Over the past few months, you’ve probably seen the acronym “IALC” popping up in some of our literature, including our magazine, Ambassador. For those of you who are unaware, the IALC represents the National Italian American Foundation’s newest initiative for engaging Italian Americans across the nation.
The Italian American Leadership Council (IALC) is the latest version of a long-successful membership concept here at NIAF, one that was created in 1975 with the Council 100, which evolved into the Council 1000 and eventually the Council 2000. In the past year and a half, this concept has been reformatted and reimagined as the IALC. The idea is pretty simple. The IALC is born out of the desire to gather 1,000 Italian American men and women who see themselves as active community leaders and to reward them and their financial participation with real say in what goes on here at NIAF.
After three years here at NIAF, we’ve done an awfully good job of making sure that we can deliver world-class programming to Italian Americans and Italians while maintaining rigorous fiscal discipline in terms of our operations. Operational overhead that used to cost $3.2 million a year now costs $1.6 million. If we look at future growth (meaning even better and more frequent engagement in the regions) we project an operational budget that will be $2.5 million a year, with $500,000 of that specifically earmarked for regional programming. That means every penny of that half a million dollars goes right out the door to support new projects run for and by the Italian American community.
Basing our operations on that number, we’re asking one thousand people to shoulder that burden with us. One thousand Italian Americans to commit to $2,500 a year as more than a donation—as a self-identification and as a statement that they are leaders in our community—that they see the need to preserve and protect, not only our heritage, but our leading institutions like NIAF, and that they want a voice in the direction of our Foundation.
To make sure that the advisory portion of this council is met, our Board voted to make IALC membership a requirement for service on the Board of Directors at NIAF, along with service as a Regional Vice President or Area Coordinator. This way, anyone who represents NIAF in the world is guaranteed to have taken on at least a small share of the Foundation’s financial needs.
We also wanted to make sure that these people could gather once a year and lend their voice to important conversations about the direction of our community… so what better place than NIAF’s Anniversary Gala Weekend in Washington, D.C.,—the premier event for Italians and Italian Americans in the United States. Therefore, inclusive in this $2,500 donation is one complimentary Premier Gala Dinner ticket. This ensures that our NIAF Gala Weekend will be filled with the voices that will shape the future direction of our Foundation and our community. We’ve also included IALC members in all events, which were, up until now, restricted to our Board of Directors, such as our Mission to Italy each summer and our NIAF Leadership Retreat every winter in Florida. Beyond these invitations are a litany of networking opportunities and benefits, which are able to be viewed at www.niaf.org/IALC. But to me, it’s not about what you are getting from this, but what you are giving back to our people
I know that you will agree with me when I say that the best thing we can do for our culture and future generations of Italian Americans is to make sure that we have stalwart and committed leadership at the helm of an organization like NIAF. I hope we see some of you on the IALC roll-call as the initiative evolves… because I look forward to your part in that leadership.
Yours in Partnership,
John M. Viola.