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The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government

Friday, May 27, 2016
Forums and Events

Recent Forums and Events

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Practical Experience with Election Modernization: A Discussion with Colorado Election Administrators Donetta Davidson and Matt Crane

Co-Sponsored by the Rockefeller Institute of Government and the New York Voters Coalition
Wednesday, May 4, 2016, 4:00-6:00 p.m.

New York State county and state election officials recently had the opportunity to hear from Colorado State election officials on policy changes they have implemented that have resulted in a dramatic increase in electoral participation.

Panelists included:

  • Donetta Davidson, former Colorado secretary of state and former chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission
  • Matt Crane, clerk and recorder of Arapahoe County, Colorado
  • Dustin Czarny, Onondaga County Democratic County Elections commissioner
  • Peter Kosinski, Esq., commissioner, New York State Board of Elections
  • Todd Valentine, co-executive director, New York State Board of Elections and president, National Association of State Election Directors
Moderated by John R. Dunne, Esq., former New York State senator and co-chair of the New York State Bar Association Special Committee on Voter Participation

Matt Crane’s PowerPoint Presentation

Video and Audio

Panel 1

The Impact of Blight on Communities: Definitions, Effects, and Programs

Co-Sponsored by TW&A Construction Management, the University at Albany's Division of Research, and Cisco
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
10:00 a.m. – Noon

Cities throughout the United States are facing the increasingly persistent and costly problem of blighted and vacant properties. These properties consume seemingly endless resources, depress market values, and directly affect public safety and economic development. To combat the cycle from distressed to blighted or vacant, urban leaders across the nation are working in new ways to create 21st century remedies.

To promote understanding of the problem of urban blight and increase awareness of some remedies that are already working, and some that are emerging, the Center for Technology in Government at the University at Albany, the Center for Urban Studies at the University at Buffalo, and the Rockefeller Institute of Government, all part of the State University of New York, co-hosted this forum. The issue of urban blight was discussed and defined within the context of New York State and the issues of economic and social impact on cities and municipalities were considered. The keynote speaker and expert panelists discussed the financial cost to cities and municipalities, as well as deterioration, decay, and neglect of the physical environment, with a particular focus on exploring the challenges involved in solving these problems. This program was part one of a two-program series designed to consider the issue of urban blight and property abandonment. The second program will be scheduled at the University at Buffalo at a date to be determined.

Keynoting the program was Alan Mallach, a senior fellow at the Center for Community Progress, a national center that exists to help meet the growing need in America's cities and towns for effective, sustainable solutions to turn vacant, abandoned, and problem properties into vibrant places. Mr. Mallach is nationally known for his work on housing, economic development, and urban revitalization, and has worked with local governments and community organizations across the country to develop creative policies and strategies to rebuild their cities and neighborhoods.

Additional panelists included:

  • George Galster, Ph.D., distinguished professor, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
  • Gary McCarthy, mayor, City of Schenectady
  • Henry Louis Taylor, Ph.D., professor and founding director, Center for Urban Studies, University at Buffalo
  • Susan VanDeventer, analyst, NYS Office of the State Comptroller
  • Nora Yates, director, Community, Opportunity, Reinvestment (CORe) Initiative, New York State Governor's Office
Panel moderator: Theresa A. Pardo, Ph.D., director, Center for Technology in Government.

Alan Mallach’s PowerPoint Presentation

Video and Audio

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New York State and the Importance of Immigration

Tuesday, March 29, 2016
2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Our state has long stood for the promise of opportunity. Many of us are here only because our parents and their ancestors were inspired by this promise. They came here alone and unable to speak the language, but with the belief that through hard work, they too would share in the American Dream. This nation and our government welcomed these newcomers. And, in return, they helped us become the richest, most powerful nation in the world. This is not new to New York State. We are a land of immigrants and a State of Opportunity. Today, more than one in four people of working age in New York State's workforce are immigrants and about 31.2 percent of all New York State businesses are immigrant-owned. The rest of the nation is recognizing this success. Places like Dayton, Cleveland, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Lansing are trying to restart economic growth by luring enterprising immigrants to their cities.

