The Institute for Immigration Research (IIR) is a multidisciplinary research institute at George Mason University. The IIR’s mission is to inform and refocus the immigration conversation among academics, policymakers, and the public — including the business community and the media — by producing and disseminating unbiased and objective, interdisciplinary academic research related to immigrants and immigration to the United States.
Our faculty affiliates, graduate students, and partners are at the forefront of immigration research. The IIR produces high quality, timely research and analysis that examines the economic contributions of all immigrants in the United States, with a particular emphasis on immigrant entrepreneurs with high levels of education and skills.
The IIR is a joint venture between George Mason University and The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc. (ILC) of Massachusetts. The IIR was founded in 2012 through the generous donation of Ms. Diane Portnoy, educator and philanthropist from Malden, Massachusetts.
The IIR is located on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, outside the nation’s capital, Washington, DC. Its strategic location allows the IIR to draw on unparalleled academic, government, and private 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, the IIR is able to engage in community outreach with one of the most diverse populations in the United States.
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.