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The Marshal of Grand Vision

Joseph R. Perella ’64 will be the Grand Marshal of New York City’s 69th Annual Columbus Day Parade on October 14. (Courtesy Columbus Citizens Foundation)

The world’s largest celebration of Italian-American culture and achievement will be led by one of Lehigh’s most prominent alumni.

On Monday, Oct. 14, Joseph R. Perella ’64 will be the grand marshal of the 69th Annual Columbus Day Parade in New York City. He will lead 35,000 marchers up Fifth Avenue while an estimated one million spectators from around the world crowd the streets and cheer from their homes.

As Columbus Day grand marshal, Perella will follow in the footsteps of influential business leader and fellow Lehigh alumnus, Lee Iacocca ’45. Both men were given the honor of leading the parade at the pinnacle of their careers—Perella as a Wall Street icon and Iacocca, who served as grand marshal in 1982, as chairman of Chrysler Corp.

Perella, known as the “Gentleman of Wall Street” for his integrity, trustworthiness and character, has influenced the world of finance and investment banking while changing countless lives through his philanthropic work.

“Mr. Perella is a man of vision, great leadership and remarkable philanthropy,” said Frank Fusaro, president of the Columbus Citizens Foundation, which organizes the parade.

A generous supporter of education and the arts

As grand marshal, Perella will celebrate a rich family history. Both his grandfather and father immigrated to the United States from Italy. His grandfather was a blacksmith by trade who became a chef after his arrival, and his father came to America in 1938 after earning his doctorate degree in economics.

“I am honored to be named grand marshal of the Columbus Day Parade, a wonderful event that pays tribute to the significant contributions Italian-Americans have made to the United States,” said Perella, who is a Lehigh trustee.

“On Columbus Day, we celebrate Italian-American heritage and culture as one of the many facets that has made our great, diverse country a robust, ever-evolving land of freedom and opportunity.”

Perella’s reputation as a gentleman goes well beyond the world of finance. He and his wife, Amy, generously support the arts, education and human services, including the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund for military personnel and their families, of which he is a trustee.

The Perellas are strong believers in supporting Lehigh and have shown a stalwart dedication to the university. From endowing the Perella Department of Finance and faculty positions to creating scholarship funds and contributing to building improvements, they are an unstoppable force for good.

“Joe Perella is an inspiration and role model to many,” said President Alice P. Gast. “His leadership in business, philanthropy and service is an example for students, faculty and leaders at Lehigh. Joe’s great humanitarianism makes him the absolute best choice to represent the Italian-American community in this way.”

After graduating from Lehigh with a degree in business administration, Perella earned an M.B.A. degree in finance from Harvard Business School. In 1988, he co-founded Wasserstein Perella and Co., and in 1993, he became a managing director and member of the management committee at Morgan Stanley, where he later rose to corporate vice president. He then formed Perella Weinberg Partners L.P., a global, independent advisory and asset management firm with offices in seven cities throughout the world, including London and Dubai.

In 2004, Perella received the “L-in-Life” Award from the Lehigh New York City Alumni Club. The award recognizes alumni for outstanding achievements in business and professional life and for continued devotion and loyal service to the university.

Supportive from the sidelines as well, Perella has remained an avid follower of Lehigh wrestling, attending the EIWA and NCAA championship competitions.

The Columbus Day Parade will be broadcast live Monday, Oct. 14, from noon to 3 p.m., on WABC-TV.

Story by Dawn Thren

Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013

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