I am currently a Democracy Visiting Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and an Associate Professor in the School of Peace and Conflict Studies at Kent State University.
My research focuses on urban politics, community power, and local governance. I work at the nexus of urban politics, nonprofit studies, and public policy and administration. My area of specialization is community development, broadly defined. Further, my work is highly influenced by my years working in feminist community activism and my commitment to a critical research practice.
I have several inter-related research streams. The first examines how communities (local residents and organized interests) understand (make meaning of) and respond to (e.g. participation or protest) local policies, be they municipal takeovers, land use, or economic development. I also have work that examines how community-based organizations and local activists frame their organizing efforts, drawing on urban social movement, community organizing, and feminist literatures. I have another stream of research that looks more broadly at governance, street-level bureaucrats, and policy implementation, interrogating the policy paradoxes (see Deborah Stone’s excellent work) and ethical implications of balancing technical rationality (and efficiency) with social equity. Finally, my other works are, in many ways, reflective pieces that examine the challenges and opportunities of being an teacher, a qualitative scholar, and a woman in the academy. While I separate them here, each stream influences and is informed by the others.
I am the author or co-editor of five books. I am author of the award winning book Power, Participation, and Protest in Flint, Michigan: Unpacking the Policy Paradox of Municipal Takeover (2019), which was published by Temple University Press.
I am also co-author of the fifth edition of Unmasking Administrative Evil (2019; co-authored with Danny Balfour and Guy Adams). My other three books are co-edited volumes: Feminist Pedagogy, Practice, and Activism: Improving Lives for Girls and Women (Co-edited with Jennifer L. Martin, Martina Sharp-Grier; 2017, Routledge), Grand Rapids Grassroots: An Anthology (Co-edited with Dani Vilella; 2017, Belt Publishing), and Community Development and Public Administration Theory: Empowerment through the Enhancement of Democratic Principles (Co-edited with Jason D. Rivera; 2018, Routledge).
As an interdisciplinary scholar, I have published my research and writing in outlets such as Urban Affairs Review (2019), State and Local Government Review (2016) and the Journal of Public Affairs Review (2010, 2011, 2015), Risks, Hazards, and Crises (2015), and Feminist Formations (2018), and Research in Social Movements, Conflict and Change (2018), and as book chapters.
I received my PhD in public affairs with a specialization in community development from Rutgers University- Camden. I am originally from Grand Rapids, MI. I completed both my bachelors and masters degrees at Grand Valley State University (Laker for a Lifetime!), before leaving the state to pursue my doctorate at Rutgers. I was recently named Outstanding Alumni-in-Residence by the GVSU College of Arts and Sciences.