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Sons of Italy® Holds 48th National Convention in St. Louis

Joseph Sciame Elected President * Gen. Anthony Zinni Amoung Honorees

Press Contact: Kylie Cafiero, (202) 547-2900

NEWS - For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON, September 4, 2003 - The Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the largest and longest established national Italian American organization in the United States, held its 48th biennial national convention in St. Louis Aug. 10-16.

About 300 OSIA national delegates, national trustees, state presidents and OSIA Supreme Council officers and their spouses attended the convention to review OSIA's last two years' activities, elect a new slate of national leaders and set OSIA's cultural, philanthropic and administrative agendas for next two years. The conventioneers also honored Marine General Anthony Zinni, businessman/philanthropist Louis Esposito and men's basketball coach Phil Martelli at special luncheons and a gala dinner.

The new president of OSIA is St. Johns University Vice President Joseph Sciame of New York. He succeeds Judge Robert A. Messa of Pennsylvania, who served from 2001 to 2003.

Mr. Messa presided over the convention. Under his leadership, OSIA enhanced its promotion of Italian language studies in U.S. schools and colleges through the Sons of Italy®'s "Adopt A School" program and helped establish an Advanced Placement Italian program.

Over the past two years, OSIA strengthened its relations with Italy through two official visits to Rome, meeting with Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and parliamentary leaders. OSIA's youth outreach also was benefited from new study-abroad programs and the Career Connections initiative to help young Italian Americans launch careers.

As incoming OSIA national president, Sciame plans to strengthen OSIA's local and state leadership, include more young people in all levels of OSIA and continue to support OSIA's promotion of Italian in U.S. schools and universities.

Sciame joined OSIA in 1968 as a charter member of the Cellini Lodge #2206 in New Hyde Park, N.Y. Over the years he has worked his way up through the ranks of OSIA leadership from lodge president, to New York State Grand Lodge president to first national vice president.

Albert De Napoli, Esq. of Walpole, MA was elected national president of the Sons of Italy® Commission for Social Justice®, OSIA's anti-defamation arm. The CSJ fights the stereotyping of Italian Americans by the U.S. entertainment, advertising, and media industries. It also promotes the achievements and contributions of Italian Americans to the U.S. through research and public education programs.

Connecticut businessman Paul S. Polo was re-elected president of the Sons of Italy Foundation® (SIF), the philanthropic arm of OSIA. The SIF supports scholarships, medical research, cultural preservation, disaster relief and other special projects. Since its inception in 1959, the SIF has donated more than $83 million to these causes.

During the convention, OSIA pledged nearly $500,000 to Cooley's Anemia Foundation and the Alzheimer's Association and raised an additional $100,000 for other worthy causes. The convention participants voted down a measure that would have allowed social members of lodges to vote. They approved an increase in the per capita tax, effective October 2004 that will raise it from its current $9.50 to $12.50 by 2005. The per capita tax on each member's dues supports OSIA's national and international programs coordinated by OSIA's national office in Washington, D.C.

At the gala dinner that closed the convention on Aug. 16, the Sons of Italy® honored retired four-star Marine general, Anthony Zinni with its prestigious Marconi Award, OSIA's highest honor, conferred only once every two years to an Italian American who has made significant contributions to the United States.

Gen. Zinni currently is a special advisor to the Secretary of State. He entered the Marine officer program while an undergraduate studying economics at Villanova University and upon graduation served in Vietnam where he was wounded. A decorated officer, his honors include the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Service Medal and a Bronze Star.

As commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command, he directed Operation Desert Fox in December of 1998, which involved the bombing of Iraq and was the largest U.S. offensive since the Gulf War in 1991.

Two luncheons during the convention honored Louis Esposito and Phil Martelli. Mr. Esposito, a noted and much honored philanthropist, received the 2003 Sellaro Award, named after OSIA's founder, Vincenzo Sellaro, M.D. Mr. Esposito is president of the Board of Directors of City Trust of Philadelphia, which oversees more than 100 trusts.

Following his graduation from Villanova University in 1943, he served in World War II in North Africa and Italy. After the war, he founded A. Esposito Inc., Purveyor of Fine Meats and Select Food Products in Philadelphia, served as president of the OSIA Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and was made a Commendatore of the Republic of Italy, among many other honors in his long career.

Phil Martelli received the 2003 Sons of Italy Foundation® National Sports Award for his outstanding record as Hawks men's basketball coach at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. In 1997 he was named Coach of the Year by both the Atlantic 10 Conference and Eastern Basketball. Three years later, Martelli was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. In 2001 he was assistant coach to the USA team at the World Championship for Young Men in Japan where the team captured a gold medal. Martelli is one of only five Hawk coaches to record 100 career wins.

OSIA will hold its 49th biennial national convention in New York City in August 2005. This convention will celebrate the 100th anniversary of OSIA's founding in New York's Little Italy.

OSIA is the largest and longest established national organization for men and women of Italian heritage in the United States. It has more than 600,000 members and supporters and a network of more than 700 chapters coast to coast. OSIA works at the community, national and international levels to promote the heritage and culture of an estimated 26 million Italian Americans, the nation's fifth largest ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.