The Genesis Group
in partnership with
The Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees

 Presents the 5th Annual UNSPOKEN Conference

Refugees, Immigrants and the
Opportunity Agenda

Thursday October 1, 2015
SUNY Poly (
Student Center) from 11:00am-2:00pm
$20 per person – Program & Lunch

 Scheduled Speakers:

Anthony J. Picente, Jr.
Oneida County Executive

Robert M. Palmieri
Mayor of the City of Utica

Ellen Percy Kraly, Ph.D.
Colgate University
William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies
Director, Environmental Studies Program

Jorge I. Montalvo
Director, NYS Office for New Americans
Deputy Secretary of State for Economic Opportunity

ALSO – MV500 CommitteeReceive updates from committee members on their Revitalization Plan to compete for the $500 million award for the Mohawk Valley region as part of the New York Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI).



Jorge I. Montalvo currently serves in New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration as New York’s Deputy Secretary of State for Economic Opportunity and concurrently serves as Director of the New York State Office for New Americans. In this role, he is responsible for the State’s anti-poverty Community Service Block Grant, the State Division of Consumer Protection and the Cemeteries Division, as well. Montalvo created the New York State Office for New Americans. The Office’s recently opened Opportunity Centers – 26 in total – have been heralded as the model for immigrant integration policy in this country. The Opportunity Centers will have served more than 100,000 immigrants in its first three years of operations with English-for-Speakers-of-Other-Languages training; naturalization and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals assistance; federal immigration law and policies information and referrals; and business development training.

Among some of his accomplishments, Montalvo developed the State’s Opportunity Agenda to ensure those living in poverty were included in the state’s economic revitalization, helped merge the State’s consumer protection and occupation licensing agencies and created the Empire State Fellows program – an innovative approach to attracting and training cross-sector leaders for public service. Montalvo collaborates with economic, environmental, justice and industry groups, State and local agencies, and the members of the State legislature on the New York State Council on Food Policy. Montalvo graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in chemistry and for many years spent his weekends teaching free GED and SAT prep classes to disconnected youth in the South Bronx.

Ellen Percy Kraly,Ph.D. is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Geography and is currently director of the Environmental Studies Program at Colgate University. Between 2006-2011 she served as director of Colgate’s Upstate Institute, an initiative of Colgate University to promote community based research and capacity building in the upstate region of New York. She was editor in chief of the International Migration Review, a peer review journal published by the Center for Migration Studies.  She was a member of the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Immigration Statistics and has prepared reports on topics including international migration data and immigration policies for the United Nations Statistical Commission, National Academy of Sciences, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform.

Her current research program has three themes:  (1) refugee policy and forced migration; (2) ethical and human rights dimensions of the use of population data systems in policy and administration, with particular reference to Aboriginal affairs in Australia; and (3) population vulnerabilities, community health, and HIV/AIDS in eastern Africa. At Colgate, she teaches courses in population geography, international migration and refugee studies, medical geography, environmental studies, and research methods. She serves on the board of directors of several organizations including the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, Central New York Community Foundation, National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Oneida Community Mansion House.  She serves as a strategic advisor to the Sustain for Life Foundation, international charity working to empower people to create sustainable livelihoods, and a manager for projects in Uganda supported by indigo foundation.

Robert M. Palmieri was elected Mayor of the City of Utica in 2011. Prior to being chosen Utica’s Chief Executive, Rob served his East Utica neighborhood as a Member of the Utica Common Council for fourteen years. He served as Weed and Seed Liaison, Deputy Public Safety Commissioner and Codes Commissioner.

The City of Utica has witnessed an economic and financial transformation during Rob’s tenure as Mayor. Rob inherited back to back million deficit budgets, a negative outlook from the financial rating institutions and a negative fund balance. Under Rob’s leadership, Utica’s financial condition has vastly improved with back to back million dollar surpluses, an upgraded outlook and a fund balance that currently stands over $3 million dollars. With the advent of Nano Utica, the development of the Utica Harbor, the arrival of the AHL Utica Comets and countless economic development projects in downtown, Utica is now a City on the rise. Rob is a graduate of Thomas R. Proctor High School and Mohawk Valley Community College. Rob and Susan Palmieri have five grown children and 11 grandchildren. All live in the Utica area.

Anthony J. Picente, Jr., is the 10th Oneida County Executive. County Executive Picente has provided leadership to Oneida County through difficult times. During his tenure as Oneida County’s Chief Executive he has improved the County’s financial outlook and credit rating. He has created budgets that have resulted in 4 straight operating surpluses.

He has focused on economic development in the county in areas of high tech, including Nano-technology, Cyber Security and Unmanned Aerial Systems. He has also brought the community together with exciting initiatives such as Vision 2020, Oneida County Youth Council and others. In 2013 Anthony Picente was instrumental, with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the Oneida Indian nation in reaching an historic settlement to long time disputes between the Oneidas, the state and the county.  In 2014, Picente was elected by his peers to be the President of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC).  Picente has also recently been nominated to the New York State Power Authority Board of Trustees. The Utica native holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Utica College. He resides in Rome with his wife, Eleanor.