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NIAF’s magnificent celebration of our Italian American community and our Italian culture and heritage tonight all started back in 1975 when a group of dedicated Italian American leaders came together with a vision to create a national organization that would serve and represent the Italian American community.

The first NIAF Gala Dinner took place at The Washington Hilton and attracted more than 2,000 guests, including notables such as President Gerald Ford, presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, vice-presidential candidate Walter Mondale, and 150 Members of Congress. “Never before in history” has there been a meeting with more political power, wrote Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory, who attended that benchmark event.

In saluting the past four decades of fulfilling our mission, we’d like to put a spotlight on some of the many remarkable moments in NIAF Gala history captured in these photographs as well as recognize some of the special people who helped NIAF become what it is today!