VICENZA, Italy - A senior host nation leader from the Vicenza Military Community recently retired after more than 34 years of service.
Stefania Villanova, who began her career with the U.S. Army in November 1986, said it is important to give it your very best, every day.
“Establish good work ethics, be honest, don’t be afraid of thinking out of the box and always maintain your integrity,” said Villanova, looking back on what she learned over the years.
Villanova, who retired Dec. 31 and is among U.S. Army Garrison Italy employees honored this Spring for their length of service, took her first job at Caserma Ederle after a two-year stint at Fort Bragg, N.C., with her husband, who was then a U.S. Army paratrooper. Villanova, a native of nearby Lugo di Vicenza, and her husband decided that Vicenza was a good place to settle.
Her first job was with the Troop Issue Support Activity, temporarily filling in for an accounting technician on maternity leave. Villanova’s potential and hard work didn’t go unnoticed. As a result, TISA converted her term position in a permanent appointment within the finance office.
In 1989, Stefania moved to the budget office of the then 22nd Area Support Group, which became U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza, and later U.S. Army Garrison Italy. Villanova served within the resource management office until she retired as budget officer, which is the highest position attainable for a local national employee.
Garrison commanders would often approach her to ask for advice, especially in times of budget constraints or unit reorganizations. Her focus and competence, along with an unmatched commitment to excellence, left a lasting mark on all the military and civilian leaders she worked for, according to a commendation letter she received upon retirement.
Her peers were another reason her time on Ederle was memorable, Villanova said. She talks fondly of a Sgt. Bowman and her mentor, Maria Furlan, who both led by example and instilled a deep appreciation for the value of honest hard work.
“Employees need to be dedicated, supportive and accountable. It’s important to take care of one’s team and not leave anyone behind,” Villanova said.
Now she's turning to her passions. One of them, inherited from her father, is soccer.
“I started going to the games as a young kid and one of my fondest memories with my father is when we went the stadium in Turin to see the Juventus team play,” Villanova said. “He was a fervent fan and his team became mine.”
When COVID-19 subsides, retirement plans include travelling, and spending more time with her only child, Cristine. She’d also like to volunteer with a local non-profit organization that assists less fortunate children.
“I can’t wait for this pandemic to be over and enjoy life at its fullest,” Villanova said. “I’m really counting down the days.”