Alumnus recognized for commitment to charity

Greg Doyle


Villanova alumnus Joe Del Raso was awarded the 2010 Gary Papa Leadership in Philanthropy Award on Nov. 20 for his charitable contributions made on local, national and international levels.

The award is on behalf of the late Gary Papa, the former Channel 6 sports director who was dedicated to helping the Greater Philadelphia area through his personal and professional life, according to the official press release.

Del Raso received his B.S. in 1974 from the School of Commerce and Finance and his J.D. in 1983 from the Villanova School of Law.

“The Augustinian teachings at Villanova really had a lot to do with my interest in giving back,” Del Raso said. “In the Business School, in addition to learning debits and credits, we would also learn about ethics and morality, and I think that is what really distinguishes a Villanova graduate.”

He was approached in January to be the recipient of this year’s award. Despite some initial reluctance to being put in the spotlight, he accepted once he considered the charitable opportunities that would arise as a result, according to Del Raso.

Del Raso is currently a partner with Pepper Hamilton LLP in Philadelphia and is head of the firm’s Investment Management practice and co-chair of the firm’s Italian Desk. He also serves as the president of the National Italian American Foundation, chairman of the board of trustees for the American University of Rome, chair of the board of consulters of the Villanova School of Law and treasurer of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, according to the press release.

At Pepper Hamilton, Del Raso has played a key role in examining some of the major corporate scandals of the past two decades. Because of his extensive knowledge in the field, he was asked to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives to provide insight on the establishment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2004.

Del Raso’s work extends beyond the private sector, and his prominence within the public service field has also garnered him wide recognition. In 2007, President George W. Bush appointed him commissioner to the White House Fellows –– a program that awards men and women who have demonstrated leadership in public service the opportunity to serve as special assistants to senior White House Staff members, the Vice President and Cabinet secretaries.

Del Raso cites his experiences at Villanova –– as an undergraduate and a law student –– as having a major influence on his commitment to service.

“I was very involved in community activities at Villanova,” Del Raso said. “Through my involvement in my fraternity and the Student Union, I was able to participate in charities and community service activities throughout my four years as an undergraduate and three years at the law school.”

These activities laid the groundwork for Del Raso’s leadership in charitable projects and events, which has earned him recognition nationally and internationally. In June 2005, he was conferred the Order of Merit, granting him honorary knighthood by the Republic of Italy. In 2009, Del Raso worked with the U.S. Department of State to establish relief efforts in response to the earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy, according to the press release.

Del Raso’s commitment to charity has come full circle through the founding of The Vincent Del Raso Scholarship Fund, created in honor of his father to provide scholarships to Villanova students who are also Delaware County residents.

 “I really do appreciate what Villanova has done for me,” Del Raso said. “Looking back on my college career, what I think I realize is how important it is to lead by example –– especially when it involves service –– and really embrace the activities and opportunities available to you at Villanova. That way, you can continue to develop and move forward.”