Special Report: Turning Vision Into Action
The President’s Report, From Basil M. Russo
Turning Vision Into Action:
- COPOMIAO Leaders Forge Diplomatic Partnership With Italian Ambassador in Washington, D.C. (December 2021)
- COPOMIAO Delegation Convenes With Italy’s Political Leaders in Rome to Strengthen Cultural and Commercial Ties (May 2022)
- Delegation Greets Pope Francis and Sits Down With Vatican’s Secretary of State to Reaffirm Our Community’s Religious Commitment (May 2022)
- Planning Under Way for a Groundbreaking National Youth Summit to Reconnect With Our Younger Generations (January 2023, dates TBA)
COPOMIAO, by the Numbers:
- 54 Major Organizations Working as One to Preserve Our Heritage
- Led 3 National Italian American Summit Meetings that Brought 400 IA Organizations to the Table
- 6 National Committees Addressing Issues of Mutual Concern (from public policy and education, to Columbus activism and youth engagement)
WHAT IS COPOMIAO?
The Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations (COPOMIAO) is a collective of leaders from the 54 most important cultural, charitable, educational, fraternal and anti-defamation organizations across the country. We work at the highest levels to preserve and promote our Italian American culture, traditions, values and history. Every two years the presidents of these organizations elect one from among them to, in effect, become the president of the presidents. I, as the ISDA president, was elected to serve as president of COPOMIAO in October 2020.
WHAT HAS BEEN DONE TO ELEVATE COPOMIAO?
The biggest problem that has confronted Italian Americans and their organizations for generations is they never learned how to work together. As a result, our community couldn’t accomplish anything important at the national level because we were unable to amplify or unify our voice. Last year I had COPOMIAO sponsor three National Italian American Summit Meetings that brought hundreds of Italian American organizations together. We formed six national committees so that we could finally begin working together in a spirit of national unity.
WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT FOR COPOMIAO TO CONNECT WITH THE ITALIAN AMBASSADOR?
In addition to never having been able to work together at the national level, Italian Americans have lacked a close relationship with the Italian government. This disconnect has prevented us from working with Italy to jointly promote programs and activities that celebrate our culture. Last fall, I made a request of the Italian Ambassador, Mariangela Zappia, to host a reception at her residence in Washington, D.C. so all the COPOMIAO presidents could meet her and her staff. She did so last December and a strong bond began to develop between COPOMIAO’s leaders and the Italian government.
WHY DID COPOMIAO GO TO ROME?
Because of the successful relationship that came about as a result of the D.C. reception, I believed the next logical step would be to build upon it by taking a delegation of COPOMIAO’s presidents to Rome to meet and establish strong relationships with both Italian government leaders, as well as the leaders of the Catholic Church. We met with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Italy, as well as members of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and the Secretary General of the Italian Supreme Court. I explained to all these officials that we Italian Americans are proud of our Italian heritage, and that we wanted to reconnect with the Italian people and their government so we could work with them to promote our collective culture, and to use our newfound relationship to develop strategic alliances that would allow us to strengthen commerce between the U.S. and Italy. This message was very well received by everyone we spoke to.
Banner Image: COPOMIAO in Rome. Image Credit – COPOMIAO