News of the passing of Ronald Blackburn-Moreno prompted a wave of mourning from Hispanic leaders and other advocates of Diversity and Inclusion across the nation — many became friends as fellow pioneers in an era championed by Blackburn-Moreno’s Board leadership, passion, devotion, and love for the Hispanic community. Leading Hispanic NGOs and Latino corporate leaders echoed the sadness of his passing, remembering in admiration his elegant diplomacy and proud advocacy for Puerto Ricans and Hispanic youth.
Ron was a colleague and friend for more than 27 years. What I remember most was his integrity and discipline to turn strategy into action. In the 90s when the digital divide and lack of access to technology was holding back Hispanic youth, we worked together on ASPIRA’s first Technology Center. Ron’s unwavering passion helped us develop the commitment from the corporate side to invest in the computer hardware and training needed to prepare our youth for the future. Ron was a visionary man, passionate in his commitment to empower others and whose leadership style guided many Boards in the National Hispanic NGO sectors that today continue to impact change in Hispanic communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.
An educator at heart, Blackburn-Moreno left his mark in the 1990s as Director of Development at various institutions of higher learning in Puerto Rico, including Ana G Mendez University’s 11-campus University of Puerto Rico System, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Inter American University and taught Political Science at Catholic University of P.R. He also spearheaded Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the College Board and the Quality Education for the Minorities Network in Washington, DC.
The Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), marked his passing, calling Blackburn-Moreno a “National Champion for Youth Development” and shared their gratitude for his dedicated contributions to the HACR board for over 27 years in various executive board roles, including chair, treasurer, and secretary.
His labor of love since 1994 and his greatest legacy was as President and CEO of ASPIRA, where he changed the lives of thousands of participants of ASPIRA Association programs around the country. Blackburn-Moreno embodied the spirit of ASPIRA, which in Spanish means to aspire. As documented in the Philanthropy News Digest, ASPIRA was founded by Dr. Antonia Pantoja and a group of Puerto Rican educators. In 2002, Blackburn-Moreno honored the Pantoja vision by affirming in the ASPIRA organizational narrative that, “They were convinced that the only way to help the Puerto Rican community rise above poverty and reach its full potential was to focus on the education of young people and foster their leadership potential, self-esteem, and pride in their cultural heritage”
The programs he envisioned followed in the Pantoja tradition reflecting his passion for empowering Puerto Ricans and other Latinos through advocacy, education, and leadership development.
Blackburn-Moreno inspired youth and peers alike focusing strategies on the power of education as the motor to revitalize communities and improving the quality of life of underserved neighborhoods. As an influential role model, he mentored upcoming leaders and prepared past and current generations to be stewards of the Hispanic community. He believed that in uniting efforts and fostering partnerships between business, government, and NGOs efforts could be strengthened and result in a more impactful benefit to Latinos.
Ron Blackburn-Moreno was born in Jersey City, NJ, and was very proud of being raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In addition to being a key leader at ASPIRA and HACR, he was former board chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) and served on the boards of the National Puerto Rican Coalition (NPRC), Hispanic Technology & Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP), and in multiple corporate advisory boards.
At Comunicad, we will miss his leadership and friendship and pledge to build on his important legacy by emulating his extraordinary life. I will miss his warm caring for all we do and his elevated discussions on the future of our youth. I will miss his voice “Hola, Nena, ¿cómo estás? …do you have a minute to help me strategize for our community…” Ron, I will always feel your presence at my Christmas dinner, which you never missed. I always enjoyed toasting the New Year with you hoping that it would come with greater accomplishments. I will keep doing so. You have not left us…you will live on always in our youth, and in our hearts forever.
Our deepest sympathies go to his family who has requested that donations be made to the Ronald Blackburn-Moreno Youth Fund at the ASPIRA Association, 1220 L Street, NW, Suite 701, Washington, DC 20005. Donations can also be sent online through GoFundMe.
Gloria Rodriguez, Comunicad, CEO & President