Unico National, America’s largest Italian-American Service Organization, is awarding its 2023 Philip Mazzei Americanism Award to MMI Preparatory School Board Chairman Richard A. DiLiberto, Jr., at its annual convention in Sanibel Harbour, Florida, in July. The award is named for Philip Mazzei, an Italian patriot, physician and vintner, who became a close friend and neighbor to Thomas Jefferson, in colonial Virginia in 1774. Mazzei is credited with first proposing the great phrase “All men are created equal” anchored in the Declaration of Independence in 1776, by Jefferson.
Dr. Ann M. Walko, Unico Past National President, and Chairperson of the Americanism Award Committee, said, “Mr. DiLiberto has spent his career protecting the great American treasures of education, justice and fairness for all, particularly children who are victims. The Mazzei Award honors a person who has preserved and protected historical facts and contributions made by our founding fathers and the many unsung heroes who have given their lives for our country, and whose sacrifices have helped to shape the destiny of the United States of America; facilitated acquiring more knowledge and a better understanding of the American Constitution, its designers, and those people who have upheld it; and for professional achievement to benefit humanity.”
A 1979 graduate of MMI Preparatory School, Freeland, PA, he delivered the Founder’s Day address to MMI’s 2004 graduating class, was inducted into the school’s Wall of Fame in 2006, has served on the board of directors since 2013, and is currently Chairman of MMI’s board of directors.
Rick DiLiberto is a litigation partner in the Wilmington, Delaware law firm of Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP where he has been co-chairman of the government relations committee, chairman of the paralegal committee, the personal injury litigation section, and the continuing legal education committee. Before joining the law firm in 1987, he was law clerk to Judge Vincent Bifferato of the Del. Superior Court. He regularly represents families whose loved ones have been injured or killed by another’s negligence. In 2012, he was one of the Young, Conaway lawyers who represented hundreds of Sussex County, Del. children sexually abused by their pediatrician. He helped achieve a historic class action resolution for the victims. He recently represented three infants abused by their day care provider, one of whom was killed. He is a past-President of the Del. Trial Lawyers Association (DTLA) whose mission is to preserve the constitutional right to trial by jury; and is one of two Del. state delegates to the Amer. Assoc. for Justice.
DiLiberto served in the Del. State House of Representatives from 1992-2002, where he was a member of the Joint Finance, Judiciary, Public Safety, Corrections, Education, Health & Human Development, Substance Abuse and House Rules Committees. In the legislature, he wrote Delaware’s Freedom of Speech Constitutional Amendment; False Claims Prevention (Qui Tam) Law; “Anne Marie’s Law,” which revised the Wrongful Death Act; The Slayer’s Act, which prevents murderers from inheriting their victim’s estates; The One Day/One Trial Jury Service System; The “Senior Judge” Constitutional Amendment; The September 11 Victim’s Compensation Amendment; The Infant Nutrition Act; and The Diabetes Education Fund Tax Check-Off.
More recently, Del. Governors Ruth Ann Minner, Jack A. Markell and John C. Carney appointed him chairman of the Del. Commission on Italian Heritage and Culture. He is a member of Governor’s Magistrate Screening Committee, and for many years, was treasurer and board member of the Del. Law-Related Education Center, which conducts the Delaware high school mock trial competition, and “We the People” competition.
He was appointed to the Commission on Del. Courts 2000, the Del. Courts Planning Committee, the Supreme Court Task Force on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts, and the Del. Healthcare Commission’s Diabetes Task Force. He received the Del. State Bar Association’s Daniel L. Herrmann Professional Conduct Award in 2015, Christopher Columbus Monument Committee’s “Man of the Year” Award in 2017; DSBA’s Distinguished Legislative Service Award, and Widener Univ. School of Law’s Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 1999, the Bloomsburg Univ. Young Alumnus of the Year Award in 2002, and the H. James Conaway, Jr. Pro Bono Award in 2010. Since 2015 he was selected by his peers several times as a “top lawyer” in torts and insurance in Delaware Today magazine. He is a member of Rehoboth Beach Unico, and a trustee of Unico Foundation, the organization’s charitable arm.
He earned his J.D. (cum laude) from Delaware Law School, Widener University, where he served on the law review and was editor-in-chief of the Del. Law Forum; and his B.S. in Education (cum laude) from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.
A 20-year member of DTLA’ Board of Governors, he is active in the Amer. and Del. State Bar Assn., the Amer. Assn. for Justice, and the St. Thomas More Society. He has written and lectured extensively on Del. law, including in Switzerland, Taiwan, Italy, and the tri-state area. He is an adjunct faculty member for Delaware Law School’s Intensive Trial Advocacy Program. Rick, and his wife, Faith, reside in Newark, Del. They have three daughters, lawyers Amanda J. Buckworth, Esq., and Ashley B. DiLiberto, Esq.; and Aria M. DiLiberto, a teacher; and a granddaughter, Charlotte Jane. He enjoys singing, fiction writing, fishing and sports.
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