In this episode, we talk with Dr. Aileen Riotto Sirey, one of the founders and the first president of the National Organization of Italian American Women (NOIAW). She discusses the role of Italian American women before, during, and after the feminist movement, as well as her own journey straying from then returning to embracing her heritage.
In the story segment, Dolores reads a segment from Dr. Sirey’s incredible research booklet, “Ethnotherapy: An exploration of Italian-American identity”
- “I had this desire to connect with people from my background.” – Aileen Riotto Sirey
- “When we get together with friends who are passionate about what we are, talking about it always ends up in a positive discussion.” – Anthony Fasano
- “Many of the things our ancestors did created a lot of the habits, values, and traditions that we have today.” – Aileen Riotto Sirey
- “Being part of NOIAW was like being part of a family.” – Aileen Riotto Sirey
- “What kept me going was being able to give back to our community.” – Aileen Riotto Sirey
- “We have to make sacrifices to have a community.” – Dolores Alfieri Taranto
- “Taking a big step to move away from tradition and develop careers for themselves was very difficult for Italians.” – Aileen Riotto Sirey
- “If you have no past, you have no present and future.” – Aileen Riotto Sirey
- “I think the more you give to your community, the more it gives back.” – Aileen Riotto Sirey
About our Guest
Dr. Aileen Riotto Sirey, Ph.D
Dr. Aileen Riotto Sirey was elected the first President of NOIAW in 1980, when the organization began with a small group of women including Geraldine Ferraro, Matilda Raffa Cuomo and Roseanne Colletti.
Sirey maintained her position as President for 7 years. For the following 25 years she served as Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the organization, which in that time span has grown into an international network with more than 1,000 members and affiliates in Australia, Argentina and Italy.
Anthony Fasano and Dolores Alfieri Taranto
Co-Hosts, The Italian American Podcast