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WASHINGTON, D.C. - July 15, 2005 Ronald P. Spogli, the new U.S. ambassador to Italy, met with the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA) in Washington, D.C. July 15 to discuss areas of collaboration between OSIA and the U.S. embassy he will head in Italy.
Educating young Italians in their twenties and thirties about the United States, its society, post-World War II history and its commercial and cultural affairs are at the top of the new ambassador's list of priorities.
"Older Italians have a debt of gratitude with the United States because they remember what America did to liberate Italy from the Nazis and help rebuild it in the years following World War II," Spogli said. "But younger Italians don't care about events so far in the past and have little direct experience with America, getting most of their information from the Internet and television. I don't want to see that good will towards America end," he said.
For that reason, Spogli intends to promote a cultural exchange program that would bring young Italians to the U.S. for two to four-week periods or longer where they would live with American families in cities across America. OSIA's coast-to-coast grassroots network of Italian American families is one of the sources Spogli would like to tap for this initiative.
Other areas of collaboration between OSIA and the U.S. embassy in Italy include increasing study-abroad opportunities for American students, promoting Italian language study in U.S. schools and encouraging better U.S.-Italy trade relations. "U.S.-Italy trade and commerce can and should be greatly enhanced," Spogli said.
Spogli will take the oath of office in Rome on August 10. He was nominated by President George W. Bush in June and approved by the U.S. Senate in July. He replaces the current ambassador, Mel Sembler.
Ronald Spogli has a strong background in business and international affairs. In 1983 he co-founded Freeman Spogli & Co., one of the leading private equity investors with headquarters in Los Angeles, where he was born and raised.
Since 2002, he has served on the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Fulbright scholarships are federally funded and promote international educational exchange between the United States and 140 countries, including Italy.
Spogli is fluent in Italian having studied in Florence as an undergraduate at Stanford University. During his 35-year business career, he lived in Italy for several years and has visited all 20 regions. His family emigrated from Gubbio in central Italy's Umbria region in 1912.
He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's most respected honor society, in his junior year at Stanford where he earned a B.A. in history magna cum laude and holds an MBA from Harvard University.
"We look forward to working closely with Ambassador Spogli on a broad range of issues which are of great importance to OSIA, the Italian American community and US-Italy relations," said Philip R. Piccigallo, OSIA's executive director.
OSIA is the largest and longest-established national organization for men and women of Italian descent in the United States. Established in 1905, OSIA has more than 600,000 members and supporters and a network of more than 745 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. To learn more, visit OSIA on the Web at www.osia.org.