NIAF Salutes Los Angeles Public Affairs Icon Joseph Cerrell at NIAF West Coast Gala in Santa Monica


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


*Gary Sinise, Kara DioGuardi, Ernest Borgnine, Mike Piazza Join Tribute*

(WASHINGTON, DC – April 19, 2011) One of the highlights of the National Italian American Foundation’s (NIAF) West Coast Gala is a special tribute honoring the late Joseph R. Cerrell, a former NIAF vice chairman and a legendary Los Angeles public affairs consultant. The gala will be held on May 19, 2011, at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica, Calif.

As one of the Foundation’s leaders, president and a member of the Board of Directors for more than 16 years, Cerrell was admired and respected by Italian American and international leaders and all ethnic groups. During the more than 50 years he was involved in public affairs, he was referred to as political kingmaker, opinion leader, professor, mentor, role model and power broker.

Joining NIAF’s leadership and the Cerrell family at this special tribute will be Academy Award-winning actor Ernest Borgnine; champion Olympic figure skater and Food Network TV chef Brian Boitano; actor, screenwriter and producer Marco Bonini; actor Robert Davi; TV and film star of “The Incredible Hulk” Lou Ferrigno; one of the famed Jonas Brothers, Nick Jonas; actor Francesco Quinn; twelve-time MLB All-Star Mike Piazza; E! News anchor and managing editor and member of the NIAF Board of Directors Giuliana DePandi Rancic; actor and model Antonio Sabato, Jr.; TV and film star Brenda Vaccaro.

This year’s black-tie gala also will honor Oscar nominated film producer whose credits include “The Social Network” Dana Brunetti; Grammy nominated songwriter, record executive, music publisher, author, and former American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi; actor, screenwriter and director John Favreau; California trial lawyer Thomas V. Girardi; Major League Baseball Hall of Famer and Dodgers great Tommy Lasorda; and Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Gary Sinise.

Film and television star, producer and director Joe Mantegna will be this year’s master of ceremonies. Actor and singer Franc D’Ambrosio, of “Phantom of the Opera,” will sing the U.S. and Italian national anthems and entertain guests with his vast repertoire of songs.

The gala begins at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception under the magnificent Moreton Bay Fig Tree, followed by an awards program and dinner in the Starlight Ballroom. Tickets begin at $250 per person. For sponsorship and ticket information, contact Jerry Jones at 202-939-3102 or Visit

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