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 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.



The Walter & Leah Rand Awards and Scholarship Dinner is scheduled for:

  • Tuesday, May 3, 2022
  • 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
  • The Mansion on Main Street in Voorhees

Proceeds from this event support WRI’s mission and fund student research assistants engaged in projects throughout South Jersey. 


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Latest news

The 19th Annual Walter & Leah Rand Awards and Scholarship Dinner was held virtually on October 1, 2020.

Watch the event.

A virtual celebration of outstanding “South Jerseyans”

On October 1, the Walter & Leah Rand Awards and Scholarship Dinner goes virtual. It is the first time that this annual event will be hosted online, showcasing the extraordinary contributions of three South Jersey citizens named “South Jerseyans of the Year.” Additionally, a special recognition, the Lifetime Achievement Award, will be presented to The … Continue reading A virtual celebration of outstanding “South Jerseyans”

Freeman, Twomey and Collins Named South Jerseyans of the Year

2020 marks 20 years that WRI has been serving the residents and communities in southern New Jersey. Join us and celebrate at the Walter & Leah Rand Awards and Scholarship Dinner on April 30 at The Merion in Cinnaminson.

Celebrating South Jersey’s Leading Citizens

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


Past Events

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