Santo Pietro, Mary Jo 1945-

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Santo Pietro, Mary Jo 1945-

PERSONAL: Born 1945. Education: Attended the Catholic University of America (graduated); Columbia University, Ph.D.

CAREER: Writer, educator, and speech-language pathologist. Kean University, Union, NJ, professor of speech-language pathology. Jewish Home and Hospital, Bronx, NY, research consultant. Taught at Rutgers University and the City University of New York. Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Stroke Club, founder and moderator. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), fellow.

MEMBER: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (four-term legislative councilor); New Jersey Speech-Language-Hearing Association (former president).


(With Elizabeth Ostuni) Getting Through: Communicating When Someone You Care for Has Alzheimer’s Disease, foreword by Jeffrey L. Cummings, Speech Bin (Vero Beach, FL), 1986.

(With R. Goldfarb) TARGET: Techniques in Aphasia Rehabilitation: Generating Effective Treatment, Speech Bin (Vero Beach, FL), 1995.

(With Elizabeth Ostuni) Successful Communication with Alzheimer’s Disease Patients: An In-Service Training Manual, Butterworth-Heinemann (Boston, MA), 1997, 2nd edition, Butterworth-Heinemann (St. Louis, MO), 2003.

(With F. Boczko) The Breakfast Club: Enhancing the Communication Ability of Alzheimer’s Patients, Speech Bin (Vero Beach, FL), 1997.

What Is Dementia?, Speech Bin (Vero Beach, FL), 1999.

Father Hartke: His Life and Legacy to the American Theater (biography), Catholic University of America Press (Washington, DC), 2002.

Contributor to periodicals, including American Journal of Alzheimer Disease, Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, and Brain & Language.

SIDELIGHTS: Mary Jo Santo Pietro is an author, biographer, educator, and speech pathologist who teaches at Kean University in Union, New Jersey. She is the author of numerous books on communication issues facing patients with degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and is a researcher on speech and language issues. In Father Hartke: His Life and Legacy to the American Theater, Santo Pietro offers a biography of a prominent figure in American theater who had a significant effect on her life and on the lives of countless others within and associated with the performing arts. Father Gilbert Vincent Hartke was a Dominican priest who in the 1940s founded the prestigious Department of Speech and Drama at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, which Santo Pietro attended as an undergraduate. An energetic, charismatic figure dedicated to his department, his religion, and his students, Hartke shaped his academic program into one of the best known and most respected in the country. His program attracted some of the brightest young talent in the performing arts and boasts such noted graduates as actors Jon Voight and Susan Sarandon; playwrights Jean Kerr and Jason Miller; and popular celebrities such as Tonight Show sidekick Ed McMahon. Santo Pietro “depicts her hero as a high-energy entrepreneur whose priestly character and personal charm provided easy access to the powerful and famous in the worlds of theater and politics,” remarked Michael Tueth in America: The National Catholic Weekly. Though Hartke sometimes had conflicts with the administration of Catholic University, his persistence and unswerving commitment carried him through. Hartke “thrived on people, and people thrived on him—most especially the numerous students whose careers he launched, but also screen stars, politicians, and presidents, to whom he gave encouragement, sound advice, and religious counsel,” noted Donn B. Murphy in the Catholic Historical Review. Among his other achievements, Hartke helped to promote theatrical performances at the White House and was instrumental, with others, in creating the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Santo Pietro’s book is an “unabashedly affectionate account of Hartke’s life and accomplishments,” commented Tueth. Santo Pietro “has captured a life lived vigorously—and self-examined at its finale with deserved satisfaction,” Murphy observed. Her work, Murphy continued, is a “testament to the virtues of trust in God, self-reliance, robust confidence and infectious camaraderie. It documents achievement, and the joy of seeing others achieve.”



America: The National Catholic Weekly, July 1, 2002, Michael Tueth, “Dramatic Dominican,” review of Father Hartke: His Life and Legacy to the American Theater.

Catholic Historical Review, April, 2003, Donn B. Murphy, review of Father Hartke, p. 349.

Library Journal, February 15, 2002, J. Sara Paulk, review of Father Hartke, p. 147.


Kean University Web site, (December 13, 2006), biography of Mary Jo Santo Pietro.

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Santo Pietro, Mary Jo 1945-

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