National Italian American Foundation honoring Italian Americans pioneers

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) West Coast Gala, honoring Italian Americans making positive changes in their fields, takes place on June 21, 2012, at The Fairmont San Francisco Hotel in San Francisco. The evening’s honorees include:
Roberto Crea, Ph.D., chief executive officer, founder, and president of CREAGRI Inc., NIAF Special Achievement Award in Biotechnology (Science and Medicine).
John A. Legnitto, vice president and group manager for the San Francisco region at Recology, NIAF Special Achievement Award in Environmental Citizenship.
Kim Polese, chairman of ClearStreet Inc., NIAF Special Achievement Award in Technology.
Anna Paola Snaidero, vice president of public relations and advertising for Snaidero USA, NIAF Special Achievement Award in Business.

NIAF will also honor Aili and Andres McConnon, coauthors of “ Road to Valor: A True Story of World War II Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation.” Their new book, published in June, chronicles the life of Gino Bartali, champion Italian cyclist and World War II hero, whose legendary story reflects the Italian soul and character. The book shines a light on aspects of professional cycling, Fascist-and Nazi-occupied Italy, the experiences of Jews in World War ll, and post-war Italian politics. It is the first book written about Bartali in English and the only one to fully explore Bartali’s war-time work.

The McConnons, who are siblings, will receive the Mazzei Award in Thought Leadership for their outstanding contributions to research, scholarship and innovative thinking.

The Foundation will honor Mr. Crea with the NIAF Special Achievement Award in Biotechnology (Science and Medicine), and Mr. Legnitto with its Special Achievement Award in Environmental Citizenship. NIAF’s Special Achievement Award in Technology will be awarded to Ms. Polese. Ms. Snaidero will receive the Foundation’s Special Achievement Award in Business.

The NIAF West Coast Gala will also showcase San Francisco’s vibrant international community while celebrating the rich heritage of Italians and Italian Americans. Blues guitarist and musician Johnny Rivers will lead the list of celebrities attending the event.

Mr. Crea has donated more than 30 years of his life to the biotechnology field as a scientist, investor and entrepreneur. He is one of the initial four scientific co-founders of Genentech Inc. His scientific contribution was instrumental to the development of human insulin, and other DNA- based human therapeutic drugs. He also founded Creative Biomolecules Inc., Creagen Inc., Bioren, Inc. and CreAgri, Inc. An author of more than 40 international patents and co-author of more than 50 scientific articles, Roberto Crea is the recipient of the Rumbaugh Award for Scientific Contribution awarded by the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation for America.

Mr. Legnitto leads Recology operations in San Francisco, identified by The Economist Intelligence Unit as the Greenest City in North America. Mr. Legnitto is responsible for the overall management of the city’s resource recovery system and Recology’s business development initiatives in San Francisco. San Francisco diverts 78 percent of all waste generated in the city away from landfill disposal through reuse and recycling programs. That is the highest diversion rate for large cities in North America. San Francisco has set a goal of achieving zero waste by 2020. Mr. Legnitto joined Recology, a 100 percent employee-owned company, in 1994. He is a former chairman and current board member of San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and of Leadership San Francisco. He is a past president and current board member of The Clean City Coalition. Presently Mr. Legnitto also serves on the board of Clinic by the Bay.

Ms. Polese is a prominent Silicon Valley entrepreneur, innovator and business leader. As the founding product manager of Java, she led its launch at Sun Microsystems in 1995 and went on to co-found Marimba Inc., which developed the first generation of Internet-based software management. Ms. Polese served as President, CEO and Chairman of Marimba, leading the company to profitability and a successful public offering. During her 25 years in Silicon Valley Ms. Polese has always been on the bleeding edge of technology, starting her career in artificial intelligence as an applications engineer at IntelliCorp Inc. where she helped Fortune 500 companies apply AI to solve complex business challenges. Ms. Polese is a leading voice in advocating public policy to increase America’s innovation capacity and is a passionate believer in the potential of business to solve society’s greatest challenges. She is currently helping to found and scale a new generation of startup companies as an advisor, board member and investor and serves as Chairman of ClearStreet Inc., a social finance startup focused on helping people eliminate debt and achieve long-term financial health. Ms. Polese is an Aspen Institute Crown Fellow and serves on several boards including the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, TechNet, the University of California President’s Board on Science and Innovation, UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering, the Long Now Foundation, the Public Policy Institute of California and the Global Security Institute.

Born in Pordenone, Italy and married to the son of Snaidero’s founder, Ms. Snaidero came to Los Angeles 16 years ago with her husband, Comm. Dario Snaidero and son Alberto. While living in Italy, she worked in the fields of graphic design and public relations for Zanussi (today Electrolux), Stock Distillery, GFP Graphics as well as Snaidero Rino SpA. Although the Snaidero brand was established 35 years ago in the United States, it was not yet very well known. Therefore, Ms. Snaidero developed the Snaidero USA’s public relations office to build the brand and a stronger recognition of the Italian label within the Americas. Today, the company is one of the most recognizable “Made-in-Italy” kitchen cabinet brands, used by architects, developers, and interiors designer internationally. An avid painter, Ms. Snaidero also has been using her creative skills on canvas for many years.

Jeffrey M. Capaccio, Esq., and Marcella Leonetti-Tyler, NIAF regional vice presidents for the far west (north) and far west (south), respectively, will serve as dinner co-chairs. The gala will benefit the Foundation’s scholarship and education programs.