Institute on Immigrant Integration Research and Policy

The Institute on Immigrant Integration Research and Policy seeks to advance the economic, social, and political integration of foreign-born New Yorkers and to promote responsive policies and practices.

With the guidance of the advisory board, the Institute will identify gaps in knowledge and develop a comprehensive applied research agenda, disseminate seed funding for immigrant integration researchers, develop a data portal that informs policy on socio-economic integration of immigrants, and cultivate a training ground for aspiring researchers and practitioners through a fellowship program.

Want to learn more?

Have a question for the Institute? Please contact Guillermo Martinez, deputy director and intergovernmental liaison for the Institute at [email protected].

The Latest

  • The Role of Higher Education Institutions in Immigrant Integration  (webinar)

    This webinar explores promising models within the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY) systems that enable immigrant-origin students to achieve integration at the academic, social, professional, and communal levels. These  high-performing institutions build and maintain coordinated and integrated community-wide support systems that address immigrant-origin students’ needs through services, which include tutoring, academic guidance and support, mentoring, coaching, case management, and proactive advisement. Learn more and Register.

  • Request for Abstracts: Leveraging Opportunities for Immigrant Integration In New York State Conference

    Submission Deadline: Wednesday, January 31, 2024

    The Institute on Immigrant Integration Research & Policy is holding its inaugural conference on immigrant integration on May 22, 2024. The one-day conference titled, “Leveraging Opportunities for Immigrant Integration in New York State,” will be held in person at the University at Albany and will offer a virtual participation option. The conference will bring together practitioners, policymakers, policy implementers, and researchers to discuss the most pressing challenges and examine leveraging opportunities for immigrant economic, social, and political integration.

    Addressing cultural and linguistic isolation is an overarching lens through which topics will be examined.

    Learn more.

  • Between Stewardship and Laissez Faire: The Future of Immigrant Entrepreneurship (webinar)

    This webinar, hosted on Thursday November 16th 2023, by IRRP focused its discussion around immigrant entrepreneurs, their impact on the New York economy, and their ability to access banking systems, loans, and capital to start and maintain their businesses. The panelists touched on opportunities and obstacles facing immigrant entrepreneurs and shared their insights into how the local, state, and national economies impact entrepreneurship. Panelists also suggested how to improve policies and programs aimed at immigrant entrepreneurship.Watch the webinar.

  • New York State Mobilization Strategy Convening for Welcome Corps on Campus (webinar)

    On Thursday, September 28, 2023, IIIRP cohosted an information event for colleges and universities in New York on Welcome Corps on Campus. This is a first-of-its-kind program for refugee students that links higher education access to resettlement through the US Refugee Admissions Program. Participating US higher education institutions enroll refugee students in degree programs, and campus private sponsor groups commit to supporting their resettlement through private sponsorship. Together, they play an instrumental role in refugee students’ journey toward long-term integration in the United States.

  • Harnessing the Power of Foreign-Born Residents’ Economic Contributions (webinar)

    As part of their fellowship, the 2023 Fellows on Immigrant Integration at the Institute on Immigrant Integration Research and Policy examined model programs that address challenges facing foreign-born Americans and that provide credential recognition, retraining, education, and access to capital to build thriving immigrant-owned businesses. They also examined the role of government, higher education institutions, and the nonprofit sector, as well as the role of cross-sector partnerships, in deepening and broadening the reach of these programs.For this webinar, fellows shared their findings and discussed the characteristics, structure, and gaps in the service system that exists to advance the economic integration of foreign-born Americans in the New York State labor market.

    Watch the webinar.

    View the Times Union coverage of this webinar.

  • Immigrant Integration Fact Sheet Series

    The Immigrant Integration Fact Sheet Series uses data from the US Census American Community Survey to show dimensions of immigrant integration for target populations.

    View the Fact Sheets.

