National Italian American Foundation
Founded in 1975 to provide the nation’s growing Italian American community with an organized voice, the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, educational foundation dedicated to preserving and protecting Italian American culture and heritage. Based in Washington, D.C., it is the major advocate for nearly 25 million Italian Americans, the nation’s fifth largest ethnic group. NIAF serves as a resource on the Italian American community and provides educational and youth programs including scholarships, grants, heritage travel and mentoring.
NIAF also serves as an important voice for Italian Americans in Washington, DC. The Foundation works closely with Congress[EF1] , The White House[EF2] , the Department of State[EF3] , the U.S. Embassy in Rome, and the Italian Embassy in Washington to promote Italian American heritage and serve as a bipartisan educational foundation. As a unified voice on issues of importance to Italian Americans, the Foundation builds relationships with key decision makers on behalf of the Italian American community and serves as a resource and thought leader for politicians, policy makers, and diplomats.
1975-1985: A National AgendaEdit
On the afternoon of Saturday, April 26, 1975, nineteen Italian Americans under the guidance of Monsignor Geno Baroni, a Catholic Priest and renowned social activist, sat together at the National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs[EF1] and dedicated themselves to the task of forming “a national office of Italian Americans located in Washington, D.C. – a centralized location for research and for the development of a national agenda of issues and goals formed by Americans of Italian ancestry.” From this meeting was born the nucleus of what would grow to become the National Italian American Foundation.
The early leadership envisioned a national forum that would bring together Italian Americans for workshops and discussions around topics such as education, politics, defamation, business, community affairs, media, religion and culture. In the mid-1970s the Italian American community struggled with growth and progress towards the American dream. Civic leaders such as Monsignor Baroni [EF2] saw the creation of something different and distinct from earlier groups as the best route to future success and integration for Italian Americans. The Italian American Foundation (IAF) opened its first office in downtown Washington, D.C., on April 1,1976. Renowned businessman Jeno Paulucci served as the first Chairman and is honored as NIAF’s official founder. One of Paulucci’s early initiatives was to create a core group of financial supporters, the Council of 100.
In September, 1976, IAF hosted its first Bicentennial Tribute Dinner honoring the 29 Italian Americans who served in the Italian American Congressional Delegation to the 94th Congress. Attendees included former President Gerald Ford, President Jimmy Carter, and Vice-President Walter Mondale. There Chairman Paulucci told the guests, “Tonight, we representing the Italian American community of this country are truly visible – you see the strength, you see the influence, you see the recognition of a unified community of Italian Americans. We are no longer a sleeping giant.”
In 1977 the first IAF Washington Newsletter was published, introducing the Foundation to a readership of over 65,000. When the Foundation released its first survey, seeking the opinions of the community on major issues confronting Italian Americans, over 10,000 people responded. The results were computerized, cross tabulated and analyzed to provide one of the earliest assessments of the national Italian consciousness in America. In May, 1978, IAF was officially rechristened the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF).
In the 1980’s NIAF gained an increasingly prominent role as an anti-defamation organization for Italian Americans. NIAF also expanded its existing programs, while adding more substantial revenue-generating endeavors. Scholarships were established in 1981, and Endowment Fund pledges reached $800,000 in 1982. The Washington, D.C. Tribute Gala black-tie dinner was further expanded into a multi-day convention with conferences, an expo and multiple ancillary events; and the October Gala format began to be followed for regional dinners in major cities. NIAF began establishing administrative “regions” in the United States so it could appoint regional coordinators and host local fundraising events. And NIAF started publishing its quarterly periodical, Ambassador magazine, which has been mailed to NIAF members since 1985.
The 1980s ushered in what Paulucci and his successor, President Frank Stella, dubbed “an Italian-American decade.” In 1982 Mario Cuomo became the 52nd governor of the State of New York, an emblem to Italian Americans of the “rags to riches,” hard-won success they aspired to. Shortly thereafter, the New York Times published an article entitled “Italian-Americans Coming into Their Own” and highlighted NIAF. “The prime force pushing for unanimity and cooperation is the National Italian American Foundation,” wrote Stephen Hall, himself the grandson of Italian immigrants. In 1984 Geraldine Ferraro, already an ardent NIAF supporter, became both the first Italian American and first female Democratic Vice Presidential nominee. In 1986 Antonin Scalia was nominated to the Supreme Court.
