OSDIA Elects Vera Girolami as President at 55th Biennial Convention

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In its 112th year, the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America(OSDIA) officers gathered in Sarasota, Florida, to elect the leaders who will forge the future of the oldest and largest national organization for people of Italian heritage. Vera Girolami of California was elected as OSDIA’s 36th National President and sworn in on August 19.

OSDIA’s New National Officers

Joining OSDIA National President Girolami are the following officers:

· Nancy Di Fiore Quinn of New York, National First Vice President
· Robert A. Bianchi, Esq. of New Jersey, National Second Vice President
· Joseph A. Boncore, Esq. of Massachusetts, National Third Vice President
· Michael G. Polo of Connecticut, National Fourth Vice President
· Richard R. Della Croce, Esq., National Fifth Vice President


· Michael P. Creedon, Esq., National Orator
· Philip J. Privitera, Esq. of Massachusetts, National Recording Secretary
· Tony Bisceglia Anderson of Northwest, National Financial Secretary
· Thom A. Lupo of New York, National Treasurer
· Carolyn Reres of New York, National Historian
· Rev. R. Adam Forno of New York, National Chaplain

National Past President Joseph J. DiTrapani of New York was appointed to serve a third straight term as President of the Sons of Italy Foundation® (SIF), OSDIA’s philanthropic arm. Established in 1959, the SIF has contributed more than $165 million to scholarships, medical research, disaster relief efforts, cultural projects, veterans’ causes and other special projects.

Kevin A. Caira of Massachusetts was appointed to serve a second straight term as National President of the Commission for Social Justice® (CSJ), OSDIA’s anti-defamation arm. The CSJ fights the stereotyping of Italian Americans. For the past few years, it has focused on preserving Columbus Day.

Convention Highlights

With nearly 135 OSDIA national officers, trustees, state presidents, national delegates, and their guests in attendance, voting members elected Vera Girolami as the second woman OSDIA National President. There to install her as President on this momentous occasion was OSDIA’s first woman National President, Joanne L. Strollo (1993-1995). “It is with great happiness that I relinquish the word ‘only’ to my sister Vera,” Joanne said. “She has the attributes to be President, and she just happened to be a woman.”
This also marks the first time in OSDIA history that women held the two top positions in the organization, which fittingly coincided with the decision to officially change the Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA) name to Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America (OSDIA). To find out more about this historic moment, be sure to read the article in the Fall 2017 edition of Italian America magazine.
During the convention, leaders and delegates announced they raised $321,439 for OSDIA’s national charities:

Alzheimer’s Association ($107,673)
Cooley’s Anemia Foundation ($142,483)
Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism ($71,283)

There was also $65,135 in donations made to:

Central Italy earthquake relief fund ($58,720)
Help Our Military Heroes ($4,315)
Garibaldi-Meucci Museum ($2,100)

These funds were raised by members and their lodges over the past two years, and the additional contribution to the Central Italy earthquake relief fund brought OSDIA’s total donation more than $210,000.
Convention attendees also reviewed the last two years of OSDIA’s activities and set the administrative, philanthropic, and cultural agendas for 2017-2019. One of the significant ongoing developments will include the launching of OSDIA’s new website, which will allow members across the country to connect with each other and explore networking opportunities.

Convention Awards

Three distinguished Italian Americans received honors at the convention for their exemplary contributions to both their Italian-American heritage and their respective communities.
William Zuppa, or “Bill” as he is known to his OSDIA brothers and sisters, received the 2017 Dr. Vincenzo Sellaro Award for his commitment to the growth of OSDIA. A Charter member of the Joseph B. Franzalia Lodge #2422 for thirty-nine years, he was the founder of three OSDIA lodges, all located in Northwest Florida—Buona Fortuna Lodge #2835 in Pensacola (2006), William Zuppa Lodge #2845 in Panama City (2008), and Richard A. Capozzola Lodge #2865 in Crestview (2010). Bill served twenty years in the United States Air Force (1953 – 1973), receiving numerous distinctions, including the Bronze Star, Korean Service Medal, and Vietnam Service Medal. The Sellaro Award is named after Dr. Vincenzo Sellaro, who founded the Order in 1905.
Joan Bonvicini, one of the winningest coaches in women’s college basketball history, received the 2017 OSDIA National Sports Award. Having become just the 17th coach to reach 700 career wins, Joan coached Long Beach State University (1979 – 1991), University of Arizona (1991 – 2008), and Seattle University (2009 – 2016). She led Long Beach State to back-to-back NCAA Final Four appearances, as well as ten NCAA tournament appearances, nine Sweet Sixteen appearances, and six Elite Eight appearances. In 1981, she was named the NCAA Division I Coach of the Year, and in 1996, she led Arizona to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament championship title.
Senator Maria Lorts Sachs received the convention’s highest honor, the 2017 Guglielmo Marconi Award, named for the great Italian physicist responsible for wireless telegraphy. Maria was elected to the Florida House of Representatives and served two terms until she was elected to the Florida Senate in 2010. As a member of the house, she helped pass legislation that allows the Italian language to be a part of Florida’s high school curriculum. As a member of the senate, she helped pass legislation that recognizes the month of October as Italian and Italian American Heritage Month in Florida.

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