Italy USA relations gotha met at the 46th NIAF Anniversary Gala


On Saturday, October 23, 2021, the National Italian American Foundation hosted its 46th Anniversary Gala at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.—and what a memorable Gala it was!

As NIAF’s first return to an in-person celebration of our Italian heritage and culture since the Covid pandemic forced a totally virtual Gala in 2020, this exclusive, limited-seating event attracted 450 loyal and enthusiastic VIPs, honorees, sponsors and guests who embraced seeing old friends again and making new ones in support of the Foundation’s important mission. (In our interest of the safety of all Gala guests, attendees were required to pass through a Covid Check Point and provide full-vaccination or negative Covid-test proof to enter.)

This year’s Gala featured inspirational and heartfelt messages from five distinguished honorees who were saluted for their remarkable achievements, as well as invaluable insights from public figures and performances by legendary performers. Following acclaimed Italian tenor Marco Fiorante’s singing of the national anthems of both the United States and Italy, and an invocation by Monsignor Peter Vaghi, pastor of the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Md., NIAF Gala Chairman Joseph Lonardo welcomed guests with a rousing “Buona sera!”

And, then, detailing the importance of the evening’s fundraising for the Foundation’s educational mission, he said, “I would like to express our gratitude for you joining us tonight!” Next came an engaging video message from Jill Biden, the first Italian American First Lady in U.S. history!

“One of my favorite memories from childhood is the warm smell of Italian bread toast that always woke me up at my grandparents’ house. I loved the ribbons of homemade pasta hanging in the kitchen…,” recalled the First Lady, whose grandfather emigrated from Sicily to Ellis Island in 1900.

“My Italian roots have always been a part of who I am…..the values I learned from my grandparents—kindness, generosity, family loyalty, passion, and embracing joy—helped make me who I am today….The National Italian American Foundation helps keep that heritage alive. I’m proud of what they are doing to invest in the next generation of Italian Americans….”

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