This forum addressed the importance of immigration within New York State and discussed the state's efforts to assist New Americans.

Keynoting the presentation was Jorge Montalvo, deputy secretary for economic opportunity for New York State. In this role, Montalvo is responsible for many of the state's antipoverty programs, the State Division of Consumer Protection, and the Cemeteries Division. Montalvo created and oversees the New York State Office for New Americans and also developed the state's Opportunity Agenda to ensure those living in poverty were included in the state's economic revitalization. Deputy Secretary Montalvo discussed the role the state has, and can continue to play, in immigration integration.

Panelists participating to discuss efforts to integrate immigrants into the life of the Capital Region included:

  • Sarah Rogerson, director of the Immigration Law Clinic at Albany Law School
  • Fabrizia Rodriguez, director of community mobilization for Centro Civico of Amsterdam
  • Anne Erickson, executive director of the Empire Justice Center
  • Diane Conroy-LaCivita, executive director for the International Center of the Capital Region
  • Lisa Frisch, executive director of the Legal Project: Capital District Women's Bar Association
  • Nicole Comstock, staff attorney for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants Albany
The event was moderated by Times Union editor, Rex Smith.

This program is part of Albany Pro Musica's City of Immigrants, sponsored by Bank of America. This special concert and event series explored the cultural heritage of our Capital Region.

Video and Audio:

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Can a NYS Constitutional Convention Strengthen Government Ethics?

Co-Sponsored by the Rockefeller Institute of Government of SUNY, the Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives at SUNY New Paltz, the Government Law Center at Albany Law School, the League of Women Voters of NYS, and the Siena Research Institute. Additional Sponsor: The NYS Bar Association.
Friday, March 25, 2016
1:30 – 4:30 p.m.

With so much talk about the erosion of integrity in government, can the problems with elected officials that so frequently dominate our headlines be fixed statutorily or are they more appropriately addressed through constitutional change? As November 2017 and a statewide referendum on whether or not to call a constitutional convention nears, this and other questions will be increasingly on the minds of the voters. This forum addressed these important issues.

Introductory remarks were made by former NYS Comptroller H. Carl McCall. Mr. McCall served as a former three-term New York State senator, ambassador to the United Nations, commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and as commissioner of the New York State Division of Human Rights. He is currently the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York (SUNY).

The keynote address was by Richard Briffault, Joseph P. Chamberlain professor of legislation at Columbia Law School, former assistant counsel to Governor Hugh Carey and a member of, or consultant to, several NYC and NYS commissions dealing with state and local governance.

Panelists included:

  • Barbara Bartoletti, legislative director of the New York State League of Women Voters;
  • Richard Brodsky, senior fellow at Demos and the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU, and a former 14-term member of the NYS Assembly;
  • John Dunne, attorney with Whiteman Osterman & Hanna, former NYS senator, and former U.S. assistant attorney general;
  • Blair Horner, executive director of the NY Public Interest Research Group;
  • Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center's Democracy Program;
  • Richard Rifkin, special counsel to the New York State Bar Association, former counsel to Governors David Paterson and Eliot Spitzer, and former executive director of the New York State Ethics Commission; and
  • Karl Sleight, attorney with Harris Beach PLLC, and former executive director of the New York State Ethics Commission.
The event was moderated by Henry M. Greenberg, attorney with Greenberg Traurig LLP, former assistant U.S. attorney, former counsel to the attorney general, and chair of the NYS Bar Association's Constitution Committee.

Video and Audio:

Introduction and Keynote Address
Panel 1 – Should Ethics Reform Be in the NYS Constitution
Panel 2 – The Issues
Panel 3 – Summary Discussion

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Facing the Global Immigration and Refugee Crisis

Thursday, March 17, 2016
1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

In recent years, devastating natural disasters and the lack of durable political solutions in several conflict areas have created protracted crises and unprecedented displacement levels. Nearly 60 million people, half of them children, have had to flee their homes due to conflict and violence. In this forum, U.N. officials, those responsible for responding to the refugee crisis here in the United States, and those living through it will discuss the human costs of this historic human crisis.

