The Institute for Immigration Research was founded through the generous donation of Ms. Diane Portnoy, philanthropist from Maldon, Massachusetts, in 2013. The institute is located on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, outside of the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.
Its strategic location allows the center to draw on unparalleled resources to advance its mission in research, education, and professional opportunities for current and future scholars of immigration studies. Through conferences, workshops, lectures, and other events, it is able to engage in community outreach with one of the most diverse populations in the country.
Ms. Portnoy is founder and CEO of The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc. (ILC) in Malden, MA, a not-for-profit organization providing free, year-round English classes to immigrant and refugee adults in the greater Boston area. As a joint a joint venture with George Mason University, with the Institute for Immigration Research conducting research on the economic contributions of immigrants. Her creative impulse to open a free school where immigrants can learn English stems from her own immigrant background as the daughter of Polish Holocaust survivors. As a toddler, she and her parents immigrated to the U.S. through Ellis Island shortly after the end of WWII. The family settled in Malden. She observed the difficulty her parents and other immigrants in her community experienced learning English and adjusting to a new country, culture and language. She is an expert in adult education, as a Massachusetts certified teacher in adult basic education and in grades K-8. She received her BS in Elementary Education from Boston University and her MA in Curriculum and Instruction from Cornell University.