Founded in 2000 under the leadership of Dr. Richard Harris, Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs (WRI) was organized to honor
Senator Rand’s legacy of public service to southern New Jersey and his hometown of Camden. Senator Rand and his wife Leah shared a passion for public service and supporting programs for youth. Together, they dedicated their time, talents and treasure toward helping South Jersey’s children and communities thrive. Each year, their work is lives on through the Walter & Leah Rand Awards and Scholarship Dinner, which provides support for the mission of WRI and gives students opportunities to engage in real-world public affairs while serving the region’s residents.

During the event, three extraordinary “South Jerseyans” are recognized. The “South Jerseyan” of the Year awards are given annually to recognize the contributions of outstanding individuals in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors working to improve lives and strengthen local communities. The full listing of past recipients can be found here.

Celebrating South Jersey’s Leading Citizens

Two longtime South Jersey families and a New Jersey Senator were among those honored May 2 in Cinnaminson.

Honoring the Ravitz Family

For four generations, the Ravitz family has served local communities with outstanding service and products, and an unwavering commitment to local communities and families. On May 2, they will be recognized as 2019 “South Jerseyans of the Year” in the private sector.

Honoring the DiNatale Family

Mario & Gisele DiNatale co-founded the Alicia Rose Victorious Foundation (ARVF), a nonprofit serving children and youth battling life-threatening illnesses. We are proud to recognize their service and leadership as the 2019 “South Jerseyans” in the nonprofit sector.

Honoring Senator Nilsa Cruz-Pérez

On December 15, 2014, Ms. Cruz Pérez was sworn in as State Senator for New Jersey’s Fifth Legislative District. Since then, she has demonstrated a relentless commitment to public service and we are proud to recognize the Senator as the public sector 2019 South Jerseyan of the Year.


Past Events

Interested in sponsorship? Contact Mary Godleski at 856-225-2195 or