Composer Paola Prestini, co-founder and artistic director of National Sawdust, will be one of three women from the New York area to be formally recognized by the National Organization of Italian American Women (NOIAW). She will be presented with the organization’s coveted “Wise Woman Award” at its annual Epiphany Celebration, to be held in Manhattan on January 17.
“I am deeply honored to receive this award from National Organization of Italian American Women,” Prestini said. “As someone who came to the United States from Italy at a very young age, I have always valued my Italian heritage, and my career has been influenced by the confluence of cultures in me. The work that set me on my multimedia compositional path in fact was a deep research into the field music of southern Italy, which formed my work Oceanic Verses. I greatly value the Italian-American community in New York and what it has brought to my life and career. I am humbled to receive this award, and am thrilled to represent such a vibrant, powerful community.”
Prestini will be honored alongside two accomplished luminaries in law and economics. The first, Elizabeth Defeis, is Dean Emeritus of Seton Hall Law School. She is an international lecturer and expert on, among many subjects, human rights, democracy, and electoral reform. She also served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York.
Teresa Ghilarducci, honored alongside Defeis and Prestini, also has a background in academia: she is a labor economist and nationally-recognized expert in retirement security. Known for her advocacy for pension reform, her concept of “Guaranteed Retirement Accounts” was noted by The New York Times in its 2008 feature “Year In Ideas.” She currently chairs economic policy analysis at The New School in New York.
In a press statement, MaryRose Barranco Morris, Ed.D., the president of NOIAW’s Greater New York Region, remarked: “The [NOIAW] is proud to honor these Three Wise Women of distinction and prominence in their respective fields. Their success is an inspiration to all Italian American women and they serve as role models to our young women.”
A non-profit organization founded in 1980, the NOIAW describes itself in its mission statement as “the only national organization for women of Italian ancestry.” In addition to celebrating the achievements of Italian women, the non-profit uplifts young women in the community, providing resources such as direct financial assistance to students, cultural exchanges to Italy, and the pairing of young Italian-American women with established professionals.
The NOIAW holds its Epiphany Celebration annually to raise funding for these initiatives. Ticket information can be found at noiaw.org or by calling 212-642-2003.