FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                Contact: Angela Sanfilippo, GFWA   

May 12, 2009                                             Telephone: 978 – 282 - 4847



Sanfilippo to Receive Honorary Doctorate

The Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association is pleased to announce that its president of 32 years, Angela Orlando Sanfilippo, will be awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters Honorary Degree. The degree, given by Salem State College, comes in recognition of Mrs. Sanfilippo’s decades-long leadership in the Gloucester and Massachusetts’ fishing communities and of her efforts to protect the ocean environment.  The Doctorate will be awarded May 16, 2009 at Salem State’s undergraduate commencement ceremonies.  The degree also acknowledges Mrs. Sanfilippo’s achievements by shaping the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association into a powerful force for conservation of New England’s precious fishing grounds and heritage.

"Angela Sanfilippo is a true asset to our community. Over the years, we have worked cooperatively on matters of importance to Gloucester, and she has left a lasting imprint on the city through her engagement and grass roots work on fishing issues, health care and the preservation of the cultural traditions and heritage of the fishing community," said Congressman John F. Tierney (D-MA). "Angela is a community resource, and I congratulate her on being presented with an honorary degree from Salem State College."  Congressman Tierney, himself to be an honorary degree recipient at Salem State College’s commencement, will be the main speaker at the graduation.

John Bell, Former Mayor of Gloucester, and a life long friend and colleague of Mrs. Sanfilippo, noted, "For nearly four decades Angela has led local, national and global efforts to look under every rock for opportunities to keep our fishermen fishing and safe. At the same time, she recognizes the importance of fishing communities and has worked tirelessly to gather their support.  There is really no one quite like Angela. I'm glad she is being honored by Salem State College."

Angela Orlando Sanfilippo came to the United States in 1963 from Sicily.  She graduated with honors from Gloucester High School in 1969. She was a member of the National Honor Society and President of the Honor Business Club.

Mrs. Sanfilippo’s advocacy on behalf of fishing and fishing families first came to public attention in August 1977 when she answered a call from the Gloucester fishing community to translate important materials from English to Italian for Gloucester fishermen.  Following the execution of the Stevens-Magnuson Act in April 1977, which established a 200 mile fishing zone off the U.S. coast exclusively for U.S. vessels, these materials were needed for meetings with the New England Fisheries Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service.  The meetings created, for the first time, an opportunity for fishermen to discuss fishing regulations and their opinions of them with government regulators.  Since that day Angela Sanfilippo has remained a strong and committed person dedicated to preserving a viable fishing industry.  Her voice has been especially strong on behalf of the smaller, family fishing unit.

Angela Sanfilippo’s strong belief in the protection of the ocean environment and the fishermen and their families, has taken her to faraway places to help other fishermen and their families protect their fishing communities. In October 1997, with her husband John, she traveled to India as the U.S. East Coast Representative to the First World Conference of Fish Harvesters and Fish Workers. The conference was attended by representatives of 42 countries and was successful in stopping the use of large factory trawlers in many areas of the world.  In recognition of her attention to and coordination of the Japanese students who come annually to learn English and American History while living with Gloucester families, she was invited, by the Mayor of Tamano City, Japan, to visit  in February 2000.  In October 2000 she traveled to France to attend the Second World Conference of Fish Harvesters and Fish Workers.

In addition, Angela Sanfilippo has traveled to many fishing communities in the United State seeking to improve the safety of commercial fishing, to address fishing regulations, to demonstrate how to prepare and enjoy underutilized fish, and to encourage fishing communities around the world to continue to work together to defend and preserve their fishing heritages.  She has been invited to Washington D.C. numerous times to testify at a wide variety of governmental hearings and to meet with political representatives from across the United States. In 1998 she was invited by President Clinton to attend the Year of the Ocean Conference.  Joining with others at this conference, Mrs. Sanfilippo pushed for and helped obtain an additional 10 year moratorium on oil drilling on Georges Bank.

In addition to her responsibilities as President of the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association, in April 1994, Angela Sanfilippo became the Projector Manager of the Gloucester Fishermen and Families Assistance Center, a position that she held until February 2006. Under her leadership thousands of fishermen and their family members, who had been forced out of the fishing industry by the restrictive regulations, have received employment training and started new lives.

Mrs. Sanfilippo is a founding member of and serves on the board of the Fishing Partnership Health Plan. This Massachusetts plan is the first and only health plan in the country that provides fishermen and their families with high quality and affordable health care.  She is a founder and board member of the Northeast Seafood Coalition, Commercial Fishermen of America, the Gloucester Fishing Community Preservation Fund, the Massachusetts Ocean Partnership and the Massachusetts Fishermen’s Partnership (MFP). Since February 2008, she has served as the part time Executive Director of the MFP. She founded and serves as the President of the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Development Program and the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Memorial which, on August 3, 2001, erected a memorial statue and site in honor of all mariners’ wives, mothers and sisters around the world. In 1990, she established the La Societa Siciliana di Gloucester on which she has served as board member and president.

Mrs. Sanfilippo has received many honors and awards for her dedication to the betterment of the commercial fishermen, their families and the ocean environment.

The Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association (GFWA) is proud and honored by Angela Orlando Sanfilippo’s commitments and accomplishments on behalf of all fishing people, their families, and the preservation of the fishing community.  The GFWA wishes to thank Salem State College for their recognition of Mrs. Sanfilippo’s efforts by awarding her this Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the 2009 Commencement, Saturday May 16, 2009.

The commencement will be able to be viewed live on the web site of Salem State College at beginning at 10 AM.