  • Fellowship on Immigrant Integration

    The Fellowship on Immigrant Integration was an intensive three-month program during the summer of 2023. The 2023 fellows researched the contextual factors that influence integration outcomes. As part of their fellowship, they examined successful policies and practices for advancing immigrant integration, compiled and analyzed data using a range of research tools to fill the knowledge gap on immigrant integration, assessed policy implications of indicators of economic, social, and civic integration, and produced policy briefs that analyze determinants of immigrant integration.

    Meet the Fellows.

  • Call for Research Syntheses: Immigrant Integration

    ~ Deadline passed ~

    The Institute on Immigrant Integration Research and Policy requested applications from researchers to conduct syntheses of research into practices and programs for English language learning and addressing social determinants of health and healthcare access.

    Learn more.

  • Call for Research Needs

    ~ Deadline passed ~

    The Institute invited participants to join in the co-creation of a research agenda to inform the next generation of knowledge and policy recommendations on foreign-born/immigrant integration. Input was sought to assemble a collaboratively developed, bottom-up research agenda informed by the many communities concerned with immigrant integration.

    Learn more.

Leadership

Dina Refki

Dina Refki

Executive Director, Institute on Immigrant Integration Research and Policy

Dina Refki is the director of the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society (CWGCS) at the University at Albany. Refki studies and researches the interplay of gender with institutional structures in the US and international context. She applies gender mainstreaming and budgeting analysis from transnational perspectives. Prior to assuming leadership at CWGCS in 2009, she held different positions at the Center, including as director of the Immigrant Women & State Policy Program, which facilitated interagency collaboration, promoted dialogues with civil society and immigrant women at the state level, and worked to identify and address barriers to the integration of immigrant women in the social, economic, and political fabric of local communities. Refki studies the challenges of migration, the barriers facing immigrant women and their families, and the structural changes needed to better respond to the needs of immigrant women.

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Guillermo Martinez

Guillermo Martinez

Deputy Director & Intergovernmental Liaison, Institute on Immigrant Integration Research and Policy

Guillermo Martinez is the deputy director and intergovernmental liaison for the Institute on Immigrant Integration Research and Policy. He brings over 20 years of significant leadership, management, and communications experience in both the nonprofit and government sectors. During his time in the New York State Legislature, he served as the director of policy development for the New York State Assembly Task Force on New Americans and legislative and communications director for the New York State Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, having served in that role as the longest tenured staffer in the organizations 35-year history. In those capacities, he helped research, draft, and negotiate over 200 pieces of legislation that are now state law, including programs such as the SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute, the SUNY Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion, the codifying of the Office of New Americans, the Immigration Services Fraud Prevention Act, the Idle-Free School Zone Act, Geriatric Mental Health Act, the Undocumented Immigrant In-State-Tuition Act, the School Energy Efficiency Collaborative Act, the establishing of the New York Latino Research and Resources Network (NYLARNet), and dozens of other laws, including consumer protection measures addressing online privacy, disaster preparedness, protecting children with disabilities, and the elderly. Prior to his time in the legislature, Martinez served as director of communications and legislative affairs for the Council of Community Services of New York State and worked at SUNY Oneonta’s migrant education program (ESCORT) assisting migrant farmworkers with the educational needs of their children in a region covering 23 states.

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Advisory Board

Wilma Alvarado-Little

Wilma Alvarado-Little

Director of Minority Health and Health Disparities Prevention, New York State Department of Health

Wilma Alvarado-Little is the director of minority health and health disparities prevention at the New York State Department of Health. Alvardo-Little has focused on racial and health equity issues from a linguistic and cultural perspective in addition to her interests in public policy, research, health literacy, and health disparities prevention. She has been instrumental in the development and implementation of hospital and clinic-based programs and policy. She is the former co-chair of the Board of the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC), serves as a member of the National Project Advisory Committee for the Review of the CLAS Standards, HHS Office of Minority Health, and has served as a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Roundtable on Health Literacy initiative and as chair of the New York State Office of Mental Health Multicultural Advisory Committee.

