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Brandi Blessett

Associate Professor of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

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About Brandi

Blessett's research focuses on administrative responsibility, disenfranchisement, and social equity. Much of her recent work acknowledges the disproportionate effects the criminal legal system has on people and communities of color. Specifically, she offers insight into the effects of institutional injustice and their implications for underrepresented communities. Dr. Blessett’s research agenda advocates for ethical practices, professional standards, and accountability measures to promote equity and justice.

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In the News

Quoted by SteveJanoski in "McGreevey-Run Nonprofit that Helps Former Inmates Opens Hackensack Office,", February 2, 2018.
Opinion: "Water: A Privilege or Right?," Brandi Blessett, PA Times, February 5, 2016.
Quoted by Tom McLaughlin in "New Beginnings: Researcher Serves as Valuator for Program Supporting Former Incarcerated Persons," Rutgers-Camden News Now, August 2015.
Opinion: "When the Rainbow is Not Enough," Brandi Blessett, PA Times, July 14, 2015.
Opinion: "A Dream Deferred? Part II," Brandi Blessett, PA Times, June 9, 2015.
Opinion: "A Dream Deferred?," Brandi Blessett, PA Times, May 12, 2015.
Opinion: "Race and Law Enforcement: A Tale of Two Experiences," Brandi Blessett, PA Times, April 14, 2015.
Opinion: "In Pursuit of Civil Rights: An Iterative and Sustained Struggle for Progress," Brandi Blessett, PA Times, February 10, 2015.
Opinion: "Ensuring #BlackLivesMatter," Brandi Blessett (with Tia Sherèe Gaynor), PA Times, December 19, 2014.


"Public Administration, Diversity and the Ethic of Getting Things Done" (with Mohamad G. Alkadry and Valerie L. Patterson). Administration and Society (forthcoming).

Discusses the case of Overtown, a predominantly African American neighborhood near Downtown Miami that was once dubbed the Harlem of the South, to explore the ethics of administrative actions. Argues for ethics testing to accompany any moves to institutionalize managing-for-results in cases of community development, housing, health, and other areas that affect people directly. 

"Sharecropper Finance: Using the Justice System as a Public Revenue Source" (with Richard C. Box). Public Integrity 18, no. 2 (2016): 113-126.

Discusses the fines and fees charged to lower-income people, mostly African Americans, who have long been a mainstay of the revenue stream for the city of Ferguson, Missouri, and other local governments. Argues that this current policy issue shares characteristics with the much older technique of sharecropping, suggesting a long-term pattern of financial exploitation based on race. Establishes a critical race theory framework to examine the question of administrative ethics raised by this practice.

"A Framework for Integrating Cultural Competency into the Curriculum of Public Service Programs" (with Vanessa Lopez-Littleton). Journal of Public Affairs Education 21, no. 4 (2015): 557-574.

Draws from models in health-related academic programs, and introduces the diversity and inclusiveness framework (DIF), with six interdependent components: addresses the program’s mission, identifies core competencies, develops diversity and inclusiveness plans, requires faculty and staff training, implements curricular and co-curricular components, and assesses student’s perception of diversity.

"Disenfranchisement: Historical Underpinnings and Contemporary Manifestations" Public Administration Quarterly 39, no. 1 (2015): 3-50.

Argues that disenfranchisement becomes apparent through the implementation of colorblind policies that impose a financial hardship, create confusion, limits access to the ballot, dilutes the vote geographically, or uses subjective measures of eligibility. Discusses the disproportionate effect on racial and ethnic minorities that prevents full access to the rights and privileges associated with being an American citizen.

"Invisible Job Seeker: The Absence of Ex-Offenders in Discussions of Diversity Management" (with Marie Pryor). Public Administration Quarterly 37, no. 3 (2013): 136-158.

Illuminates the reasons why ex-offenders are left out of workplace diversity literature; to explicate the consequences of such exclusion; as well as to highlight the benefits that can be attained by diversity management geared toward the inclusion of ex-offenders. Suggests ways that inclusion of the ex-offender population can be achieved both theoretically and in practice.