National Education & Leadership Awards Gala





Gala Highlights

2011 NELA Gala Highlights

Wednesday, May 25, 2011
National Building Museum, Washington, D.C.

The Sons of Italy Foundation's 23rd Annual National Education and Leadership Awards (NELA) Gala in Washington, D.C. was a celebration of achievement, sacrifice & patriotism. The 2011 honorees were: U.S. Senator Jack Reed (RI), former president & CEO of the San Francisco 49ers Carmen Policy, executive director of Wounded Warrior Project Steven Nardizzi, chairman of Italian defense contractor Finmeccanica Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, and the 10 remarkable students who were the winners of this year's National Leadership Grant Competition.

A highlight of the evening was the presentation of a Sons of Italy scholarship of $10,000 to SSgt. Salvatore Giunta, the first living American serviceman to receive the Medal of Honor since Vietnam. SSgt. Giunta received the nation's highest honor for valor after risking his life to save a wounded comrade who was being carried away by Taliban terrorists during an ambush in Afghanistan.

Actor Joe Mantegna served as the Master of Ceremonies and the crowd of approximately 800 guests was entertained by performances from the popular Italian singer Giada Valenti and American singer/songwriter Theresa Sareo.

Among the approximately 800 guests in attendance were leaders from government, business, academia, sports and entertainment, including Capt. Anthony Odierno (U.S. Army, ret.), who was honored by the Sons of Italy last year, and his father, Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, who introduced SSgt. Giunta.

Also present were former U.S. Congresswoman Connie Morella, AIDS researchers Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Robert Gallo, the current Ambassador from Italy to the U.S. Giulio Terzi and the immediate past ambassador, Giovanni Castellaneta, George W. Bush Foundation Senior Advisor Anita McBride, renowned restaurateur Franco Nuschese, and numerous congressmen and women, including Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Full press release from the 23rd Annual NELA Gala

2011 NELA Gala sponsors

2011 NELA Gala Journal

2011 National Leadership Grant Recipients