A Spectacular Evening at NIAF’s Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street

American Idol Finalist Pia Toscano, Italo-Australian Singer ALFIO Perform

(Washington, D.C. – April 13, 2012) “The Bronx Tale” star and Academy Award-nominated actor Chazz Palminteri joined Emmy Award-winning journalist Maria Bartiromo along with business leaders BNY Mellon’s Art Certosimo and Pfizer’s Frank D’Amelio, as well as Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business Dean Donna M. Rapaccioli, Ph.D., as honorees at the National Italian American Foundation’s (NIAF) East Coast Gala on April 12, 2012.

The evening began with a cocktail reception at the legendary Italian Renaissance-inspired Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City. NIAF’s President Joseph V. Del Raso, Esq., welcomed the more than 700 guests to the Foundation’s annual dinner. “Tonight’s gala was a great success – we broke the mold with support from the financial industry. We brought together outstanding global leaders to honor our past but more importantly to plan for our future,” said Del Raso.

The gala’s mistress of ceremonies, Hon. Patricia de Stacy Harrison, NIAF vice chair and president and CEO for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, was joined at the podium by gala chairman Gerard S. LaRocca, NIAF board member and chief administrative officer, Americas, Barclays Capital.

Before the guests dined on Italian specialties including prosciutto and mozzarella salad, Auxiliary Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of the Diocese of Brooklyn gave the invocation. Actress and singer Christina Carlucci, a student at New York University Tisch School of Arts, sang the U.S. national anthem. She was joined by famed Italo-Australian singer ALFIO, who sang “Fratelli d’ Italia,” Italy’s national anthem.

Ms. Harrison kicked off the evening’s awards ceremony. Certosimo, who serves as senior executive vice president of BNY Mellon, received the NIAF’s Special Achievement Award in Business. A member of the Foundation’s board of directors, CNBC Anchor Bartiromo received a NIAF Special Achievement Award in Broadcasting/Media.

D’Amelio, executive vice president, business operations and chief financial officer of Pfizer Inc., received a NIAF Special Achievement Award in Financial Management. Dean Rapaccioli, who also serves as the dean of the business faculty at Fordham University, accepted the NIAF Special Achievement Award in Education.

To close the award ceremony, Harrison presented a NIAF Lifetime Achievement Award in Entertainment to Palminteri. The guests rose to their feet in applause when Palminteri came to the podium. “I wrote ‘The Bronx Tale’ to show that the real fabric of the Italian American community is the working man,” Palminteri said. “It was my father, Lorenzo, who said this famous line in the tale – ‘The saddest thing in life is wasted talent – Don’t waste your life’.” He ended with the advice to instill confidence in your children.

To add to the evening’s excitement, American Idol finalist and Howard Beach’s own Pia Toscano, who recently released her hit single “This Time,” performed this melody and one from her newly released album. “She’s a pop music mainstay,” exclaimed Harrison. ALFIO, a dear friend of NIAF who has graced NIAF’s stage on many occasions, came to the stage to sing. The guests gave them a standing ovation after their performances.

Two premium tickets to the New York Yankee’s opening game on Friday evening, April 13, was the popular raffle of the evening.

Joining the honorees were former Governor of New York Mario M. Cuomo and former First Lady Matilda Raffa Cuomo, who served on NIAF’s Board of Directors, Italy’s Consul General in New York, Hon. Natalia Quintavalle, the gala’s honorary chair; United States Congressman Michael Grimm; New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, as well as NIAF’s Vice Presidents in the Greater New York region Susan Paolercio and Nicholas R. Caiazzo.

Highlights of the evening also included the announcement of the Foundation’s collaboration with the Italian Cultural Foundation at the Casa Belvedere in Staten Island by John M. Viola, NIAF’s newly-appointed COO. “Now NIAF will bring Casa Belvedere’s innovative Italian arts and cultural programming to NIAF’s extensive network throughout the United States and abroad,” said Viola.

Harrison closed the evening with a “Buona Notte” and reminded everyone of NIAF’s upcoming gala on the West Coast in San Francisco on June 21.

Earlier in the week NIAF kicked off its 2012 series of the Frank J. Guarini/NIAF Media Forums in the media capital of the world, New York City. NIAF Chairman Emeritus Hon. Frank J. Guarini welcomed the guests to the Pepper Hamilton offices in the New York Times Building. NIAF’s Chief Operating Officer John M. Viola introduced the distinguished panelists: Stephanie Capparell, senior special writer on the International Desk of The Wall Street Journal; Carol A. Giacomo, editorial board member of The New York Times; Mario Platero, U.S. bureau chief of Il Sole 24 Ore; and Federico Rampini, U.S. bureau chief of La Repubblica, formerly China bureau chief. They discussed the distinct manufacturing and fair-trade policies of the United States, Italy and China, and their impact on the future global economy.

The NIAF East Coast Gala proceeds support the Foundation’s philanthropic and educational programs. Pfizer was an East Coast Gala Presenting Sponsor of the evening. Barclays Wealth, Barclays NETS Alliance, BNY Mellon, Jackson Lewis LLP, Pepper Hamilton, Fordham University, BD Development LLC, Deloitte LLP, The Nasdaq Stock Market, Guarini & Guarini and Virtu Financial joined NIAF as platinum sponsors.

SOURCE: NIAF press release

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