10/12/2021  WCIR.biz

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF):

The Italians That Built America: Lee Iacocca

Lee A. Iacocca was a rock star among American CEOs in the 1980s. The Italian American businessman saved Chrysler from the brink of bankruptcy, paying off the federal loan seven years early, and led the effort to restore the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island for their centennials.

Lido “Lee” Anthony Iacocca was born in 1924 to Italian immigrants in Allentown, Pa. With engineering degrees in hand, Lee Iacocca joined The Ford Motor Company but quickly discovered his talents were better suited for sales. The development of the Ford Mustang and Ford Pinto led to his being appointed President of Ford, and later CEO of Chrysler, where he championed the development of the K-car series and popular “mini-van” platform. His bestselling 1984 “Iacocca: An Autobiography” made him a cultural icon.

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan asked him to lead the private fundraising effort to restore Lady Liberty and Ellis Island, leading to the founding of The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. Under his charismatic leadership, over 20 million Americans have donated to date over $700 million to preserve and restore these two beloved icons in New York Harbor. In addition to his work with The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Lee Iacocca’s philanthropic efforts include The Iacocca Foundation, dedicated to educational projects and diabetes research, and Lehigh University’s “Iacocca Institute,” which focuses on increasing the global competitiveness of American organizations. Iacocca's most proud title was being the son of Italian immigrants. Iacocca passed away in 2019.

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