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Dante and DiFrisco Awards

"Our Italian American community and the Chicagoland community are infinitely richer for our Dante and Mazzei recipient contributions to journalism and public affairs." 

-Dominic DiFrisco, JCCIA President Emeritus

Annually, the JCCIA 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."

In addition, the Filippo Mazzei Public Affairs Award was also awarded.

The Mazzei Award was given annually to a person who showed extraordinary skills in the world of public affairs. In the late 1770’s Italian immigrant Mazzei's friend and neighbor Thomas Jefferson, gave the founding father this line:

“Tutti gli uomini sono per natura egualmente liberi e indipendenti. Quest’eguaglianza è necessaria per costituire un governo libero. Bisogna che ognuno sia uguale all’altro nel diritto naturale.”

Translated by a friend and neighbor of Mazzei, it was published as follows:

“All men are by nature equally free and independent. Such equality is necessary in order to create a free government. All men must be equal to each other in natural law.”


This event is attended by over 250 representatives of the Italian American community and an impressive cross section of prominent Chicago media.

Dominic DiFrisco is the founder of the Dante/Mazzei Awards.

In 2020, the JCCIA marked the celebration of the remarkable life of one of our most valued leaders with the first annual Dominic DiFrisco Lifetime Achievement Award. 


About Dominic DiFrisco

Dominic was born in New York to immigrant parents from Sicily. He would make Chicago his home and embark on a journey of life that left a tremendous and lasting impact on his community and city. He began an illustrious career in public relations commencing with Alitalia airlines, and soon emerged as a voice for Chicago’s Italian-American Community. He led media campaigns, defended against unfair stereotyping and depictions of Italian-Americans, promoted civic and educational initiatives aimed at informing the populace of the endless contributions that Italy and its people have given to our globe, forged alliances with other ethnic communities to combat discrimination and promote unity and, most of all, he worked tirelessly and selflessly in coming to the aid of others; His saying, in Sicilian, was always “Sunu Scaisu per la mancansa di vostre commande” (“I am poorer for a lack of your requests”), and indeed, he never said no when called upon for help.


We present this award to an individual devoted to continuing his life’s work and mission. That is, a recipient will be chosen on the basis of their efforts towards the betterment of their community, their work in helping those in need, their thirst for knowledge and its truthful dissemination, their superb character and kind nature, and their love of what unites us all: culture, fine food and wine, family, friendship and camaraderie.

May Dominic’s spirit live on forever, and may we strive always to carry his mission forward. 

2024 Dante and DiFrisco
Award Recipients 


2024 Dante Award Recipient 

Phil Ponce 

Longtime host of WTTW's Chicago Tonight 


2024 Dominic DiFrisco Award Recipient 

Ald. Walter Burnett Jr.

Vice Mayor of the city of Chicago

Past Award Recipients


2023 Dante Award Recipient

Mary Ann Ahern

Emmy Award-Winning Political Reporter, NBC 5 Chicago


2023 DiFrisco Award Recipient

Robert Allegrini

President of the National Italian American Foundation


2022 Dante Award Recipient

Bob Sirott

Morning Host at WGN-AM Radio and TV News Legend


2022 DiFrisco Award Recipient

Jesse White

Former Illinois Secretary of State


2021 Dante Award Recipient

Jennifer Lyons

CBS2 News President and General Manager


2021 DiFrisco Award Recipient

Antonio Romanucci

Founding Partner of Romanucci & Blandin LLC


2019 Dante Award Recipient

Alan Krashesky

ABC7 News Anchor


2019 Mazzei Award Recipient

Rabbi Abraham Cooper

Associate Dean, Director Global Social Agenda of the Simon Wiesenthal Center


2018 Dante Award Recipient

Stephen E. Schmidt

MSNBC Contributor


2018 Mazzei Award Recipient

Mary Mitchell

Chicago Sun-Times Columnist


2017 Dante Award Recipient

John Idler

ABC7 President and General Manager


2017 Mazzei Award Recipient

Alison Pure-Slovin

Simon Wiesenthal Center Midwest Director


2016 Dante Award Recipient

Jennifer Graves

ABC7 Vice President and News Director 


2016 Mazzei Award Recipient

Lissa Druss

Public affairs and crisis communications specialist of Strategia Consulting 


2015 Dante Award Recipient

Mark Kirk

Former United States Senator


2014 Dante Award Recipient

Thom Serafin

CEO and President of Chicago public affairs firm Serafin & Associates

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