Over the decade NIAF supported countless conferences, many in partnership with long-established Italian American groups such as the Order Sons of Italy in America. NIAF played an early role in supporting the Oscar-winning documentary “The Stone Carvers,” which examined the work of the Italian American stone carvers who worked on the Washington Cathedral. NIAF’s 5th Biannual Congressional Awards Dinner, in 1984, was attended by President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush, along with their Democratic rivals Walter F. Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro
1985-1995: The Italian American DecadeEdit
In 1985 NIAF launched major new activities aimed at Americans of Italian heritage, aged 18 to 40, through a newly established Youth Activities Division. NIAF also announced the creation of a national Media Institute to help the national and local media seeking an accurate and authentic portrayal of the realities of Italian American life and contributions to America.
In October 1985, in a landmark moment for the organization, Frank Sinatra, the sole honoree at NIAF’s 10th Anniversary Gala Dinner, told the assembled crowd that to him “the NIAF award was special because it came from family.” President and Mrs. Reagan joined Frank and Barbara Sinatra on the dais that evening, and the President praised NIAF’s work in honoring the American Dream.
In 1986 NIAF instituted a student exchange program with Italy through a cooperative project with USIA. NIAF would send 15 Italian American students to Italy, and Italy would send 15 students to the United States. This inaugural program would eventually grow into dozens more exchange opportunities as NIAF became the bridge between the two nations. With this same eye towards the future, NIAF and FIERI Inc. sponsored the first national youth conference for Italian Americans in Washington, D.C., later that year.
By the end of the 1980s, NIAF had evolved into the nation’s leading voice for Italian Americans. And its Annual Gala had become one of Washington, D.C.’s hottest tickets! At the 1989 Gala Dinner, the great baseball legend Joe DiMaggio opted to skip the first game of the 1989 World Series in his home city of San Francisco to attend the NIAF Gala. The Yankee Clipper observed, “You know NIAF is important to me when an old broken-down center fielder leaves the first night of the World Series to be here.” That same year, the famed auction house Christie’s agreed to conduct the NIAF Auction.
In the summer of 1990, NIAF was named by the Department of State as the private sector repository for donated funds to help restore and renovate Villa Taverna, the home of the American Ambassador in Rome – the first of a long string of public-private partnerships in which NIAF would work with the government to encourage Italian-American pride.
In 1992, following a successful mission three years earlier to meet the leadership of the Italian community in Argentina, NIAF lead a trip to Australia and New Zealand to further its goal of helping Italian Americans get to know Italian populations in other countries. In what would become the first of another long-standing NIAF tradition, 1994 saw the inaugural Sergio Franchi Memorial Concert. A partnership between NIAF and Mrs. Eva Franchi, the widow of the great Italian American tenor and long-time NIAF supporter Sergio Franchi, the concert would develop into one of the nation’s leading venues for young musical talent.
1995-2005: The Marriage of Past and PresentEdit
In June, 1994, NIAF transferred its headquarters to the Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Building, 1860 19th St NW. In moving to DuPont Circle, NIAF created an embassy for the Italian American community in the nation’s capital. No longer simply an organization seeking to mobilize Italian American influence in the halls of the government, NIAF entered its third decade well aware of its responsibility as the nation’s foremost representative of the nearly 20 million Italian Americans. As part of its efforts to honor that duty, NIAF’s leader inaugurated the new building by unveiling the Italian American Wall of Honor, honoring the hundreds of Italian Americans instrumental in NIAF’s creation and success.
As the Foundation matured, so too did its signature event. The NIAF Gala Weekend grew into a convention with the opening of the Expo Italia and the hosting of dozens of concurrent conferences, conventions, and other events over the course of the weekend. The Foundation continued to garner recognition and support from countless iconic honorees, both from the United States and Italy. At the 1994 event, Giorgio Armani, the arts and fashion honoree, summed up the value of his NIAF award by saying, “I feel as though I am an Italian American because America was the first country to understand and like my approach to fashion. It is America that has always inspired me with its energy, its enthusiasm, and its young spirit.”
