The SMU Tower Center-LCLD Research Partnership is an exciting and ambitious initiative with the objective of employing rigorous social science research to understand the growing challenges and opportunities the Latina/o population faces in the United States. The partnership provides an avenue for the linking of research to practice, an opportunity rarely given to scholars. As postdoctoral fellows, Danielle Casarez Lemi and Jennifer Cook's involvement with the LCLD specifically situates them within a community of Latina/o local, state, and federal elected and appointed officials. Moreover, as public academics, they have the unique opportunity to engage in important conversations and collaborations with policy practitioners who are in a position to drive change and tackle important issues for Latinas/os.

Danielle Casarez Lemi studies race and ethnic politics, political behavior, and identity politics within legislative institutions. She is especially interested in how skin tone, racial ambiguity, and racial identification all impact how voters evaluate minority candidates and how legislators understand their work. Her work has been published in Politics, Groups, and Identities.

Jennifer A. Cook is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Tower Center for Public Policy and International Affairs at Southern Methodist University. She received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Connecticut in May, 2017, and specializes in the study of im/migration, il/legality, and social change in transnational Mexico. Based on multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in Mexico and Connecticut, Cook’s dissertation examines the way Mexican lawful permanent residents engage with the family-based immigration system. Specifically, the dissertation shows that “legal” Mexicans use family legalization as a strategic tool to improve the long-term welfare of their families. Cook is currently working on revising her dissertation for publication as a book manuscript, tentatively titled Lawful Permanent Migrant: Legality and Mobility in Transnational Mexico. She also teaches courses on Latino immigration and cultural diversity in the U.S. for the Department of Anthropology at Southern Methodist University.

About the LCLD

TheLatino Center for Leadership and Development was formed in order to bring light to Latino thought about today's state of affairs and to develop innovative solutions to the issues Latinos and the broader community face. Under the leadership of Miguel Solis, president, the Center strives to develop the next generation of leaders driven by thoughts, values, and experiences that will improve the Latino community. For more information, visit the Center's website.