Earlier in the 1980s, Ron joined the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, serving as president of its Youth Division for an unprecedented five terms. He was chairman of the IANU Foundation’s David Awards for more than 20 years, an active member of Amerital UNICO, and founder of Villa Scalabrini’s St. Joseph’s Table.
Ron has been an important liaison to the National Italian American Foundation, a supporter of the Italian American Veteran’s Museum and a big supporter of Casa Italia, recently being named its Man of the Year.
For more than two decades, Ron has been an integral part of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame on Taylor Street. He has produced its Gala for many years and was the lead designer of the museum’s exhibits. He continues to be a supporter of the JCCIA and the Columbus Day Parade as its Queen Pageant Chairman, and he was recently entrusted by the Consul General of Italy with the responsibility of producing the annual Festa della Repubblica in Chicago.
An accomplished writer, he had a column in Fra Noi for more than a decade and served as editor-in-chief of the Sports Hall of Fame’s publication, Red White & Green. His weekly column “Backstage with Ron Onesti” in the Daily Herald is one of the newspaper’s most popular features.
He has produced several projects for television, including a PBS special about kids against drugs and violence that garnered three Emmy Awards. He is currently a regular on-air host on the Chicago PBS station, WTTW Channel 11.
Ron has also appeared on numerous radio shows, including his own entertainment-based talk show co-hosted by his brother on FM radio in Chicago, and an entertainment-based show on Chicago’s WGN radio.
Ron is the president of Onesti Entertainment Corp., which produces concerts, special events and festivals nationwide. A specialty of the company is the production of Italian festivals. In the Chicago area, he is stages Festa Pasta Vino on South Oakley Avenue and the Little Italy Fest-West in Addison and coordinated and/or provided entertainment services for several suburbs.
In 2005, he took over the Arcada Theatre, a 900-seat vaudeville theater in St. Charles that was founded in 1926, restoring it to its original splendor and using it to showcase local and national talent in the far western suburbs. It is now the No. 1 live music venue in the Midwest, with more than 200 shows annually.
Ron was awarded the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor, one of only three medals recognized by Congress, at an all-military event at the Statue of Liberty.