NIAF News Releases

An Evening of Celebrations with Media at Universal City


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


(WASHINGTON, D.C. – MARCH 7, 2011)
The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) marked three noteworthy landmarks during its annual Frank J. Guarini/NIAF Media Forum at Ca’ Del Sole Ristorante in Universal City on March 3, 2011. The evening highlighted the 10th anniversary of the media forum with media professionals in the Greater Los Angeles area; the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy; and a special tribute to the late Joseph R. Cerrell, a former NIAF vice chairman and president, who recently passed away.

Anthony D’ Alessandro, correspondent at Thompson on Hollywood/IndieWIRE, and this year’s media chair, spoke about the importance of this collegial group of media representatives who gather annually to network. D’Alessandro was joined by among others Bill Schneider, CNN political analyst and senior fellow at Third Way; Vince Del Lisi of Fox Sports Radio; Valentina Martelli of RAI-TV and Franco Brescia of Il Corriere di Los Angeles. Prominent Italians, Italian Americans and Italian South Americans joining the evening’s celebrations were Hon. Nicola Faganello, Italy’s consul general in Los Angeles, Dr. Carlo Angelo Bocchi, Italian trade commissioner, Wolfgang Jonas, general manager of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows, and Elena Marinelli, commercial attaché to the Consulate General of Italy.

This year’s keynote speaker, Nicola Faganello, gave a historical perspective of the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification. He encouraged all to attend the year-long celebrations scheduled throughout the U.S. and Italy. Each guest received a guide to the events planned this spring by the Istituto Italiana di Cultura in Westwood, Calif.

The third celebration of the evening included a tribute to the life and tireless work of Joseph R. Cerrell. Members of the Cerrell family, Lee Cerrell, Sharon Levy and Steve Bullock, joined Hal Dash of Cerrell Associates in sharing stories and special memories of Joe’s life and career. The prevailing themes for the evening centered on Joe’s love of family, fine food, the Yankees, politics and all things Italian. Schneider reminisced about Joe’s many private audiences with the Pope and the Dali Lama. Infectious laughter permeated the room when Jim Riggio of described Cerrell’s chauffeured ride to a soccer game in Milan with Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his special postgame locker room visit to meet the team’s star and receive his sweat-soaked jersey as a gift!

NIAF Regional Vice President Marcella Leonetti-Tyler, and the Foundation’s area coordinators Douglas DeLuca and Maria Mancini were also on hand to share in the festivities. They encouraged all to attend NIAF’s upcoming May 19 West Coast Gala at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica.

NIAF media forums give professionals in the communications field an opportunity to foster working relationships with colleagues and learn about the Foundation’s exciting youth initiatives. Through these events, NIAF cultivates an excellent rapport with members of the media, promotes Italian Americans, and examines the important issues facing the Italian-American community today. NIAF hosts similar events are planned in other major cities throughout the U.S.

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit, non-partisan foundation dedicated to promoting the contributions of Italian Americans. The Foundation has a wide range of programs that provide scholarships and grants, conferences and cultural seminars. Visit

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