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Who We Are and What We Do -
The Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans is an independent non-profit association dedicated to preserving Italian
American heritage and providing a unified voice for metropolitan Chicago's Italian American community. Founded in 1952,
the JCCIA serves as a congress for more than 65 Italian American organizations, as well as a clearinghouse for information
about the Chicago area Italian American community. Working alongside the JCCIA are its three divisions: Women's Division,
West Suburban Women's Division, and Young Professionals Division.
Civic Events -
The Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Humanitarian of the Year Award is presented
annually to those whose lives exemplify the virtues of caring, humanity and good will that were the hallmark of Cardinal
Bernardin's tenure as Archbishop of Chicago. Past recipients (including Cardinal Berardin) that have received the award
are: renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Leonard J. Cerullo, Monsignor Kenneth Velo, who was the advisor to the late Cardinal,
automobile dealer and philanthropist Joseph Rizza, State Farm President Vincent J. Trosino, Reverend Richard Fragomeni
Phd, Oscar D'Angelo, Phil Stefani, Former State Representative Ralph Capparelli, Joe Ahern, Dr. Enrico Benedetti, noted
surgeon from the University of Illinois, Robert Mariano and many other distinguished Italian Americans. In addition, the
Women's Division holds an Impressa Awards luncheon to honor Italian American women who have made significant
contributions to their communities such as Allison Rosati, Marie Pinto, Dr. Santina Litturi, Erma Tranter, Judge Gloria Coco.
Cultural Events -
For nearly half a century, the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans has sponsored Chicago's Columbus Day
celebration. Festivities begin with a Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, a wreath laying ceremony at the Columbus
Statue located in Arrigo Park, followed by the parade. The parade of over 150 floats, bands, marching units goes down
Columbus Drive, from Balbo to Monroe Street. The parade is led by Mayor Richard M. Daley, Governor Pat Quinn, Consul
General of Italy, Alessandro Motta and other city and state officials. In addition, prominent Italian-Americans are invited to
be Honorary Parade Grand Marshals, such as Ernest Borgnine, Tommy LaSorda and more. Parade Charimen have been
Donald Mazzoni, Robert Mariano, Domenico Gambino, Dominic Stramaglia, Tony Ingraffia
and more recent Mario Giuseppe Weber.
The Italian Heritage Ball and Cotillion, sponsored by the Women's Division of the JCCIA since 1970 is a tribute to the grace
and elegance of our Italian culture. In this spectacular event, young women of our community are formally presented to
society. The Debutantes will spend the year in engaging in community service activities and participating in social events,
culminating with their presentation at the Italian Heritage Ball and Cotillion.
JCCIA participates in the Museum of Science and Industry's annual "Christmas Around the World" program held from
November 17th to January 6th with a special Italian manger display or "presepio". This display is from the collection of
Dr. Carl DeNello. In addition, the JCCIA Italianettes Dance Troupe perfroms at the Museum. The Italianettes is under the
direction of Marilyn Cusimano Fredericks.
ITALY is represented by the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans at the Ethnic Christmas Tree display which is under
the direction of Maria Pappas, Cook County Treasurer and at "Winter Wonder-Land" held at Navy Pier in the Exhibition Hall.
Both Christmas trees decorated by dedicated volunteers of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans.
Human Relations -
The Human Relations Committee of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans promotes a positive image of Italian
Americans within the society at large and fights defamation and discrimination against our community. Just recently, we
joined forces with other Italian American organizations to protest a play for seventh and eighth grade students attending a
public school in Batavia which degraded Italian Americans.
Each year, the Human Relations Committee presents the coveted Dante Award to a member of the local news media who
has answered Dante Alighieri's call to be "no timid friend to truth". Past recipients have been Irv Kupcinet, John Madigan,
Hugh Hill, Dick Kay, Joan Esposito, Walter Jacobson, Mark Giangreco, Emily Barr, Larry Wert, Allison Rosati, Joe Ahern,
Merri Dee, Dominic Mancuso, Frank Mathie, Vince Gerasole, Ron Magers, Janet Davies and Greg Caputo.
It is a tribute to the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans that the Dante Award Luncheon, twenty or more past
honorees attend are seated at the head table. This event is attended by over 250 representatives of the Italian American
Over $250,000 has been awarded to students of Italian heritage over the years by the JCCIA through the John Fischetti
Scholarship, which is presented each year to two young journalism students at the Dante Award. Also, over $200,000 has
been awarded over the years to young Italian American women through Women's Division at their annual Scholarship/
Fashion Show. In addition, close to $50,000 has been awarded at the Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Humanitarian of the Year
Award reception. Needless to say, this important program will continue for years to come.
Other Special Endeavors -
Grants are provided for the worthy projects which benefit Chicago's Italian American community. JCCIA members and
friends take part in many ethnic cultural programs sponsored by the City of Chicago and other groups. We provide
information to individuals, local, national and international groups on subjects concerning Italy, Italians and Italian
Americans. We work closely with Fra Noi our Italian American voice, the Italian Consulate Office, the National Italian
American Foundation (Washington D.C.), the Italian Cultural Center and groups.