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Tara Leytham Powell

Associate Professor

Headshot of Tara Powell


(217) 300-0917

School of Social Work

1010 W. Nevada St.

Urbana, IL 61801

Office 2040

What I Do

My clinical experience began as a social worker in New Orleans public schools after hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana in 2005.  I continues to work in communities affected by collective trauma including natural disasters, conflict, and pandemics. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, I am collaborating with the organization, Save the Children, to adapt the Journey of Hope, a school-based social emotional intervention I co-developed, to a virtual model. I am also leading a research project examining frontline healthcare providers experiences working in tent hospitals treating COVID-19 patients in New York City.


  • BA – University of Iowa
  • MSW and MPH – Tulane University
  • PhD in Social Work – University of Texas, Austin
  • Peace Corps volunteer – Mali, West Africa


Dr. Powell’s research interests were derived from her time spent as a social worker post-Katrina and through directly experiencing the disaster. Presently, Professor Powell’s research explores trauma recovery and the efficacy of evidence-based interventions in post-disaster contexts. She has led research projects in numerous natural disaster and conflict affected regions in the United States and internationally. She also specializes in intervention development and has created behavioral health interventions for children, social service, and healthcare providers in response to trauma and stress after a disaster.

Professor Powell teaches MSW classes incorporating her research and practice experience.  She currently teaches trauma informed social work with children and adolescents and generalist social work practice.

Latest news

  • Students,
  • Faculty & Staff,
  • Research

Study Examines Pandemic’s Impact on Volunteer Health Care Workers 

July 12, 2022

News Bureau

Tara Powell and social work doctoral student Jenna Muller
  • Faculty & Staff,
  • Research,
  • Community Impact

How can we identify, respond to pandemic-triggered mental health crises?

January 14, 2022

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