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The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government

Saturday, October 01, 2016
Upcoming Forums and Events

Upcoming Forums and Events

Supporting Our Schools: A Forum on Foundation Aid

Rockefeller Institute of Government, 411 State Street, Albany, NY
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Co-Sponsored by Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government of SUNY and New York State Association of School Business Officials (NYSASBO)

To register, please go to

In its 2016 budget, New York State ended the cuts and freezes in funding for public schools that have occurred since the economic downturn that began in 2008. This changed the school finance conversation from one focused on restoring cuts to one focused on providing an education system where all students have the opportunity to be successful.

The state's support of education is currently realized by the $21 billion Foundation Aid formula, enacted in 2007 but never fully phased in. The formula currently lacks $3.8 billion for full funding. The goal of this symposium is to discuss and gain support for good ideas related to the state's rollout of Foundation Aid that will provide the resources schools need to offer a meaningful education to all students. This thoughtful discussion will provide direction and focus to the state's future efforts to support its schools.

Panelists include:
  • Susan Arbetter, Albany correspondent and host of the Capitol Pressroom
  • James R. Tallon, Jr., Regent and chair of the Regents Subcommittee on State Aid
  • Michael Griffith, school finance strategist, Education Commission of the States
  • Suzanne Slack, chief financial officer, Syracuse City School District and member of NYSASBO Task Force on Foundation Aid
  • Deborah Cunningham, director of education and research, NYSASBO
  • John Yinger, trustee professor of public administration and economics at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University
This NYSASBO-Rockefeller Institute of Government School Finance Symposium will explore the opportunities, challenges and solutions for providing basic support to New York's public schools. It will examine in depth New York's Foundation Aid formula — its goals, its major components, what it was intended to accomplish, what it should accomplish, and how to realize the maximum potential of a state school funding system that provides the opportunity for all of the state's children to receive a meaningful high school education.

Panelists will provide an overview of Foundation Aid and discuss in detail its strengths and weaknesses. Topics include determining the cost of providing a sound basic education, appropriate weightings for students that need extra time and help, equalizing aid for the ability to raise revenues locally, accountability, regional cost differences, local share, and phasing in the formula. The panel will present recommendations for the 2017 legislative session from a NYSASBO Task Force on Foundation Aid.

Enhancing Governance Through Research: The Role of Research and Analysis in Storm Recovery and Resiliency Planning

Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Reeves Great Hall Conference Center, Corner of 7th Avenue and 28th Street, New York, NY
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
9:00 – 11:30 a.m.
Co-Sponsored by The Governor's Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR) and the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government

RSVP today by contacting or call (518) 443-5258.

This program will explore the advantages of establishing partnerships between academic institutions and government agencies in improving the effectiveness of government action and documenting the lessons learned. Speakers will provide insight into the use of academic-public partnership experiences that can be utilized within other government agencies.

The keynote remarks by Lisa Bova-Hiatt, executive director of the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery, will outline GOSR's mandate and its progress in recovery after Superstorm Sandy. She will also detail some best practices developed by GOSR and the role of the Rockefeller Institute’s data analysis in the development of these best practices.

Ms. Bova-Hiatt's remarks will be followed by a panel discussion led by Dr. Swati Desai, senior fellow at the Rockefeller Institute, and Dr. Simon McDonnell, director of research and strategic analysis at GOSR, with experts including:

  • Thomas Birkland, William T. Kretzer Professor of Public Policy in the Department of Public Administration, and associate dean for research and engagement at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, North Carolina State University;
  • Jane Brogan, director of policy at GOSR;
  • Holly Leicht, regional U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development representative for New York and New Jersey;
  • Rachel Meltzer, assistant professor of urban policy analysis and management at The New School; and
  • Gavin Smith, professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and director at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence.
The partnership between the GOSR and the Rockefeller Institute began in May 2014, approximately one year after GOSR was established, and 18 months after Superstorm Sandy hit New York State. The goal of the partnership was to provide assistance to GOSR with research and technical analyses, develop operational analyses, and document GOSR's successful practices and the challenges that it faced along the way, all while providing periodical reporting to the federal government.

A continental breakfast will be available at 8:30 a.m. The event is free and open to the public. Public officials – Reserved parking will be available for a limited number of official vehicles during the program. Should you need parking assistance, please alert us at the time of registration and we will provide all necessary information.)