Keynoting the presentation was Maher Nasser, director of the Outreach Division for the United Nations' Department of Public Information (DPI). Mr. Nasser has more than 28 years of work experience in the United Nations during which he has worked in various capacities in Gaza, Jerusalem, Amman, Cairo, Vienna, and New York. Mr. Nasser became director of DPI's Outreach Division in February 2011. Mr. Nasser first joined DPI in January 2006 as director of the UN Information Centre in Cairo.

Panelists participating included:

  • Jill Peckenpaugh, director, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Albany Field Office
  • Sana Mustafa, Bard College student and Syrian refugee
This program is part of Albany Pro Musica's City of Immigrants, sponsored by Bank of America. This special concert and event series explored the cultural heritage of our Capital Region.

Jill Peckenpaugh’s PowerPoint Presentation

Video and Audio:

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Research and Practice in Progress Briefing on Local Government in New York: A Forum for Local Government Researchers, Practitioners and Policy Makers

Wednesday, November 18, 2015
10:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Local governments provide most of the public services New Yorkers depend on. Yet many of the state's local governments have been hard-pressed in recent years by weak economic growth, deteriorating roads and bridges, rising health care and pension costs, natural disasters, and growing demands for educational improvement. To better understand how we can improve the capacities of local governments to meet these challenges, the Rockefeller Institute invited a group of excellent researchers and practitioners to assess the challenges and opportunities facing local governments in New York.

Welcome and Review of Agenda
Cases of Local Government Innovation and Change in New York
Combating Urban Blight in the Capital Region and Mohawk Valley: The Shared Code Information Resource Pilot Project — Meghan Cook, Center for Technology in Government, University at Albany, SUNY
Meghan Cook's PowerPoint
Albany County Intergovernmental Cooperation — Gerald Benjamin and Kathleen Tobin, Benjamin Center, SUNY New Paltz
Gerald Benjamin’s, Kathleen Tobin’s. & Thomas Cetrino’s PowerPoint
Data in Action: Models in Regional Planning Western New York — Laura Quebral, University at Buffalo Regional Institute, SUNY
Video: Panel I

Public Employee Pensions: Investment Risk and Local Contribution Policy Implications for New York State
Pension Fund Investment Risk and Potential Consequences for State and Local Governments — Don Boyd and Yimeng Yin, Rockefeller Institute of Government, SUNY
Donald Boyd’s & Yimeng Yin’s PowerPoint
Searching for Policy Alternatives to the Local Government "Pension ContributionRollercoaster" — David Matkin and Gang Chen, Rockefeller College, University at Albany, SUNY
David Matkin’s & Gang Chen’s PowerPoint
Video: Panel II

State Policy and Local Government Change in New York
The Durability and Dissolution of Village Government in New York State — Lisa Parshall, Daemen College
Lisa Parshall’s PowerPoint
Leveraging Local Change: State Initiatives to Promote Service Sharing and Consolidation — Ricardo Morse and Carl Stenberg, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Ricardo Morse’s & Carl Stenberg’s PowerPoint
The NYS Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments — Kevin M. Bronner, Rockefeller College, University at Albany, SUNY
Kevin Bronner's PowerPoint Presentation
Video: Panel III

New York Municipalities: Understanding and Managing Fiscal Stress Starving the Cities: The State Austerity Machine in NYS — Yunji Kim and Mildred Warner, Cornell University
Yunji Kim’s & Mildred Warner’s PowerPoint
New York's Continuing Foreclosure Problem — Susan VanDeventer, Office of the New York State Comptroller
Susan VanDeventer’s PowerPoint
Poverty in Upstate New York Cities: Social and Educational Impacts — John M. Bacheller
John Bacheller’s PowerPoint
The Social and Fiscal Consequences of Urban Decline: Evidence from Large American Cities, 1980 - 2010, — Michael Manville and Daniel Kuhlmann, Cornell University
Michael Manville’s & Daniel Kuhlmann’s PowerPoint
Video: Panel IV

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Higher Education and Employability: New Models for Integrating Study and Work — Book Talk and Panel Discussion

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
4:00 – 5:30 p.m.

