University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

About Us

Tanya Rhodes Smith

Tanya Rhodes Smith, Director

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. 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 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.

Jenna Powers

Jenna Powers, Research Assistant

Jenna Powers is the Research Assistant for the Humphreys Institute, as well as a student in the School of Social Work's PhD program. During her time in the University of New England's MSW program, Jenna focused on community organizing and program development with an emphasis on educating and empowering individuals to participate in the political arena.  Upon graduating from UNE, Jenna co-founded the Maine Chapter of New Leaders Council (a non-partisan training program for emerging progressive leaders) and coordinated the Northern New England Campaign School, a replication of the UConn Campaign School.  Jenna is thrilled to now be playing a new, broadened role within the Institute.  She believes that its work with Voter Engagement and the Campaign School is imperative to the social work profession and the people that we work with; so she is enthusiastic about researching the Institute's impact and helping to expand its efforts.


Ayesha Clarke

Ayesha R. Clarke, MSW Intern

Ayesha R. Clarke is a first year MSW student with a concentration in Policy Practice.  A resident of Hartford, she works full-time as a Revenue Examiner for the State of Connecticut Department of Revenue Service, and is a wife and proud mother of two sons, ages four and six years.  Ayesha holds a masters degree in Public Health from Benedictine University and a bachelors degree in Economics from the University of Connecticut.  She is working to develop her research and policy skills while encouraging voter engagement in the Greater Hartford Area.


Elliot Rogers

Elliot Rogers, MSW Intern

Elliot Rogers is an Advanced Standing MSW student with a concentration in Policy Practice.  Alongside his time at the Institute, he is also placed at Senator Chris Murphy’s office in Hartford.  Through his two internships, Elliot is able to immerse himself in policy work and better develop his understanding of the forces that are at play in our political system.  When Elliot is not at his internships he is working at the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services’ (DMHAS) Research Division.

Tara McDonough

Tara McDonough, MSW Work Study Staff


Tara McDonough is a first year MSW student with a concentration in Community Organizing.  She hails from Chicago, where she worked with the Junior Youth Animators' Program, supporting youth in service learning and community building endeavors. Tara is looking forward to helping social workers participate more deeply in the shaping of policy and social affairs through her time at the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute.

Stephen Haynes

Stephen Haynes, MSW Intern

Stephen Haynes is a second year MSW student with a concentration in Community Organizing.  He spends his days working with men who have experienced homelessness and those recently released from prison, at the The Open Hearth Association's Working Man’s Center.  In Hartford, Stephen has worked for The Partnership for Strong Communities - designing and building a community center in Frog Hollow for the Melville Charitable Trust - and Center City Churches, managing Family Resource Centers in two Hartford public elementary schools.  He is an improvising composer and arts organizer, just recently completing five years curating the landmark Improvisations series at Real Art Ways in Hartford.  Stephen's most recent recording, Pomegranate, is on New Atlantis Records.  He lives, gardens and cooks in Wethersfield with his wife, sculptor Brigid Kennedy, and their two dogs, Bodhisattva and Violet.


Nancy A. Humphreys, DSW, Professor

Dr. Nancy A. Humphreys, Founding Director

Dr. Nancy A. Humphreys founded the Institute for Political Social Work 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.

A past president of the National Association of Social Workers — and, at the time, only the second female president of the organization— Dr. Humphreys has a long and accomplished professional history. Her academic work has left an indelible mark, both here in the United States and abroad. She served as dean of two schools of social work, Michigan State University and University of Connecticut, where she also had teaching responsibilities in policy, community organization, social welfare, family and children, political social work and women’s issues. Beginning in 1991, Dr. Humphreys worked with what is now the Republic of Armenia to establish social work education in that country. The result of her efforts is a BSW and MSW program at Yerevan State University.

As a leader during the feminist movement, 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, Dr. Humphreys has presented content and written about a number of social service issues from a feminist perspective. She has also been a member of a variety of organizations, including the American Public Welfare Association Council, National Conference of Social Welfare; has served on numerous boards of directors; and was vice president of the Council on Social Work Education.