Constitutional Convention Referendum 2017 and Home Rule within the Empire State

Jerome Greene Hall, First Floor, Columbia Law School, 435 W. 116th Street, New York, NY
Thursday, October 20, 2016
6:00 – 8:00 a.m.
Co-Sponsored by Columbia Law School, the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government of SUNY, New York County Lawyers' Association, the Government Law Center at Albany Law School, the Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives at SUNY New Paltz, the League of Women Voters of New York State, New York Law School, and the Siena Research Institute

To RSVP,  please go to

Columbia Law School and the Rockefeller Institute of Government will host an event, "Constitutional Convention Referendum 2017 and Home Rule within the Empire State," a special program designed to acquaint attendees with issues relating to home rule and state-local relations in New York and the implications for a possible constitutional convention.

Panelists will include:

  • Gerald Benjamin, associate vice president for regional engagement and director of the Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives at SUNY New Paltz.
  • Richard Briffault, Joseph P. Chamberlain Professor of Legislation at Columbia Law School.
  • Richard Brodsky, senior fellow at Demos and NYU Wagner.
  • Michael A. Cardozo, partner in the Litigation Department at Proskauer Rose LLP and the former corporation counsel for the City of New York.
  • Henry M. Greenberg (moderator), shareholder at Greenberg Traurig LLP's Albany office and a former counsel to Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo.
  • Roberta Kaplan, partner in the Paul, Weiss Litigation Department.
This event is open to the public, but registration is required. Attorneys licensed in New York or New Jersey may receive two credit hours of CLE for attending.

Book Talk: Beirut on the Bayou: Alfred Nicola, Louisiana, and the Making of Modern Lebanon

Rockefeller Institute of Government, 411 State Street, Albany, NY

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

3:30 – 5:00 p.m.

Co-Sponsored by SUNY Press and The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government of SUNY

To register, contact Michele Charbonneau at or by calling (518) 443-5258.

SUNY Press and the Rockefeller Institute of Government cordially invite you to an author conversation, book signing and reception for Beirut on the Bayou: Alfred Nicola, Louisiana, and the Making of Modern Lebanon with author Raif Shwayri. The conversation will be led by James Ketterer, director of the Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program and dean of international studies at Bard College.

Beirut on the Bayou intertwines a family narrative with the story of a people, of Lebanon in the making. From the Fertile Crescent that was Syria to the Crescent City that is New Orleans, the saga of the Shwayri family reflects the experiences of those Lebanese who walked the path of immigration to the United States, as well as those who stayed behind — or returned — to help forge a nation.

Raif Shwayri begins his family's story with his grandfather's arrival at Ellis Island in 1902. Having left Beirut only weeks before, Habib Shwayri was given the name Alfred Nicola at Ellis Island, and set off immediately for New Orleans in search of family members who had arrived several years earlier. There he began peddling down the Bayou Lafourche, making friends along the way. He continued to peddle for the next 18 years in the harshest conditions, sending money home to family, keeping them alive. When he returned to Lebanon in 1920, he invested the money he had made in real estate and died a wealthy man in 1956. Raif's father, Nadim Shwayri, used his inheritance to fund the establishment of the Al-Kafaàt Foundation, an iconic and unique institution that serves the disabled and socioeconomically disadvantaged populations in Lebanon.

Raif never had the privilege of meeting his grandfather, but in writing Beirut on the Bayou he set out on a quest to learn more about the man who had such an incredible impact on Lebanese history. His fascinating book tells not only the story of Nicola, but also the history of a people and the making of modern Lebanon.

According to Eugene Paul Nassar, director and founder, The Ethnic Heritage Studies Center, Utica College, "Well written and charming at times, this book traces the history not only of Lebanon's constant 'realpolitik' turmoil but also that of the enclave of humanitarianism in Al-Kafaàt. Raif Shwayri argues, somewhat wistfully — but at the same time, admirably — that someday and slowly, humanity will win out against violence." — .

Raif Shwayri is a graduate of King's College London and the University of Wales; a recipient of the John W. Ryan Fellowship for International Education, awarded by the State University of New York; a former CEO of the Al-Kafaàt Foundation;and a trustee of Al-Kafaàt University in Lebanon.

The Rockefeller Institute would like to, additionally, thank the New York State Writers Institute, the International Center of the Capital Region, and the New York State Office for New Americans for their support of this program.