Joseph Sciame, a National Past President of the Order Sons of Italy in America and currently the vice-president for external affairs at St. John’s University in New York, was reelected Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations for another two year term. The election took place on October 13, 2012, at the annual Conference meeting held at the Washington Hilton, site of the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) annual meeting and gala weekend.
PMIAO (our abbreviation), was founded over 40 years ago “…to enroll as members in a spiritual bond all national, regional, statewide and special Italian American organizations,” and to provide “a clearinghouse for centralized thinking and unified directed guidance for Italian American activities at their broadest national levels and interests.”
Sciame, who was President of the Order of Sons of Italy in America in 2003-2005, has also served as President of the American Society of the Italian Legions of Merit, an organiation of Italian Americans, and Americans, who have been honored by the Republic of Italy. The Republic of Italy honored Sciame with the rank of Cavaliere and then Ufficiale in the Order of Merit, and he was invested as Commendatore by Prince Vittorio Emmanuele of the House of Savoy in the Order of Merit.
Sciame is also the current president/chair of the Italian Heritage and Culture Committee-NY, Inc., an organization of Italian Americans whose mission is to promote an annual theme for the Italian American Heritage Month celebrations, and to produce educational materials. This year’s theme is “The Legacy of Italians in Americas – a Tribute to Amerigo Vespucci: 1454-1512.” Sciame has been heading the IHCC-NY, Inc. since 2007.
Joseph Sciame has devoted much of his life to Italian American causes. He has spoken in no uncertain terms about the need to have Italian Americans speak with one voice when the need arises. What he said about the “Jersey Shore” MTV controversy and the reaction by Italian-American organizations, still rings true today:
We have never, ever been good at “advocacy” let alone “lobbying” and other than the anti-defamation initiatives we have all activated over the years, i.e., the OSIA Commission for Social Justice, the UNICO effort this time which received wide publicity and the NIAF’s ongoing favorable relationship with “The Hill,” what else is it that we can do? Is there no national spokesperson who can rally us together? Is there no US Senator/Congressperson, Governor or other statesman who can say something?
It does seem to me, and I have shared this with many folks INFORMALLY in the past, we need in 2010 (as we have not done heretofore) a major meeting of the minds…ALL Italian-American organizations, with some top level speaker who can get us ALL on the same plate.
I f anyone can get “us ALL on the same plate,” we believe that Joseph Sciame can accomplish it!
Pictured above, the members of the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations at their annual meeting in Washington, D.C.