How can higher education institutions best prepare their students for successful careers? Many universities and colleges struggle to meet the growing demands by students, their families, and governments that their graduates find quick and rewarding employment. At the same time, policymakers are increasingly looking to higher education institutions to produce and sustain a skilled labor force as a key to national and state economic competitiveness. Better employment opportunities and a stronger workforce may both be advanced by integrating academic studies with work. But making these connections is not easy, nor has such integration been a core part of the traditional missions of most higher education institutions. How then can universities and colleges fulfill these expectations?

To inform this debate, SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher and the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government of the State University of New York hosted a forum on higher education and the workforce. Keynoting the program was Peter Stokes, managing director, Huron Consulting Group, and author of the new book, Higher Education and Employability: New Models for Integrating Study and Work (Harvard Education Press).

Higher Education and Employability makes a crucial contribution to the reassessment of higher education in the United States by focusing on how colleges and universities can collaborate with businesses to serve the educational and professional interests of their students. Drawing on his extensive experience with universities and the business world, Peter Stokes argues that the need for closer alignment between the two sectors has never been more critical – and that the opportunities for partnership have never been greater.

Stokes' remarks were followed by a panel discussion featuring:

  • Charles Isbell, professor and senior associate dean, College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Cheryl Oldham, vice president of the education and workforce program, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
  • Ebony Thomas, senior vice president of campus strategy and operations, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • Alan Wagner, professor, Department of Educational Administration and Policy Studies, University at Albany, State University of New York; and senior fellow, Rockefeller Institute of Government, SUNY.
The program was moderated by Ben Wildavsky, director of higher education studies for the Rockefeller Institute and policy professor at the University at Albany.


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Book Talk: Privilege and Prejudice: The Life of a Black Pioneer, by Clifton R. Wharton, Jr.

Thursday, October 8, 2015
4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

The Rockefeller Institute was proud to host a book talk featuring the new autobiography, Privilege and Prejudice: The Life of a Black Pioneer (Michigan State University Press), by former SUNY Chancellor Clifton R. Wharton, Jr. In a rare and intimate conversation with long-time friend and former Washington Post and Times Union editor Harry Rosenfeld, Dr. Wharton discussed the challenges of competing in a society where obstacles, negative expectations, and stereotypes remained stubbornly in place.

Dr. Wharton’s book reveals a Black man whose good fortune in birth, heritage, and opportunity of time and place helped him to forge breakthroughs in four separate and distinguished careers in higher education, business, government, and the nonprofit sector. Clifton R. Wharton, Jr. entered Harvard at age sixteen. He was the first Black student accepted to the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins, and went on to receive a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago — another first.

For 22 years he promoted economic and agricultural development in Latin America and Southeast Asia, earning a post as chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation. He pioneered higher education firsts as president of Michigan State University and chancellor of the 64-campus State University of New York system. As chairman and CEO of TIAA-CREF, he was the first Black CEO of a Fortune 500 company. His commitment to excellence culminated in his appointment as deputy secretary of state during the Clinton administration.

In addition to learning Dr. Wharton's fascinating life story, Dr. Wharton discussed his dealings with national leaders in business, philanthropy, higher education, and government — names like Nelson A. Rockefeller, John D. Rockefeller III, Paul Volcker, Bill and Judith Moyers, Henry Ford II, Cy Vance, Hugh Carey, Mario Cuomo, Hubert Humphrey, Vernon Jordan, Milton Friedman, and Presidents Carter, Ford, and Clinton.


