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Ashley E. Nickels

Associate Professor of Political Science, Kent State University at Kent

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About Ashley

Nickels's research centers on issues of power, social equity, and democratic participation in the fields of urban politics, nonprofit and community-based organizations, and public policy and administration. Her area of specialization is community development, broadly defined. Nickels's work is highly influenced by her years working in feminist community activism and commitment to a critical research practice.

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In the News

Ashley E. Nickels quoted by Tyler Trill, "2018 Ohio Governors Race Could See Record Number of Females" WKBN, May 14, 2017.
"Empowered Participation," Ashley E. Nickels, Our Community, May 2017.
"How State Takeovers Undermine the Principle of Municipal Home Rule," Ashley E. Nickels, LSE USCentre Daily Blog on American Politics and Policy, April 13, 2017.
"What I Learned While Studying Flint's Municipal Takeover: Final Thoughts," Ashley E. Nickels, Our Community, Our Voice, April 2017.
Interview on Nickel's book on Grand Rapids' activist community Ashley E. Nickels, Rapid Growth Media, April 6, 2017.
"What I Learned While Studying Flint’s Municipal Takeover: Fiscal Stability Versus Local Democracy," Ashley E. Nickels, Flint: Our Community, Our Voice, February 2017.
"What I Learned While Studying Flint’s Municipal Takeover: An Introduction," Ashley E. Nickels, Flint: Our Community, Our Voice, December 2016.


"How Municipal Takeovers Reshape Urban Democracy: Comparing the Experiences of Camden, New Jersey and Flint, Michigan" (with Amanda D. Clark and Zachary D. Wood). Urban Affairs Review (2019).

Compares the cases of Camden, New Jersey and Flint, Michigan, using a policy-centered approach. Illustrates how variations in policy design and localized implementation reshaped the local political landscape in different ways. Discusses how, while the Camden takeover institutionalized the emergent "community development regime," Flint's grassroots activists and community-based organizations destabilized the emergent regime.

"Black Lives Matter: (Re)Framing the Next Wave of Black Liberation" (with Amanda D. Clark and Prentiss Dantzler), in Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change (Emerald Insight Publishing, 2018), 145-172.

Uses a content analysis of public statements and interviews of the founding members of Black Lives Matter (BLM). Examines the ways in which the founders of BLM frame the group's actions. Brings together the critical feminist concept of intersectionality with framing theory to show how the founders of BLM have strategically framed the movement as one that honors past Black Liberation struggles, but transforms traditional framing of those struggles to include all Black lives inclusive of differences based on gender, sexual orientation, age, nationality, or criminal status.

"Approaches to Municipal Takeover: Home Rule Erosion and State Intervention in Michigan and New Jersey" State and Local Government Review 48, no. 3 (2016): 1-15.

Examines the development and use of Municipal takeovers, examining how this policy of aggressive state intervention calls into question two principles of local autonomy enshrined in home rule: that allowing local matters to be handled by local authority removes the need for state special legislation and that giving local governments functional autonomy allows them to solve problems without state intervention. This article presents case studies of New Jersey and Michigan to examine differences in home rule protection as well as approaches to municipal takeover. 

"Pedagogical Perspectives of Teaching Community Development" Journal of Public Affairs Education 21, no. 2 (2015): 139-142.

Discusses the complex and often amorphous nature of community development policy and practice. Argues for more inclusion of community development theories and practice in public affairs curriculum in order to foster more democratic and inclusive practice.

"Social Capital, Community Resilience, and Faith-Based Organizations in Disaster Recovery: A Case Study of Mary Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church" (with Jason D. Rivera). Risk, Hazards, and Crisis in Public Policy 5, no. 2 (2014): 178-211.

Examines how a local faith based organization garnered social capital within its surrounding community to pursue successful community development in the absence of and opposition to governmental support and political resistance.