Anita Bevacqua McBride, a former assistant to President George W. Bush and chief of staff to First Lady Laura Bush, was recently honored with the 2014 Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
The award, which celebrates the diversity of American life by honoring the immigrant experience, is presented each year in a ceremony and gala dinner held in May in the historic Great Hall at Ellis Island, New York. This year’s awards were presented on Saturday, May 10th on historic Ellis Island at an elegant ceremony that embodies the spirit of America in a celebration of patriotism, tolerance, brotherhood and diversity.
“I am overwhelmed, honored and deeply humbled to be a recipient of this award,” McBride told the Washington DC newspaper, Voce Italiana. “My immediate thoughts were of my parents, and of my grandparents, who passed through the same hall where we will have this celebration. I know it’s on their shoulders on which I stand when I receive the award.”
Founded by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations in 1986, the Ellis Island Medal honors the contributions made to America by immigrants and the legacy they left behind in the successes of their children and grandchildren.
McBride joins a long roster of former recipients, both native-born and naturalized U.S. citizens from various ethnic backgrounds, many of whom, like McBride, can document their family’s entry to America through Ellis Island. Past medalists include six presidents, among them George H.W. Bush, Nobel Prize winners and other celebrated individuals such as Joe DiMaggio, Renee Fleming, Bob Hope, and Henry Kissinger, to name a few.
McBride, who is currently executive-in-residence at the School of Public Affairs at American University, previously served in the White House for two decades under three presidential administrations. She was director of White House personnel under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. McBride also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Italian American Foundation.
As chief of staff to Mrs. Bush, she directed the staff’s work on issues including education, youth development, women’s rights and health, diplomacy and other areas of special interest to the First Lady.
McBride co-founded the RAND African First Ladies Initiative and Fellowship program to partner with the continent’s First Ladies and support their efforts to be champions of change for health and education in their countries.
The daughter of Italian immigrants, she was born and raised in Bridgeport, Ct. She received her B.A. in international relations from the University of Connecticut and studied international relations and languages at American University and the University of Florence in Italy.
She and her husband, Timothy McBride, were married at the Italian National Parish, Holy Rosary Church in Washington, D.C., and she often participates in church events.
The National Coalition of Ethnic Organizations honors about 100 individuals each year with the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Joining McBride this year is Maria Bartiromo, a business journalist with the Fox Business Network. Bartiromo also recently received the Urbino Press Award to be officially presented to her in June in Urbino, Italy.
Source: Voce Italiana, May 2014, et al.