Italian American One Voice Coalition Selects Maria Ricupero for 2022 “Festa Della Donna” Award

Maria Ricupero IAOVC 2022 Festa Della Donna Award

IAOVC honors Maria Ricupero with Festa Della Donna Award for 2022

IAOVC selects educator Maria Ricupero for 2022 "Festa Della Donna Award" for outstanding contributions in defense of Columbus and Italian American civil rights.

BLOOMFIELD, NJ, USA, March 8, 2022 / -- The Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition (“IAOVC”), America’s largest independent Italian American anti-bias organization, has selected Maria Ricupero for its “Festa Della Donna” Award for 2022.

In the United States, the month of March is recognized as Women’s History Month. And, March 8 of each year is celebrated as International Day of Women in many countries. In Italy it is known as Festa Della Donna, an important day when women are celebrated and recognized. IAOVC has selected Maria Ricupero to be honored on this year’s Festa Della Donna to recognize her outstanding contributions to defending and celebrating Italian American heritage and culture.

Ricupero, a 26-year educator, currently teaches history in Hanover Township, NJ. Her own family has a rich history that spans generations, from Italy to the United States. Her great-grandfather, Donato Fanelli, was one of the 1,000 who fought with Garibaldi. Her great-grandfather on her grandmother’s side, Giovanni Rosamilia, served with the Bersaglieri in Ancona, before coming to the US in 1903 with only $15. That generation of her family included a great-uncle, Oreste Salamone, the first person to be awarded the gold medal for Italian Aviation in World War I. Alfredo Fanelli, her grandfather was decorated for his service in World War I with 3 war crosses for his service in the Bersaglieri and then the automobile division and he was knighted by the Italian government for Arts & Sciences. But it was not just the patriarchal side of the family. Her grandmother, Mary Fanelli, was the first person in her family to graduate college and one of only two women to graduate from the Rutgers School of Pharmacy in 1928.

Her own dedication to the teaching profession and her heritage was inspired by her parents with her mother, who emigrated to the US at age 16, the first person in her family to attend college and her father, a life-long educator, who fought for the Italian programs at Montclair State and Hanover Park Regional, and a member of the Italian American Anti-defamation League and IAOVC.

With that inspiration it is no wonder that Ricupero is an example of the mission of IAOVC with her dedication to celebrating and defending Italian American heritage and culture. She achieved national recognition for her efforts at having Columbus Day restored in Randolph, NJ schools, with a NY Post feature article about her, her father and daughter, Chiara, the Youth Chair of IAOVC. Ricupero’s dedication extends to her serving as Education Chair for IAOVC where she is authoring a side-by-side comparison of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” to primary documents from Columbus’ time period.

“When one fights, we all fight,” stated Ricupero. “As soon as I found out about the Columbus Day situation in Randolph, I called Chiara and then my father. We support each other in every endeavor. And, my other children, Giovanni and Fiorella, were in charge of getting their classmates to attend the Board of Education meetings to oppose the elimination of Columbus Day.” Obviously, when it comes to defending their heritage, for Ricupero it is a family affair.

“I am so pleased to have someone of Maria’s talents working with us to defend our great Italian American heritage and culture, especially for the importance of Columbus as an iconic symbol to all Italian Americans,” stated Manny Alfano, Founder and President of IAOVC. “She is an outstanding recipient of our Festa Della Donna 2022 Award.”

“Maria’s educational credentials and scholarly efforts are an asset in opposing the false narrative attacking Columbus,” commented Andre DiMino, Executive Board Member of IAOVC. “I know that her efforts will be a valuable tool in defending Columbus and our Italian American civil rights.”

IAOVC is different from all other Italian American organizations in that its sole focus and objective is to foster education to fight bias, stereotyping and discrimination against Italian Americans. IAOVC is an IRS-Registered 501(c)3 non-profit.

IAOVC issues a regular email newsletter, “The Alfano Digest,” to more than 5,000 individuals and Italian American organizations nationwide. Written and compiled by Dr. Manny Alfano, Founder and President of IAOVC, the Digest issues alerts on instances of bias, stereotyping, discrimination and defamation and activates the IAOVC nationwide network of “Defenders” who respond through calls, emails, faxes, letters and demonstrations where necessary. The Digest contains informative and educational Italian American cultural and heritage information. To receive the Digest, email Dr. Alfano -

To support IAOVC’s efforts at defending and educating about Columbus and Italian American civil rights visit

Membership in IAOVC is open to individuals as well as all Italian American organizations to join as a coalition defending and celebrating Italian American heritage and culture. To join visit To support IAOVC's efforts defending Columbus and Italian American civil rights visit

Andre DiMino
Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition
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