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Past Newsmakers

Summer 2005

DONALD J. D'AMICO, M.D., professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, conducted clinical trials on Macugen, the new drug approved by the FDA to treat macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older Americans.

MIKE D'ANTONI coaches the Phoenix Suns which have excelled under his leadership earning the club's best record. He has a 30-year professional basketball career including the NBA, ABA and the Italian League. Born in Mullins, West Virginia D'Antoni became one of Italy's fiercest soccer coaches before coming to the Suns.

TONY DANZA dropped in on an Italian class at Grand Valley State University in Michigan last April and shocked students by giving all 19 of them a free trip to Italy, courtesy of Perillo Tours and Alitalia Airlines.

ROBBIE DONNO help found Gift of Life, a program that helps children with heart problems get life-saving surgery. Over the past thirty years it has helped almost 6,000 children by arranging transportation from third-world countries to the United States for needed operations. Recently, Mr. Donno helped found Gift of Life International which coordinates efforts worldwide.

MARY ANN ESPOSITO is breaking broadcasting records with Ciao Italia, the longest running cooking show on the air. Ciao Italia, available on local public television stations, has been running for 16 years. Ms. Esposito has released her ninth cookbook, Ciao Italia Pronto!, featuring Italian meals with quick preparation (30 minutes!) and cooking time. [427.95; St.Martin's Press. Available in October at bookstores nationally.]

ROBERTA GAMBARINI is considered by many as one of today's finest young jazz singers and a successor to Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae. This Italian native is known for her near-flawless pitch and vast range. Her first American CD, Easy to Love, is scheduled to be released this year.

PETER W. RODINO, JR., 95, the Democratic New Jersey congressman and House Judiciary Committee Chairman who presided over the congressional hearings that led to President Nixon's resignation, passed away May 9. Born to an immigrant Italian toolmaker in Newark, Rodino served in Congress from 1949-1989. He played significant role in making Columbus Day a federal holiday.

VINCENT SCHIRALDI, a nationally known juvenile justice expert, has been nominated by D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams and confirmed by the city council as the director of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. He is the first director of this Cabinet-level agency that replaced the Youth Services Administration.

NORMA VALLY, host of the hit Discovery Channel show, Toolbelt Diva, has taken brought "Tool Time" to a brand new audience: women. Vally splits her time between taping the show in Hollywood and her home in Brooklyn. "I'm an Italian-American who grew up in Brooklyn," she told the New York Daily News, "Whatever package it comes in, this is it. And as it turns out, I think it makes me stand out."