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Owusu Anane

Owusu Anane

Councilman, Albany Common Council, Ward 10

Owusu Anane is the son of immigrants from Ghana. Anane has substantially impacted the everyday lives of the people in his neighborhood in the city of Albany. He passed legislation that waived civil service exam application fees for military service veterans and recent high school graduates, co-sponsored legislation that allows residents to have backyard chickens to support sustainable urban farming, and championed the financing and installation of new energy-efficient lighting owned and operated by the city. Anane encourages and assists entrepreneurs in setting up local businesses, facilitates the rehabilitation and sale of properties that have been vacant for over ten years, and secured a dozen bicycle racks for his district.

In addition to these accomplishments, Anane has spearheaded conversations about developing a citywide municipal internet service to address Albany’s digital divide, successfully led a campaign to pressure SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Fuller Road Management Corporation, a sizeable tax-exempt entity, to fulfill their promise to provide $1 million in voluntary contributions to the city after years of neglecting this, and helped defeat a proposed ordinance that would have unnecessarily doubled towing fees. Councilman Anane has also helped lead efforts for police reform in the city of Albany.

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Laura Anker

Laura Anker

Professor, American Studies, SUNY Old Westbury

Laura Anker is a distinguished service professor of American studies and director of the First-Year Experience (FYE) and Community Action, Learning, and Leadership (CALL) Programs at SUNY Old Westbury. The CALL program partners with more than 75 organizations on Long Island and in the greater New York metropolitan area, including schools, afterschool programs, hospitals, non-profits, and immigrant rights groups. Anker was selected for the National Society for Experiential Education’s 2019 Outstanding Leader in Higher Education award. She received her PhD with Distinction in History from Stony Brook University, her MA in history from Brown University, and her BA from Brandeis University.

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Murad Awawdeh

Murad Awawdeh

Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC)

Murad Awawdeh is a strategist, organizer, and advocacy expert currently serving as the executive director at the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). The son of Palestinian immigrants, he has dedicated over two decades of his life fighting for low-income communities of color across the state of New York. He grew up organizing to stop dangerous and hazardous developments in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and engaging community residents to build power and bring transformational change to their neighborhoods. As NYIC’s Executive Vice President of Advocacy & Strategy, he successfully led electoral, legislative, and policy campaigns at the federal, state, and local levels and mobilized hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers at demonstrations against anti-immigrant policies. As the executive vice president of NYIC Action, NYIC’s sister 501(c)4 political advocacy and action organization, he has successfully led multiple grassroots electoral campaigns to elect progressive candidates.

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Marcos Crespo

Marcos Crespo

Trustee, State University of New York (SUNY)

Marcos Crespo is a member of the State University of New York (SUNY) Board of Trustees. He was a member of the New York State Assembly, representing District 85 in Bronx County, from 2009 through 2020. He served as chair of the Assembly Labor Committee for the 2019-2020 legislative session. He also served on the committees on Transportation, Cities, Energy, and Environmental Conservation. Crespo was an executive member of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Taskforce and served as its chair from 2015 to 2018, and was also a member of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus. He also served as co-chairman of the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment and was chair of the Bronx County Democratic Committee from 2015 to 2020. Crespo earned his BA in governmental studies from John Jay College. He left the Assembly in June 2020 to take a position with Montefiore Medical Center.

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Beroro T. Efekoro

Beroro T. Efekoro

Albany County Legislator, District 7

Beroro T. Efekoro is the first African-born immigrant elected to the Albany County Legislature and the first Nigerian-born immigrant elected to public office in the State of New York. He is the founder and executive director of the International Organization for Education Inc., an organization in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Through this organization, Efekoro organizes ESL classes for New York Capital Region immigrants and educational programs for high school students in the United States and abroad. In the Albany County Legislature, Efekoro introduced the idea to provide grants to small businesses in Albany County during the pandemic. He has introduced and passed several pieces of legislation aimed at improving quality of life for the residents of Albany, including legislation to ban smoking in common areas of multi-dwelling units, a proclamation calling on President Biden to forgive student loans for millions of borrowers, and teleworking legislation for Albany County.

