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General Raymond T. Odierno, LIUNA’s Terry O’Sullivan, NIAID’s Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, MITRE’s Alfred Grasso & UConn’s Geno Auriemma Honored By the Sons of Italy Foundation®

WASHINGTON, May 22, 2015 – Leaders in military, labor, medicine, public service, and sports received awards from the Sons of Italy Foundation® (SIF), the philanthropic arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the nation’s largest and oldest organization for people of Italian heritage.

U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Raymond T. Odierno; Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) General President Terry O’Sullivan; NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci; MITRE Corp.’s President/CEO Alfred Grasso; and University of Connecticut women’s basketball head coach Geno Auriemma were honored May 21 at the SIF’s 27th Annual National Education & Leadership Award (NELA) Gala at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

General Raymond T. Odierno received the night’s highest honor—the 2015 SIF National Education and Leadership Award (NELA). Gen. Odierno has served nearly 40 years in the U.S. Army and is its 38th Chief of Staff. His son, Purple Heart recipient and previous SIF Honoree Captain Anthony Odierno (U.S. Army-Ret.), presented him with the award. In his acceptance, Gen. Odierno honored his grandfather “who came here with nothing, who made something out of himself, and all he wanted to do was make a better life for his family. That’s what this organization (the Sons of Italy) represents.”

Terry O’Sullivan received the 2015 SIF Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service for his commitment to organized labor. Mr. O’Sullivan is the tenth General President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), representing more than 550,000 members.

The SIF Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service is presented annually to a person who is not of Italian heritage. The award and the recipient reflect the significance of working together to build a better global community. Past recipients include former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden; and U.S. Senator Jack Reed. As a proud Son of Ireland accepting this award, Mr. O’Sullivan recognized the contributions of Italian Americans to the progress of labor. “Italian American laborers fought, marched in the streets, went on strike. They put their lives literally on the line for better wages, health insurance and pension benefits, safer worksites…,” he stated.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci received the 2015 SIF Special Recognition Award for Science and Medicine. Dr. Fauci oversees the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a position he has held since 1984, and serves as a key advisor to the White House on issues ranging from HIV/AIDS to the Ebola virus. A global leader in medicine who has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and 42 honorary degrees, Dr. Fauci remarked that SIF’s recognition is “particularly gratifying to me since it links to what I consider my personal identity, my family, and my upbringing.”

Alfred Grasso received the 2015 SIF Humanitarian Award. Mr. Grasso is in his ninth year as President & CEO of The MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit organization that operates public interest research and development centers for the federal government. In his acceptance speech, he pointed to his parents, who immigrated to the United States from Italy in the mid-1950s, as the reason for his success. “Neither of my parents went to college … but they emphasized education throughout and both my brother and I took that very, very seriously.”

Geno Auriemma received the2015 SIF Special Award for Excellence in Sports Leadership. Mr. Auriemma has led the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team to ten national titles in his 30 years as head coach. Due to prior coaching obligations with the U.S.A. Women’s National team, Mr. Auriemma accepted his award via video. “There are so many opportunities that come with being part of the Sons of Italy to help other people,” he stated.

In addition to honoring these distinguished individuals, the SIF awarded ten highly selective scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students of Italian descent for exemplary academic performance, school leadership, and community service. The gala featured the presentation of the initial SIF-CCF (Columbus Citizens Foundation) joint scholarship, a $20,000 two-year grant.

For the 14th straight year, actor Joe Mantegna served as the Master of Ceremonies of the NELA Gala. Among the guests were:

Dozens of wounded servicemen and women, veterans, and their families were special guests of the SIF and were recognized at the NELA Gala for their service to the country. “It’s because of your immense courage and sacrifice that our freedoms are protected,” Mr. Mantegna stated.

Nearly 900 guests come to the annual NELA Gala, the SIF’s leading fundraising and public affairs event. Past attendees have included U.S. presidents, members of Congress and the Cabinet, and foreign diplomats. Previous SIF honorees include President Bill Clinton; President George W. Bush; Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia; AIDS researcher Robert Gallo; late Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro; former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace, USMC (Ret.); entertainers Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Annette Funicello, Joe Mantegna and Connie Stevens; and racing legend Mario Andretti.

The Sons of Italy Foundation® has contributed nearly $163 million to scholarships, medical research, disaster relief efforts, cultural projects, veterans’ causes and other special projects. The proceeds from the NELA Gala help fund these philanthropic programs.


For information about tickets and sponsorships, please contact the SIF at 202-547-8115 or email nelagala@osia.org.