Born in Pennsylvania to Italian immigrants, he graduated from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary and was ordained in 1956. In 1960, he was assigned to Washington, D.C., where he worked with the urban poor. In 1963, he was the Catholic Coordinator for the March on Washington. In 1965, he was named director of urban affairs for the Washington Archdiocese and later directed the Urban Taskforce for the U.S. Catholic Conference. Baroni was active in the creation of the Campaign for Human Development. In 1970 he convoked the first national conference of urban ethnic neighborhoods and inaugurated the National Neighborhood Coalition. In 1971, Baroni founded the National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs. “Geno was not a leader but an organizer,” said Dr. John A Kromkowski, the center’s current president. “His real arena was to bring different ethnic and racial voices to Washington to give testimony and challenge federal programs.” Baroni was instrumental in founding the National Italian American Foundation in 1975 and served as its first president. In 1977, he became Assistant Secretary for Housing and Urban Development in the Cater administration. He helped push through the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. He died at age 54 on August 26, 1984 after a long struggle with cancer.
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