Professor Philip J. DiNovo is the Founder and President of the esteemed American Italian Heritage Association and the American Italian Heritage Museum in Albany, New York. He has also been knighted by the Italian Government and is a respected figure in America’s Italian community

March 2023


More than ever, I’ve been pondering the question of what exactly can I possibly say or do that will actually make a difference in regard to the challenges we face. For over forty years I have been writing the President’s Message for the AIHA&M bi-monthly newsletters.  Our Association will celebrate its 44th birthday very soon which is an excellent time to remind everyone of its stated mission: record and preserve our Italian heritage. In addition, the stated mission of the museum is: honor the Italian immigrants, tell their stories and the contributions of Italian Americans. Our Italian Cultural Center on the second floor of the museum has as its mission to: offer classes, workshops, programs, celebrations and events that will keep our Italian heritage and culture alive. I would be remiss if I did not thank each and every one of you who has helped us to carry out all that we have accomplished.


     There are about one hundred and fifty thousand Italian Americans residing in the five area surrounding counties. Astoundingly, only about three thousand are members of an Italian American organization! My hope for this year is that with your help and cooperation we can get many of them to become members. As a first step, please suggest to family and friends that they embrace their heritage by enrolling as members of our organization. As you have heard more than once, giving a membership to someone is always a great gift. Another way you can actively help is to come to the museum and pick up a packet of our complimentary newsletters. Then, seek out public  places in which to place them for people to read; i.e., doctor’s office, library, beauty salon, barber, repair shop. Or, any other community space where people go, sit and wait. You may have to first ask permission, but it’s certainly worth the effort.


   Unfortunately, over the past years we have lost contact with a number of devoted members, not knowing if they have moved, are in nursing homes, passed away or something else has happened to them. We want to stay in touch with anyone who may  be  interested  so we welcome your assistance.

Please let us know if you are aware of any change in status of current and former members because we are concerned and care very much.

I recently read in our local newspaper that well-known author of horror books, Stephen King, posted an offensive tweet referring to Utica, NY as the butt of a joke. I lived in the Utica, NY area while attending college and am very pleased that our first museum was located there. I loved the Utica area. It had and still does have a great deal to offer and the people are very welcoming. We owe a debt of gratitude to all of the wonderful Utica area members who gave our museum such an excellent start. Mr. King’s twitter message understandably drew the ire of numerous fans of Utica. I found most Uticans rightfully to be very proud of their city. Ultimately, Stephen King offered an apology to Uticans, but that doesn’t take away the sting of his original comment.


   On a regular basis we receive about two hundred emails and roughly one hundred telephone messages/calls per week, many of them involving requests for one thing or another. Please help us get the word out that everyone on our staff is a volunteer and we do our best to handle inquiries, answer questions, take reservations to upcoming events, etc. Our very small group is stretched very thin and not able to accomplish everything that comes along. Obviously, we need more volunteers in our ranks, especially people willing to aid in fundraising. One of our goals this year is to invite more groups to visit our museum which means that we need to train amenable members as docents to serve as knowledgeable guides on occasion. To say “we need you!” is definitely an understatement!


   In closing, here’s an interesting fact: the most important celebration on the Christian calendar is Easter. Our ancestors have handed down to us many wonderful Italian Easter traditions. A meaningful way for you to perpetuate our Italian heritage is to keep alive and carry out some of those traditions. Look for favorites within these pages.


       I wish each of you a blessed Buona Pasqua!


                          Prof./Cav. Philip J. DiNovo                                    

 In honor of the Italian immigrants who came to the United States of America, we are committed to record and preserve the contributions of our Italian Heritage and culture to our society through our newsletter, cultural programs, activities, exhibits, and outreach programs.