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Spring 2004

SOFIA COPPOLA who received an Oscar last February for her screenplay, Lost in Translation also was nominated for Best Director, the first American woman ever to be nominated in this category.

CHRISTINE CURELLA, 17, is helping underprivileged women and battered children through Fashion Cares, a volunteer organization she founded. She and fellow students at New York City's High School of Fashion Industries, sponsor book and toy drives, participate in charity fundraising walks and put out a newsletter with volunteer classifieds. Curella is an honors student, dance club captain and senior class president.

KATE DICAMILLO won the 2004 Newbery Medal for writing the children's book, The Tale of Despereaux. Three years ago her first book, Because of Winn-Dixie won the 2001 Newbery Medal. She was born in Philadelphia, raised in Florida and now lives in Minnesota. A job she took on the children's floor of a book warehouse allowed her to read, which in turn inspired her to write children's books.

JEFF DI MEGLIO, 22, a stonecutter in Alexandria, Virginia, who hunts for fossils as a hobby, found a five-foot-long skull of a whale that died eight million years ago on what is now Maryland's eastern shore. He made his priceless discovery in October 2003. It is now displayed at Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, MD.

JOANN FALLETTA is one of only a handful of women who are orchestra conductors and is the only conductor leading two major U.S. orchestras: the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. She has recorded over 25 titles including pieces with the London Symphony, the Czech National Symphony and the Women's Philharmonic. A guitarist by training, Falletta holds a doctorate in music from Juilliard. Her family is from Sicily and Basilicata.

JOHN GAGLIARDI has the most team victories in the history of college football with 414 wins in 55 years. Coach for St. John's University (Minn.), Gagliardi was one of the 2003 Coaches of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association. He uses an unconventional, no-nonsense approach to football. No playbook, cheerleaders, statistics, wind sprints, tackling or practicing in bad weather are part of his formula for success.

TYRONE GIORDANO, 27, dazzled Broadway audiences last fall in the title role of the musical Big River: the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Giordano, who is deaf, performed using American Sign Language while another actor spoke the lines and sang. The show closed September 2003, but plans are underway for a North American tour this summer.

NANCY JARDINI is the IRS's "top cop." She is the first woman to be chief of the IRS criminal investigation division, the agency that investigates and helps prosecute drug traffickers, tax-evaders and money launderers. She oversees a staff of 4,500 employees including nearly 3,000 special agents. A 15-year veteran of law enforcement posts, she has been a public defender, federal prosecutor and an IRS lawyer.

HENRY MANCINI (1924-1994) will be honored with a commemorative stamp released by the U.S Postal Service in April on the 10th anniversary of his death. Mancini's career as a composer in film and television was marked by many awards, including 20 Grammys and four Oscars. His music credits include the themes for TV's Peter Gunn, and for the movies Breakfast at Tiffany's and The Pink Panther.

STEVE MARIOTTI, 50, has helped more than 80,000 troubled young people, in America and abroad leave delinquency and enter the business world, through the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), which he founded in 1987. Mariotti was inspired to help inter-city kids at risk after he was mugged and beaten by five teenagers in New York City. He left the corporate world to become an inner-city school teacher, which led to his founding of NFTE.

CHRISTOPHER PAOLINI, 19, is already a published author. He personally sold 10,000 copies of Eragon, his first book in a medieval trilogy, before he was discovered by publishing giant Knopf, which bought the book and printed 125,000 copies. Paolini has put off college to complete the trilogy.

PAUL PODESTA is the new executive vice president and general manager (GM) of the Dodgers baseball team. A Harvard graduate in economics, at 31 he is the sport's second youngest GM (after Boston's Theo Epstein) and the ninth GM since the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958.

LT. GEN. JOHN W. ROSA JR. is the new superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Since joining the Air Force in 1973, he has served in command posts in the U.S. and Korea and has logged more than 3,600 flying hours.

NICOLETTA SACCHI, M.D., a cancer researcher, is the most cited woman scientist in the world. Sacchi came to America from Italy in 1982 and is currently a professor and researcher at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo. A specialist in children's tumors, she is also working on the prevention, detection and treatment of various malignancies, including breast cancer.

GEORGE R. ZAMBELLI SR. lost his fight with cancer December 25, 2003 at age 79 in New Castle, PA. Zambelli was president and general manager of Zambelli Fireworks International, one of the oldest and largest fireworks companies in the country. Founded by his grandfather, Italian immigrant Antonio Zambelli in 1893, the firm has staged thousands of shows, both here and abroad, including presidential inaugurations, Super Bowls and July Fourth celebrations.