by Lissa Druss Christman
The Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans is proud to name Chicago Sun-Times editorial page editor Tom McNamee the 2014 recipient of the Dante Award.
Each year, the JCCIA Human Relations Committee chooses a member of the local news media who has answered Dante Alighieri’s call to be “no timid friend to truth.” Since 1971, the Dante Award has been bestowed upon more than 40 journalists.
And for the first time this year, the JCCIA will present the Mazzei Award, which goes to a person who shows extraordinary skills in the world of public affairs. The inaugural recipient is Thom M. Serafin, principal of Serafin & Associates.
The award is named after Filippo Mazzei, a 17th-century Tuscan physician and passionate supporter of the American Revolution who historians say inspired the phrase “all men are created equal.”
“We are thrilled to have Tom McNamee as our Dante Award recipient, and it is with great pride that we give Thom Serafin our inaugural Mazzei Award,” says Dominic DiFrisco, JCCIA president emeritus. “Both of these men exemplify excellence in their respective fields; yet both fields are intertwined to enhance how pubic information is expressed and disseminated. Both men are seekers of truth and, as Mazzei said, believe that ‘all men must be equal to each other in natural law.'”
“Winning this award is a great honor for me, as a Chicagoan and a newsman. Italian Americans have contributed so much to this city (and, of course, to all Western culture), so I’m thrilled to be recognized by the JCCIA,” says McNamee. “I must be doing something right. I’ve always believed Chicago is enriched by all its different ethnic and racial groups, and I think that’s what the Dante Award is really all about.”
“I am humbled to receive the inaugural Filippo Mazzei Award from the JCCIA, and to share the stage with the Chicago Sun-Times’ Tom McNamee is a privilege,” adds Serafin. “Filippo Mazzei was a true patriot and an inspiration to his close friend Thomas Jefferson. He lived a life of adventure, scholarship and great loyalty to our country. I am most honored to have been selected for this award.”
McNamee has been with the Sun-Times since 1982. He is an award-winning journalist and a respected manager, editor, writer, reporter and columnist for newspapers, magazines, books, radio and online journalism sites. McNamee specializes in urban-affairs issues, using extensive experience in shaping public debate on such issues as education, ethics in politics and government, crime, health, poverty and big-city culture.
As the editorial page editor, McNamee serves as the institutional voice of the Chicago Sun-Times. He manages all activities of the editorial board and the daily and Sunday commentary pages, both online and in print, as well as a department blog and Twitter feed.
As the founder and CEO of Serafin & Associates Inc., Serafin leads an aggressive, in-demand communications consultancy. Some of the nation’s leading brands, C-suite executives, elected officials and government bodies seek his expertise to mitigate crisis and reposition countless reputations.
Over the years, Serafin has run and been involved with dozens of political campaigns for both sides of the aisle. He served as an adviser and strategist for some of the country’s highest-profile public officials, including a couple of U.S. senators, a presidential candidate and the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. He is a political and communications commentator, has been a network radio reporter, and has served on the Washington, D.C., staff of U.S. Senator Alan Dixon.
The Dante and Mazzei awards will be presented during a lunchtime gala at 11:30 a.m. on May 15 at Galleria Marchetti, 825 W. Erie St., Chicago. (708-450-9050)