Posts Tagged ‘italian american organizations’

Many years ago, Washington lawyer Joe Grano, after returning to Washington from a trip to Rome, Italy, realized that the two cities shared more than just their status as capital cities. Joe saw that the arts and architecture of the two cities were similar, of course, but he also noted that perhaps those similarities were not accidental but deliberate.

Joe Grano and Gianni Alemanno

As Joe explained to CiaoAmerica!, “The American Founding Fathers chose a republic as their preferred form of government after having studied extensively the ‘constitution’ of the Roman Republic. Once it was decided to create a new city for the Seat of Government, it was only natural that they chose Roman architecture for their main public buildings. This was a deliberate decision of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. It is certainly not accidental that the three buildings that represent the legislative, executive and judicial branches, i.e. The Capitol, the White House and the  Supreme Court building are ultimately derived from Roman models, albeit two from an indirect route. Indeed, Jefferson highly recommended a rotunda for the new U.S. Capitol building.”

Joe Grano  decided to act on his observations and over the years became the force behind efforts to join Rome and Washington in a “Sister Cities ” agreement.

But even before that campaign, Joe founded the Constantino Brumidi Society and began efforts to have, among others, Constantino Brumidi, the “Michelangelo of the Nation’s Capitol,” recognized by the U.S. Congress.  Eventually, through his tireless efforts, and his ceaseless prodding of national Italian American organizations, Congress  posthumously awarded Brumidi a Congressional Gold Medal.

Now that the medal has been minted, Joe is indefatigably prodding appropriate Washington institutions to hold a ceremony to commemorate the minting of the medal.

This past Tuesday, Joe sat among the invited guests witnessing the signing ceremony of the “Sister Cities” agreement. He must have felt a moment of satisfaction as he watched the Mayor of  Rome,  Gianni Alemmanno, and the Mayor of Washington, D.C., Vincent Gray sign the document in the historic John Wilson Building, seat of the D.C. government.   Outside the building, the U.S., D.C. and Italian flags waved in the breeze.

Joe recalls that he first brought the “Sister City” idea to the attention of the administration of former DC Mayor Anthony Williams and enlisted the help of other local groups, including SMATCH.  However, by the time the then-Mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, expressed an interest in signing an agreement, the city elected a new mayor.  Under the following Mayor, Adrian Fenty, whose mother Janet  Perno  Fenty is incidentally Italian American, a series of meetings were held with heads of local groups and distinguished Washingtonians to draft a protocol and agreement. Early  in 2008, the draft protocol was approved by Mayor Fenty and then transmitted to Rome. Unfortunately, soon after it was sent, Veltroni resigned as mayor.  Read more . . .


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MTV’s Jersey Shore has been an embarrassment to Italian Americans since its inception.  It’s no surprise that Wall Street Journal writer Stacy Meichtry  says that the casting of Jersey Shore in Florence, Italy , is creating a “culture clash.”  In the story, which appears on the front page of today’s Journal, Meichtry writes that the Jersey shore cast is getting “a cold shoulder in Italy.”   The cultural superintendent for the city of Florence, has banned the Jersey Shore cast from filming in any of the city’s hallowed museum.”   Andre Dimino, former president of UNICO, a national Italian American group, has branded Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi as the country’s worst ever export after she crashed into an Italian police car this weekend.  “She really is the lowest of the low and will do anything for attention, even hitting a police car.”  “She is our worst ever export and is an embarrassment for Italian Americans and our whole country.” said Dimino to a reporter.  We are sure Italians will agree!

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President Barack Obama congratulated the Lido Civic Club of Washington, DC for honoring Jane Salzano  with a “Life Time Achievement Award.” Reading a letter from President Obama, Michael Strautmanis, Chief of Staff to the Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Liaison, brought the greetings from Obama, who noted Jane’s  pioneering work in autism intervention.  Cristiano Maggipinto, First Counselor, Embassy of Italy, also brought greetings from the Italian Ambassador, Giulio Terzi. 

Jane Salzano

As the founder of Community Services for Autistic Adults and Children (CSAAC), a Maryland non‐profit organization, Jane Salzano is a nationally recognized leader on topics ranging from early childhood intervention protocols, educational supports and strategies and innovative, to non‐aversive, community based living and vocational programs. Jane’s work and that of her family has touched the lives of countless families and changed the standards for autism service delivery nationwide.

Jane founded CSAAC in 1979 with a vision to dramatically change the quality of life for adults and children with autism. Through Jane’s vision and determination, CSAAC has become the largest provider in the nation to serve individuals with autism exclusively. CSAAC’s mission is “to enable individuals with autism to reach their highest potential and contribute as confident individuals to their community.” She saw a future where adults with autism lived and worked in the community instead of being warehoused in institutional settings.

