The College of Staten Island hosts its first annual scholarship gala, the “CSI Celestial Ball- Reaching for the Stars, ” on Saturday, December 5 at The Richmond County Country Club at 7:00pm.

Committee tri-chairs include Joseph Ricciutti, President of the Staten Island Yankees, CSI alumnus BS in Business Management (’94); Dr. Christine Cea, President of the Friends of CSI, scientist at the Institute for Basic Research, CSI alumna BA in Psychology (’88); and Donna Fauci, member of the Board of Directors of the CSI Alumni Association, Admissions Counselor, Program Coordinator with CSI’s Recruitment and Admissions office, and CSI alumna (’96, ’03).

The Celestial Ball builds upon the legacy of the Starlight Ball, founded by the Friends of CSI in 1978 and co-chaired by Ephraim Bodine and Norma D’Arrigo. The inaugural event soon became a much anticipated annual event on the Island, and was designed to bring the community to the Sunnyside campus, as well as raise money for scholarships.

“Most students at CSI work in order to support themselves or their families,” comments Ricciutti. “I am proud to serve with my distinguished co-chairs on the important endeavor of raising much-needed funds that will hopefully allow them to focus on their academic careers and excel in the future. I think it is very fitting that we support the future of our students by honoring the past and reinventing the glorious tradition of the Starlight Ball in the vision of a 21st-century CSI.”

“One of the cornerstones of the Friends is our commitment to public higher education, and I am pleased to continue this longstanding and worthwhile endeavor by working on this exciting new gala,” says Cea. “Our Island is greatly enriched by the rich mosaic of students at CSI, representing 80 countries, many of whom are first-generation college students. I am proud to be a part of this exciting initiative to raise much-needed scholarship dollars in support of these students furthering their education.”

“CSI is transforming the lives of students, many of whom graduate into highly successful careers and go on to attend the most prestigious graduate, MD, and PhD programs in the country,” notes Fauci. “We have 55,000 alumni in a broad spectrum of professions and disciplines across the country, and we are fortunate that 30,000 alumni call our wonderful borough home.”

CSI recently welcomed its largest incoming class of more than 13,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Whereas students come to CSI from all five boroughs of New York City and parts of New Jersey, three-fourths are from Staten Island. Many students are first-generation college students.

Proceeds from the “CSI Celestial Ball: Reaching for the Stars” will provide direct support to eligible students in need at CSI. Tickets to the black tie-optional event cost $250 per person or $450 per couple. Sponsorship support at the $25,000 and $50,000 levels will include the option to sponsor a “named endowed scholarship” opportunity at CSI.

Other sponsorship levels include limited-term scholarship opportunities. There are many journal and sponsorship opportunities available, and the evening will also feature an auction. For tickets and more information, call the CSI Advancement Office at 718982.2365 or visit

Honorees include:

Gordon and Lorraine Di Paolo
Dr. Gordon Di Paolo is Associate Professor of Business at the College of Staten Island/CUNY. Professor Di Paolo began his career in marketing and sales for the Revlon Corporation, under the control of Charles Revson. Professor Di Paolo completed his academic studies earning his MBA and PhD at New York University’s Graduate School of Business.

Mrs. Lorraine Di Paolo is President, Benchmark Capital Advisors on Wall Street in New York. The DiPaolo’s are philanthropists in the New York Metropolitan area and are very generous to the College of Staten Island, having established the Lorraine and Gordon Di Paolo Scholarship- Achievement in Management and Marketing Studies, as well as giving to several other initiatives at the College.

Robert Scamardella
Robert J. Scamardella is a life-long Staten Islander who is an alumnus of the College of Staten Island, having graduated from its two predecessor institutions. He received an Associate of Arts degree from the former Staten Island Community College in 1970 and he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the former Richmond College where he graduated, with Highest Honors, in 1972. A practicing attorney, he graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1975.

Currently, Mr. Scamardella is a partner in the West Brighton Law Firm of Russo, Scamardella, and D’Amato, PC, and a partner in the lobbying/consulting firm, The Molinari Group, LLC.

Quite active in his profession, Mr. Scamardella has served on the Board of Directors of the Richmond County Bar Association and has chaired its Public Relations and Fee Arbitration Committees.

Zane Tankel
Zane Tankel, is the Chairman and CEO of Apple – Metro, Inc. and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Zane along with cofounder Ray Raeburn, started Apple-Metro, Inc. in 1994 with the opening of a single restaurant on Staten Island.

Operating restaurants in all five boroughs, Westchester and Rockland Counties, Apple-Metro employs over 3,000 local residents, holding a regular position in the Top 10 performing Applebee’s Franchisees internationally and is one of the premier restaurant operators in the New York Area. Apple-Metro is in the top 60 of all franchisees across all concepts in the United States and was also the first to enter underserved urban minority neighborhoods. In 2008 and 2009, Zane won the “Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year®” award for the Metro New York area and was the recipient of the “Mickey Mantle Community Service Award.” Also in 2008, Crain’s New York Business added Apple-Metro to its list of largest privately held companies. This year Inc. Magazine recognized Apple-Metro by awarding the company its prestigious 500/5000 award. Apple-Metro was also recognized this year with a National Restaurant Association NY State Restaurant Neighbor Award, and was named 2009’s Franchisee of the Year at the Applebee’s International Franchise Conference – the highest honor amongst all Applebee’s Franchisees in the system.

A tireless advocate and supporter of many causes from regional to national to International, Zane is a founding board member and former Chairman of the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation; a former Chairman of the Metro Chapter of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and was a founder of the advisory board for the Boys and Girls Choir of Harlem. He continues his work with Bridging the Rift, an international initiative partnered with Stanford and Cornell universities and the governments of Israel and Jordan to create peace in the Middle East.

CSI will host its first annual scholarship gala, the CSI Celestial Ball, on Saturday, December 5.