Dr. Odessa Gonzales Benson

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Odessa Gonzales Benson as a keynote speaker at the TIES Conference 2020.

Dr. Odessa Gonzalez Benson is Assistant Professor at the U-M School of Social Work and is with the U-M Detroit School of Urban Studies Faculty Cluster. Her areas of research are: refugee resettlement, refugee/migrant-led organizations, participatory approaches to urban governance and social services with refugees, state-civil society relations, and critical policy studies.

Dr. Gonzalez Benson pursues interdisciplinary work integrating social welfare and community perspectives with refugee studies and urban studies, particularly within the context of ‘new refugee destinations’ such as Michigan and the broader midwest. Currently, her work is place-based research on immigrant-run grassroots organizations in Grand Rapids and Detroit, examining institutional links, functions and use of resources and urban space.

Past research examined policy-driven vis-a-vis refugee-driven resettlement, based on nationwide data on refugee-run organizations in 30 U.S. states. She draws upon years of engagement with refugee communities, diverse education and work experiences and her personal path as a 1.5-generation immigrant to inform and motivate her research.

She has a PhD in Social Welfare from the University of Washington in Seattle, MSW from Arizona State University, and BA in Communications from the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

Research Interests:

  • Refugee resettlement
  • Refugee/migrant-led organizations
  • Participatory approaches to urban governance and social services with refugees
  • State-civil society relations
  • Critical policy studies
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