President DiFiore Quinn Concludes her Term as Third Female President of OSDIA

Interview by Mary Kovach, Ph.D.

It was my pleasure to interview Nancy DiFiore Quinn, the third female President in the Order Sons and Daughters in America’s (OSDIA) 115-year history. She is humble, accomplished, proud of her heritage, and a great example of an Italian American. Her maternal family immigrated from Napoli and her paternal family from Sicilia. She continues to honor and celebrate family traditions while contributing to the tapestry of the Italian American community, for the greater American storybook. In this interview, President DiFiore Quinn discusses her family traditions, the impact of OSDIA on her life, and provides inspiration for Italian American women.

What family traditions do you continue today that you participated in growing up or that are originally from Italy?

My great grandmother loved and cherished St. Joseph. Every year on March 19th, the entire family would go to her house in Brooklyn and celebrate this feast. All of the community was invited. As a child, I remember feeling so closed-in by so many people. The family held a procession with all of the Holy Family (costumes and all)), and I was so impressed that my dad played the part of St. Joseph. There was an altar set up in the basement with special St. Joseph’s bread, fruit, flowers, fava beans, candles statues, and pictures of St. Joseph. We ate all the traditional St. Joseph treats such as zeppole, rice balls, pasta con sarde, and eggplant. As I grew older, my great grandmother allowed me to play St. Ann (a part my mom played) and that was very special for me. My mom (who was a great cook) taught me how to make rice balls and pasta con sarde … and till this day, we celebrate with my daughter and her family making as many traditional dishes that we can. This year our family is celebrating “The Year of St. Joseph” so we have all our St. Joseph statues displayed around the house.

Is there particular advice you received from your mother or grandmother that you cherish and apply to life today?

My mother taught me to be independent and never let a goal that I want stand in my way. She passed away very young (68), and I miss her dearly. She never got a chance to see my two grandsons grow up – something I know she would have thoroughly enjoyed. Sometimes life gives you a turn, and there is nothing you can do about it, except to ride the tide.

You are the President of the internationally recognized Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America (OSDIA), an organization established in 1905. What does it mean for you to be the third female to hold this office in the organization’s history?

I am a 44-year member of the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America and love every minute of it. I was elected the first woman State President of the Grand Lodge of New York sixteen years ago and when that term was over, I moved on to the National OSDIA. Working my way through the various national positions, I became the third woman to hold the office of National President in our Order’s 115th year history. To say I am “proud” is really not enough of an explanatory word. It is my honor and pleasure to follow the other two female OSDIA presidents - National President Joanne Strollo and National President Vera Girolami – both of whom are close friends of mine.

You published three cookbooks! What inspired you to write it, and are there signature dishes from your family’s region in Italy that you regularly make as part of your meals?

I published two cookbooks for the Grand Lodge of New York (OSDIA) and one for the Supreme Lodge (OSDIA). Believe it or not, I really don’t like to cook! Cooking is my husband’s job, for the most part. For the Grand Lodge of New York cookbook, we collected recipes from members all around the state of New York. For the National cookbook, we collected recipes from members around the country. Our two cookbooks for New York OSDIA were named “Cucina Classica” and “Cucina Classica II.” The National cookbooks was titled “For the Love of Italian Cooking.” In fact, the former two can be purchased on Amazon.

The world faced an unprecedented challenge last year, and continues to fight the virus. How did COVID-19 impact your presidency?

This has been a difficult time for me. I was not given the opportunity to travel around the country to meet and great our Brothers and Sisters from different grand lodges. Unfortunately, in-person meetings were not to be, and I had to learn very quickly how to use Zoom to run and attend meetings. It has been a “virtual” presidency.

Based on your role within OSDIA, what are a few notions you want to leave as your legacy?

This is my belief, “Italian women are strong-willed, incredibly smart, and are able to do anything they set their mind to!” We are so fortunate to have such wonderful Italian influences on the world … such as cuisine, music, art, literature, language and science. There is no other culture that can compare with the Italian influence on our world.

Unfortunately, our Italian heritage has been insulted and tested when Christopher Columbus’ character and statues went under attack across the nation for bogus reasons. How do you feel about this impacts future generations?

I really think it is a disgrace to attack Columbus statues - in fact, any statues. They were put there in a time when they were important to people. Statues cannot do you any harm and they are a piece of American history. We should not be changing history.

You’ve been a member of OSDIA for more than 40 years. What are some of your favorite memories, and/or some of the things you love about this organization?

All my friends for the past forty three years have come from OSDIA. I joined my home lodge, Per Sempre Ladies Lodge #2344A, for companionship and to help my community. My mom was always involved in the community, and I grew up with the same commitment. Some of my best times and memories include our many state conventions, serving as President of my lodge, serving as the first woman President of the Grand Lodge of New York – and finally having the opportunity to serve as National President of the Order Sons & Daughters of Italy in America. This beloved organization is a huge part of my life for many years, and I just can’t think about not being part of it – ever.

For information on how to become a member of the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America, visit

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