Robert Courtney Smith is a 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. His work seeks to increase our understanding of contemporary migration, and to identify strategic sites of intervention for policy. He has worked in the Mexican community in New York and in Mexico (especially the state of Puebla) for more than twenty years. 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. 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. He was a Russell Sage Foundation Visiting Fellow in 2007-2008, and a Guggenheim Fellow in 2009-2010.
Smith's "public sociology" seeks to identify strategic sites of intervention to promote positive outcomes. He has served several years on the CUNY Chancellor's Commission on Mexicans and Education in New York, and serves as the Lead Faculty in the Baruch College School of Public Affairs Emerging Mexican Leaders Program. Smith co-founded the Mexican Educational Foundation of New York (which is merging with the Mexican American Students Alliance), which promotes educational achievement and committed leadership in the Mexican community. Smith was an expert witness in the Voting Rights Act case of US. v. Village of Port Chester, focusing on the history of discrimination and racial social dynamics involving Latinos. He also routinely advises Mexican community organizations and leaders. In recognition of this work, Smith was awarded the Youth Advocate of the Year Award in 2008 by the largest Mexican nonprofit organization in New York, Organizacion Tepeyac.