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Estate of the Late U.S. Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Endows Heritage Travel Program with $2 million Gift

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) has announced today that the estate of the late U.S. Ambassador Peter F. Secchia, who formerly served in Italy, has committed an additional $2 million to endow the Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery Program, an all-expenses paid first-time travel to Italy program for young Americans of Italian descent.

“The Secchia Estate’s $2 million gift is an extraordinary contribution, and his third donation since he helped NIAF establish the program in 2000. It is also a reflection of the success of this program connecting young people to their Italian heritage and learning about Italy’s contribution to the world,” said NIAF Board Chairman Bob E. Carlucci. “His legacy will live on benefitting current and future generations,” added Carlucci.

While serving as the United States Ambassador to Italy from 1989 to 1993, Ambassador Peter F. Secchia came in contact with countless college students who were traveling to Italy for their first time. Witnessing their reactions, he was deeply moved by the look that he saw on so many young Italian American students’ faces when they first experienced the wonder that Italy has to offer.

Recognizing the lifelong impact that a trip to Italy has on these students’ identities, in 1999 Ambassador Secchia proposed that the NIAF create a program to send young Italian American students on their first trip to Italy so they could truly explore their heritage and experience the land of their ancestors.

In 2000, NIAF, with the financial support of Ambassador Secchia, launched the Ambassador Peter F. Secchia “Gift of Discovery” Program. The program was later renamed the “Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery.” The purpose of the program is to strengthen the Italian American identity by bonding young Italian

Americans to the country and the culture of Italy, and to help them gain an understanding of their heritage and a pride in carrying on that heritage.

The program is one of NIAF’s most important initiatives, having sent thousands of students on their first trip to Italy since the program’s beginning.

“With the Ambassador’s third generous gift, NIAF will be able to double the number of students accepted into the program for 2023,” said NIAF Special Program Director Gabriella Mileti.

The Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery Program takes place in NIAF’s Region of Honor, which is chosen annually and sends these college students on an all-expenses paid trip.

Ambassador Secchia passed away on October 21, 2020.

Sergio Mattarella rieletto Presidente della Repubblica Italiana

ROMA\ aise\ – È dunque arrivata, finalmente, all’ottavo scrutinio, la proclamazione del nuovo Presidente della Repubblica. È, per la seconda volta nella storia dopo Giorgio Napolitano, una rielezione: il Capo dello Stato uscente, Sergio Mattarella, resterà dunque al Colle per altri 7 anni.
La convergenza sul nome di Mattarella è arrivata questa mattina, quando i leader di partito e l’attuale primo ministro, Mario Draghi, hanno reso nota la volontà della larga maggioranza attuale in parlamento di rieleggere Mattarella.
I grandi elettori di Pd, Forza Italia, Lega, Italia Viva e Movimento 5 Stelle, hanno convenuto sul nome dell’attuale Presidente della Repubblica, che ha ottenuto 759 voti su un totale di 983 presenti e votanti. “Queste condizioni – ha commentato Mattarella – impongono di non sottrarsi ai doveri cui si è chiamati, e naturalmente devono prevalere su altre considerazioni e su prospettive personali differenti, con l’impegno di interpretare le attese e le speranze dei nostri concittadini”.
Già alla settima votazione, Mattarella aveva ottenuto 387 voti, quando i leader di partito ancora non avevano trovato l’accordo verso la figura di Mattarella.
Si pensava che la rielezione del 20 aprile 2013 di Giorgio Napolitano sarebbe rimasto un unicum nella storia repubblicana italiana. E invece non è stato così: con l’elezione del 29 gennaio 2022, in preda a un’Italia alle prese con la pandemia e alle sue conseguenze più nefaste, dal punto di vista sanitario, economico e sociale, è avvenuto di nuovo.
E si parla apertamente di “sconfitta” per i partiti politici, che non sono riusciti a trovare un nome comune. La soluzione all’impasse cominciato lunedì scorso, è arrivata dalla spinta della maggioranza dei parlamentari verso i leader politici, che alla fine hanno assecondato quella volontà andando a chiedere a Mattarella di rimanere al Colle. Una soluzione non prospettata quella della rielezione, neanche dallo stesso Presidente della Repubblica, che nei mesi scorsi aveva sempre chiesto alla politica di trovare soluzioni alternative al suo secondo mandato. Ma quelle soluzioni alternative non hanno soddisfatto i grandi elettori, ed ecco arrivata la seconda rielezione del Presidente della Repubblica. (aise) 

Sergio Mattarella

NIAF Firmly Opposes the NYC Department of Education’s Decision to Eliminate Columbus Day

(Washington, D.C. – May 5, 2021) The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) stands firmly in opposition to the New York City Department of Education’s decision to eliminate Columbus Day and replace it with Italian Heritage Day/Indigenous People’s Day. This decision, which was arrived at without any community input, effectively pits two communities, both worthy of their own independent celebrations, against each other. Moreover, the National Italian American Foundation, like millions of Italian Americans which it represents, believes Christopher Columbus’s courageous voyage was the catalyst that initiated over 500 years of immigration to the Americas by people from every corner of
earth seeking a better life for their families. We therefore believe this globally significant historic event is most deserving of a holiday.