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Isaac Ehrlich

Isaac Ehrlich

Professor, Economics, University at Buffalo

Isaac Ehrlich’s is a professor of economics at the University at Buffalo. Ehrlich’s research focuses on the role of human capital and social institutions in the economy. It includes a wide range of applications of economic theory to the economics of crime and justice, uncertainty and insurance, health and longevity, law and economics, advertising and information, social security, asset management and financial markets, and economic growth and development. He is the author of 80 original and reprinted articles in major refereed journals and collections, including two books and a special journal issue, and his widely cited work—he is listed among the 100 most cited economists on several published surveys—has been supported by numerous grants from the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies, including a major USAID grant to study economics.

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Lucia Gómez

Lucia Gómez

Political Director, New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Lucia Gómez is the political director of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO. In different government, nonprofit, and labor union capacities, her life’s work has been focused on empowering workers and their communities to take action through grassroots organizing, leadership development, and civic engagement. She has extensive knowledge of voting and enfranchisement laws, as well as extensive experience in election administration, electoral campaigns, geographic information systems, decennial census, redistricting, and community organizing. Outside of her role in empowering the labor movement to take political action, she serves on the boards of the New York State Immigrant Action Fund, Make the Road Action, Align NY, Latina Civic Action, and Latina Civic PAC.

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Laura Gonzalez-Murphy

Laura Gonzalez-Murphy

Executive Director, New York State Office for New Americans

Laura Gonzalez-Murphy is executive director of the New York State Office for New Americans. Previously, as the director of immigration policy and research at the New York State Department of State, she led the design and implementation of unique initiatives to ameliorate the human impact of the latest federal immigration policies and demographic flows, such as Governor Cuomo’s Golden Door program, which provides mental health assistance to immigrant families across New York, and the Ramirez June Navigator, which focuses on empowering immigrant families with developmental disabilities support as they seek to access services to which they are entitled. Prior to this position, Gonzalez-Murphy served as director of the agency’s State Office for New Americans (ONA), overseeing the operation of the Office’s network of service providers across the state, a model of immigrant integration in the country, and the implementation of NaturalizeNY, the first public-private partnership of its kind, aimed at lifting the financial barrier to citizenship faced by New Yorkers.

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Ramona Hernandez

Ramona Hernandez

Director of the City University of New York Dominican Studies Institute (CUNY DSI), City College of New York

Dr. Ramona Hernandez is the director of the City University of New York Dominican Studies Institute (CUNY DSI) and a professor of sociology, both at the City College of New York. She is also on the faculty at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her research interests include the mobility of workers from Latin America and the Caribbean, the socioeconomic conditions of Dominicans in the US, and the restructuring of the world economy and its effects on working-class people. Under her leadership, CUNY DSI—home to a research unit, Dominican Library, and Dominican Archives—has distinguished itself as a world-class institute of research known for its groundbreaking scholarship on the history of the Dominican people in the United States and elsewhere. Among CUNY DSI’s most recent contributions are the discovery of the Dominican Juan Rodriguez, the first immigrant to have settled in New York City in 1613, and Esteban Hotesse, the only Dominican-born member of the Tuskegee Airmen.

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Anton A. Konev

Anton A. Konev

Confidential Assistant, Legislative Affairs, Albany County Comptroller

Anton A. Konev was the first Russian American City of Albany Councilman from 2010-2014. Konev continues to serve as a member of the Albany County Democratic Committee and a political advisor to several local political campaigns and the Albany County Comptroller. A regular translator for Russian and Ukrainian Americans, Konev ensures access to services for immigrant seniors and the participation of other immigrants in our political system.