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Demographic Trends in the Adirondacks

Co-Sponsored by the Rockefeller Institute of Government and the Adirondack Research Consortium
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Experts agree that the best public policy results from the utilization of good, objective research. Indeed, this is a guiding principle of the work of the Rockefeller Institute. It was with this idea in mind that the Rockefeller Institute has joined forces with the Adirondack Research Consortium to explore the intersection of research and policy as it relates to the Adirondack North Country.

The inaugural program focused on the exploration of demographic research in the Adirondacks and how it relates to future management strategies and policies impacting the region. The two-hour forum featured leading researchers, advocates and government officials who will present current demographic research and discussed its implications for the future of the Adirondacks and its people.


  • Dan Spada, Adirondack Research Consortium
  • Tom Gais, Rockefeller Institute of Government
Research Findings:
  • Warren Brown, Director Applied Demographics, Cornell University, and Jan Vink, Research Specialist, Cornell University, "Demographic Trends in Rural America and What the Research is Indicating in the Adirondacks"
  • Brad Dake, Arietta, NY, "Recent Adirondack Research"
Linking the Research with Policy — Questions of the Researchers and Discussion:

  • Dave Mason, Anthros Consulting
  • Hon. Dan Stec, NYS Assembly, 114th District
  • Fred Monroe, Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board
  • Willie Janeway, Adirondack Council
PowerPoint Presentations:
Jan Vink and Warren Brown’s Presentation
Brad Dake’s Presentation
Dave Mason’s Presentation

Video and Audio:
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Making School Resources Matter

Co-Sponsored by the Rockefeller Institute and the New York State Association of School Business Officials (NYSASBO)
Thursday, September 24, 2015
9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

State legislatures and governors, researchers and the general public have debated how to fix schools for years. Some have argued for more money and some have insisted that more money won't make a difference. States have debated how resources should be distributed, what constitutes adequate resources, and what outcomes should be expected as a result of school spending. While school finance researchers have various methods to identify the amount of resources required for an adequate education for all students, it is not clear all students will actually achieve an adequate education or even have the opportunity to do so, even if these resources are provided. Why? Because how money is spent and how much is spent are inextricably linked; both are important and related to each other.

Resources are defined broadly as money, people and time. Acknowledging that effective practices for resource allocation are not common practice, two panels addressed (1) where research tells us we can get the most bang for our education buck and (2) what school leaders can do to make school resources matter. The intent was to provide school officials, state policymakers and those interested in education with specific solutions to real school resource problems.

Questions considered included:

  • What does research tell us are the key opportunities and challenges for the strategic use of resources to improve student learning?
  • To what extent are classroom teachers part of the discussion? Can teacher talent be allocated strategically to improve student achievement?
  • What legislation needs to be created or changed to support the process of resource reallocation?
  • What can school districts do tomorrow, next month and next year to better allocate resources for improved learning?
The symposium was moderated by Keshia Clukey, education reporter for Politico New York. The research panel included:

  • Jesse Levin, Principal Researcher, Education Program, American Institutes for Research
  • Hamp Lankford, Professor, University at Albany, State University of New York
  • Michael Rebell, Professor of Law and Educational Practice, Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Shayne Kavanagh, Research Director, Government Finance Officers Association
The panel on what school officials can do included:

  • Deborah Cunningham, Director of Education and Research, NYSASBO
  • Stephen Frank, Partner, Education Resource Strategies
  • Andrew Fiorentino, Assistant Superintendent for Business & Administrative Services, Windsor Central School District
  • Victor Holl, School Business Administrator, Altmar-Parish-Williamstown Central School District
PowerPoint Presentations:
Jesse Levin's Presentation
Hamilton Lankford's Presentation
Shayne Kavanagh's Presentation
Stephen Frank's Presentation
Victor Holl's Presentation

Multi Media
Two part Video
Audio only [MP3]

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Budgets and the Balance of Power: The Lasting Impact of Silver v. Pataki and How It Shapes the Future of Government in New York State

Co-Sponsored by the Rockefeller Institute and the Government Law Center at Albany Law School
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
1:00–4:00 p.m.

