The Consul of Portugal in Providence, RI, Dr. Antonio Botelho de Sousa, presented the Medal of Merit of the Portuguese Communities to Harold Leviton, president and CEO of Leviton Manufacturing in a ceremony that took place at the Rhode Island State House on June 10, 2003. Mr. Leviton was awarded the Medal of Merit in recognition of the generosity and good will he has displayed towards the Portuguese community by providing jobs, education, and opportunities to generations of Portuguese employees.
The Portuguese Government awards the Medal of Merit to individuals of Portuguese descent who support the customs, traditions, and well being of Portuguese individuals outside their native country. The presentation of the award to Leviton was an unprecedented event in that it was the first time the Government of Portugal has chosen to distinguish an individual of non-Portuguese descent with the medal.
Amidst an audience of more than 300 political dignitaries, members of the Portuguese/American community, representatives from local Labor Unions 1203 and 1274 and the International IBEW, and Leviton and American Insulated Wire Corporation employees, Mr. Leviton was heralded as an entrepreneur and champion of the Portuguese community and its culture. Attendees at the ceremony, timed to coordinate with the annual "Day of Portugal" festivities, also included Rhode Island’s Governor Donald Carcieri and other state officials, mayoral officials from the city of Pawtucket, and members of the Portuguese Consulate.
Leviton’s connection with the Portuguese community extends over 40 years. A devoted supporter of immigrants who came to the United States after the devastating volcano in Portugal’s Azores in the 1960s, he provided jobs for 150 workers and their families at his American Insulated Wire and Leviton Hillsgrove facilities. Since then, Mr. Leviton has served as a visible sponsor of the Day of Portugal Parade and other Portuguese community activities.
Over the years, American Insulated Wire has developed such a close relationship with the Portuguese community that it is fondly referred to as "the Portuguese University." Many employees of Portuguese nationality have spent their entire careers at AIW, learned the language and customs of the United States there, and retired as their children and grandchildren followed in their footsteps through the company.