Leaders in military, labor, medicine, public service, and athletics will be honored on May 21 in Washington, D.C. by the Sons of Italy Foundation® (SIF) at its 27th Annual NELA Gala. The SIF is the philanthropic arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the nation’s largest and oldest organization for people of Italian heritage.
Gen. Raymond T. Odierno will be honored with the 2015 SIF National Education and Leadership Award (NELA) for his long and highly decorated military career. General Odierno has served 40 years in the U.S. Army and is its 38th Chief of Staff. He is a West Point graduate who has commanded units in Germany, Albania, Kuwait, Iraq, and the United States.
Terry O’Sullivan will receive the 2015 SIF Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service for his commitment to organized labor. Mr. O’Sullivan is the tenth General President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), representing more than 550,000 members.
The SIF Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service is presented to a person not of Italian heritage who works to build a better global community. Previous recipients include President Bill Clinton; Vice President Joe Biden; Sen. Jack Reed; Hillary Rodham Clinton; and Gen. Colin L. Powell.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci will receive the 2015 SIF Special Recognition Award for Science and Medicine. Dr. Anthony oversees the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and serves as a key advisor to the White House on issues ranging from HIV/AIDS to the Ebola virus. In 2008, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.
Alfred Grasso will receive the 2015 SIF Humanitarian Award. Mr. Grasso is in his ninth year as President & CEO of The MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit organization that operates public interest research and development centers for the federal government.
Geno Auriemma will receive the 2015 SIF Special Award for Excellence in Sports Leadership. Mr. Auriemma has led the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team to ten national titles in his 30 years as head coach. In 2006, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Actor Joe Mantegna will be the Master of Ceremonies.
The NELA Gala is the hallmark of the SIF’s public affairs and fund-raising programs and highlights the foundation’s commitment to educational excellence, leadership and the betterment of society. In addition to the outstanding leaders honored at the NELA Gala each year, 10 to 12 of the brightest and most talented scholars of Italian descent, chosen through a highly selective national competition, receive scholarships to accredited colleges and universities.
Past attendees have included U.S. presidents, members of Congress and the Cabinet, and foreign diplomats. Previous SIF honorees include President Bill Clinton; President George W. Bush; Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia; AIDS researchers Anthony Fauci and Robert Gallo; the late Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro; former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace, USMC (Ret.); entertainers Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Annette Funicello, Joe Mantegna and Connie Stevens; and racing legend Mario Andretti.
The Sons of Italy Foundation® has contributed nearly $163 million to scholarships, medical research, disaster relief efforts, cultural projects, veterans’ causes and other special projects. The proceeds from the NELA Gala help fund these philanthropic programs. About 1,000 guests attend this annual black tie affair.