Recently, there has been a rather familiar showdown in Albany over what constitutes an appropriate use of executive authority in the budgeting process. This is not new but is, rather, reminiscent of similar budget challenges that have occurred between legislatures and the governor dating back decades.

In an effort to consider all sides of what constitutes an appropriate separation of powers, the Rockefeller Institute and the Government Law Center at Albany Law School hosted this forum in which some of New York State's top legal and government scholars and leading actors in showdowns in recent years provided an account of what led to and occurred as a result of this landmark case and why, as well as discussed potential ways that budget gridlock can be avoided.

Keynote: Former Governor David Paterson on a governor's use of budget authority

Panelists include:

  • Laura Anglin, Former Budget Director to Govs Eliott Spitzer and David Paterson
  • Gerald Benjamin, Professor, SUNY New Paltz
  • Vincent Bonventre, Professor, Albany Law School
  • Richard Brodsky, Former Assemblyman
  • Peter Galie, Professor, Canisius College
  • Peter Kiernan, Former Chief Counsel to Gov. David Paterson
  • James McGuire, Former Chief Counsel to Gov. George Pataki
  • Robert Smith, Former Associate Judge, NYS Court of Appeals
The event was moderated by Hank Greenberg, former Assistant U.S. Attorney and former Counsel to the Attorney General.


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High Anxiety: Gen X and Boomers Struggle with Stress, Savings, and Security

Co-Sponsored by the City & State, AARP, and the Rockefeller Institute of Government
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

AARP released its groundbreaking statewide survey on the financial security of the Gen X and Baby Boom generations. Specifically, they discussed retirement readiness, access to retirement savings vehicles, loans and debt, and support for a state-facilitated retirement savings option.
Keynote Remarks were by NYS Budget Director Mary Beth Labate. After an opening presentation by Elaine Ryan, vice president of state advocacy & strategy, AARP, there was a panel discussion on the need for a state-sponsored retirement savings program and how we can build support for this type of program in New York.

Panelists included:

  • Sarah Mysiewicz Gill, Senior Legislative Representative, AARP
  • Diane Oakley, Executive Director, National Institute of Retirement Security
  • Thomas Nitido, Deputy Comptroller for the New York State and Local Retirement System
  • Julian Federle, Chief Policy & Programs Officer, Illinois State Treasurer
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National Commission on Hunger

National Commission on Hunger Public Hearing

Co-Sponsored by the National Commission on Hunger, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), RTI International, and the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The National Commission on Hunger is a congressionally appointed bipartisan commission charged with developing innovative reforms in both public and private food assistance programs to reduce or eliminate food insecurity. The recommendations are meant to include ways to more effectively use USDA programs and funds. As part of its information-gathering process, the Commission is conducting a series of public hearings across the country. The Albany hearing featured testimony from:
  • Kate Breslin, President & CEO, Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy
  • Linda Bopp, Executive Director, Hunger Solutions NY
  • Mark Quandt, Executive Director, Regional Food Bank of NENY
  • E.J. McMahon, President, Empire Center for Public Policy
  • Joel Berg, Executive Director, The NYC Coalition Against Hunger
  • Lee Bowes, CEO, America Works
  • Janet Poppendieck, Policy Director, NYC Food Policy Center
  • Angela Rachidi, Research Fellow in Poverty Studies, American Enterprise Institute
Three of the 10 commissioners were in attendance, including

  • Co-chair Mariana Chilton, Associate Professor, Drexel University School of Public Health and Director of the Center for Hunger Free Communities
  • Co-chair Robert Doar, Morgridge Fellow for Poverty Studies, American Enterprise Institute; and
  • Commissioner Russell Sykes, President of Russell Sykes Consulting Services and former Deputy Commissioner of the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance

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Immigration Policy Forum

Co-Sponsored by the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy and the Rockefeller Institute of Government
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

This forum on state government immigration policy featured New York State Secretary of State Cesar Perales, speaking on the state’s immigrant initiatives and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, chair of the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force and chair of the Task Force on New Americans, speaking on “Immigrant Integration in an Epoch of Anti-Immigration Policies.”

