NIAF News Releases

Versace To Receive Award At NIAF Gala In Nation's Capital


Contact:   Elissa Ruffino (NIAF) 202/939-3106 or

* Italy’s Most Powerful Woman Emma Marcegaglia and Italian Plastics Industrialist Paolo Scudieri at Gala*

**President of Italy Hon. Giorgio Napolitano Invited to Attend**

(WASHINGTON, D.C. –October 18, 2011)
Hon. Santo Versace, president of Gianni Versace S.p.A. and chairman of Fondazione Operation Smile Italia Onlus, will be honored at the National Italian American Foundation’s (NIAF) 36th Anniversary Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. Versace will receive the NIAF Special Achievement Award in Philanthropy on October 29, 2011, at the Washington Hilton. The black-tie event begins with a 6 p.m. reception followed by dinner and an awards ceremony.

Honorees from Italy joining Versace include Claudio Bozzo, president of the Mediterranean Shipping Company (USA) Inc., President of Confindustria Emma Marcegaglia, who is at the top of the Italian industrialists’ power structure and heads Italy’s employers’ association and Paolo Scudieri, CEO of Adler Plastic S.p.A.

NIAF will also honor Hon. Capri Cafaro, minority leader of the Ohio Senate; Dion DiMucci, rock and roll hall of famer; Hon. Frank J. Guarini, former U.S. congressman and NIAF chairman emeritus; and Frank G. Mancuso Sr., former chairman and CEO of the Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studio.

Since 1977, Versace has played a leading role in establishing the exclusivity and profitability of the Versace brand, overseeing all areas of the business, including sale, distribution, production and finance. With his sister Donatella, Santo Versace has built the Versace empire into a worldwide luxury company that generates over one billion dollars in retail sales per year. With his late brother, Gianni, they founded the Gianni Versace trademark in 1977.

In addition to his work with Gianni Versace S.p.A., Santo devotes much of his charitable efforts to Fondazione Operation Smile Italia Onlus which is a resource Country of Operation Smile Inc. Since 2007, he has served as its president. Operation Smile provides reconstructive surgery for children worldwide with facial deformities such as cleft lip and cleft palate. Through his help and that of medical volunteers, the organization has done more than two million patient evaluations and provided more than 200,000 free surgeries for children and young adults born with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities.

After graduating from Messina University with a degree in economics, Versace worked as a banker and later a high school teacher of economic geography. He then went on to serve as an officer in the “Genova Cavalleria” and opened his own accounting office after completing his military service. However, in 1976, Versace moved to Milan to support his brother Gianni in his rising career.

Celebrities attending the gala include Frankie Avalon, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Dana Brunetti, Deana Martin, Joe Pantoliano and Mike Piazza. The President of Italy Hon. Giorgio Napolitano has been invited to join House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Maria Bartiromo, anchor of CNBC’s “Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo,” will serve as the gala’s mistress of ceremonies.

The NIAF gala is one of the premier annual events in the nation’s capital, attracting more than 3,000 guests from the United States and Italy. Tickets to Saturday’s gala begin at $400 per person. Proceeds benefit NIAF’s educational programs. For tickets or sponsor information, contact Jerry Jones at 202/939-3102 or, or register online at

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the heritage and culture of Americans of Italian descent.

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