Tara Smith, MPA


Tara Smith, a Research Associate, joined the Ray Marshall Center in 2005. She is currently the co-Principal Investigator for an evaluation of college access and persistence programs associated with the Austin College Access Network, funded by TG.  She is also coordinating the Texas Workforce Data Quality Initiative in partnership with the Texas Workforce Commission.  Ms. Smith continues to lead an ongoing evaluation of local workforce development investments for Travis County. Ms. Smith is also supporting the implementation of a sectoral workforce development strategy for parents of Early Head Start and Head Start students as part of the Tulsa Children’s Project, as well as the Dual-Generation Strategy initiative funded by the Foundation for Child Development.

Ms. Smith previously managed the Senior Survey for the Center’s Student Futures Project (2007-2009). Other projects she has worked on include an analysis 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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