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Past Newsmakers

Summer 2006

RICHARD BENEDETTO, the respected veteran Washington political reporter for USA Today, offers an unusual and entertaining look at politicians in his new book, Politicians Are People, Too. In his first chapter, Benedetto credits his Italian heritage for the values that shaped his life and career. Critics found the book "fair, civil and charitable."

JOE BENEVENTO was recently selected as one of five finalists out of hundreds nominated for the John Gardner Award for Fiction given annually by Binghamton University. The jury chose his novel, The Odd Squad, about three friends of Italian, African and Hispanic heritage, who remain close despite the pressures of their working class New York City neighborhood, as one of the five best works of fiction in 2005.

ANTHONY DeSANTIS is a legend in Chicago where he has been a theater impresario for 57 years. Now 92, he established five theaters in the area that attracted Hollywood and Broadway stars, but offered audiences mid-western ticket prices. A generous philanthropist, last year his donations to the poor, disabled and hungry totaled $1 million.

MICHAEL GRECO, current president of the American Bar Association (ABA), has introduced a new ABA program that encourages members to do more pro bono and public service in their communities. "The lawyer as public citizen is what I am talking about," he says. Born in Italy but raised in Chicago, Greco practices law in Boston. He has led the ABA since 2005.

ALBERTA SBRAGIA, PH.D. is one of the world's leading experts on Europe's political and economic climate. A University of Pittsburgh political scientist, she grew up on a ranch in Nevada. Bilingual in English and Italian, she credits her Tuscan father's dinnertime discussions about politics and world events with inspiring her academic career.

STEFANO SCAFETTA has spent the past three decades restoring masterpieces by such American artists as John Sergeant, George Catlin and the famous Hudson River painters for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. He was born in Italy, came here in 1947 at age 15 and recently was promoted as a Smithsonian senior conservationist.

RALPH TROISIO led an international team of experts from nine nations that met in England late last year to develop combat technology that prevents "friendly fire" deaths and casualties by identifying soldiers and vehicles in battlefield situations. Troisio was responsible for ensuring that 130 prototype systems for combat vehicles, aircraft and troops worked.