To expand its cultural role and build a more permanent network of advocates, NIAF began to host its yearly Media Forums, bringing together Italian Americans from all walks of the journalistic life to discuss topics of importance to the Foundation and the Italian American community at large. These programs continue as the NIAF-Frank J. Guarini Media Forums and represent some of NIAF’s most important and productive outreach in cities across America. Using this expansive national network, and working in partnership with other Italian American groups, NIAF has played an increasing role in the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations. For example, NIAF’s underwriting the cooperative effort to create Una Storia Segreta was particularly successful in helping to pass the Wartime Violations of Italian American Civil Liberties Act of 2000.
At this time, the Foundation also expanded its programming to engage young Italian Americans in their community, its institutions, and the promotion of Italian culture in America. 1997 saw the launch of the Foundation’s new website www.NIAF.org. New programs such as Students-To-Leaders, Graduates-To-Leaders, and NIAF Youth Retreats, brought students from across the nation to the Foundation’s events so that they might interact with the Italian American leaders of the day. NIAF’s fourth Chairman, Dr. A. Kenneth Ciongoli, was instrumental in expanding NIAF’s presence in academia and on America’s college campuses, creating “NIAF at the Ivies” to address the lack of Italian American enrollment at the nation’s top academic institutions.
By the end of the 1990s, NIAF was hosting its annual Business Leadership Summits under the direction of New York Stock Exchange Chairman and NIAF Vice Chairman Dick Grasso. Many of the business world’s top decision makers, both Italian American and not, sought out membership in the Foundation’s Business Council, quickly growing into an organization for business leaders of all ethnic backgrounds to come together around some of the world’s most respected executives.
In the new millennium, this developing role as leaders for all Americans was addressed by Congressman Frank J. Guarini, as he summed up his sense of how the Foundation had evolved over its first 25 years: “This marriage of past and present, along with our unparalleled sense of family values place Italian Americans in a natural leadership position. We have the ability to show other ethnic groups how to honor their roots while not alienating themselves from America, the land that has given so many of us the opportunity to realize our dreams.”
2005-2015: “Stewards of our Heritage”Edit
In March, 2005, the NIAF-Frank J. Guarini Public Policy Forums were initiated on Capitol Hill, with the Foundation inviting Ambassador Charles A. Gargano to serve as the inaugural keynote speaker. These forums bring together leaders and policy makers from inside and outside the Italian American community to address, in a bipartisan venue, the most pressing issues facing our nation.
Another major development in this decade was the launch of the Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery program in 2007. This program brings 20 to 30 Italian American college students to Italy for two weeks of service and heritage travel every summer. In introducing his initiative, Ambassador Secchia reasoned that, “By providing these opportunities for young Italian Americans to forge deeper and stronger ties to the people and places sharing their past, and to add to those values that can inspire their future participation with NIAF, Voyage of Discovery also prepares the next generation of Italian American youth for their role as stewards of our heritage.”
These deepening ties with Italy were called into service in the wake of the devastating 2009 earthquake in Italy’s Abruzzo region. In response NIAF launched a public-private partnership with the U.S. Department of State, led by NIAF Board officer John F. Cavelli, that would help to raise $2 million from the Italian American community and beyond to rebuild important educational facilities at the University of L’Aquila and to bring hundreds of displaced Abruzzese students to the United States on full scholarships.
A month following the earthquake, NIAF elected Jerry Colangelo its fifth chairman. By 2010, NIAF would once again be challenged to come to the aide of Italy when the Embassy of Italy undertook to raise the $3 million necessary to preserve the AP Italian Language Examination as part of the yearly offering from the College Board. With a leadership gift of $250,000 donated by NIAF’s Chairman Emeritus, Congressman Frank J. Guarini, the Foundation was able to raise a total of $750,000 and serve as the community’s leader in the struggle to make sure that the Italian language would always have a place in the upper echelons of higher learning. Today, thanks to the efforts of NIAF and the assembled Italian American community, the AP Italian Language Exam is healthy and secure in its place among the College Board’s offerings, and the numbers of students sitting for the test each year continues to grow exponentially.
In 2011 NIAF continued its service as an advocate for Italian culture by funding the Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library Project at UCLA, an initiative created to translate the works of 100 Italian authors who had made significant literary, philosophical, juridical and historical contributions to the world of international culture. Many of these works had never been available in English. The year 2011 also saw a contingent of NIAF’s Leadership invited to join the official celebrations of the 150th Anniversary of Italy’s Unification in Rome. The delegation was recognized by the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, and the unprecedented invitation made clear the mutual respect shared between the government of the Republic of Italy and the National Italian American Foundation.
