Nancy Pelosi Becomes First Italian-American To Lead U.S. Congress


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

(January 5, 2007–Washington, D.C.) Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi has made history by her election to Speaker of the House, the highest post in the United States House of Representatives, and the third-highest office in the United States government. She is both the first woman and Italian American to hold this top position. Pelosi has been a longtime supporter and a member of the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) Board of Directors.
In a speech following her acceptance of the speaker’s gavel on January 4, in front of the 110th Congress, Pelosi, said, “I was raised in a large family that was devoutly Catholic, deeply patriotic, very proud of our Italian-American heritage, and staunchly Democratic.” Her ancestors are from Naples and Genoa, Italy.

Pelosi has been active in the bipartisan and bicameral Italian American Congressional Delegation, of which NIAF has served as an extension for more than 30 years. The delegation consists of 29 Members of Congress who trace their ancestry to Italy. Congressmen Bill Pascrell of New Jersey and Rick Renzi of Arizona co-chair the delegation, which represents Members from more than 40 states. They are joined by 163 Associate Members, or “Friends of” the delegation, who are not Italian American, but share an interest in the Italian-American community.

Growing up in Baltimore’s Little Italy, Pelosi was the only girl and youngest of seven children in an Italian Catholic family. Public service runs through her lineage. Her father, Thomas J. D’Alesandro Jr., served as a U.S. congressman and later mayor of Baltimore from 1947 to 1959. Her brother, Thomas J. D’Alesandro III, also served as mayor of Baltimore from 1967 to 1971. Rep. Pelosi and her husband, Paul, have five children and five grandchildren.

Other Italian Americans who have gained key Congressional posts include: Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee; Rep. James L. Oberstar, chairman, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure; and Rep. John Mica, ranking Republican member, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

NIAF is a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Washington, D.C., and dedicated to preserving the heritage of Italian Americans. Visit