NIAF Awards Travel Grant to University Student in Representative Tim Ryan’s District


Contact: Elissa Ruffino, 202-939-3106,         

(WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 23, 2016) U.S. Representative Tim Ryan joins the leadership at the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) in congratulating Kelsey Bonacci of Akron, Ohio, for receiving a travel award through NIAF. She attends Ohio State University, and is majoring in social work.

Bonacci, one of 19 college students from across the nation, participated in the Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery Program, an all-expenses-paid educational and cultural initiative that sends Italian American students to Italy.

Congressman-Tim-Ryan Bonacci_Kelsey
U.S. Representative Tim Ryan Kelsey Bonacci

“As a student, I had the opportunity to study in Italy, so I know what a wonderful opportunity this will be for Kelsey,” said Rep. Tim Ryan. “She is to be congratulated for her hard work in earning this award and as one of my constituents, I am very proud of her. I want to also commend the National Italian American Foundation for its outstanding program that includes academics, culture and service to others.”

Sponsored by the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF), the tour visited Italy’s Piemonte region, NIAF’s 2016 Region of Honor, from June 9 to June 23.

For the fourth consecutive year, participants gave back to the Italian community. This year, the students worked with school children under the care of the Salesians of Don Bosco at the Mother House, known as Valdocco, in the city of Torino. This NIAF travel program’s benefactor is a member of the Occhienna family, the mother of Saint Don Bosco.  Ambassador Peter F. Secchia’s father is a descendent of the Occhienna family.

“The Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery Program affords these young adults an incredible opportunity to further understand the historical significance of Italy and its many contributions to the United States and to the world. The bond these students forge with each other and with Italy will increase their interest in preserving their shared heritage,” said Anita Bevacqua McBride, co-chair of the Foundation’s scholarships and grants committee.

“We are so proud that we are able to offer such a program to young Italian American students. This cornerstone program of the Foundation will strengthen their understanding of their rich culture as they experience the land of their ancestors for the very first time in their lives,” said Gabriella Mileti, NIAF director of programs.

Now in its 17th year, the 14-day NIAF program kicked off with a walking tour of Torino, the first capital of modern Italy and the residence of the Royal Savoy Family. In Torino, the group visited La Reggia Venaria, one of the residences of the Royal Savoy Family; the Basilica of Superga, the burial place of the Savoy Family; Palazzo Reale, the royal seat of Duke Emanuele Filberto in 1563; and the National Museum of Cinema. The first evening  included a dinner with members of the NIAF Board of Directors at a local agriturismo, a working farmhouse.

The itinerary included: tours of the Martini & Rossi factory and museum in Asti, one of the renowned centers of wine production; the Borsalino factory, known for its fedoras; and the famed chocolatier Ferrero factory in Alba, home of the white truffle, “tartufo bianco.” Visits to the historic towns Acqui Terme, Alessandria and Neive were also part of the tour. In Nieve, students visited a 17th century winery “La Cantina del Glicine.”  During the program, students gathered to watch Italy play against Ireland, Sweden and Belgium in the Euro Cup 2016.  The students also participated in an excursion on Lake Maggiore to explore Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori.

NIAF is proud to administer the Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery Program which included round-trip airfare between the United States and Italy, accommodations, meals, guided tours and on the ground transportation. For more information, visit

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the heritage of Italian Americans. Visit