Italy Nominates Mariangela Zappia as the next Italian Ambassador to Washington

The Italian Government has nominated Mariangela Zappia as the next Italian Ambassador to Washington. She would be the first woman to ever hold the position. The current Ambassador, Armando Varricchio, will be heading to Berlin, a key post for Italian diplomacy, as Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel will not seek a fifth term.

Zappia joined the Foreign Service in 1983, when she was appointed to the legal and political affairs offices before holding various positions at the Italian Embassy in Dakar and at the Consulate General in New York. She rose to the rank of Counsellor in 1993, and shortly thereafter rose to First Counsellor. She subsequently worked at the Italian Embassy in Brussels, the NATO media task-force during the conflict in Kosovo, and, in 2000, became head of the Permanent Mission of Italy to the UN in New York.

Zappia then took a three-year leave of absence to dedicate herself full time to her family. In 2007 she returned to work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome and was then appointed Minister Plenipotentiary at the Permanent Mission of Italy to the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva. In 2011, she became head of the European Union Delegation to the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva.

From 2014 to 2016 she served as Permanent Representative of Italy to NATO in Brussels, becoming the first woman to hold this position. She was appointed Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations in New York in 2018, where she remains currently.

Ambassador Zappia was born in Viadana, a municipality in the province of Mantua, in the Region of Lombardy. She graduated from the University of Florence in 1981 and holds a Master’s degree in Political Science and International Relations and a Post-graduate degree in Diplomatic and International Relations also from the University of Florence.

In 2018, Zappia was awarded the decoration of “Commendatore” (Commander) of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. In June 2019, she received the “Mela d’Oro” (Golden Apple), a recognition assigned by the “Fondazione Marisa Bellisario” to outstanding women in the fields of public institutions, management, science, economy, culture, media and sport.

How the Russo Family Switched From Superheroes to America’s Opioid Crisis With ‘Cherry’

For their adaptation of Nico  Walker’s semi autobiographical novel — their gritty follow-up to the ground and record-breaking ‘Avengers: Endgame’ — directors Joe  and  Anthony  Russo honed in on addiction and PTSD, tapping their younger sister, Angela Russo-Otstot, to co-write the script in this family affair.

Source: How the Russo Family Switched From Superheroes to America’s Opioid Crisis With ‘Cherry’

Loredana Polezzi Named Alfonse M. D’Amato Endowed Chair in Italian American and Italian Studies | | SBU News

Loredana Polezzi has been named the Alfonse M. D’Amato Endowed Chair in Italian American and Italian Studies, positioned in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of European Languages, Literatures and Cultures. The D’Amato Chair, established in 2008, was made possible by a fundraising effort led by then Stony Brook University Council Chair and current Stony Brook Foundation Board member Richard Nasti, along with former SUNY Distinguished Service Professor Mario Mignone. The Chair is the first endowed chair in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Source: Loredana Polezzi Named Alfonse M. D’Amato Endowed Chair in Italian American and Italian Studies | | SBU News

Italian American Museum for Washington, DC Inaugurated (IAMDC)

Domenico Bellantone

Calling it an “an historic day for our Italian and Italian American community,” on December 15, 2020, CISC President Francesco Isgro, together with CISC Chair Fr. Ezio Marchetto, Italian Embassy First Counselor Domenico Bellantone, & donor Commendatore Robert Facchina cut the ribbon at the inauguration of the Italian American Museum of Washington DC (IAMDC). Due to covid-19 restrictions the event was limited to 10 people.

Italian Ambassador Armando Varricchio congratulated the CISC Museum Committee at a luncheon earlier at Villa Firenze and stressed the key role of people and culture in our Italy-US relations, as well as “the contributions that Italians and Italian Americans have made in the nation’s capital.”

Francesco Isgro
Robert Facchina

“So many historic events this year! But today is truly an historic day for our Italian and ItalianAmerican community. Thanks to the vision of Fr Ezio Marchetto, the generosity of Robert Facchina, and the hard work of our museum committee, we have built a museum that truly reflects the vast contributions that ItalianAmericans have made to our nation’s Capital. This museum is a reality today because of two years of volunteer work of our Board Member Elizabeth Di Gregorio and Parish Council member Anna Isgro, who served as co-curators. Thank you, Liz and Anna. And thanks also to our great museum designer David Fridberg. Thank you also to Tom Sweeney, Ciro DeFalco, Willy Meaux, the Marconi Project Team, for their work in recording the stories of members our community,” said Isgro.

“The Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center Inc., our nonprofit organization, was officially established in mid 2017 with the principal purpose of promoting and preserving programs and cultural activities for the ItalianAmerican Community in Washington DC. Within a year we were able to attract more than 100 Founders, financial donors, to support our mission. And most importantly we were fortunate to be the beneficiaries of Robert Facchina’s generosity, which helped us establish our museum — in record time! We have been fortunate to have a Board of Directors where every member has contributed and continues to contribute to the success of our organization,” added Isgro.

