Ashley Nickels, Ph.D.

Kent State University

Phone: 8562256189

Address: PO Box 5190, 302 Bowman Hall

City: Kent, Ohio - 44242

Country: United States

About Me:

Ashley E. Nickels is an assistant professor of political science at Kent State University. Dr. Nickels is an interdisciplinary scholar, whose teaching and research centers on issues of power, privilege, and democratic participation in the fields of urban politics, nonprofit and community-based organizations, and public administration. Her work is highly influenced by her years working in feminist community activism. Dr. Nickels is co-editor of Grand Rapids Grassroots: An Anthology (with Dani Vilella, Belt Publishing) and Community Development and Public Administration Theory: Promoting Democratic Principles to Improve Communities (with Jason D. Rivera, Routledge Press). She also serves as Chair-Elect of ARNOVA's section on Community and Grassroots Associations.

Research Interests

Gender and Politics

Urban Politics


Public Administration

Race, Ethnicity and Politics

State and Local Politics

Policy Feedback

Grassroots Organization /organizing

Local Governance

Power & Privilege

Countries of Interest

United States


Journal Articles:

(2016) Approaches to Municipal Takeover: Home Rule Erosion and State Intervention in Michigan and New Jersey, State and Local Government Review

Municipal takeovers proceed by a state declaring that a municipality is in fiscal crisis and placing it in receivership, handing over most local processes to a state-appointed manager. 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.

(2015) Pedagogical Perspectives on Teaching Community Development, Journal of Public Affairs Education

Community development coursework is scattered throughout the public affairs curricula. It is sometimes found as a stand-alone class, but more commonly as a component of an economic development, urban planning, or international development class. This symposium grew out of a series of conversations with colleagues about the role that community development programs and courses serve in public affairs education. I was interested in hearing others’ thoughts about community development as a subfield of public policy and public administration (rather than of social work or planning), and particularly about the importance of social inequality and cultural competency as it relates to community development curricula.

(2014) Social Capital, Community Resilience, and Faith-Based Organizations in Disaster Recovery: A Case Study of Mary Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church, Risk Hazards and Crisis in Public Policy

Because governmental structures put in place to mitigate disaster risks and aid communities in the disaster recovery process have, at times, proven to be inadequate, reliance on other types of organizations is necessary for some communities to survive. Although there are a number of different actors that played a role in the reestablishment of communities within New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina took place, the Mary Queen of Vietnam (MQVN) Catholic Church is a prime example of how a community-based organization stepped in to address the needs of its community. This article examines how MQVN garnered social capital within its surrounding community to pursue successful community development in the absence of and opposition to governmental support and political resistance. This article will first review the government failure and decrease in civic trust that fostered a robust third-sector response in disaster recovery and redevelopment. Then, using social capital theory, the article supports the notion that civic distrust and confidence is derived from government and institutional performance, rather than increasing individualism or declining social trust. Finally, implications for federal disaster policy and third-sector disaster interventions are proposed.

Books Written:

(2018) Community Development and Public Administration Theory: Promoting Democratic Principles to Improve Communities, Routledge

The concept of community development is often misunderstood, holding different meanings across different academic disciplines. Moreover, the concept of community development has been historically abstracted, not only in the way the concept has been conceptualized in academic studies, but also by the way in which practitioners use the term in the vernacular. Departing from traditional definitions of community development, this volume applies the New Public Service (NPS) perspective of Public Administration to community development to illustrate how public administrators and public managers can engage in community development planning and implementation that results in more equitable and sustainable long-term outcomes.

(2017) Grand Rapids Grassroots: An Anthology, Belt Publishing

While Grand Rapids is known for large-scale events like ArtPrize; major businesses like Meijer, Steelcase, and Amway and the philanthropic and political contributions of its wealthiest residents, there are hundreds — if not thousands — of grassroots activists working day-in and day-out to make Grand Rapids what it is and making it what it can be. This project seeks to raise the voices of those individuals and grassroots groups. Ashley E. Nickels and Dani Vilella have joined forces to compile articles, poetry, and personal narratives about and by Grand Rapids, Michigan’s grassroots activists. Grand Rapids Grassroots: An Anthology is part of Belt Publishing’s series of city-based anthologies.

Media Appearances:

TV Appearances:

(2017) WKBN

Quoted in Tyler Trill's segment, "2018 Ohio Governors Race Could See Record Number of Females."

Newspaper Quotes:

(2017) Rapid Growth Media

Interview with Anna Gustafson about the release of Grand Rapids Grassroots: An Anthology.