“Isn’t that a men’s organization?” Have you ever heard this? I’ve been confronted with this statement many times since I began working for the Sons of Italy in 2011. Contrary to popular belief, the Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA) was originally named Ordine Figli d’Italia, which literally translates to Order Children of Italy. As such, women have shared equal rights with men in OSIA since its founding in 1905 and even make up about 50% of OSIA membership today. Over the last 109 years, women have held leadership positions at all levels, including state president, national trustee, national vice president and national president.
Twenty years ago the Sons of Italy ran a campaign showcasing the women in our organization, including then-national president, Joanne Strollo. In honor of March being Women’s Month, let’s take a look at how women continue to stand at the forefront of this organization, both as leaders and honorees.
- Six of seventeen OSIA grand lodge presidents are women. In fact, California has elected female state presidents for three consecutive terms now. Lynn Lawrence-Murphy is the current state president, immediate past state president Maria Fassio Pignati is now a national trustee and past state president Vera Girolami is now fourth vice president.
- Six of eleven OSIA national trustees are women.
- Two of five OSIA national vice presidents are women.
- Women even comprise six of the seven staff members at the OSIA National Office in Washington, D.C., working behind the scenes to help OSIA officers and members.
- Jennifer Rizzoti, women’s basketball hall of famer and University of Hartford women’s basketball head coach, was the first woman to receive the OSIA Sports Award in its 20-year history at the 2013 National Convention in Philadelphia, PA.
- U.S. Army brigadier general Flora Darpino is the first woman in the Army’s 236-year history to lead its JAG legal services. The Sons of Italy Foundation will honor Darpino at this year’s National Education & Leadership Awards (NELA) Gala on May 22, 2014 with the Special Award for Military Justice.
OSIA is a fraternal organization for people of any gender, age, religion and profession. You don’t even have to be Italian to join! Whether it’s for networking, growing your business, friendship or the love of all things Italian, OSIA welcomes you as a member. To learn more, visit OSIA.org.
Do you know a female member that has contributed to OSIA over the years? Or, a woman that we should honor at our next event? Tell us about her in the comments!
Written by OSIA Social Media & Communications Coordinator, Krystyne Hayes.