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Record Number of Daughters Leading "Sons of Italy®"

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

WASHINGTON, D.C. - September 6, 2005 As a result of recent state and national elections, women now hold more positions of leadership in OSIA than ever before in the organization's 100-year history.

Various state conventions held in June of this year and the national convention held last August elected women to hold the following positions:

The filial lodges, found coast-to-coast, are the backbone of OSIA's unique grassroots network. They are governed by grand lodges or state chapters, which today number 19.

The Supreme Council is the organization's national governing board, made up of 62 elected officers, including Vincent Sarno, the current president, five vice presidents, past national presidents, grand lodge presidents and national trustees.

The first woman to hold a position of national leadership was Louise Porreca, who was elected to serve on the Supreme Council as a national trustee in 1935, when the Order was only 30 years old.

Thirty years later, in 1965, Grace Campisi became the first female state president when she was elected by the Grand Lodge of Florida in 1965. As a result of this year's elections, seven women now serve as grand lodge presidents. Four states elected women as presidents for the first time in their respective histories: California (Vera Girolami); Michigan (Linda Fabiano); New Jersey (Anna Marie Rotonda) and West Virginia (Jeanne Ameli).

Joanne Strollo made OSIA history in 1993 when she was became the first woman elected OSIA national president. Strollo served from 1993-95 and remains the only woman national president to date.

"As these figures so accurately attest, OSIA is and has been for many years the leading national organization that represents all Italian Americans, and we are very proud of that fact. Women have always been equal partners in the Order since 1905," says OSIA President Sarno. "I have great respect for their abilities and expect the number of OSIA's women leaders to grow even greater."

OSIA is the largest and oldest national organization for men and women of Italian descent in the United States. Established in 1905, OSIA has more than 600,000 members and supporters and a network of more than 700 lodges or chapters coast to coast.

OSIA works at the community, national and international levels to promote the heritage and culture of an estimated 26 million Italian Americans, the nation's fifth largest ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. To learn more, visit OSIA on the Web at