Media Advisory: NIAF 32nd Anniversary Awards Gala


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

EVENT: NIAF 32nd Anniversary Awards Gala

SPONSOR: The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF)

WHEN: Saturday, October 13, 2007
6 p.m. Reception followed by 7 p.m. Dinner and Awards

WHERE: Hilton Washington & Towers
1919 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. (202/483-3000)

During NIAF’s 32nd Anniversary Awards Gala , Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese will receive the Jack Valenti Award as he helps launch a NIAF Institute in memory of Valenti, who was a NIAF founding member and former head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).The Institute will fund Hollywood internships for young Italian Americans interested in pursuing careers in film. During the evening, there also will be a video tribute in memory of Luciano Pavarotti , with remarks given by legendary actress Gina Lollobrigida.

Joining Scorsese as gala honorees are:

• Rudolph W. Giuliani , presidential candidate and former New York City mayor, who will receive a NIAF Special Achievement Award for Public Service.

William D. Novelli , CEO of AARP, who will receive a NIAF Special Achievement Award for Public Advocacy.

Nancy Pelosi , Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, who will receive a NIAF Special Achievement Award for Public Service.

Ellen Pompeo , actress on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” who will receive a NIAF Special Achievement Award in Entertainment.

Connie Stevens , actress, singer, and entrepreneur, who will receive a NIAF Special Achievement Award for Humanitarian Service.

Other notables attending the gala and weekend activities include Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito, Jr. and Antonin Scalia , Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty , actress Susan Lucci , singers Neil Sedaka , Jerry Vale and Dion , baseball legend Yogi Berra , Super Bowl-winning former NFL coach Dick Vermeil , and former NFL players Vince Ferragamo and Vince Papale . Governor of Arizona Janet Napolitano will present an award to Speaker Pelosi. CNBC Anchor Maria Bartiromo will be the master of ceremonies.

During Friday’s October 12 luncheon, Mrs. Laura Bush will give the keynote address and be presented with the Foundation’s Special Achievement Award in Literacy in recognition of her efforts to help America’s youth. Highlights of the weekend also include Piazza d’Italia , a two-day best of Italian food, wine, culture, fashion and travel exhibition, and Friday evening’s “Salute to the Martini” with a performance by rock and roll legend Neil Sedaka .

Saturday afternoon will include a conference, “The 2008 Presidential Election: Is there an Italian-American Vote?” , with panelists Michael Barone , senior writer for the U.S. News and World Report and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; Robert Novak , nationally syndicated columnist and Fox News commentator; and Bill Schneider , CNN senior political analyst.

Dinner tickets begin at $400 per person. Attire: Black tie. 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, 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 .