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Leonardo Dicaprio To be Honored at Washington Gala


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


*Gina Lollobrigida, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Yogi Berra, Barbara Sinatra, Justice Samuel Alito, Jr., Franco Harris to Join DiCaprio*

(Washington, DC — October 7, 2008) Leonardo DiCaprio, a Golden Globe Award-winning and three time-Academy Award nominated actor, will be honored at the National Italian American Foundation’s (NIAF) 33rd Anniversary Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. DiCaprio will receive a NIAF Special Achievement Award in Entertainment on October 18, 2008 at the Hilton Washington & Towers. The black-tie event begins with a 6 p.m. reception followed by dinner and an awards ceremony.

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. As with most election years, the Foundation anticipates the attendance of the 2008 presidential candidates.

Comedian Tom Dreesen will open the NIAF gala. Additional notables attending the dinner include Deana Martin, actress, singer and daughter of the late Dean Martin, H.E. Giovanni Castellaneta, Italy’s Ambassador to the U.S., and Vince Ferragamo, a former NFL player.

Honorees joining DiCaprio include Mark T. Bertolini, president of Aetna, Joseph DePinto, president and CEO of 7-Eleven, Inc., Gina Lollobrigida, legendary actress, and Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. Gianmarino Tondato da Ruos, CEO of Autogrill, S.p.A. will receive the NIAF U.S./Italy Friendship Award which honors prominent Italians who, as a result of their position or talent, have created a greater bond between our two nations. Notables who previously have received the Foundation’s U.S./Italy Award include Giulio Andreotti, Susanna Agnelli, Andrea Bocelli, Massimo Ferragamo, Gianni Versace and Giorgio Armani.

Dinner tickets begin at $400 per person. Proceeds benefit NIAF educational programs and Gardens of Hope, a NIAF co-sponsored community garden project benefiting the homeless and those in inner-city shelters. For tickets or sponsorship information, contact Carolyn Laurenzano at 202/939-3114 or, or register online at

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., dedicated to preserving the heritage of Italian Americans. Visit