Leading that delegation in Rome was then-NIAF President Joseph V. Del Raso, who had been a leading voice on the Board for making NIAF “more of an international organization.” When he was elected NIAF chairman two years later, Del Raso continued to guide the Foundation in working with business and political leaders to solidify and expand cultural and economic ties to Italy, making sure that future generations of integrated Italian Americans could always return to the source of their heritage.
Succeeding Del Raso as NIAF president was then-NIAF Chief Operating Officer John M. Viola, the first president in NIAF’s history who was not elected from the Board of Directors. Turning 30 that year, Viola brought new strategies to the Foundation; and by electing him president, NIAF rededicated itself to developing a new generation of community leadership.
In 2013, in one of the most important partnerships in NIAF’s recent history, the Foundation become the only Italian American organization to be an official partner of the PBS documentary series, “The Italian Americans,” directed by John Maggio. This historic four-hour film aired to unprecedented ratings in February, 2015, and has been unanimously lauded as one of the most important, even-handed, and accessible recounts of the story of Italians in America.
In 2014, in an effort to address new challenges with new structures, NIAF began to restructure its long-standing grants program to offer more substantial funding for projects of importance to the Italian American community. To that end, NIAF was able to present the NIAF-Pellegrini Grant in Roman Studies to the University of Maryland in 2014. The $500,000 program represents the largest single educational gift in the Foundation’s history, and this new approach will be repeated in 2016 as NIAF prepares for a new $500,000 program grant in partnership with the University of Palermo.
In 2015, as NIAF approached the celebrations for its 40th Anniversary, the NIAF Board decided to redesign and rechristen the Council 2000 (from the Council of 100) as the Italian American Leadership Council (IALC). In doing so, the Foundation returned this much heralded group to its original intent by creating an association within NIAF for those most dedicated Italian American leaders to be part of NIAF’s financial and advisory management.
NIAF annually administers nearly 200 individual scholarships ranging in value from $2,500 to $12,000 to Italian American students studying in a wide variety of subjects. In 2015 alone, NIAF’s scholarships accounted for $934,654 of direct aid to deserving Italian American Students. The awards are made on the basis of academic merit and divided between two groups of students.
Voyage of DiscoveryEdit
Besides academic scholarships, NIAF also supports students in exploring their Italian roots through the Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery Program. The all-expenses paid two-week summer trip to Italy aims to strengthen the Italian American identity by bonding young Italian Americans to the country, culture and heritage of Italy, through educational tours, museum visits and meetings with local government officials. Students also give back to their motherland through a community service project, from working with the mentally handicapped to building projects administered by U.S. Consulates.
US-Italy Fulbright ProgramsEdit
The Fulbright Program in Italy offers opportunities for U.S. citizens in two main categories, the Fulbright Student Program and the Fulbright Scholar Program. The Fulbright Student Program is designed to provide opportunities for personal development and international experience, through study and research programs at the post-graduate level in all disciplines. It serves graduating seniors, recent bachelor’s degree graduates, master’s and Ph.D. candidates, young professionals and artists. Programs include the Fulbright Award for a Master in Public Administration at SDA BOCCONI, Milano; The Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) Program; The Fulbright Open Study/Research Awards in all Disciplines 2017-2018; the Fulbright Grant in Deafness Studies 2017-2018 and the Fulbright-Casten Family Foundation 2018-2018.
In May of 2015, NIAF introduced a new partnership with the U.S.-Italy Fulbright Commission and the Fondazione Giovanni e Francesca Falcone. Through this three-year commitment, scholarships will be available to university graduate students, one from America and one from Sicily, to conduct research in criminology, to promote the value of the rule of law and to endorse anti-mafia culture at the Fondazione Falcone in Palermo. This is the only program in the U.S.-Italy Fulbright Commission that provides study for both an American and an Italian student.
Internships and Fellowships
NIAF-CUA Internship: NIAF and The Catholic University of America have partnered to offer internship opportunities for students majoring or minoring in Italian Studies at The Catholic University of America. The internship provides students with the ability to connect their academic work to possible future employment, as well as to use and develop their Italian language skills in a professional atmosphere.
i-Italy Internship: NIAF and i-Italy have partnered to offer 2 internship opportunities for recent Italian American graduates interested in building the basis for a career in media while furthering their proficiency in the Italian language.
