Robert Courtney Smith is an Associate Professor of Sociology, Immigration Studies and Public Affairs at the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He has studied and served the Mexican community in New York and in Mexico for more than twenty years, especially in the state of Puebla. He is the author of Mexican New York: Transnational Worlds of New Immigrants (University of California Press, 2006), which won four awards from the American Sociological Association: the 2006 Thomas and Zaniecki Award for best book on migration; the 2007 Robert Park Award for the best book on Community and Urban Sociology, the 2008 Latino/a best book award, and the 2008 overall Distinguished Book Award. It also won a Presidential Excellence Prize from Baruch College in 2007. He has been awarded grants from the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Foundation, the Spencer Foundation/National Academy of Education, the Columbia Oral History Research Project, and the W.T. Grant Foundation. He is currently at work on a ten year project on children of Mexican immigrants as they become adults. He also testified in 2007 as an expert witness in U.S. v Village of Port Chester, a Voting Rights Case supporting the rights of Latinos to participate in the political process and vote.
Robert Smith has also worked directly with the Mexican community since the 1980s. He began his work with migrants as an English teacher to migrant workers in rural Pennsylvania while in college, and continued this work as an amnesty counselor in New York City. Since becoming a professor, he has worked with the Mexican community in various ways. He is a founding member of the Club Atletico Mexicano de Nueva York (CAMNY Mexican Athletic Club of New York). He later co-founded the Mexican Educational Foundation of New York, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting educational achievement among Mexican immigrants in New York and the region; and the Mexican Mentorship Project, a joint venture with the Mexican American Students Alliance, MASA, seeking to aid educational achievement through mentorship. He serves on the CUNY Chancellor’s Committee on CUNY, Education and the Mexican Community. He also serves as lead faculty for the Baruch College School of Public Affairs Emerging Leaders Program for the Mexican Community, run with the Mexican Consulate, which seeks to enhance the capacity of Mexican community leaders to run their organizations. In 2008, he was named Youth Advocate of the Year by Associacion Tepayac, the largest Mexican nonprofit organization in New York.