Italian America has many faces but it has just a single backbone, and that is NIAF (National Italian American Foundation). An immense organization with roots all across America, NIAF seeks to ensure two pillars of importance: 1) that Italians in America strive to preserve their heritage’s traditions and 2) that the contributions made by Italians to American society as a whole are never forgotten.
Amongst Italians in communities all over America, there’s tremendous buzz each year about an annual event that has no rival anywhere else in the world. This event is the NIAF Conference and Gala in Washington D.C., the home of NIAF Headquarters and home to its former President, John Viola.
John Viola’s poise and graceful demeanor made him the perfect man for the job as President of NIAF for several successful years and this year’s Gala was no exception to the qualities of a flawless reign with a program featuring robust guests such as Italy’s Ambassador to the United States, the Sicilian tenor Carmelo Sorce piping out the Star Spangled Banner, and Co-host (along with Mr. Viola) Maria Bartiromo, the famed news anchor. The inaugural Community Champion Award was bestowed upon Governor Mario Cuomo for his vigilance in preserving the symbols of Italian American pride across New York, especially the city’s Christopher Columbus statues which have been the subject of unjust negativity.
This year the conference honored Sicily. A two day event, this year’s conference showcased some phenomenal talents from right here in our own backyard in Brooklyn such as cooking sensation Rosella Rago of Cooking with Nonna (her Cookbook is on Sale through our online boutique: https://italianenclave.com/products/cooking-with-nonna ), panel speakers of young Italian influencers such as Dolores Alfieri and Anthony Fasano of the renowned Italian American Podcast (http://italianamericanexperience.com/episodes/) , and this author representing Italian Enclaves.
In addition, there were performances from different Italian artists, namely Tony DeNonno of Brooklyn, NY(http://www.denonnoprodinc.com/ItalianGallery.html) and his enchanting marionette performance. Also contributing to this great celebration of heritage was John Napoli of Il Regno in Brooklyn, NY (http://ilregno2s.blogspot.com/), who is unparalleled in educating his readers about Italian American religious customs.
NIAF is a growing organization yet its growth remains vitally dependent on there being a knowledge of its existence in the first place. Many great Italian Americans are living enriching lives helping their communities in major ways, yet NIAF and these people know not of one another. Explore NIAF’s website (http://www.niaf.org/) for information about how to join and become instrumental in preserving one of the most incredible heritages on this earth and share this with anyone and everyone that you think may find it interesting.
Nice summary of the conference. It really was worth traveling to Washington DC. Thanks for spreading the word about this wonderful organization!