NIAF Hosted a Sunset Aperitivo with Ferrero and Campari Featuring Special Guest Congressman Jimmy Panetta

The National Italian American Foundation Government Affairs and Public Policy Committee hosted a Sunset Aperitivo on June 7, 2023, on the Ferrero rooftop terrace overlooking the U.S. Capitol to network with the Capitol Hill congressional staff community. The evening was sponsored by Ferrero, the third-largest confectionary company in the world and the Campari Group, a leader in the global spirits industry.

To commence the reception, John F. Calvelli, NIAF Executive Vice Chairman, opened with welcoming remarks recognizing his Vice Chair of the NIAF Government Affairs and Public Policy Program, the Hon. Anita Bevacqua McBride. Further, Calvelli addressed that as a part of its mission, NIAF honors and empowers Italian American leadership at all levels of government. NIAF also reinforces the cultural and political ties that bind the United States and Italy.

In addition, Calvelli acknowledged Gerald Kunde, Senior Vice President of Institutional Affairs and Corporate Communications at Ferrero North America and Marco Barassi, Government Relations and Sustainability Director Americas at Campari Group. Barassi addressed the guests “Tonight’s aperitivo is the perfect setting. It’s not just about having a drink, but bringing people together, making new friends, and seeing old faces.”

The evening’s esteemed guest, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and member of the Italian American Congressional Delegation (IACD) delivered a heartfelt speech expressing his pride in his heritage. On being a member of the IACD, Panetta commented, “We continue to work together as members of Congress. I work with Republicans and Democrats who are Italian. We all have stories of how we arrived here. Our history affected our future.”

Being Italian American, Panetta stressed the value of giving back to the community that provided so much, driven by the American dream of offering a better life to future generations. Panetta proudly spoke about his work furthering relations between Italy and the United States, including his recent travels with Speaker McCarthy to meet with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. With admiration for the Prime Minister, Panetta noted that she had exceeded expectations based on their insightful discussions. Moreover, he revealed a touching gesture from Italy’s Speaker of the House, who presented Speaker McCarthy with the original birth certificate of his grandfather.

At the conclusion of the program, Calvelli thanked Francesco Santillo, First Counselor of the Italian Embassy in Washington for all his hard work, as Santillo is being reassigned from his post.  As well, Calvelli acknowledged the Italian American Congressional Staff Association.

Also in attendance were past NIAF Congressional Fellows Tony Falcone (Fall 2020), Benjamin O’Hara (Fall 2020), and Dominic Panarese (Spring 2022).

NIAF organizes a series of events each year geared towards bringing together its public policy stakeholders including Italian American government leaders, Italian diplomatic officials and public policy professionals. To become a NIAF member, contact Anthony O’Boyle at

The Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum Announces 2017 Grant Finalists

“Our selection committee was very impressed with both the choice of subject matter, and the quality of the films submitted by the grant recipients,” said Basil M. Russo, ISDA President.

The three finalists listed below were selected to receive $7,500 each to fund their film projects. The selection committee believes each of them presents a specific vision for the exploration of truly interesting and dynamic themes.  All three films will be screened during NIAF’s 42nd Anniversary Gala Weekend, November 4 at 1 p.m., and the winning film will be announced during the Gala Awards Dinner on November 4.

The 2017 finalists are:

Roberto Angotti, a Film Studies major at Claremont McKenna College, whose documentary film “The Italian American Baseball Family” relates how Italian Americans assimilated into popular culture through America’s favorite pastime.

Kirsten Keppel, a videographer of the Abruzzo and Molise Heritage Society in Washington D.C., whose documentary film explores “The St. Joseph’s Day Table” and its significance in Italian and Italian American culture.

Margaret Sclafani, an Anthropology major at Bryn Mawr College/Haverford College, whose documentary film will examine the relevance of street and religious festivals in Italian American communities through the formation and subsequent demolishment of New York City’s Our Lady of Loreto Church.

Congratulations to all! NIAF and ISDA look forward to presenting these screenings during NIAF’s 42nd Anniversary Gala Weekend, a special three-day event of Italian American pride at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. For more information about the weekend, please visit

For more information on The Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum, please visit

Now Accepting Applications For Fulbright-Falcone-NIAF Program

(Washington, D.C. – June 26, 2017) The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is now accepting applications for its Fulbright-Fondazione Falcone-NIAF Scholarship in Criminology for 2018-2019. In its third year, this collaborative scholarship program, formed in cooperation with the Fondazione Giovanni e Francesca Falcone and the Fulbright Program in Italy, provides funding for one American student and one Italian student to carry out research for 6-9 months in criminology.

“The National Italian American Foundation is proud of the partnership with the U.S. State Department to administer the Fulbright-Fondazione Falcone-NIAF grant. This is a great example of the valuable exchange opportunities for American and Italian students,” said John M. Viola, NIAF president and chief operating officer.

“The Fulbright Commission in Italy is proud of having partnered with the Fondazione Falcone and the National Italian American Foundation to carry out the legacy of Judge Falcone and promote the Rule of Law in younger generations,” said Paolo Sartorio, executive director of the U.S.-Italy Fulbright Commission. “This is an especially valuable program because it allows youth of both nationalities to benefit of this opportunity thus contributing to strengthening the U.S.-Italy relations.”

Ideal applicants will be students with future plans for academic or professional careers in the field of Law and Criminology, as well as a special interest in relevant issues related to Sicily and the promotion of the rule of law. Candidates with projects involving interdisciplinary studies related to Criminology, such as Law, Economics, Sociology, Education or Anthropology, are encouraged to submit applications. Preference will be given to graduate students.

The American recipient will work with the Fondazione Giovanni e Francesca Falcone in Palermo, Italy; the Italian recipient will conduct research at a university in the United States. Full details on the program and the application process can be found at

The deadline for American applicants is October 6, 2017. The deadline for Italian applicants is February 16, 2018.