Italian American Museum President Joseph Scelsa to receive Italian Government’s highest honor

Jun 02, 2014 1394

The government of Italy will bestow its prestigious Ufficiale nell'Ordine al Merito decoration on Italian American Museum (IAM) president Joseph V. Scelsa, it was announced by Natalia Qunitavalle, the Italian Consul General in New York. A formal ceremony will take place at the Italian Consulate in New York City on Monday, June 2, 2014.


The Order of Merit of the Italian Republic is officially bestowed by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano. It was founded as the senior order of knighthood by the second President of the Italian Republic, Luigi Einaudi, in 1951.

The highest ranking honor of the Republic, it is awarded for "merit acquired by the nation" in the fields of literature, the arts, economy, public service, and social, philanthropic and humanitarian activities and for long and conspicuous service in civilian and military careers.


Dr. Scelsa, a citizen of Caccamo, in the Provence of Palermo, Sicily has served as IAM's president since he founded the institution in 2001. On March 19, 2008, the Museum completed the purchase of three historic buildings in Little Italy, opening its doors to the public on Oct. 8, Columbus Day, in the same year. The new home gave the Museum a place to continue its mission of raising public awareness and appreciation of the accomplishments and contributions of Italian Americans through ongoing exhibitions, lectures, and special events.


A Bronx native, Dr. Scelsa received his doctorate in sociology and education from Columbia University Teachers College; his dissertation topic was "Constructive Pluralism". In addition, he holds three Master's degrees in sociology, social studies and counseling. He is a licensed mental health counselor in New York State.


In 1991 he received the rank of Cavaliere of the Order of Merit, from the Republic of Italy; in 1997 received the rank of Ufficiale from the order of Merit of Savoy and in 2009 was elevated to the rank of Commendatore. In 1997, Dr. Scelsa received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and in 2005, he received the rank of Cavaliere of Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem and in 2012 was elevated to the rank of Knight Commander.


Dr. Scelsa and his wife Joyce reside in Mount Vernon New York. They have a son, Jonathan, a New York City-based architect.

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