The precedent-setting event was sponsored by The Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations (COPOMIAO).

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Jan. 21, 2023) — Elder generations, in large part, control the nonprofit organizations, cultural events, fundraising and advocacy initiatives that shape the scope and narrative of the Italian American community at local and national levels.

But now, a new collaboration is under way, empowering a 35-and-under demographic who can leverage 21st-century tools and resources to modernize the Italian American culture, which will greatly benefit from inter-generational reconnection and innovation.

View the IAFL social media slideshow here.

Italian American Future Leaders, a new not-for-profit chaired by John M. Viola, developed a precedent-setting, inaugural conference that was held last weekend in the Greater Ft. Lauderdale area at FLA Live Arena to achieve these goals.

The conference was comprised of more than 100 delegates (ages 21 to 35) who included social media influencers, entrepreneurs, strategists, attorneys, academics, nonprofit specialists and more. This collection of experts, professionals and cultural ambassadors went through rounds of strategic ideation, cultural analysis and VIP networking sessions — all to drive new initiatives and spark big ideas, which are now in development.

“The Italian American community appreciates the importance of connecting with our younger generations if we are to preserve our heritage,” said Basil M. Russo, the leader of COPOMIAO who co-organized the conference. “This conference provided us with the opportunity to engage many of our talented young adults, so we can begin the process of transitioning them into leadership positions within our community.”

“This will be an annual conference, and with each passing year, we’ll accrue more talent and funding so that these incredible young Italian Americans can begin to exercise their vision for community leadership today, instead of sitting in waiting at the back of the room,” said Viola.


Formed in 1975 and based in NYC, The Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations (COPOMIAO) is a collective of 60 of the most influential, cultural, educational, fraternal and anti-defamation groups in the nation.


Italian American Future Leaders (IAFL) is a not-for-profit that’s building a network of leaders who will help promote our shared traditions, uphold our heritage and pursue a range of commercial, cultural, advocacy and event-based initiatives.

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