IAPC honors worthy trio

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Caifano, Gamrath and Catezone

The Italian American Political Coalition presented Judge Celia G. Gamrath with its William Paca Award, Richard Caifano with its Lifetime Achievement Award and Richard Catezone with its Public Service Leadership Award at its annual Heritage Celebration on March 7 at Elmcrest Banquets in Elmwood Park.

The following profiles were provided by the organization.

Richard Caifano
Lifetime Achievement Award
Richard Caifano has been a leader in the legal profession and Italian-American community for nearly six decades. An attorney in private practice since 1965, he focuses on civil and criminal litigation at the trial and appellate levels.

Rich was a trial instructor for The John Marshall Law School in Chicago and the National College of Criminal Defense Attorneys and Public Defenders in Houston, as well as an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association and the Mandatory Arbitration System of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Rich has served as the President of the Justinian Society of Lawyers as well as a member of its Executive and Scholarship committees. Active for decades in the Illinois State Bar Association, he has been a member of the ISBA Assembly as well as its Standing Committee on Mentoring and Senior Lawyers Section Counsel.

A co-founder of the National Italian American Bar Association, he served as a board member and Executive Vice President from 1983-1992 and as a board member and Historian from 1994-2006.

As Chairman of the Human Relations Committee of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans in the 1980s, Rich helped secure an apology from news analyst Sam Donaldson for unfairly attempting to associate vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro with organized crime.

A co-founder of the Italian American Political Coalition, Rich is also a longtime member of UNICO National, having served as a board member of the UNICO Foundation, and a past President, board member and Scholarship Committee Chairman for the organization’s West Suburban Chapter.

Hon. Celia G. Gamrath
William Paca Award
Judge Celia Louise Gamrath (née Guzaldo) is a candidate for the Illinois Appellate Court in the March 19 primary elections. She has served with distinction for 13 years in the Cook County Circuit Court.

Prior to becoming a judge, Judge Gamrath was a law clerk in the Appellate Court and later became a partner at Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck, where she earned a reputation as one of the best appellate lawyers in America. She earned a B.S. from Indiana University and J.D. from The John Marshall Law School (now UIC).

Judge Gamrath has held leadership positions with several bar associations and community organizations, including serving as past President of the Justinian Society of Lawyers. She is a Task Force Chair of the Illinois Judicial Conference, which sets the strategic agenda for the entire judicial branch. She also helped co-found Women Everywhere, a day of service to help those in disadvantaged communities.

The Paca Award is consistent with other accolades Judge Gamrath has received, including being honored by the JCCIA Women’s Division (Impresa Award), Chicago Bar Association (Alta May Hulett Award), The John Marshall Law School (Distinguished Service Award), Chicago Law Bulletin (Forty Under 40) and Illinois Bar Foundation (Distinguished Service to Law & Society Award), to name just a few.

Judge Gamrath is a faculty member at Illinois Judicial Education Conferences and a columnist for Chicago Lawyer magazine. Judge Celia Louise Gamrath is worthy of the Paca Award and will transition smoothly into the Appellate Court if she is elected on March 19.

Richard Catezone
Public Service Leadership Award
Richard Catezone has spent his professional career ensuring that individuals suffering from substance abuse addiction receive the best possible care as they travel their road to recovery.

Richard worked for the Illinois Department of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse from 1989-1996, starting as an administrative assistant and rising to the rank of Substance Abuse Specialist with Licensure and Monitoring. In the latter capacity, he was responsible for field inspections of 185 state-licensed drug and alcohol treatment facilities.

In 1996, the Department transitioned to the Illinois Department of Human Services and eventually became the Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery. Richard enjoyed a long tenure there as a Social Services Program Planner overseeing state-licensed drug and alcohol treatment facilities across the state.

From 1996 to 2000, Richard served as the 25th Ward Republican Committeeman for the city of Chicago, allowing him to further his public-service leadership efforts.

From 2009 to his retirement in February 2020, he managed a multimillion-dollar collaboration between IDHS/SUPR and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

In 2020, he received a kidney-liver transplant at Loyola University Medical Center. In 2022, he became an Ambassador for the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), a collaborative effort that addresses outreach, awareness, best practices and policy updates to promote public education of the organ-transplant community. He also serves as a volunteer for the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network and is Director of the Old Neighborhood Italian American Club’s substance abuse prevention program for local grammar-school students.


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Fra Noi produces a magazine and website that serve the Chicago-area Italian-American community. Our magazine offers our readers a monthly feast of news and views, culture and entertainment that keeps our diverse and widely scattered readers in touch with each other and their heritage. Our website offers a dizzying array of information drawn from every corner of the local community.

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