James Bruno Struzzi II was born on September 23, 1967, at Jeannette Hospital in Jeanette PA to parents James B. and Anna Mae.
The Struzzi family lived in Jeannette near Grapeville where Struzzi’s father was a volunteer fireman. His father worked at the Westinghouse Airbrake Company in Wilmerding where he also served as a union steward. Struzzi’s mother worked in cosmetics at JCPenny.
When Struzzi was three-years old, his sister, Melissa, was born. The family moved shortly after her birth to a country home near Bushy Run State Park in the Penn-Trafford School District. The family was raised Methodist and regularly attended church and Sunday School.
Struzzi grew up enjoying the outdoors, hunting and fishing, and fitness. He also enjoyed reading and comic books. He played midget football for many years and some high school football before injury ended his career. A very creative individual, Struzzi also developed a love for music and formed a high school rock band that went on to record several demos, but was never signed to a label. He still plays with his band on occasion.
God blessed the Struzzi family with an unexpected addition when Struzzi was 16 when his brother, Michael, was born.
After graduating from Penn Trafford High School in 1985, Struzzi earned a degree in electrical wiring from a technical school in McKees Rocks near Pittsburgh. Struzzi worked as an electrician for about a year before he decided to pursue a childhood dream of becoming a writer. He went back to college and earned a bachelors degree in English Writing with a focus on communication from the University of Pittsburgh in Greensburg in 1996.
Following graduation, Struzzi became a newspaper reporter working for the Murrysville Star in Murrysville, PA. After working there for several years and gaining valuable experience covering local government, Struzzi was hired as a daily reporter for the Butler Eagle in Butler, PA. There Struzzi covered everything from crime to high school football with a beat focus on healthcare, transportation and the outdoors.
As a passion, Struzzi always loved to work out and body build. Fulfilling another childhood dream, Struzzi began to compete as a natural bodybuilder in the mid-90s. He placed well at many competitions and learned self-discipline, determination and mental focus through the process.
Through his coverage of transportation, Struzzi met many representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Appreciating his knowledge and understanding of transportation and engineering, he was invited to interview for a safety press officer position at PennDOT District 10 in Indiana. PennDOT District 10 includes Butler, Armstrong, Indiana, Clarion and Jefferson counties. Struzzi was hired by District 10 in 1999 and moved to North 10th Street in Indiana Borough that year.
Six months after starting at PennDOT, Struzzi was promoted to the position of Community Relations Coordinator reporting directly to the District Executive and PennDOT Press Secretary in Harrisburg under then-Governor Tom Ridge. As the District 10 CRC, Struzzi would work closely with the media, public, and local and State elected officials on transportation improvement projects and community interactions. While in District 10, Struzzi earned the respect of many community leaders through selfless service, integrity and effective communication. Struzzi was also working toward a master’s degree in Public Administration from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
In 2002, Struzzi met his wife, Christina. Christina was originally from Northern Cambria. Christina holds a degree in occupational therapy and currently works as a realtor. She was managing the Train Station Restaurant in Indiana when the couple met. The couple married in 2003 and had their first child, Aviana, the following year. The young family stayed at the home on North 10th Street and added their first son, Talan, in 2006.
Inspired by his children, Struzzi returned to his dream of writing and in, 2006 and 2008, published several well-loved children’s books, The Christmas Secret and Jacob’s Haunting. The young adult novels set in Indiana County teach children the importance of family, morality and courage.
Shortly before Talan’s birth, Struzzi was promoted to be the Press Secretary for PennDOT District 11, which covers Allegheny, Beaver, and Lawrence counties. The family moved to Bridgeville that summer to be closer to the District 11 offices as Struzzi’s Press Secretary duties in an urban area like Pittsburgh would require 24-7 responsibilities.
During his time in Pittsburgh, Struzzi again earned the respect and appreciation of local leaders, law enforcement, media and the general public through integrity, honesty and relationship building. He also earned many accolades and awards from PennDOT leadership for his service and commitment.
The family added two more sons, Zarek, in 2007, and Vaughn, in 2009. Struzzi volunteered as a little league coach and served on the board of the Bridgeville Athletic Association.
With close relatives still living in Indiana County, the Struzzi family found themselves coming back to Indiana County on many weekends to visit. Those visits made them realize few places had the quality of life found in Indiana so they decided to move back in 2012 – even though Struzzi was still working at PennDOT District 11. After 10 months of a long commute, Struzzi applied for the position of President at the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce. Struzzi earned the position and started at the Chamber in April 2013, a position he currently holds.
Struzzi transformed the Chamber increasing the membership to 670 and the office staff to two fulltime and one part-time employee. He has been a key player in Indiana County’s Economic Development team immersing himself in understanding all of the needs of the county’s business community and various economic sectors.
Unfortunately, tragedy would strike close to Struzzi’s heart. At age 31, Struzzi’s brother, Michael, would die of an overdose, in 2015. Michael had struggled with addiction ever since a JV football injury broke his leg. The loss was devastating for Struzzi’s entire family. He watched his little brother grow up and they were close as adults.
Struzzi’s strong faith has helped him cope with the loss of his brother. When coming back to Indiana the family were members of Grace United Methodist Church. Now, the family are members of New Life Community Church, which they helped found, in 2017.
Struzzi has volunteered as a little league coach for many years, serves on many local boards and committees including the Salvation Army Board, Tourist Board, Downtown Indiana Board, Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, Pennsylvania Association of Chamber Professionals Board, IUP Center for Family Business Advisory Board, IUP Incubator Advisory Board, IUP Career and Professional Development Center Advisory Board, Indiana County Technology Center Advisory Board, Penns Manor School District Career Advisory Council, Indiana Area School District Career Advisory Council, Homer Center School District Career Advisory Council, Leaders Circle of Indiana County, Midday Rotary, Homer City Business Association, Indiana County Manufacturing Consortium, Indiana County Healthcare Careers Consortium, and the Tri-County Workforce Investment Board.
The Struzzi family lives in White Township. In his spare time, he enjoys hunting and fishing with his family, reading and writing, working out, and performing music.
You can visit www.booksbystruzzi.com to learn more about the published works of Jim Struzzi.