TRENTON , N.J. - Department of Community Affairs’ Commissioner Susan Bass Levin today bestowed the 2006 Excellence in Hispanic Leadership Award, posthumously, on Ray Blanco of Plainfield. Mr. Blanco died in July at age 50.

“Ray Blanco was the personification of the American Dream,” said Commissioner Levin. “His hard work and efforts to improve the lives of those in the Hispanic community were greatly respected and will long be remembered.”

Ray Blanco came to America at the age of 6 after fleeing Cuba with his mother. He went into television and founded Cutting Edge Entertainment to create and produce programming that was both entertaining and socially enriching. In 1999, he won an Emmy Award for Viva!, a series about successful Hispanics. He was elected to the Plainfield City Council in 2004.

The Excellence in Hispanic Leadership Award is given through the Department of Community Affairs Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development. The award is presented each year to an individual or organization that has demonstrated commitment, dedication and leadership to the Hispanic community in the state of New Jersey. Previous winners have promoted the Hispanic community in the areas of community service, arts, government, education, television and housing. "

Ray Blanco exemplified what a leader is,” said Angie Armand, Director of the Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development.   “The Center is honored to recognize his long-standing contributions in empowering the Hispanic community."

The Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development works to empower the Hispanic community in New Jersey by ensuring access to services and programs. The Center facilitates the professional and leadership development of Latinos, emphasizes the richness of diversity of Latino culture, and supports programs through funding collaborations with private and public entities.

For more information on the Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development, call 609-984-3223, or log on to