The First Lady, Jill Biden, will host a delegation of Italian American leaders at the White House on Thursday, October 12, in recognition of Italian American Heritage Month.

Basil M. Russo, in his capacity as president of the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations (COPOMIAO), wrote the First Lady in July requesting that she host an event to celebrate her Italian heritage and honor the 18 million Americans of Italian descent.

On Sept. 25, the First Lady agreed and graciously invited a large delegation of COPOMIAO leaders to the White House.

This is a precedent-setting moment, as this is the first time in history that the White House has ever hosted an event celebrating Italian American Heritage Month.

“We are extremely grateful to the First Lady for creating this wonderful event that will allow us to focus national attention on the many exceptional contributions Italian Americans have made to our great country,” said Russo, who also serves as national president of the Italian Sons and Daughters of America (ISDA).

In 2021, at Russo’s direction, ISDA informed half a million followers that Dr. Jill Biden was the first-ever Italian American to serve as First Lady in the White House.

Russo, last year, worked with The White House in crafting the 2022 Columbus Day Proclamation, which paid tribute to the holiday and the Italian American culture.

The First Lady’s Roots

The First Lady’s grandfather, Domenico Giacoppo, emigrated with his parents (Gaetano and Concetta) from Sicily to Ellis Island in 1900, and worked as a furniture deliveryman in New Jersey. Her father, Donald, started as a bank teller and went on to become the head of a savings and loan institution in Philadelphia.

“My grandmother cooked traditional Italian dishes for Sunday dinner. We would go to my grandparents house every Sunday because her cooking was the best. The red sauce and the meatballs and the pasta,” Biden said in 2020. “I have beautiful memories of cooking with my grandmother, mom and four sisters. It was at their house that I made homemade tomato sauce for the first time.”

Italian Sons and Daughters of America is a proud member of The Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations. COPOMIAO is comprised of 58 of the most influential, cultural, educational, fraternal and anti-defamation groups in the nation.