Saturday, October 29, NIAF will celebrate its 47th Anniversary Gala at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. Purchase tickets
Saks Fifth Avenue Executive Joseph Boitano To Receive Business Award at New York Gala *Alan Alda to be inducted in Italian American Hall of Fame**
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:   Elissa Ruffino (NIAF) 202/939-3106 or elissa@niaf.org


(WASHINGTON, D.C.— April 6, 2006) Joseph M. Boitano, senior vice president and general merchandise manager at Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises, will receive a National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) Special Achievement Award in Business at the Foundation’s annual East Coast Gala on Tuesday, April 18 in New York City. The gala will be held at The New York Marriott Marquis Hotel with a reception and silent auction at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m.

At the awards dinner, Mr. Boitano and other prominent industry leaders will be honored for their outstanding leadership in business, government, and sports. Legendary racer Mario Andretti will receive a NIAF Sprcial Achievement Award in Sports. Rocco B. Commisso, CEO of Mediacom Communications, will receive the NIAF Lifetime Achievement Award. LTG Raymond Odierno of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is best known for commanding the division that captured Saddam Hussein, will receive a NIAF Special Achievement Award for Military Service.

Famed actress and model Isabella Rossellini will present a scholarship to an outstanding Italian American student and Jack Valenti will induct actor Alan Alda into the NIAF Italian American Hall of Fame. Actors Danny Aiello, Dennis Farina, and Tony Lo Bianco, along with sports great Yogi Berra, and Italian couture designer Renato Balestra, are among the Italian American celebrities attending the event.

Mr. Boitano, one of the country’s leading retail executives, has worked in the industry since he was 15 years old. After graduating from the University of California at Davis with a degree in political science and rhetoric, he began his career as a sales associate at San Francisco’s I. Magnin. After becoming a member of Magnin’s corporate buying team, he rose through the ranks to department manager, assistant buyer, buyer, and finally assistant store manager for I. Magnin’s flagship store.

In 1985 he accepted a position at Bergdorf Goodman and became executive vice president of merchandising. Mr. Boitano was responsible for all women’s apparel during his tenure. He left Bergdorf Goodman for Saks Fifth Avenue in 1999 to promote women’s fashion offerings in more than 56 stores nationwide. At Saks, a $2.4 billion company, Mr. Boitano oversees five divisional merchandise managers and 19 buyers for women’s apparel including designer, private label, bridge and contemporary collections. He championed the growth and development of brands such as Akris, John Galliano, Tuleh, Stella McCartney, Piazza Sempione, and Brunello Cucinelli in addition to others.

The gala is chaired by Frank Petrilli, president and CEO of Nexxar Group Inc. Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo will perform selections from his self-titled CD during the event.

The awards dinner will benefit NIAF scholarship and education programs. Attire: Business. For ticket information, contact Bonni Cellini at 202/939-3114 or bonni@niaf.org or visit www.niaf.org

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