Nickels

Ashley E. Nickels

Assistant Professor of Political Science, Kent State University
Areas of Expertise:
  • Civic Engagement
  • Social Movements
  • State & Local Government
  • Cities & Regions

Connect with Ashley

About Ashley

Nickels is an interdisciplinary scholar, whose work focuses on urban politics and policy, community based organizations, and local democracy. Nickels’ current research investigates the political impact of municipal takeovers, or the use of state-appointed emergency managers to address local fiscal crises, on local democracy. A self-described scholar-activist, Nickels got her start in feminist activism and organizing. She previously served as the Vice-President of the Michigan National Organization for Women and President of the local Grand Rapids chapter. Nickels is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Kent State University in Ohio, where she teaches courses in public and nonprofit administration. She also serves on the board of editors for the Journal of Public Affairs Education and is a part of the leadership collective for ARNOVA's section on Community and Grassroots Associations. 

 

Podcast

Publications

Grand Rapids Grassroots: An Anthology (with Dani Vilella) (Belt Publishing, 2017).

Highlights the lives of Grand Rapids, a city known for large-scale events like ArtPrize; major businesses like Meijer Steelcase, and Amway and the philanthropic and political contributions of its wealthiest residents, from the bottom-up. In this collection of critical essays, poetry, and personal narratives, the experiences of grassroots activists and residents working day-in and day-out to make Grand Rapids what it is and making it what it can be. Raises the voices of those individuals and grassroots groups. 

"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. 

"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. 

"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.

"Organizing for Democracy: How Community Activists Make Meaning out of Municipal Takeover" (with Zachary D. Wood), in Flint Water Crisis: Lessons for Public Administrators and Policy Makers, edited by Bonnie Stabile and Tonya Neaves (Westphalia Press, forthcoming).

Explores the backlash to the municipal takeover of Flint, Michigan. Explains how traditional views of local government and democracy are uprooted during times of fiscal distress and how community organizers coalesce around narratives of popular sovereignty and democratic principles of accountability. 

In the News

Ashley E. Nickels quoted in 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.
Interview on Nickel's book on Grand Rapids' activist communityAshley E. Nickels, Rapid Growth Media, April 6, 2017.
"What I Learned While Studying Flint's Municipal Takeover: Final Thoughts," Ashley E. Nickels, Our Community, Our Voice, April 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: 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.