[From a press release]
Gabriela Domenzain is leaving her position as director of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University to pursue her passion for national-level work involving human rights and journalism.
Domenzain became director of the Latino Policy Institute in August 2017, and has spent the past year shining a spotlight on crucial policy matters involving immigration and the Latino community in Rhode Island.
For example, Domenzain has been a stalwart advocate for Lilian Calderon, a Guatemalan immigrant and mother of two who has lived in the United States since she was 3 but was detained by immigration officials when she went with her husband, a United States citizen, to apply for lawful permanent resident status. Because of Domenzain’s leadership and the support of people from across the state, not only was Calderon released but she became the face of an ACLU class-action lawsuit seeking to prevent this from happening to others.
Domenzain also pressed for a bill, recently signed into law, that will continue to provide driver’s licenses for “Dreamers” – immigrants brought to the country as children who were granted temporary lawful status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA. And she was instrumental in the creation of the immigrant coalition – the first such coalition in Rhode Island since the 1980s.
“In a short time, Gabriela has made her presence felt at the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University, doing important advocacy and research work at a crucial time in the history of our nation and our state,” said Jamie Scurry, dean of the RWU School of Continuing Studies and an LPI board member. “We look forward to building on that momentum with a new leader who will propel the institute forward, expanding its impact in the community.”
“The LPI Advisory Board is grateful to Gabriela for her steadfast commitment to inform and empower the Latino community,” LPI board co-chair Paola Fernandez said. “In her short time as the director of LPI, she has become an appreciated and highly regarded expert, shepherding important community conversations Gabriela’s endless energy and passion for our community has already left a mark on LPI and Rhode Island.”
The board will be conducting a search to find a new director over the next few months, Fernandez said. “During this transition period, it is our priority to find the best individual to lead, while still maintaining a stable and effective organization,” she said.
“It was an honor to lead the Latino Policy Institute and advocate on behalf of the nearly one in five Rhode Islanders of Latino descent,” Domenzain said. “Rhode Island and its residents not only welcomed me but proved to be true allies in our mission to stand up for a community that is being attacked daily by Washington. Rhode Islanders know that the state is stronger because of its diversity and that its success depends on engaging all our friends and neighbors.”
Before joining the Latino Policy Institute, Domenzain worked as deputy campaign manager for former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s presidential campaign, serving as his chief spokesperson on immigration policy and Latino issues. She was a principal in The Raben Group, the nation’s largest majority-minority progressive consulting firm, based in Washington, DC And she was the principal spokesperson on immigration and the Latino vote for the Obama for America 2012 campaign.
In 2010 and 2011, Domenzain was the communications director for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. From 2006 to 2010, she worked for the Univision National Network, the most-watched Spanish-language network in the United States, and while there she was founding producer for the country’s first Spanish-language Sunday political talk show, “Al Punto” with Jorge Ramos. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in public policy and from New York University with a master’s degree in journalism.
The Latino Policy Institute at RWU is committed to generating and communicating data to stimulate public policy discourse and enhance the public’s understanding of the Rhode Island Latino experience. With this information, Latinos’ social, economic and civic contributions to the state can be better documented, understood and engaged.