NIAF celebrated its 31st Anniversary with a national convention attended by 3,000 supporters from the United States and Italy at the Hilton Washington & Towers in Washington, D.C., October 20-21, 2006. The convention weekend featured a surprise appearance by President George W. Bush at the October 20 NIAF “Salute to the Martini” featuring Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Earlier that afternoon, former President George H.W. Bush received the Foundation’s “One America” award for his commitment to improving the lives of others and gave the keynote address with his wife Barbara in attendance. Jack Valenti, former president and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, introduced the nation’s 41st president, who spoke about the importance of partnerships and how they improve the quality of lives and communities.
The weekend also featured a legal panel covering the topic of “Judicial Independence,” with Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito Jr. Other panelists included Judge Lynn Battaglia; former FBI director, the Honorable William S. Sessions; and discussion moderator, Judge Francis Allegra. The speakers offered the roughly 400 quests a civics lesson on the role of the judiciary and how being a judge has changed with the development of global media.
The 31st Anniversary celebration concluded with the annual NIAF Gala. Award recipients included CEO and president of Chrysler, Tom W. LaSorda, who received an award presented by baseball legend Tommy Lasorda; famed performer Frankie Valli; philanthropist Catherine B. Reynolds; Raffaello Follieri, chairman and CEO of Follieri Yucaipa Investments; and actor/director Mel Brooks, whose wife, actress Anne Bancroft, was posthumously inducted into the NIAF Italian American Hall of Fame by actor Alan Alda.