The Lido Civic Club also honored Jane’s son, Carl Salzano, as the Lido Club “Man of the Year.”  Carl, a partner at Booz Allen Hamilton, was instrumental in ensuring the financial viability of CSAAC.  He was also recognized for instituting a successful Wounded Warriors dinner program at the Booz Allen Hamilton.

The event held at the Capitol Hilton in Washington DC, attracted a number of prominent Italian Americans, including  Ambassador Connie Morella, Karen Motgomery, Maryland State Senator, Anita Bevacqua McBride, former Chief of Staff to First Lady Laura Bush, Patricia de Stacy Harrison, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Vice-Chair of the National Italian American Foundation,  entrepreneurs Robert Carlucci, Gabriel Battista and Angelo Puglisi, and Hal Koster, Executive Director of Aleethia Foundation, among numerous others.

The event was chaired by Lido Past President Paul Biciocchi.  The Master of Ceremonies was Joseph Bruno, the recipient of the 2009 Lido Civic Club of Washington D.C. “Man of the Year Award.

The Lido Civic Club of Washington, DC was established in 1929 with the primary goal of assisting recent immigrants to become assimilated into the ways of American business. For over 80 years, the Club has brought together Washington area Italian-American businessmen to enjoy not only their shared business interests but also their Italian-American culture while volunteering in various philanthropic activities.

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At the offices of the Consulate General of Italy in New York, the President of the College Board Gaston Caperton announced yesterday evening that the Advanced Placement (AP) Program in Italian Language and Culture will be reinstated beginning in the 2011-12 academic year. Thanks to the hard work of the Italian Embassy and the advocacy of proud Italian Americans, the program is now fully funded,” said Caperton. “This is a great day for the Italian language, the Italian people and all of us who are enraptured by the culture of Italy and its beautiful language.”

Present at the ceremony and joining in the announcement were Vincenzo Scotti, Italy’s Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and Italian Ambassador Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata. “Promoting Italian language is a high priority for our foreign policy. The Italian government has strongly supported the reinstatement of Italian in the AP Program, and I am here tonight to show our great appreciation and gratitude to those whose contributions made it possible,” said Undersecretary Scotti.  Amb. Terzi stated that the reinstatement of the AP Italian marked a success for the Italian government and for the Italian-American community. “What we see today is nothing less than a success story of Sistema Italia at work. Teamwork proved to be key in reinstating Italian in the AP Program,” added Terzi.   

Since the suspension of AP Italian in 2009, the Italian Embassy has coordinated the effort to raise funds, with donor contributions from the Republic of Italy, Italian-American organizations, individual donors and Italian companies, including the American Association of Teachers of Italian, American Society of the Italian Legions of Merit, Coccia Foundation, Columbus Citizens Foundation, Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations, COPILAS, Margaret I. Cuomo, M.D., Matilda Raffa Cuomo, ENI, FIAT, Finmeccanica, Frank Guarini, Italian Language Foundation, Italian Welfare League, Luxottica, Mediterranean Shipping Company, National Italian American Foundation, National Organization of Italian American Women, Order Sons of Italy in America, Berardo Paradiso, David Pope, Louis Tallarini, UNICO and UniCredit.

Although the amount provided by each organization was not officially released, significant funding was provided by the National Italian American Foundation, the Columbus Citizen Foundation, and the Order Sons of Italy.

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The Garibaldi-Meucci Museum, and the Italian-American community, lost one of their staunchest advocates on October 18 with the passing of John Dabbene. Mr. Dabbene, who spent most of the last 30 years of his life fighting discrimination and promoting a positive image of Italian-Americans, died of a heart attack shortly after having hip-replacement surgery. He was 72.

Born in Brooklyn on July 30, 1938, Mr. Dabbene attended PS 142, Brooklyn Technical High School, New York Community College, and Polytech Institute where he majored in electrical engineering. He entered the U.S. Army in 1960 and served on active and reserve duty for six years. In 1967 he received certification as an Electrical Lighting Designer. He worked for Con Edison for 43 years and retired in 1999 as their Senior Electrical Designer.

Mr. Dabbene’s efforts touched the entire Italian-American community, but closest to his heart was the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum. His appointment as Chairman and President/CEO in June 2001 began a renaissance for the small historic house. Under his direction, the museum restructured all its programs for schools, colleges and community groups; started a museum gift shop; developed traveling exhibitions; formed a Speaker’s Bureau and completed over $250,000 in restoration projects. Even though he had stepped down as President/CEO of the museum in March, he remained extremely active in all areas of the museum administration.

