SUNY Chancellor Announces the Appointment of Dina Refki and Guillermo A. Martinez to the Institute on Immigrant Integration Research and Policy

February 28, 2023

Refki and Martinez to Inform Policies to Help Immigrants Transition to Community Life, Education, and the Workforce

Albany, NY – The State University of New York Chancellor John B. King, Jr. today announced the appointment of Dr. Dina Refki and Guillermo A. Martinez to the Institute on Immigrant Integration Research and Policy. Dr. Refki will serve as executive director. Martinez will serve as deputy director and intergovernmental liaison.

The Institute, which received funding in the FY 2023 State Budget, is housed at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, SUNY's public policy think tank. It provides research for policy proposals to help immigrants transition to community life, education, and the workforce. Immigrants often struggle to find safe and affordable housing, secure jobs with a livable wage, and access available services, among other barriers.

"Tens of thousands of people settle in our state each year hoping to achieve more for themselves and their families, and the Institute on Immigrant Integration Research and Policy shows us how to help," said SUNY Chancellor King. "Dr. Dina Refki and Guillermo A. Martinez are two incredibly experienced individuals who have worked closely on immigrant integration policy throughout their careers. Together with the advisory board, they will develop policies that ease the transition for future generations of immigrants. Our thanks to Governor Kathy Hochul, Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, and the legislature for their support."

SUNY Board Trustee Marcos Crespo said, "Throughout my career, I've been privileged to work closely with countless immigrant families. I understand their extraordinary contributions to our communities, as well as the many challenges they face, and I see my own life experience reflected in them. Barriers in work, life, and educational opportunity impede immigrant families, but they also have a severe impact on our cities, state, and nation. We must make it easier for immigrants to assimilate into society by breaking down systemic barriers leaving immigrants behind. I thank Governor Kathy Hochul for forming this Institute with the explicit goal of performing groundbreaking research and informing policy makers on the real, impactful changes that can ease and enrich the immigrant experience in New York State."

Assemblymember Catalina Cruz said, "I am proud to have led the effort to create this Institute, which will focus on helping to shape policies that will improve the social, economic, and civic integration of our state's large and growing immigrant communities. SUNY's vast resources of talent and experts in related fields is a promise of excellent immigrant integration research and subsequent policy recommendations that will positively impact the lives of all New Yorkers. I thank the SUNY Board of Trustees and Chancellor King for their continued support of this Institute. Selecting Dr. Dina Refki to helm this initiative is a clear demonstration that top talent has been recruited to ensure the Institute will be successful in its mission. Dr. Refki is an intellectual powerhouse with vast experience in immigrant integration research and the empowerment of women. It is important to note the strong financial support provided for the Institute by Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie and the Assembly Majority. It is an enormous step in continuing to ensure New York leads the nation in not just welcoming immigrants but working to ensure they fulfill their American Dream."

Dr. Refki said, "The Institute's goal is to advance the inclusion of foreign-born New Yorkers in the social, economic, and civic fabric of their communities by generating knowledge about barriers facing foreign-born integration and by informing evidence-based policies that help remove these barriers. I am honored to lead this research institute as it implements its bold agenda for mobilizing graduate students, researchers, and faculty across the SUNY system to narrow the gap between foreign-born New Yorkers and their native-born counterparts."

Martinez said, "This new Institute represents a crucial opportunity to expand our understanding of the obstacles immigrants face in integrating into their communities, economy, and civic spaces. Its power lies in how the Institute will connect immigrant integration researchers to policymakers to share data driven policy recommendations to deconstruct those obstacles. I am deeply grateful to Assemblymember Cruz, Governor Hochul, and the SUNY Board of Trustees for their leadership in creating this Institute, which will undoubtedly improve the lives of immigrants and our communities all across the state."

The launch of the Institute follows Governor Hochul's focus to protect immigrants, including those who are undocumented and those who were forced to leave their homelands.

About Dr. Dina Refki

Dr. Dina Refki is the Director of the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society (CWGCS) at the University at Albany. Dr. 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.

Dr. Refki serves as the Principal Investigator of the Immigrant Integration Index. Dr. 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. Her work illuminates the barriers in accessing reproductive health services from the perspectives of patients and providers. Her work was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, the United States Department of Health & Human Services, and the New York State Department of Health.

About Guillermo A. Martinez

Guillermo A. Martinez was most recently the Director of Policy Development & Legislative Affairs with the New York State Assembly. Martinez is an accomplished professional with over 20 years of leadership, management, and communications experience in both the non-profit and government sectors. Martinez has been responsible for legislative and legal research for the drafting and introduction of new and revised legislation for elected officials in both the New York State Senate and Assembly that resulted in dozens of new laws ranging from strengthening diversity and inclusion policies in higher education to improving health and mental health services for the elderly, children, and adults, including a wide range of consumer protection measures protecting Internet privacy, workforce diversity, access to financial and insurance services in disadvantaged communities, and disaster preparedness.

Martinez has also been responsible for writing and editing major publications such as the annual legislative agenda of the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force; annual committee and task force reports; and policy briefs on workforce development, health issues, emergency preparedness, and various resource directories for students, women, and disadvantaged communities.

About the Rockefeller Institute of Government 

The Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. The Institute conducts cutting-edge research and analysis to inform lasting solutions to the problems facing New York State and the nation. 

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit suny.edu.


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