Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano To be Honored at Gala in Washington, D.C.


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

**Jimmy Kimmel, Carla Gugino and Lidia Bastianich at Gala**

(WASHINGTON, D.C.— October 13, 2009) Janet Napolitano, U.S. Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, will be honored at the National Italian American Foundation’s (NIAF) 34th Anniversary Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. Napolitano will receive a NIAF Special Achievement Award for Public Service on October 24, 2009 at the Hilton Washington. The black-tie event begins with a 7 p.m. reception followed by dinner and an awards ceremony.

Janet Napolitano

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. In keeping with our tradition of hosting the president, President Barack Obama has been invited to attend.

Comedian Jimmy Kimmel, host and executive producer of ABC’s late-night talk show “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”, will serve as the evening’s master of ceremonies.

Honorees joining Napolitano include Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, philanthropist and Public Television cooking show host; Massimo F. d’Amore, CEO of PepsiCo Americas Beverages; Carla Gugino, actor from the film “The Watchmen” and in the HBO series “Entourage;” and Antonello Venditti, renowned Italian singer and songwriter. Venditti also will be performing on Friday evening, October 23 in the hotel’s International Ballroom.

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will attend the Foundation’s gala. She will be joined by Hon. Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Vinny Cerrato, Hon. Louis Freeh, Representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr. and Pat Tiberi, and other dignitaries and special guests.

Napolitano is the first woman to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Prior to joining the Obama administration, she was serving in second term as governor of Arizona. While governor, she became the first woman to chair the National Governors Association. She was named one of America’s top five governors by Time Magazine and top women leaders by Newsweek. Napolitano previously served as Attorney General of Arizona and U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.

Born in New York City and raised in Pittsburgh and Albuquerque, N.M., Napolitano graduated from Santa Clara University, where she won the Truman Scholarship. She received her J.D. from the University of Virginia Law School.

During NIAF’s convention weekend, the Foundation will host Piazza d’Italia, a two-day exhibition of Italy’s Best, and a Celebrity Auction and Luncheon. Friday evening’s “Antonello Venditti Live!” includes an exclusive performance by Italy’s famed singer. A screening of the documentary “Pane Amaro” by a NIAF grant recipient and a seminar on the culture of food and wine are also part of the convention.

LM Wines will be the official wine sponsor of the gala dinner. Tickets to Saturday’s gala begin at $400 per person. Proceeds will benefit NIAF’s educational programs. For tickets or sponsor information, contact Jerry Jones at 202/387-0600 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.