The Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social WorkResearch, Policy, and Advocacy

The Humphreys Institutes collaborates with faculty at UConn and around the country to study the political participation of social workers and communities and develop training models to build civic skills and voter engagement.

volunteers at a polling place on Election Day 2020 with donuts and coffee for voters

Hartford Power Voting Corps

Funded by a Hartford Foundation for Public Giving grant, the UConn Hartford Power Voting Corps worked throughout 2020 to get out the vote for the historic 2020 presidential election. Led by adjunct professor and doctoral candidate Angela Bellas and Humphreys Institute interns Meg Wolfe and Taylor Tucker, students ran voter registration drives at Wheeler Clinic community health center, mobilized voters through Connecticut Students for a Dream phone banks, texted voters through an effort led by doctoral candidate Alberto Cifuentes Jr., visited undergraduate classrooms at UConn Hartford to encourage students to vote, and participated in election protection trainings. On Election Day, volunteers spent hours at the city's busiest polling location, answering questions, looked up polling sites for unsure voters, and ensured individuals with disabilities had accommodations to vote. They provided hot chocolate, coffee, snacks, crayons, hand warmers, and stickers to the hundreds of Hartford voters who in some cases waited hours to vote in the cold. Read more at UConn Today.

UConn Lobby Day

In March of 2019, the Humphreys Institute and the UConn School of Social Work hosted the first UConn Lobby Day at the Connecticut Capitol Building/ Legislative Office Building. Students of all concentrations (IGFP, CORG, and POPR) and programs (BSW, MSW, and Ph.D.) came together to meet with social workers who currently hold elected office, lobby legislators, and attend public hearings to bring the full power of our profession to the political realm.

Student Advocacy Day on the Hill and Social Work Day on the Hill

Each year, a group of MSW students from the University of Connecticut travel with the Humphreys Institute to attend these events hosted by the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP). In 2019 we sponsored 14 students to attend, representing all three of our concentrations. Students lobbied the offices of Senator Chris Murphy, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Representative Jahana Hayes, and Representative Joe Courtney; toured the Capitol Building; attended panel presentations with professionals and students in social work; and met with social work students from across the country.

Sherise Truman testifies at a public hearing
Sherise Truman testifies at a Connecticut General Assembly Labor & Public Employees Committee hearing on March 8, 2018.


Students and faculty at the UConn School of Social Work have a rich history of advocating for the rights and needs of all people in our state, including those most underserved and historically oppressed.

Research Publications

Research Publications

Hylton, M., Lane, S.R., Rhodes Smith, T., Ostrander, J. & Powers, J. (2022). The Voter Engagement Model: Preparing the next generation of social workers for political practice. Journal of Social Work Education. Full text:

Lane, S.R., Hill, K., Krase, K.R., Rhodes Smith, T. (2021). Political efficacy in social workers before and after 2016. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare. 

Hill, K., Rhodes Smith, T., Lane, S. R., & Shannon, S. (2020). Giving a voice to those with felony convictions: A call to action. Social Work, 65(4), 406-408.  htps:// Full text:

Lane, S.R. Hill, K., Ostrander, J., Powers, J., Rhodes Smith, T., & Hylton, M.E. (2020). Creating a culture of voting in direct and generalist practice: Training field instructors. Advances in Social Work, Special issue on “Promoting social change: Policy advocacy, research, and innovation in social work” Full text:

McClendon, J., Lane, S.R., Ostrander, J. & Rhodes Smith, T. (2020). Training social workers for political engagement: Exploring regional differences in the United States.  Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 40(2), 147-168. Full text:

Sandler, A., Hylton, M. E., Ostrander, J., & Smith Rhodes, T. (2020). The three-legged stool of voter engagement: Social work’s role in mobilizing the vote among marginalized communities. Critical Social Work, 21(2), 42-56. Full text:

Abramovitz, M., Sherraden, M., Hill, K., Rhodes Smith, T., Lewis, B., & Mizrahi, T. (2019). Voting is social work: Voices from the National Social Work Voter Mobilization Campaign. Journal of Social Work Education, 55(4), 626-644. Full text:

Hill, K. M. Lane, S. R. Powers, J. & Rhodes Smith, T. (2019). From The Empire State To The North Star State: Voter engagement in the 2016 election. Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 46(1), 91-112. Full text:

Hylton, M., Rhodes Smith, T., Powers, J., Ostrander, J. & Lane, S.R. (2018). The Power of Three: Infusing voter engagement in lower level BSW courses.  Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work, 23(1), 213-229. Full text:

Lane, S.R., Ostrander, J.A., & Rhodes Smith, T. (2018). "Politics is social work with power": Training social workers for elected office. Social Work Education, 37(1), 1-16. Full text:

Ostrander, J., Bryan, J., Sandler, A., Nieman, P., Clark, M., Loveland, E., & Rhodes Smith, T., (2018). The political participation of first year social work students: Does practice specialization matter? Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 45(3), 39-49. Full-text:

Ostrander, J., Lane, S.R., McClendon, J., Hayes, C. & Rhodes Smith, T. (2017). Collective power to create political change: Increasing the political efficacy and engagement of social workers. Journal of Policy Practice, 16(3), 261-275. Full text:

Lane, S.R. & Humphreys, N.A. (2015). Gender and social workers’ political activity. Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work, 30(2), 232-245. Full text:

Lane, S.R. (2011). Political content in social work education as reported by elected social workers. Journal of Social Work Education, 47(1), 53-72.

Lane, S.R. & Humphreys, N.A. (2011). Social workers in politics: A national survey of social work candidates and elected officials. Journal of Policy Practice, 10(3), 225-244.

Lane, S.R., Humphreys, N.A., Graham, E., Matthews, N. & Moriarty, J. (2007). Voter registration: Empowering clients through agency-based voter registration. Journal of Policy Practice, 6(4), 79-94.

students at the Connecticut State Capitol building