Senator Boucher Honored With Ambassador Award From The Council Of Italian-American Organizations Of Connecticut

May 27, 2010

Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) standing with Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele and other dignitaries during the ceremony celebrating Italian Republic Day.

     Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) is an honored recipient of this year’s Ambassador Award from the Council of Italian-American Organizations of Connecticut (CIAO) for her many contributions to the state’s Italian-American community.

    Senator Boucher, one of two recipients of this year’s award, accepted the honor during a ceremony to celebrate Italian Republic Day at the State Capitol on May 26th. The other recipient of this year’s Ambassador Award is Representative Joseph Serra (D-33).  Italian Republic Day or La Festa della Republica, commemorates the referendum held in 1946 in which Italian people voted to replace its monarchy with a republic. Italian Republic Day is celebrated to honor Italians who sought better lives for themselves and their families, and also to recognize Italians who sought better lives for themselves and their families in the United States. 

     “I am so honored, and humbled to be in the same company as the remarkable people who have received this award in the past. To all members of the CIAO, thank you from the bottom of my heart,” said Senator Boucher, adding that said she is honored to be part of a family that left behind unbearable hardship in Italy to pursue the American dream while still  managing to both celebrate their heritage and embrace the values of their new country.

    “Our story is both amazing and commonplace. During the war years, German soldiers destroyed our family’s farm. My mother and father, like so many others, left with nothing but the clothes on their backs, clutching their children, a 5-year old girl, me, and 7-year old boy, my brother. We felt lost and terrified and, once here, spent years floundering in the back of a public school class, bewildered and not comprehending one word of this new language. There was no ESL in those days, and we felt humiliated when our classmates laughed at our attempts to speak without being understood,” said Senator Boucher.

     Senator Boucher said that her parents worked three jobs each, determined to make a better life for their children. Their efforts paid off for both siblings. Senator Boucher’s brother, now a successful entrepreneur, became a violinist, an artist and was the ninth highest Westinghouse science scholarship winner in the United States when he graduated from high school. He later studied astrophysics.  

     “My parents were like yours: generous and hospitable. They had so little themselves, but would give the shirt off their back for their much better off neighbors. Life was all about family and friends.  My father admired and honored the highly educated people that he would clean up after at work, and who he would lure to our house with the promise of Mom’s cooking. With every meal came Dad’s daily lectures about life, obligations, morals, politics and injustice. Teaching right from wrong was his goal, as was seeing to it that his children would get the most out of every educational opportunity provided.  His daily missive: ‘Education is everything. It is the way out poverty. It is the path to freedom; the freedom that could never truly be found within the chains of illiteracy,’” said Senator Boucher.

     “These early lessons cemented the values of self-reliance, industriousness, responsibility and integrity and would become the guiding principles throughout our lives.  . . . My parents and yours took their pride in the accomplishments of their children and grandchildren, for whom they gave everything they had so that they could attain the American Dream. Through their enormous sacrifice and exhaustive efforts we and our children have been brought to the door of the American Dream and have passed thought it. We now have an obligation to keep that door open so that others may follow,” added Senator Boucher.

     Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) represents the communities of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.  Her election to the State Senate followed a distinguished career in the House of Representatives where she held caucus leadership positions and served on several legislative committees.

     In the State Senate, Senator Boucher serves as an Assistant Minority Leader.  Senator Boucher is the Senate Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee and of its Select Committee on Children. She also serves as a member of the General Assembly’s Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and of its Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee.

    Before her election to the General Assembly, Senator Boucher served as a member of the Connecticut State Board of Education; the Wilton Board of Education, during which time she served as both the board’s chair and secretary; Board of Directors of the Wilton Education Foundation and five school/community based planning teams; the Quality and Integrated Education Local Planning Committee and the Foreign Language Task Force.  Also, she was active in the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education and the National Association of State Boards of Education; Wilton YMCA Expansion Fund; Board of the Wilton Youth Council’s Project;  and the Wilton Parent-Teacher Associations.  Early in her career, Senator Boucher worked as a translator and secondary education language teacher. She is fluent in Spanish and Italian.
Also, Senator Boucher has served as a member of the Wilton Board of Selectmen and as Wilton’s representative to the Council on Public Facilities and Insurance Committee. She was active in the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, and in the past has  served as an advisory board member of the New Canaan Nature Center, as a member of the Our Lady of Fatima Fundraising Steering Committee, Greystone Estates Association Board of Directors, Advisory Board of New Canaan Cares, Wilton League of Women Voters, Wilton Historical Society, Board of Directors of the Wilton Chapter of the AFS, and Friends of the Wilton Library.

Senator Boucher calls on her extensive experience in the business world when working with her legislative colleagues on state government fiscal issues. Senator Boucher, who holds an MBA from UCONN Business School, is the founder and former owner of a small business and a former member of corporate management for two Fortune 50 firms. Senator Boucher also co-founded and served on the Board of Directors of a marketing design agency in San Diego, California which specializes in clients working in biogenetic, aerospace and leading edge computer applications. She is honored to have been a recipient of the Southwest Area (CT) Commerce and Industry Association’s Community Leader Award. Presently, Senator Boucher serves as an advisory board member of UConn’s nonprofit Leadership Institute, state director for the national Women in Government organization, advisory board member of the Alden Weir Farm Art Center, and a board member of the Norwalk Human Services Committee. Previously, she served as a member of board of Elder House and of the Norwalk Youth Symphony.
Currently, Senator Boucher, who holds series 7 and series 63 licenses, is the director of the Commonfund Institute, the educational and research arm of Commonfund, a nonprofit fund manager founded by the Ford Foundation in 1971. In December 2008, she co-authored a publication on Ethics and the Nonprofit.
Over the years, Senator Boucher has received many rewards, including: Connecticut Legal Immigrant and Refugee Coalition’s 1998 Outstanding Legal Immigrant Award; “Legislator of the Year” awards from state and national anti-drug organizations for her leadership role in successful anti-drug legislation; Connecticut League of Conservation Voters “2009 Environmental Champion”; Fairfield County Homebuilders Association – 2009 Woman of the Year; Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance – 2009 Children’s Champion; Art and Music Associations of CT  Advocate of the Year Awards in 2006 and 2008,2009 and 2010 General Assembly Voting & Attendance Record – 100%