NIAF Congressional Fellowship: The Foundation places outstanding Italian American college students, graduate students and recent graduates in offices of members of the Italian American Congressional Delegation (IACD) to encourage and support the next generation of Italian American leadership. Fellows learn about the legislative process, issues facing Congress, and the operations of a Congressional office while working for an Italian American leader who has climbed the ladder of public policy success.
NIAF Italian American Museum Fellowship: Beginning in 2016, NIAF has invited museum fellows to curate an Italian American exhibit for the Foundation’s new museum at NIAF Headquarters.
NIAF & La ScalaEdit
NIAF offers a scholarship in partnership with Accademia Teatro alla Scala, one of the most renowned institutions for training professionals in the performing arts, and Politecnico di Milano Graduate School of Business (MIP), an internationally recognized management school. The full-tuition scholarship of 13,500 euros (approximately $14,500) is awarded to an Italian American graduate student who is seeking a Master’s Degree in Performing Arts Management. This 18-month program in English includes a three-to-six month internship at performing arts institutions throughout Italy and abroad. The program is open to 30 participants. It is also offered in collaboration with Piccolo Teatro di Milano with the advocacy of Opera Europa, an international service organization representing more than 150 renowned opera houses and festivals.
NIAF on CampusEdit
NIAF on Campus is a newly-created NIAF Italian American Leadership Council (IALC) Fellow Program. Its goal is the development of a unified strategy to organize and manage Italian American educational and social groups on college campuses. To do this NIAF will bring together 15 of the most active students throughout the nation so that they may have an equal voice in the process. Students will lead the discussion and design of a “NIAF on Campus” strategy and become long-term fellows of the Foundation to support the implementation of that strategy for many years to come. The ideal candidate for a Fellow will not only lead the discussion and design but will work to identify the next Fellow on that campus to succeed the candidate in the next year and beyond.
The National Italian American Foundation’s mission is to promote and protect the Italian American Heritage. To support this overarching mission, NIAF’s goal is to play an active role in the sponsorship of Italian and Italian American related projects and events through the Foundation’s Grants and Sponsorship Program.
To apply for a NIAF grant or event sponsorship, all interested parties must submit a typed and completed grant application to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Proposals are reviewed by the NIAF Grants and Sponsorship Committee on a quarterly basis and must be received by the dates listed at 11:59 pm (ET).
NIAF considers itself a steward of Italian American history and culture, working to preserve, promote, and advance Italian American culture through community engagement, providing consistent leadership and world-class programing. Each issue of NIAF’s award-winning Ambassador Magazine reaches hundreds of thousands of Italian Americans, and NIAF.org is a resource to millions of visitors a year exploring Italian American culture.
NIAF’s Washington, D.C. headquarters, the Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Building, serves as the unofficial Italian American Embassy. The stately Italianate villa near DuPont circle has recently undergone the first phase of a multi-phase renovation which seeks to make the building even more accessible to the Italian American community with the creation of a NIAF Museum and a new Memory Center to serve as a repository for the oral history of the Italian American community.
In order to create an expansive national network, and in an effort to highlight the achievements of all Italian Americans, NIAF has focused on working in partnership with other Italian-American groups, re-designing its Affiliate Group Program to build an alliance of the nation’s best organizations, and making NIAF’s resources available to members everywhere. NIAF provides local affiliates with matching scholarship funds up to $10,000 and makes available to their members all of the special benefits NIAF members receive in genealogical, dual-citizenship and travel services.
Over the years, NIAF has been active in organizing widespread support for issues facing the Italian American community, raising a total of $750,000 and serving as the community’s unparalleled leader in the struggle to make preserve the AP Italian Language Exam. NIAF also undertook the organization of a vast community-wide coalition when cities around the nation began to threaten the legacy of Columbus Day.
In 2013, in one of the most important partnerships in NIAF’s recent history, the Foundation became the only Italian American organization to be an official partner of the PBS documentary series “The Italian Americans,” directed by John Maggio. This historic, four hour film aired to unprecedented ratings in February of 2015 and has been unanimously lauded as one of the most important, even-handed, and accessible telling of the story of Italians in America.
