NIAF 33rd Anniversary Awards Gala – Media Advisory #3


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


EVENT: NIAF 33rd Anniversary Awards Gala

SPONSOR: The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF)

WHEN: Saturday, October 18, 2008
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)

Three-time Academy Award-nominated actor Leonardo DiCaprio and screen icon Gina Lollobrigida will receive National Italian American Foundation Achievement Awards in Entertainment before more than 3,000 guests from the United States and Italy during the Foundation’s 33rd Anniversary Awards Gala on October 18, 2008 at the Hilton Washington & Towers in the nation’s capital.

Joining DiCaprio and Lollobrigida at the black-tie gala are Mark T. Bertolini, president of Aetna, and Joseph DePinto, president and CEO of 7-Eleven, Inc., who will receive a NIAF Special Achievement Awards in Business. Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, will receive a NIAF Special Achievement Award for Humanitarian Service, while Gianmario Tondato da Ruos, CEO of Autogrill, S.p.A., will receive a NIAF U.S./Italy Friendship Award.

As with most election years, we anticipate the attendance of the 2008 presidential candidates.

Comedian Tom Dreesen will open the gala. Notables attending the gala dinner include Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Jr., U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Italy’s Ambassador to the U.S. H.E. Giovanni Castellaneta, Yankee great Yogi Berra, actress, singer and daughter of the late Dean Martin, Deana Martin, former NFL players Franco Harris and Vince Ferragamo and others.

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 “Salute to the Martini” will feature singing sensation Patrizio Buanne and a special tribute to Frank Sinatra. NIAF will host three conferences: “The Presidential Candidates’ Perspectives on the Future of Healthcare in America,” “Energy: America’s Challenge of the 21st Century,” and “From Dante to Benigni: Italian Language and Culture in American Schools.”

Campania is this year’s sponsoring region from Italy. 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 sponsor information, contact Carolyn Laurenzano at 202/939-3114 or, or register online at

NIAF is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., dedicated to preserving the heritage of Italian Americans. To learn about our programs/events, visit