Maria Santomauro is director of strategic initiatives at Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple. She is a native of West Scranton and is a graduate of Scranton Central High School and Marywood University, where she earned a degree in communications, public relations and advertising. She has three children: Joseph, Janette and Julianna. She lives in the Hill Section of Scranton with Bernie McGurl.
Meet Maria Santomauro…

Tell us a little about your work at the cultural center.
My title is a weird title, as I have a lot of job responsibilities. What it really means is that we’ve worked a whole lot of different job responsibilities together and I’ve assumed those responsibilities. We’re a nonprofit organization, so we rely on all different kinds of revenue-generating streams and resources, from grants to sponsorships to our leader donors. I reach out to our corporate sponsors and work with them on all of our programming. They’re all important, but that’s one of the very important things that I do.

What’s it like to work in such an historic building every day?
It’s amazing. And I love this building not just because I work here, but I’ve been connected to it since I was 4 years old. I studied dance for 20 years. I studied tap, dance and ballet, and I have pictures of me when I was about 7 years old, backstage, right in the ballroom.

You recently launched a new music series, “Underground Microphone,” which happens every Tuesday. It’s hosted by Lily Mao, and the music runs from 6 to 8 p.m. What else can you tell us about it?
It was actually the brainchild of Jason Helman, our business office manager and box office manager. The idea came up at a staff meeting, and as a team, we really liked the concept. Lily also helps with the booking, and we’ve been working together on finding acts. And what’s really nice about it is that it’s attracting an audience that we would not normally get. And it’s all different types of music. If you’re an artist and you’d like to perform, there’s really no rules. But it’s not an open mic. The artists are scheduled in advance, so we know who’s going to be performing a few weeks down the road.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I like to go and check out musicians. Concerts, gigs … whenever I can get turned on to some new music, I’m there.

Who are some of your all-time favorite artists?
Steely Dan and David Bowie. I also like Supertramp, the Beatles and Mark Knopfler.

Do you follow sports?
New York Giants. My dad actually had a tryout with the Giants.

Favorite city?
New York. My daughter lives there.

Favorite vacation spot?
Cape May. It’s so beautiful, and the history is just incredible.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
The people are wonderful. For everything that’s wrong with this area, there’s so much more that we fail to recognize as right and good. There’s a lot of good. And there are so many good people. And you see it when someone needs help. Everyone bands together and that sense of community kicks in. I also like the change of seasons.

Favorite food?
I love Italian and I love Asian, but if had to pick one, it would be seafood.

Favorite holiday?
The entire season from Thanksgiving through Christmas.

All-time favorite movie?
“The Bridge on the River Kwai,” “Terms of Endearment” and “The Godfather.”

Favorite TV show?
“Masterpiece Theater” on PBS.

Any pets?
A cat, Roxy.

Biggest pet peeve?
When people take credit for other people’s work.

Favorite quote or catchphrase?
“Those who hear not the music think the dancers mad.” — Friedrich Nietzsche.

Favorite book or author?
Mitch Albom. I like his approach with storytelling.

Is there anything about you that might really surprise people?
I’m known to have a big personality and to be able to walk into a room and not appear shy. I appear confident, and I’m always engaging and I do love to meet people. I used to say that my No. 1 goal was to meet everyone in the whole entire world. But really and truly, deep down inside, I’m shy. I like my quiet time, and I’m kind of private, even though I’m not.

Have you had a time in your life, or a person in your life, or a moment in your life, that’s really helped shape you into the person you are today?
For me, it’s been anyone that I’ve spent a good amount of time with. Whether it was my parents, my siblings, having been married, my children — all of that does mold who we are. And the takeaway is the experiences gained and the lessons learned.

UP CLOSE & PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at

Photos by Emma Black