This forum engaged key policymakers from both the executive and legislative branches to discuss achievements and new initiatives to help new immigrants and refugees, as well as assist permanent residents become U.S. citizens. As comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level has stalled, the states are increasingly passing legislation and implementing initiatives to further immigrant integration. New York is among the handful of states with an Office for New Americans. Working together with a taskforce in the legislature, the Office for New Americans has developed innovative programs that are increasingly referenced across the country, most recently in the “Federal Strategic Action Plan on Immigrant and Refugee Integration” issued on April 14th by the White House Task Force on New Americans.

For more information about the NYS Department of State, go to

Funding for this program was made possible by the MacArthur Foundation.


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Facing the Storm: Severe Weather Challenges Confronting New York State in the 21st Century

Co-Sponsored by the Rockefeller Institute of Government, the University at Albany's Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the NYS Emergency Management Association
Thursday, April 23, 2015
9:30 a.m. – Noon

Today, severe weather is a new reality that is impacting the daily lives of businesses, governments, and the communities they serve. While there is nothing we can do to change the weather, we can do more to understand weather trends likely to affect us in the future. It was for this purpose that, last year, we initiated this series of programs for emergency managers, not-for-profit executives.

This program was designed to focus on severe weather events of the past year and consider what these teach us about the future and how we should prepare for it, including mitigation efforts such as the NYS Mesonet, a network of 125 weather stations across the state feeding weather prediction models and decision-support tools for users across the greater New York region. The question of probabilistic weather and climate forecasting was also raised as it relates to the communication of forecasting risk to the public.

Panelists participating in the program included:

  • Lance Bosart, Distinguished Professor, University at Albany's Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences
  • Jerry Brotzge, Project Director, NYS Mesonet, University at Albany
  • Paul Caiano, Meteorologist, WNYT-TV (Albany)
  • Howard M. Goebel, Canal Hydrologist, New York State Canal Corporation
  • Everette Joseph, Director, Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, University at Albany
  • Christopher Thorncroft, Chair, University at Albany's Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences
  • David Vallee, Hydrologist-in-Charge, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Northeast River Forecast Center
  • Kevin E. Wisely, Deputy Commissioner, Emergency Services, NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
In an effort to better serve the people of New York, this year, the following State University of New York campuses also participated:

  • Stony Brook University
  • SUNY New Paltz
  • SUNY Plattsburgh
  • SUNY Potsdam
  • SUNY College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry (Syracuse)
  • SUNY Oswego
We would like to thank Cisco for their assistance with the technology that made this year's remote campus participation possible.


Christopher Thorncroft’s Presentation
Lance Bosart’s Presentation
David Vallee’s Presentation
Paul Caiano’s Presentation

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Book Talk and Panel Discussion — The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
4:00 – 5:30 p.m.

What is the future of higher education at a time of skyrocketing costs, growing concern about the value of a college degree, and the advent of revolutionary ideas about using technology to widen access to education?

In his just-released book,The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere, education researcher and writer Kevin Carey offers a passionate critique of how higher education, past and present, has excluded far too many people from its benefits. At the same time, he offers an overwhelmingly hopeful message about the future. Carey argues that rising costs, together with the revolution in information technology, are converging in ways that will radically alter the college experience, upend the traditional meritocracy, and provide previously unavailable educational opportunities to hundreds of millions of people around the world.

The Forum featured keynote remarks by Carey, director of the Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation and a regular contributor to the New York Times and many other publications.

Following his remarks, Carey discussed the themes of his book with four panelists:

  • Alison Byerly, President of Lafayette College;
  • Andrew Delbanco, Director of American Studies at Columbia University and author of College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be;
  • Louis Soares, Vice President for Policy Research and Strategy for the American Council on Education; and
  • Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor of the State University of New York.
The conversation was moderated by Ben Wildavsky, director of Higher Education Studies at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government and policy professor at the University at Albany.