Currently serving as a confidential assistant for legislative affairs to the Albany County Comptroller, Anton is a former legislative director for Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Peter M. Rivera and Senator Luis Sepulveda. Konev worked on many issues of importance for the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force and Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus. Konev is the recipient of The Capitol’s 2010 40 Under 40 Rising Star, Silver Archer Award for Communications, and Honorable Mention for People Diplomacy Award by the Council of Russian Americans. Konev’s other affiliations have included serving as a member of the Council of Russian Americans, as president of Young Russian American Democrats, as a board member of the Albany Tula Alliance, and volunteering with the International Center of the Capital Region.

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Paola Martinez

Paola Martinez

Director of Strategic Program Development and Special Initiatives, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York

Paola Martinez is director of strategic program development and special initiatives for the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. Previously, she served as director of local government and legislative affairs for the State University of New York (SUNY). Prior to working at SUNY, she was director of social services and community engagement for Catholic Charities at the Betances Houses in the South Bronx. She oversaw a portfolio of 41 buildings and approximately 3,000 residents, making it the largest New York City Housing Authority development and only the second in New York City to participate in the Rental Assistance Demonstration program. Prior to this role, Martinez served as program manager and policy analyst for the New York City Department of Small Business Services, the NYC Commission on Human Rights, and the New York City Council. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the City College of New York and a Master of Science in urban policy and leadership from the Hunter College Graduate School of Planning and Policy.

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Cesar Perales

Cesar Perales

Trustee, State University of New York

Cesar Perales was appointed a member of the SUNY Board of Trustees on June 21, 2019, and reappointed in June 2021. His term expires on June 30, 2028. On September 25, 2019, Perales was designated vice chairman of the Board. Perales grew up in New York City and earned a bachelor’s degree from City College of New York and a law degree from Fordham Law School. Most recently, he served as New York State’s secretary of state, where he was a leader in the state’s economic development, community revitalization, and anti-poverty efforts. He also established the New York State Office for New Americans and the Empire State Fellows Program.

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Jennifer Rizzo-Choi

Jennifer Rizzo-Choi

Executive Director, International Institute of Buffalo

A recent board member of the International Institute of Buffalo and experienced nonprofit leader, Jennifer Rizzo-Choi currently serves as the International Institute of Buffalo’s executive director. She has more than a decade in law, public policy, media, refugee resettlement and immigration services, and nonprofit management. She previously served as legal director for Journey’s End in Buffalo. Drawing on her legal education and a decade of experience in journalism and media on assignments across the US and Europe, she launched the organization’s legal aid program, raising over $1 million from new grant lines, establishing a walk-in clinic, and hiring and leading a team that handled over 500 immigration legal cases each year. She then left Western New York to join Human Rights First in Washington, DC, where she developed and led a national pro-bono program to expand legal representation for immigrants around the country, working closely with the Obama White House and establishing field offices and coalitions in Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia. She then served as executive director of The Pro Bono Project in New Orleans, the state’s largest pro-bono legal services organization, where she successfully rehabilitated the organization’s brand and finances and leveraged relationships with area law firms. She left to pursue her passion for nonprofit leadership, earning an MBA at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and ultimately returning to Western New York, where she became a member of the Board of Directors of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western New York and joined the board at the International Institute, recently completing a five-year term.

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Jo-Ann Yoo

Jo-Ann Yoo

Executive Director, Asian American Federation

Jo-Ann Yoo is the executive director of the Asian American Federation, a membership organization that works with the over sixty nonprofits that represent and support the pan-Asian community. Her professional experiences include program management and operations, fundraising, and advocacy in the fields of community development and immigrant rights. Previous employers include the New York Immigration Coalition and Asian Americans for Equality. Currently, she is a member of the board of directors of the Nonprofit New York, an umbrella organization representing and serving some 1,500-member nonprofit organizations throughout New York City, Long Island, and Westchester. Additionally, she serves on the New York State AARP’s Diversity Council. For ten years, she served on the board of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, the first national advocacy organization dedicated to addressing the community development needs of the AAPI communities. She was also a member of the first cohort of New York City Coro’s New American Leaders Program and served on the Alumni Advisory Board of Coro New York.

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