New Rochelle, NY (January 28, 2014) -- A Yankees legend and future Hall-of-Famer and a highly successful business executive whose contributions have helped transform Iona College will headline the College’s annual awards dinner.
Mariano Rivera and his wife, Clara, and Robert LaPenta will each be honored at the 52nd Annual Scholarship Awards Gala on Friday, April 11, at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan.
The Riveras, whose son Mariano Rivera Jr. is a pitcher for the Iona College baseball team, will receive The Blessed Edmund Rice Humanitarian Award for their extensive commitment to community service, while LaPenta will be presented with Iona’s Legacy Award, which recognizes an individual’s lifetime accomplishments.
“We are proud to celebrate the accomplishments of these outstanding individuals each of whom embodies Iona College’s mission of community service, scholarship and life-long learning,” said Iona President Joseph E. Nyre. “They are living proof that the mission of Iona’s founders remains a core value of our College and its community.”
Past honorees represent a who’s who of prominent and successful leaders including Francis Cardinal Spellman, New York Governor Malcolm Wilson, U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and the New York Police Department, and the 15 Iona alumni lost in the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center.
Rivera, a 13-time All Star and five-time World Series champion with the New York Yankees, and his wife started Refuge of Hope in their home in 2009. The organization quickly grew and the Riveras determined that they would organize a local church to provide programs to meet the needs of the less fortunate in the community. Currently they are expanding the church, where Clara is pastor, in the former North Avenue Presbyterian Church near the Iona campus in New Rochelle – the church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Riveras are creating a learning center for area children as well as facilities for academic assistance, sports programs and other after-school activities for children and teenagers. The Riveras are residents of Rye, N.Y.
The Blessed Edmund Rice Humanitarian award named to honor the founder of the Congregation of Christian Brothers recognizes those who by their activities and service to others have reinforced Iona’s identity as a College founded in the tradition of the Congregation of Christian Brothers and American Catholic higher education.
LaPenta, a 1967 graduate of the College who received an honorary doctorate in 2000, will receive the Iona College Legacy Award for his lifetime achievements. He has held a variety of executive and senior level positions in private equity, technology and military communications companies. Until 2011, LaPenta was chairman, CEO and president of L-1 Identity Solutions, which he co-founded in June 2005. During his tenure, he built the firm into the largest biometric identity solution company in the world; Safran Morpho acquired the company for $1.6 billion. Earlier in his career, LaPenta had co-founded L-3 Communications and was a top executive at Loral Corporation for 24 years.
In addition to his business career, LaPenta owns and breeds thoroughbred horses at Whitehorse Stables, which he founded in 2001. His horses have won the Belmont Stakes, the Florida Derby twice and several other major graded stakes races. War Pass, one of LaPenta’s most successful horses, was the winner of the 2007 Breeders Cup Juvenile and was voted the Eclipse Award as the champion two-year-old. To date, his horses have earned in excess of $30 million in purses and sales.
In addition to graduating from Iona, LaPenta is a member of the College’s Board of Trustees and has made significant contributions toward the construction of the LaPenta Student Union, the Ryan library, and the LaPenta-Lynch trading room floor in the School of Business. He and his wife, Laurie, live in Westport, Conn.
Proceeds from the Scholarship Gala will support student scholarships. For more information, visit the dinner website online at IonaScholarshipGala.org
About Iona College:
Founded in 1940, Iona College is a four-year private, coeducational institution of learning in the tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers and American Catholic higher education. It is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona offers undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science, and business administration, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and numerous advanced certificate programs. Iona College is the second largest private sector employer in New Rochelle.