Tara Smith, MPA


Tara Smith, a Research Associate, joined the Ray Marshall Center in 2005. She is currently the Principal Investigator for several studies, including: an evaluation of local workforce development investments for Travis County; an exploration of two-generation effects from participation in Capital IDEA; and an evaluation of a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant at Tulsa Community College.  Ms. Smith also leads an implementation study examining the development of the CareerAdvance® program in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is contributing to ongoing two-generation strategy development efforts funded by the Foundation for Child Development.

Ms. Smith coordinated the Center’s work on the Texas Workforce Data Quality Initiative in partnership with the Texas Workforce Commission (2010-2014).  Ms. Smith previously managed the Senior Survey for the Center’s Student Futures Project (2007-2009). Other projects she has worked on include a multi-state study of reemployment services under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), an analysis of outcomes for participants in Austin College Access Network programs, an evaluation of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on NASA’s Gulf Coast workforce, the Central Texas Workforce Intermediary Initiative, and research on implementation and return-on-investment for the Jobs to Careers demonstration project in local hospitals.

Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Smith was an analyst in the Employment and Training Administration’s Office of Policy Development and Research in Washington, D.C. During her tenure, Ms. Smith twice earned ETA Special Act Awards for her work in developing the Community-Based Job Training Grants solicitation and for her role in organizing a research colloquium for the Workforce Investment Act in Eight States study. Ms. Smith worked on a variety of issues at ETA, including post-secondary education and training, adult literacy, and targeted workforce development initiatives for youth, individuals with disabilities, and unemployed workers.

Ms. Smith earned a master’s degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin in May 2003, along with an LBJ Foundation Award for Academic Excellence. During her studies, she worked as an intern at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and as a graduate research assistant at UT’s IC² Institute. Ms. Smith is a former teacher, with seven years of experience in preschool and elementary classrooms. She holds a BS degree in Applied Learning and Development from The University of Texas at Austin.


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