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Yankees Legend Among Three Honored at Scholarship Fundraiser

NEW YORK, N.Y. (April 11, 2014; updated May 2, 2014)  - The Board of Trustees of Iona College held its 52nd Annual Scholarship Gala tonight at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City to honor leaders who exemplify the College’s mission of service, scholarship and value-based learning. More than 500 were on hand for the event -- which raised more than $800,000 for student scholarships. See video selections from the event.  

Prominent business executive and 1967 Iona graduate Robert LaPenta received the 2014 Legacy Award, and Yankees legend Mariano Rivera and his wife, Clara, received the Blessed Edmund Rice Humanitarian Award. 
Alfred F. Kelly, who served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Company for Super Bowl XLVII, was Master of Ceremonies. He is a 1980 Iona graduate and received his MBA from the school in 1981.
Highlights of the dinner included video messages from George Tenet, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency; Maria Bartiromo, Fox Business Network Anchor; and Mariano Rivera Jr., a pitcher with the Iona College baseball team. Bernie Williams also performed a short acoustic set.
“Iona College and its Board of Trustees were honored to present the 2014 Legacy Award to Robert LaPenta, who has achieved so much success in his business career and who has been a long time and very generous supporter of the college,” said Iona College President Joseph E. Nyre, Ph.D. “We are equally pleased to present the Blessed Edmund Rice Humanitarian Award to Mariano and Clara Rivera, who work tirelessly to give back and support the community. Our honorees exemplify Iona’s mission of service, scholarship and values-based learning.”

Mariano 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 were determined that they would organize a local church to provide programs to meet the needs of the less fortunate in the community. They are currently 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.
Robert LaPenta, who received an honorary doctorate from Iona in 2000, received the 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 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.
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.
Past Gala 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 who received the College’s inaugural Blessed Edmund Rice Award last year, and the 15 Iona alumni lost in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.
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.

Video from Iona's 52nd Annual Scholarship Gala