New Vice Chairmen Elected To NIAF Board *Joseph R. Cerrell, Jerry Colangelo, and Vincent Viola Elected*


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

(Washington, DC – March 23, 2005) The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) elected three new vice chairmen: Joseph R. Cerrell, founder and chairman of Cerrell Associates Inc; Jerry Colangelo, chairman and CEO, Phoenix Suns; and Vincent Viola, senior strategic advisor, New York Mercantile Exchange. The elections for the 2005-2009 term were held during NIAF’s March 11 board meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

Mr. Cerrell, a New York native, joined the NIAF board of directors in 1994 and served as president (1999-2005). He is chairman emeritus and past president of the American Association of Political Consultants; past president of the International Association of Political Consultants; and chairman of the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce West. Mr. Cerrell is a member of the California Italian American Task Force, to which he was appointed by former Governor Pete Wilson. During his career, Mr. Cerrell has played key roles in the presidential campaigns of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert H. Humphrey, Lloyd Bentsen, John Glenn and Albert Gore, Jr. Mr. Cerrell is a graduate of the University of Southern California.

During Mr. Colangelo’s 36-year-tenure in Phoenix, he turned the Phoenix Suns into one of the most successful NBA teams with the seventh-best all-time winning percentage. He also serves as chairman of the NBA’s Board of Governors. Mr. Colangelo has been ranked among the top 20 most powerful people in U.S. sports by “The Sporting News” and named NBA Executive of the Year four times. In April 2004, he was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Born and raised in Chicago Heights, Ill., he began his basketball career as a teenager, earned all-state recognition and was offered more than five dozen college scholarships. Mr. Colangelo has served on the NIAF board since 1997.

Mr.Viola, a noted member of the New York financial community, has served as chairman of NYMEX Holdings Inc, and the New York Mercantile Exchange, Inc. He also served as vice chairman of the Exchange from 1993 to 1996. Viola is the founder and sole owner of Pioneer Futures Inc., which is a clearing member of both divisions of the New York Mercantile Exchange and the New York Board of Trade. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and achieved the rank of major in the United States Army Reserves. He also holds a juris doctor degree from New York Law School. He was elected to the NIAF board in 2003.

NIAF Board of Directors also elected Dr. A. Kenneth Ciongoli as chairman and Salvatore Zizza, New York City businessman, as president.

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC and dedicated to preserving the heritage of Italian Americans. Learn more about our programs and events by visiting