Media relations contact:
Joe Ciarallo

The nation’s longest continuously running Italian Heritage Parade takes to the streets of San Francisco on Sunday, October 13, 2019

San Francisco: The San Francisco Italian Heritage Parade is proud to announce that former San Francisco Fire Department Chief Joanne Hayes-White and San Francisco Giants pitcher Dave Dravecky will serve as 2019 parade Grand Marshals. Hayes-White was sworn in as Chief of the San Francisco Fire Department – the largest urban fire Department in the world with a female Chief – by then Mayor Gavin Newsom, now Governor of California. Dravecky, of Italian descent, played for nine seasons in Major League Baseball, and was named an All-Star in 1983. After his career ended early due to cancer, he recovered from arm surgery and went on to begin a new career as a motivational speaker.

The 151st annual San Francisco Italian Heritage Parade will take to the streets of San Francisco on Sunday, October 13, 2019. The parade begins at 12:30 pm at the foot of Jefferson and Stockton Streets in Fisherman’s Wharf and ends in Washington Square in front of Sts. Peter and Paul Church. The parade will feature Italian and Italian-American dignitaries, music, performances, floats and representatives of Italian and Italian-American organizations and businesses. Additional dignitaries will be announced soon.

The San Francisco Italian Heritage Parade is the longest continuously running Italian Heritage Parade in the United States and celebrates the accomplishments and culture of all Italian-Americans. The inaugural parade took place in 1868 in San Francisco’s downtown, featuring the bands and marching units of Italian fraternal organizations, including the Garibaldi Guard, Swiss Guards and Lafayette Guards. Throughout the years, it has remained a sign of the vitality of the Italian communities in the Bay Area.

For additional information, visit:, or follow:

@SFItlHeritage on Twitter

Joanna Hayes-White, Former Chief, San Francisco Fire Department

Joanne Hayes-White, a native San Franciscan, attended Saint Stephen School and Mercy High School. She continued on to the University of Santa Clara where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a Minor in Philosophy.

After graduating from Santa Clara, Joanne worked at Davies Medical Center as a Human Resources Director. She also coached volleyball at Urban High School. She began her career with the SFFD in 1990 and embarked on a journey that would take her up the ranks from Firefighter to Assistant Deputy Chief. In 2004, Joanne was sworn in as Chief of the San Francisco Fire Department – the largest urban fire Department in the world with a female Chief-by then Mayor Gavin Newsom, now our Governor.

As a hands-on, collaborative and team-oriented leader, Chief Hayes-White took pride in knowing most of the Department’s 1,800 members by name. During her tenure as Chief, she instituted many vital changes, both in the Department and externally, including the implementation of a random on-duty alcohol and drug testing policy, the reconfiguration of Emergency Medical Services, and the restoration of promotional examinations—all which increased accountability and led to greater operational efficiency.

Chief Hayes-White worked diligently to improve diversity and inclusion in the Department. Chief Hayes-White also focused on outreach to the community with programs including the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team, San Francisco Firefighters in Safety Education and a partnership with San Francisco Unified School District and the American Heart Association to incorporate CPR training into 9th grade curriculum.

Chief Hayes-White is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and was honored by the organization in August 2018 with the Fire Chief of the Year Award. Joanne currently serves on the Board of Advisors for the Little Sisters of the Poor/St. Anne’s Home and the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good at the University of San Francisco and serves as a member of the Presidential Public Safety Officers’ Medal of Valor Board. She has also served with the Terrorism and Homeland Security Committee, the National Advisory Council to FEMA, and the American Red Cross – Bay Area Chapter. In 2010, Chief Hayes-White was selected to attend and complete the Senior Executives in State and Local Government course at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Chief Hayes-White retired from the San Francisco Fire Department in May 2019.  She was appointed to the State Board of Pilot Commissioners by Governor Gavin Newsom in  June 2019.

As proud as she was to serve as Chief of the San Francisco Fire Department, Joanne  says her proudest accomplishment is being Mom to her three sons, Riley (26), Logan (22) and Sean (20).

Dave Dravecky, former San Francisco Giants pitcher

My story is one of finding hope, courage and perseverance in the midst of dark and overwhelming uncertainty. In 1988, I was at the top of my game and my life. Not only did I have a wonderful family but I was also at the peak of my career, playing the game of my childhood dreams. My opening day victory over the Dodgers was overshadowed later that fall by the discovery of cancer and the removal of half of the deltoid muscle in my pitching arm. After battling cancer in my pitching arm, I came back a year later to defy the odds and pitch once again in the Major Leagues. Despite being told by my doctors, “Short of a miracle, you’ll never pitch again,” I pitched a 4-3 win for the San Francisco Giants that day.

Sadly, my comeback was short-lived. Five days later, I threw “…the pitch that could be heard round the world.” My arm had split in two. As I tumbled to the ground, my mind filled with doubt and fear.

After my comeback and fall from the mound, the cancer returned, yet again. The arm refused to get better so I decided to retire from my dream, the game of baseball, in November of 1989. Finally, the arm along with my shoulder blade and the left side of my collarbone had to be amputated for fear the cancer would spread and take my life. Little did I know that the loss of my childhood dream would become a platform to share hope with the suffering around the world.

The challenges I’ve faced in the years following have taught me volumes and I now travel the country sharing the lessons I’ve learned—lessons on how to navigate loss and suffering, and how to experience encouragement and hope. More recently I’ve been exploring how we define our true worth, learning that it’s not what you do that matters most—it’s who you are. The experiences of my life have drawn me to discover and share about the value and significance of relationships—relationships with co-workers, family members and anyone else on ‘my team.’ My personal experiences have also taught me to evaluate life—challenging myself as well as others to press on towards our future goals.

Currently, my busy schedule takes me all over the country, sharing my story and what I’ve learned to groups of all ages and sizes. My motivational messages are straight from my own experiences with loss and suffering as I seek to powerfully inspire through the encouragement and hope I’ve discovered along the way.