Tanya Rhodes Smith
Tanya Rhodes Smith is the Director of the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work and visiting lecturer at the UConn School of Social Work. She teaches Program Planning and Evaluation, Political Advocacy and Political Social Work.Tanya received both her BS in Economics and her MSW from the University of Connecticut. She began her career in the private sector at Hewitt Associates consulting on 401(k) plan design and administration for large corporations. Since earning her MSW in 2000, she has worked in a variety of settings and has been a committed advocate for children and families in the Bridgeport area. She has experience in policy development, nonprofit administration, team management, community organizing, legislative advocacy, research and evaluation. Her previous employers include DHA Associates, The Center for Family Justice, the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition, and Person to Person.
In addition to her role as Director, she is a facilitator for the Zoom Foundation’s Leadership Development Roundtable. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition and is Co-chair of their Public Policy Task Force. Tanya has been a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters since 2008.
Nancy A. Humphreys, Founder and Former Director
Dr. Nancy A. Humphreys founded the Institute at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work in 1995 to investigate ways that social workers can facilitate the political empowerment of clients as well as increase the number of social workers who are directly involved with electoral politics. Dr. Humphreys has been a leader in promoting political social work as a legitimate practice within the profession.Dr. Humphreys is a former Dean of the UConn School of Social Work. As Dean, she gave leadership and support to the many international activities of the School, including her own consultation to the Republic of Armenia in the creation of social work training and social service programs. She was a member of the faculty at Rutgers University Graduate School of Social Work for many years and also served as Associate Dean for one year. While in New Jersey, Dr. Humphreys was appointed by the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court as one of the three public members to the court’s committee on Professional Legal Ethics.
Long a leader in women’s issues, Dr. Humphreys was appointed by President Carter to serve on his National Advisory Committee on Women’s Issues. She co-authored the Human Services chapter of the Committee’s final report Voices for Women. Active in many women’s organizations she has authored numerous articles on social service issues from a feminist perspective.
Dr. Humphreys has been active on many boards and commissions. She assumed the role of “Next Friend” to a child plaintiff which resulted in the 1991 signing of the Juan F. vs. O’Neill Consent Decree – a legal blueprint for increasing funding, staffing and services standards for the CT Department of Children and Families. She was the spokesperson and co-chair of the Connecticut Coalition for Children and was elected as the founding chair of the Parenting Education Advisory Committee, which is responsible for implementing a state law requiring parents to participate in parenting education at the time of divorce.
Dr. Humphreys is the recipient of numerous awards and citations. She is particularly proud of her selection as New Jersey’s Social Worker of the Year in 1981, and as the “Distinguished Alumnus” from the University of Southern California Graduate School of Social Work in 1982. In 1992, she was selected Distinguished Social Worker by the Connecticut Chapter of NASW. In 2002, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Yerevan State University, Republic of Armenia. In 2003, she received the NASW “Lifetime Achievement Award” and in 2014, Dr. Humphreys received the 22nd Annual Catherine Roraback Award from NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut.
As a lasting legacy, in May 2014 on the occasion of her retirement from the UConn School of Social Work, Dr. Humphreys made a $1 million bequest to support the Institute in her name.