May 23, 2024

Fred Rotondaro, an icon of the Italian American Community in Washington, D.C. and beyond, passed away on June 26, 2017.

Born in Pittston, Pa., in 1939, Rotondaro earned undergraduate degrees in English and Philosophy from the University of Scranton, a Master’s degree in English from Creighton University, and his PhD in American Studies from New York University. He would go on to serve as executive director of the Community Progress Council in York, Pa., before moving to Washington, D.C., where he served as the executive director of NIAF for 22 years. After receiving his Masters Degree at Creighton University, Rotondaro was a professor at his alma mater, the University of Scranton, and earned a PhD in American Studies from New York University. Fred went on to serve as Executive Director of the Community Progress Council in York, PA where he met his wife. Moving to Washington, DC, Rotondaro became the Communications Director of the National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs. He then served as the Executive Director of the National Italian American Foundation for 22 years. Following his retirement, he was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, the chair of Catholics In Alliance for the Common Good and the treasurer of the Italian American Democratic Leadership Council. In 2015, NIAF honored him at its 40th Anniversary Gala with the NIAF Community Leadership Award for his outstanding work within the Italian American community.

“On behalf of our Board of Directors and our entire NIAF family, I can say this is a loss that is being felt both personally and for our organization as a whole,” said John M. Viola, NIAF president and chief operating officer. “For over 20 years, Fred Rotondaro was an incredibly important part of building this organization into what it is today. In the time that I got to know him as a friend and a mentor, he shared incredible insights and his infectious passion for the Italian American community. Honoring him with the NIAF Community Leadership Award at our 40th Anniversary Gala was a highlight of my time here at the Foundation, and I hope a small way to recognize a man who deserves all the credit in the world for what we are today. His loss will be deeply felt.”
Judge Art Gajarsa, Chairof the Italian American Democratic Leadership Council said , “we’re deeply sorry to share the news that Fred Rotondaro passed away Monday. He was IADLC’s treasurer, as well as one of its founders in 1993 after organizing Italian American outreach for the Clinton/Gore presidential ticket.

“He was always inspiring others to embrace and act on his Italian-American, Catholic, and Democratic values of solidarity, equality, and love. He was a Pope Francis Democrat long before the Pope was Francis. And he was the best friend anyone could ever have. We will miss him so much. ”