NIAF News Releases

NIAF Chairman Celebrates All Things Italian for 43 Years with Media in Phoenix


Contact:   Elissa Ruffino (NIAF) 202/939-3106 or

(WASHINGTON, D.C.-- March 3, 2011) NIAF Chairman Jerry Colangelo came to Arizona 43 years ago on March 1, where he continues to be a leader and advocate for the Italian American community. During the 9th annual Frank J. Guarini/NIAF Media Forum, at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel on February 28, 2011, Colangelo again welcomed journalists of Italian ancestry and prominent Italian American business executives.

Hon. Massimo Paolillo, Italian Honorary Vice Consul in Phoenix, with Jerry Colangelo, NIAF Chairman
Colangelo spoke about NIAF's mission to serve as a beacon for all Italian Americans with its many programs and events that connect one another. He encouraged all to return to Italy and one's roots. He also shared his experiences when he visited the region of Puglia with his family, and being honored at Ellis Island. "Don't forget where you came from," said Colangelo.

Colangelo invited Jude La Cava, FOX-10 sports anchor, to share his moving story of his travels when he traveled alone to Italy to meet his relatives for the first time. La Cava is also one of the celebrity guests who will be participating in the NIAF Chairman's Golf Invitational on March 12 at the Wigwam Hotel. La Cava will be joined by Sal Bando, former MLB star, Al Bianchi, former NBA champion guard for the Philadelphia 76ers, Chris Bianco, owner of the Pizzeria Bianco franchise and Joe Garagiola, former MLB star and baseball commentator, to name a few.

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Italy's unification, Hon. Massimo Paolillo, Italy's vice consul in Phoenix, gave an overview of "Il Risorgimento," Italy's struggle to become one nation. "This anniversary reaffirms our identity and gives a renewed sense of Italy’s cohesion and mission," said Paolillo.

This year's NIAF forum co-chairs included Rick D'Amico, FOX 10 "Arizona Morning" anchor, and Patricia DiRoss, senior government relations representative of the Salt River Project and former CBS weather forecaster. They highlighted the foundation's scholarship recipients in Tucson and how NIAF continues to make a difference in their community.

Under the gold leaf dome of the historic Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Aztec Room, media professionals continued to enjoy the evening of lively conversations with Italian regional wines and specialty foods from Italy as well as Southwest cuisine. Similar NIAF forums are planned this week in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit, non-partisan foundation dedicated to promoting the contributions of Italian Americans. The Foundation has a wide range of programs that provide scholarships and grants, conferences and cultural seminars. Visit

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