway, my mother denied that for years. My father relished in the fact,” he joked.
The plaque presented to Clemente by outgoing Lido president Rich DiPippo was inscribed with the words: “In recognition of your outstanding success in the business community and your dedication to improving the mission and visions of charities in which you’re involved. Your daily life is a shining example to the Italian American heritage manifesting itself in service to your clients, to the communities in which you give and your time and talents to improve the lives of others.”
Published in Voce Italiana December 2023