“John’s whole life was about passion, and it was his relentless passion for the museum that was really the heart of this place,” said Museum Director Nicole Fenton. “He is irreplaceable.”

A few highlights of Mr. Dabbene’s other involvements and achievements include his membership on the board of the Italian-American Legal Defense and Higher Education Fund, and the New York City Italian Heritage and Culture Month Committee. He was President of the Staten Island Chapter of Arba-Sicula, representative of the New York State Commission for Social Justice (CSJ) to the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and a board member of the National Italian-American Media Foundation. He twice served as President of the Wm. C. LaMorte Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA) Lodge (now Father Capodanno Lodge) and was frequently a delegate to the National OSIA convention. He was a founding member of the New York Commission for Social Justice (CSJ) and served as president from 1993 to 1999 where he developed the first national Positive Image Program. In August 2005, he was appointed the first President Emeritus of CSJ, and in 2009 was awarded the Bene Emeritus Award by OSIA—its highest award for service to the Italian-American community.

Mr. Dabbene is survived by his wife of 48 years, the former Marcy Killberg; sons Michael and Peter and daughter Susan Rose; grandsons Christopher, Matthew and Giovanni, and granddaughter Lucia.


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 The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) has announced that it has received the largest philanthropic gift in its history, a $2.6 million bequest from the estate of the late Victoria J. Mastrobuono.   That’s wonderful  news not just for NIAF but the entire Italian American community.  We hope that Mastrobuono’s example will encourage other Italian American philanthropists to help support the cultural and educational activities of other Italian American groups.

Ms. Mastrobuono. a dedicated supporter and NIAF council member, was a long-time patron of education and the performing arts with a significant history of both identifying and supporting emerging artists and was extremely proud of her rich Italian heritage.

“We are honored by Ms. Mastrobuono’s generous bequest and feel that it acknowledges NIAF’s extraordinary commitment to our educational programs. As the largest single gift in our Foundation’s history, her philanthropic generosity provides financial strength to the Foundation to develop new programs and fulfill our mission,””said  NIAF Vice Chair Hon. Patricia de Stacy Harrison.

According to NIAF, the funds will be used for several new NIAF programs including The Victoria J. Mastrobuono Education Luncheon in perpetuity during the NIAF Convention Weekend; The Victoria J. Mastrobuono Fellowship in the Arts for students pursuing academics in Italy; The Victoria J. Mastrobuono Challenge Grant for Advanced Placement (AP) of Italian for the continued funding of the College Board’s AP Italian Program; The Victoria J. Mastrobuono Distinguished Speakers Series in the Arts, Literature and Music featuring leading experts in their respective fields; The Victoria J. Mastrobuono Digital Archive at NIAF, a public, online index of NIAF’s history and The Victoria J. Mastrobuono Engagement Initiative, an online education, communication and outreach program utilizing new media.

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Thank you, Mr. President, for your thoughtful choice of words in proclaiming October as Italian American Heritage and Culture Month.  Italian Americans are proud of our heritage but we are even more proud to be Americans.

Following is the text of the Presidential Proclamation, as released by the White House this evening:


In the five centuries since Christopher Columbus, a son of Genoa, Italy, first set sail across the Atlantic Ocean, countless individuals have followed the course he charted to seek a new life in America. Since that time, generations of Italian Americans have helped shape our society and steer the course of our history. During Italian American Heritage and Culture Month, we recognize the rich heritage of Americans of Italian descent and celebrate their immeasurable contributions to our Nation.

Bound by enduring values of faith and family, Italian Americans have flourished in all areas of our public and economic life while preserving their proud Italian traditions. Upon arrival in the United States, the Italian American community faced racial, social, and religious discrimination. Yet, Italian Americans have persevered with hope and hard work to reach for the American dream and helped build our great country. As proud service members, they have also defended the liberty and integrity of the United States since the Revolutionary War.

Today, the legacy of these intrepid immigrants is found in the millions of American men, women, and children of Italian descent who strengthen and enrich our country. Italian Americans operate thriving businesses, teach our children, serve at all levels of government, and succeed in myriad occupations. Drawing on the courage and principles of their forebears, they lead in every facet of American life, dedicating their knowledge and skills to the growth of our country.

The Great Seal of the United States declares “out of many, one.” As we forge new futures as a unified people, we must celebrate the unique and vibrant cultures that have written the American story. Many determined individuals have sought our shores as a beacon of hope and opportunity, and their spirit of limitless possibility and example of resolve continues to inspire and guide our Nation. As we honor the long history and vast contributions of Italian Americans, let us recommit to extending the promise of America that they embraced to future generations.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2010 as Italian American Heritage and Culture Month. I call upon all Americans to learn more about the history of Italian Americans, and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.


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