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Top Italian American and Washington Leaders Attend Sons of Italy® Gala in DC

Press Contact: Kylie Cafiero, (202) 547-2900

WASHINGTON, D.C. - May 27, 2005 White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, along with members of Congress including Hillary Clinton, Joseph Lieberman and Nancy Pelosi joined the Sons of Italy® to honor top Italian American leaders and students at the Sons of Italy Foundation® (SIF) gala, May 26 in Washington, D.C.

The SIF's 17th annual National Education & Leadership Awards (NELA) Gala also celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the Sons of Italy®. Addressing the crowd, Card noted that the greatest immigration of people from a homeland was Italy and the extent to which America has benefited by those that came here. "The new world wouldn't be what it is without Italian Americans," he said.

Speaking to military efforts and the friendship between Italy and the United States Card said, "Today we are fighting new battles, the Italian Americans are there, so are the Italians."

This year's honorees were Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts; Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans; Joseph Battipaglia, chief investment officer of Ryan Beck & Co, Inc.; and Joseph G. Procacci, president of Procacci Brothers Sales Corporation.

Thirteen Italian American students received scholarships to top universities including University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University Medical School, John Hopkins University and Harvard University.

The event helped the SIF raise nearly one million dollars for scholarships, medical research, disaster relief and cultural programs. Since 1959, the SIF has given nearly $90 million to these causes.

The evening's hosts were Paul Polo and Joseph Sciame, respectively the president and chairman of the Sons of Italy Foundation®. Guests included past NELA honorees AIDS researcher Anthony Fauci, M.D.; breast cancer activist Fran Visco; Robert Gallo, M.D., Institute of Human Virology Director; Empire State Development Chairman and honorary NELA Chairman Charles Gargano; and the night's master of ceremonies, television and screen actor Joe Mantegna.

Attending from Congress, U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT); John Larson (D-CT) Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Nancy Pelosi (D-CT), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Don Sherwood (R-PA), Tom Tancredo (R-CO), Patrick Tiberi (R-OH); and U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and Rick Santorum (R-PA). Guests also included leaders from business, the arts and the Italian Embassy.

Among the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA) supporters were members and officers from the Grand Lodges of California, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The SIF is the philanthropic arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the largest and oldest national organization for men and women of Italian heritage in the United States. Italian Americans are the nation's fifth largest ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.