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).