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María DeCastro Blake 
Community Service Award
2008 Honoree

Anna "Cuqui" Rivera
Outreach Manager, Hispanic Directors
Association of NJ

Ms. Anna "Cuqui" Rivera is a nationally recognized community leader and civil rights activist. At present, Ms. Rivera serves as Project Manager for the Hispanic Directors Association of New Jersey (HDANJ). She is also an Associate at GBM & Associates, LLC. In her roles as community activist and leader, Ms. Rivera has been an outstanding role model for her children and young women in her life. From the age of 16, when she became a single mom, Cuqui, as we lovingly call her, has persevered against many odds. She credits her success to the values she taught herself and her children: "to always tell the truth, stay in school, respect the family and never bring cops to her door."

She began her work history in 1988, as a full-time volunteer at the Puerto Rican Action Board (PRAB) of New Brunswick, New Jersey, where she helped to found a Hispanic Youth in Progress program. Two years later PRAB hired her as an HIV Outreach Specialist, for its Project P.O.W., which focused on helping minority women and youth. From 1993 to 2000, she continued to work at PRAB as a job developer. In 2000, she accepted a position as Outreach Administrative Assistant at the Hispanic Directors Association. Her duties there range from training Latino organizations to enhance their outreach programs, to advising several of the institutions that subcontract their services to statewide preschool recruitment programs. In 2003, Ms. Rivera served as coordinator of the 2003 Hispanic Directors Association’s "Toma Control," an HIV Latina (o) prevention campaign strategy.

At present, she serves as the Planning Committee Chair of the N.J. Department of Corrections/HDANJ Initiative and networks with over 1,300 individuals in various groups, on issues related to race relations, the NJ Latino Peace Officers Association, the New Jersey Community Corrections Working Summit, a group that focuses exclusively on minority ‘over-representation’ in the state’s correctional system. She serves also on the Steering Committee of the 2nd Chance Re-Entry Campaign of the Institute for Social Justice. In March of 2006, Ms. Rivera represented the Latino Community of New Jersey in the "Cradle to Prison Pipeline", a national briefing sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund.

For her work, Ms. Rivera has received numerous awards, including two from her employer, PRAB. In addition, she has been given the NAACP’s ‘Ida B. Wells Community Activist Award’; the Rutgers’ Community Leadership Award; a special citation from N.J.’s General Assembly’s 19th Legislative District, for her work at the Human Relations Commission; a U.S. Special Congressional Recognition, for her community service; and the Distinguished Woman of the Year Award from La Tribuna Newspaper.

She currently volunteers her time to various groups, including the Latino Leadership Alliance of NJ, the Latino Peace Officers Association of New Jersey, the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet, the Governor’s Department of Corrections & Parole Transition Team, the New Brunswick Tomorrow Youth Teen Task Force, the Middlesex County Inter-Agency Coordinating Council for Children, among others. She chairs the Middlesex County Human Relations Commission, the N.J. Superior Court Committee on Judiciary Minority Concerns (Middlesex Vicinage), the Middlesex/Somerset/Hunterdon HIV Health Services Planning Council and, the New Jersey HIV Prevention Community Planning Council.

She lists her six children and thirteen grandchildren as her greatest pride and joy.


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