The National Italian American Foundation hosted it’s yearly New York Gala, honoring New York State Superintendent of DFS, Maria T. Vullo; Founder, SkyBridge Capital, Anthony Scaramucci; Chairman, Jackson Lewis P.C., Vincent A. Cino, Cooking with Nonna host, Rossella Rago and others at Cipriani, 42nd Street, March 22, 2017.
Nearly 700 Italian Americans from New York and around the country gathered last night at Cipriani’s 42nd Street as The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) hosted its annual New York Gala, March 22, 2017. This distinguished event, held at this world-famous, historical, New York City venue celebrated the very best in Italian food, beverage and cultural experiences – and feted some of the most notable and impactful luminaries of the Italian American community. – The 2017 event was the most successful New York Gala (NIAF also hosts a fall Gala weekend in Washington, DC) in the organization’s history.
NIAF is the largest and most faithful representative of over 25 million Italian Americans living in the United States. The two most important objectives that the NIAF aims are to ensure that Italian Americans continue to keep alive and present the rich heritage of their values and cultural traditions, and to make sure that the Italian American community preserves and remembers the great contribution Italians have made to the history and progress of the United States.
The 2017 honorees demonstrated the diverse impact members of the Italian American community have here in the USA – they included Shirley and Vernon W. Hill, II, founders of InterArch and Metro Bank respectively; Founder and Co-Managing Partner, SkyBridge Capital, Anthony Scaramucci; Chairman, Jackson Lewis P.C., Vincent A. Cino; Managing Director of Goldman Sachs, Anthony Cammarata Jr. and Cooking with Nonna host, Rossella Rago. Of notable interest to New Yorkers is the awarding of the third annual Mario M. Cuomo Award in Public Service to Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), Maria T. Vullo. Ms. Vullo was appointed to her post by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo – the Award is named for his father. Guests were out of their seats and dancing in the aisles as longtime NIAF supporter, singer-songwriter ALFIO, having just returned from an Australian tour, belted out classics such as ‘Oh Mama”. – a favorite of his father’s.
Family, preservation of cultural values and a healthy respect for hard work – were themes of the moving Honoree videos, as well as their acceptance speeches throughout the evening. As Honoree Vincent Cino ruminated from the stage, “Like so many of you here tonight, growing up Italian American was all about family….” the other honorees followed suit –
“Today I stand here in front of all my friends and family a 1st generation Italian American, married 29 years to my wife Laurie, my high school sweetheart, a house in suburban New Jersey, Fortune 500 company – all the things my parents dreamed of when they came here.” Honoree Anthony Cammarata Jr. reflected as he received his award.
Cooking with Nonna host, Honoree Rosella Raga spoke on the importance of previous generations instilling valuable lessons and guidance – “If there is one thing I’ve learned on this journey, it’s this, we need our Nonnas’ love and guidance now more than ever because as the world changes so rapidly around us, the values they teach us are timeless, unlike the ingredients they cook with, these ladies have no expiration date”
SkyBridge Capital Founder and Co-Managing Partner Anthony Scaramucci continued, “It has been the luckiest thing in my life to be born Italian, to grow up Italian, to have Italian grandparents, to eat Italian food and the pride we all have.” to an uproarious reaction of applause and cheers from the audience.
Martina Cuomo, mother of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo – and wife of legendary political force Mario Cuomo, stepped to the podium to bestow the latter’s namesake award to Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), Maria T. Vullo – and talked about the future of the Italian American community – specifically it’s female torchbearers – and urged the cultures preservation in the next generation – “Tell your younger daughters and sons and nephews and nieces, push this culture and speak the Italian language – its so beautiful.”
As Superintendant Vullo took the stage – she spoke to on the legacy of Mario Cuomo – and how that legacy inspired her, “As an Italian American Mario Cuomo was an inspiration. Be proud to be Italian be proud to be an American, stand up for your principles always, be willing to stand up for what was right, rather than what was politically expedient.”
To round out the evening, displaying a reverence not JUST for the Italian American leaders in this country – but also individuals of all cultures contributing to the preservation of Italian culture. This award has only been bestowed 4 times in NIAF’s history – previous Honorees included Muhammad Ali, Christopher Reeves and President George H. W. Bush.
This event also marks the finale of NIAF’s sitting Chairman of the Board, Joseph Del Raso’s, term – NIAF President and CEO John Viola gave a moving tribute to Mr. Del Raso, crediting him largely for his own role at NIAF and describing their relationship as ‘very Italian’ in the way the have worked together, passionately, to guide and grow NIAF. When Mr. Del Raso stepped to the microphone, he mused fondly on his experience as a 29-year member of the NIAF Board of Directors. “I’ve served 29 years on this board and it’s been some of the proudest moments of my life to represent out community and celebrate our Italian heritage and I can’t thank you enough for the support that you’ve given to the foundation.”
NIAF’s New York Gala was chaired by Gerard S. LaRocca, a member of NIAF’s Board of Directors and chief administrative officer, Americas, Barclays Capital.
Proceeds from NIAF’s New York Gala will benefit the Foundation’s philanthropic and educational programs.
New Theory was proud to attend the event, especially being an Italian-American myself.
To learn more about NIAF, go to their website: http://www.niaf.org
or Social Media Pages:
Facebook – www.facebook.com/niaf.org
Twitter – @NIAForg
Instagram – www.instagram.com/niafitalianamerican
Photo Credit: Jason Isolini