International Affairs and Public PolicyEdit
Foremost amongst NIAF’s founding objectives was the effort to fight for increased representation of Italian-Americans in Cabinet-level positions, ambassadorial posts, judgeships and throughout the halls of power in the Washington D.C.
Today the National Italian American Foundation remains the most important voice for Italian Americans in the nation’s capital. Since its inception, the Foundation has worked closely with Congress, The White House, the Department of State, and other agencies to promote Italian American heritage and serve as a bipartisan educational foundation. NIAF provides a unified voice on issues of importance to the Italian American community. By building relationships with key decision makers, the Foundation acts as a resource and thought leader for politicians, policy makers, and diplomats.
Throughout the years, NIAF has worked closely with the Italian American Congressional Delegation, a bi-cameral, bi-partisan delegation composed of Members of Congress who trace their ancestry to Italy and support the Italian American community. The delegation is currently co-chaired by Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey and Congressman Pat Tiberi of Ohio.
Each year NIAF hosts a number of events with the Delegation, including the annual Congressional Bocce Ball Tournament, a biannual reception honoring freshmen members of the Italian American Congressional Delegation, and dinners to celebrate the achievements of Italians in the House and Senate.
NIAF’s signature public policy program is the Frank J. Guarini Public Policy Forum. The forum assembles renowned policy and thought leaders to address vital issues facing both the Italian American community and the nation at large. The program was founded in 2004 and endowed by the honorable Frank J. Guarini, former Member of Congress from New Jersey and NIAF Chairman Emeritus. Keynote speakers have included Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, former Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi, former Chairmen of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan, and former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta.
NIAF has hosted welcome receptions for visiting Italian dignitaries, dinners with governors and political leaders across the country, multi-day conferences, and policy discussions with the European Union. Each election year, NIAF hosts events at both the Democratic and Republican conventions, to bring together Italian Americans from around the nation.
In 2015, the Foundation supported and worked closely with the newly formed Italian American Congressional Staff Association. NIAF held its first event in cooperation with the Association on Capitol Hill in July, bringing together 300 Italian American staffers to share in the foundation’s mission.
In 1975 NIAF’s founders envisioned a financial and advisory Council of 100 – the 100 most passionate and engaged Italian Americans, who would take upon themselves the responsibility to support, protect, and perpetuate the mission and vision of NIAF. In 2015 NIAF rechristened that original group the Italian American Leadership Council (IALC): a new entity to collect a proactive group of 1,000 self-identifying leaders within the Italian American community who would help shape a vision for contemporary leadership and assume financial responsibility for actively supporting NIAF.
As an advisory board to the Foundation, the IALC provides consensual leadership, interacting with Board Members and staff, attending exclusive IALC networking events and representing the interest of their local communities within NIAF. Every IALC member is invited to participate in all NIAF Board activities, such as the Mission to Italy each summer and the NIAF Leadership Retreat every winter in Florida. In order to serve as a NIAF Area Coordinator, Regional Vice President or Member of the Board of Directors, an individual must be a member of the IALC.
The IALC created the IALC Fellows program in order to bring the most active and impassioned Italian American youths together during the NIAF Gala weekend so that they can provide real insight into NIAF’s efforts to serve the next generation of our community. IALC Leadership Forums have been hosted in multiple cities so that members can meet with stakeholders from Italy and the United States to develop real strategies for addressing the most pressing issues facing Italian Americans today.
Members in the IALC receive some special benefits, including free access to the Anniversary Gala.
Each October, in celebration of Italian Heritage Month, NIAF hosts its Anniversary Gala Weekend, a widely celebrated and yearly anticipated gathering of Italians and Italian Americans. This three day celebration presents a schedule of wine tastings, movie screenings, world class concerts and important conferences, culminating in the black-tie Anniversary Gala. Ever since 1976, celebrities and social figures have attended and been honored at the Black Tie Gala Awards Dinner.
Below is a limited list of notable honorees at the NIAF Black Tie Gala Awards Dinner.
Arts and Fashion Award: Giorgio Armani
Business Award: Jeno F. Paulucci
Fashion Award: Miuccia Prada
Italian American Hall of Fame in Music: Luciano Pavarotti