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Iona College To Honor Westport Businessman, Yankees Mariano Rivera

Former Yankee star Mariano Rivera will receive an award from Iona College in April.
Former Yankee star Mariano Rivera will receive an award from Iona College in April. Photo Credit: Courtesy Flickr User Keith Allison

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Yankees legend and future Hall-of-Famer Mariano Rivera, a Purchase resident, and Robert LaPenta of Westport, a successful business executive whose contributions have helped transform Iona College, will headline the college’s annual awards dinner.

Rivera and his wife, Clara, and LaPenta will each be honored at the 52nd Annual Scholarship Awards Gala on Friday, April 11, at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan.

The Riveras, whose son Mariano Rivera Jr. is a pitcher for the Iona College baseball team, will receive the Blessed Edmund Rice Humanitarian Award for their commitment to community service. LaPenta will be presented with Iona’s Legacy Award, which recognizes an individual’s lifetime accomplishments.

“We are proud to celebrate the accomplishments of these outstanding individuals each of whom embodies Iona College’s mission of community service, scholarship and life-long learning,” said Iona President Joseph E. Nyre. “They are living proof that the mission of Iona’s founders remains a core value of our College and its community.”

Rivera, a 13-time All Star and five-time World Series champion with the New York Yankees, and his wife started Refuge of Hope in their home in 2009. The organization grew and the Riveras determined that they would organize a local church to provide programs to meet the needs of the less fortunate in the community.

Currently, they are expanding the church, where Clara is pastor, in the former North Avenue Presbyterian Church near the Iona campus in New Rochelle. The Riveras are creating a learning center for area children as well as facilities for academic assistance, sports programs and other after-school activities for children and teenagers. The Riveras are residents of Rye, N.Y.

LaPenta, a 1967 graduate of Iona who received an honorary doctorate in 2000, will receive the Iona College Legacy Award for his lifetime achievements. He has held a variety of executive and senior level positions in private equity, technology and military communications companies.

Until 2011, LaPenta was chairman, CEO and president of L-1 Identity Solutions, which he co-founded in June 2005. During his tenure, he built the firm into the largest biometric identity solution company in the world; Safran Morpho acquired the company for $1.6 billion.

In addition to his business career, LaPenta owns and breeds thoroughbred horses at Whitehorse Stables, which he founded in 2001. His horses have won the Belmont Stakes, the Florida Derby twice and several other major graded stakes races.

In addition to graduating from Iona, LaPenta is a member of the college’s Board of Trustees and has made significant contributions toward the construction of the LaPenta Student Union, the Ryan library, and the LaPenta-Lynch trading room floor in the School of Business. He and his wife, Laurie, live in Westport.

Proceeds from the Scholarship Gala will support student scholarships. For more information, visit the dinner website online at

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