Italian American Cultural Center of Iowa purchasing iconic Butler Mansion for $3.3 million

The Italian American Cultural Center of Iowa is buying the property at 2633 Fleur Drive on contract for $3.3 million, according to Polk County real estate records. The transaction was recorded Dec. 28.

“We are really happy with where we are and now, where our future will be,” said Paolo Bartesaghi, president of organization. “We needed a bigger place. It’s still on the south side [of Des Moines]. … It’s a perfect location for us.”


Waterville mayor Nick Isgro draws criticism for proclamation of Oct. 14 as Columbus Day – 

“On Columbus Day,” the proclamation says, “we honor the skilled navigator and man of faith who President Benjamin Harrison described as a ‘pioneer of progress and enlightenment’ whose spirited voyage transformed the western hemisphere and inspired countless others to pursue their dreams and convictions in the face of seemingly insurmountable doubts and adversity. ”

Source: Waterville mayor draws criticism for proclamation of Oct. 14 as Columbus Day – CentralMaine.com

IAOVC Decries Disregard of Voters & Insult to Immigrants, Catholics & Italian Americans in NYC’s Cabrini Statue Debacle

“In this one move, the First Lady of New York has subverted the will of the people and insulted immigrants, Catholics and Italian Americans,” stated Dr. Manny Alfano, Founder and President of IAOVC

Source: IAOVC Decries Disregard of Voters & Insult to Immigrants, Catholics & Italian Americans in NYC’s Cabrini Statue Debacle

NIAF Supports the Life and Works of Mother Cabrini

Honorary Statue of Mother Cabrini Denied in New York City –

(Washington, D.C. – September 17, 2019) – The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) supports the life and works of Saint and Sister Francesca Xavier Cabrini, also known as Mother Cabrini. America’s first ordained saint, Mother Cabrini was summoned by the Pope to help the flood of Italian immigrants pouring into America in 1889. While in New York City, she opened 67 social service agencies across the city as well as orphanages, missionaries, day schools, classes in religious education, a nursery, a hospital, and much more. Despite Mother Cabrini’s devoted public service to the city’s poor and her popularity among New York City residents still today, she has been denied an honorary statue by the “She Built NYC Project.”

The mission of the “She Built NYC Project” is to create more statues of women installed around the city. A public vote was held to select the top female candidates to have honorary statues. Mother Cabrini obtained the most votes with 219 votes, winning by a two-to-one margin and clearly defining her as the winner as the second runner up came in with 93 votes. The wife of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chirlane McCray, leads the project. After the poll was taken, McCray formed a panel to review the results and make its own recommendations on the seven winners to be memorialized. The project is funded by about $5 million in taxpayer money.

The “She Built NYC Project” is ignoring the poll results and instead choosing to build statues of jazz legend Billie Holiday, desegregation activist Elizabeth Jennings Graham, Latina doctor Helen Rodriguez Trias, LGBTQ advocate Sylvia Rivera, America’s first black congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, Stonewall uprising transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson, and Robbins Reef Lighthouse keeper who saved at least 50 shipwreck and boat accident victims, Katherine Walker.

In the poll, Holiday, Graham, Trias and Rivera were not in the top seven, but the panel selected them anyway.

“Mother Cabrini’s contribution to New York City and her legacy are indisputable. The services she provided to poor and vulnerable Italian immigrants, most of them women, should not be ignored,” said NIAF Chair Patricia de Stacy Harrison. “On behalf of the National Italian American Foundation, we support Mother Cabrini’s life and works and believe that she should have her own honorary statue in the city.”

“Descendants of Italian immigrants that Mother Cabrini helped still live in the city and the fact that a poll by the people whose taxpayer dollars are funding these statues is being ignored is undemocratic and disappointing. The ‘She Built NYC Project’ should reverse its decision and include a statue honoring Mother Cabrini,” said NIAF Chair Gabriel A. Battista.

In order to publicly honor and acknowledge Mother Cabrini for her faith and social service, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio from the Diocese of Brooklyn will lead a procession on Sunday, October 6, 2019. The procession will begin from Mother Cabrini Park (41 President Street, Brooklyn NY 11231) at 3 p.m. and will end at Sacred Heart — St. Stephen Church (125 Summit Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231) for Mass at 4 p.m. for the intention of all immigrants.

For questions related to the procession, or press inquiries, please contact John Heyer II at jheyer@CFBQ.org or 718-965-7300 ext.1602, 917-402-9086.

An immigrant’s journey to US citizenship rebukes extremists in

For all of its contradictions and injustices, the 20th century American melting pot transformed millions of immigrants into productive citizens.

“Like the vast majority of the roughly 2 million Italians who arrived in the United States at the turn of the 20th century, my grandfather was looking for a better future. He found it in Brooklyn”

Source: An immigrant’s journey to US citizenship rebukes extremists in