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Joseph W. Mead

Assistant Professor of Nonprofit Management and Public Administration, Cleveland State University
Areas of Expertise:

About Joseph

Mead researches the law of civil society, with a focus on volunteerism, free speech, and policy issues faced by small to medium-sized charities. He is also interested in the legal rights of the poor, particularly in the context of criminalization of the homelessness. His work has directly influenced policy at the federal and local levels. He currently serves as a contributing editor of the Nonprofit Law Professor Blog. 

Mead serves on the board of directors and regularly volunteers as an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, working on issues around the constitutional rights of protesters, the homeless, and public employees.  He previously worked for the United States Department of Justice.


How Fair Housing Programs Can be Bolstered by Laws Prohibiting Source of Income Discrimination

    J. Rosie Tighe , Megan E. Hatch ,

In the News

"Section 8 Allowed," Joseph W. Mead (with Megan E. Hatch and J. Rosie Tighe), ShelterForce, July 3, 2018.
Joseph W. Mead quoted on ACLU lawsuit of Ohio by Eric Heisig, "ACLU Challenges Panhandling Laws", March 1, 2017.
"Baseless Bias Accusation in Stay of President Trump's Immigration Order," Joseph W. Mead (with Jonathan Witmer-Rich and Milena Sterio),, February 16, 2017.
"CSU Students Work to Change Nuisance Law in Euclid," Joseph W. Mead, Sound of Ideas/WVIZ/Ideastream, February 2, 2017.
Joseph W. Mead quoted by Lauren Wilson, "RNC Could Cause Homeless Major Problems: Advocates Worry They May Not Get the Help They Need" NewsNet5, May 3, 2016.
Joseph W. Mead quoted by Mark Naymik, "Clashes Between Protesters and Cops Following Michael Brelo Verdict Need to be Examined" Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 16, 2015.
Joseph W. Mead quoted by Dave Nethers, "Vegan Teacher Fired over Facebook Post" Fox8, December 11, 2014.


"Who is a Nuisance? Criminal Activity Nuisance Ordinances in Ohio" (with Joseph W. Mead, Megan E. Hatch, J. Rosie Tighe, Marissa Pappas, and Elizabeth Bonham). Social Science Research Network (2017).

Discusses Criminal Activity Nuisance Ordinances (CANOs), local laws found in thousands of cities throughout the country which penalize property owners if repeated incidents of criminal activity related to their property occur over a set period of time. Finds these laws often have consequences for survivors of domestic violence and others experiencing crisis.

"Whose Voice? The Role of Charities in the Rise of Hyper-Policing of their Clients" Public Administration Review 77 (2017): 253-55.

Examines the role of charities in seeking aggressive enforcement of laws against their homeless clients, suggesting nonprofits do not necessarily serve as faithful representatives of their constituents.

"Source of Income Discrimination and Fair Housing Policy" (with Rosie Tighe and Megan Hatch). Journal of Planning LIterature 32, no. 1 (2017): 3-15.

Describes the legal and policy responses to the practice of landlords refusing to rent a unit to an otherwise-qualified tenant because the would-be tenant receives a housing voucher. 

"Law and the Volunteer: The Uncertain Employment and Tort Law Implications of the Altruistic Worker" Nonprofit Policy Forum 7, no. 1 (2016): 23-27.

Examines unsettled questions raised by an individual who donates service to a nonprofit organization, of that volunteer’s status under tort and labor law. Cryptic legislative language and inconsistent judicial precedent undermine predictability for volunteers and nonprofit managers alike, and the standards fail to reflect a coherent balance between the legitimate expectations of altruistic workers and the realities of the nonprofit-volunteer relationship.

"Courts, Constituencies, and Nonprofit Corporations: Enforcement of Fiduciary Duties in the Nonprofit Sector" (with Michael Pollack). University of Pittsburgh Law Review 77, no. 3 (2016): 281-344.

Nonprofit board members are required to comply with fiduciary duties.  This piece describes the state of the law and points out areas for reform. 

"Choosing a Court to Review the Executive" (with Nicholas A. Fromherz). Administrative Law Review 67 (2015): 1-64.

A person unhappy with a decision of a federal agency can often challenge that decision in court.  However, it is often unclear what court has jurisdiction to hear challenges to agency decisions.  This piece explores the existing framework and argues that it should be simplified.

"First Amendment Protection of Charitable Speech" Ohio State Law Journal Furthermore 76 (2015): 57-66.

Argues that speech seeking a donation is entitled to full First Amendment protection, whether conducted by an individual or an organization.  Thus, most anti-panhandling laws are an unconstitutional violation of the right to free speech.