A scholar of civil society, democracy, and international development, I study how civic groups and organizations work to build change from the ground up.
I am an Associate Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs and a Senior Research Associate at Maxwell’s Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration (PARCC). From January to August 2023, I am a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Belgrade (Serbia). I have also served as a Visiting Scholar at the American University in Cairo (Egypt) and Birzeit University (Palestine).
My research examines how nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), voluntary grassroots organizations (VGOs), and local philanthropic foundations mobilize citizens for political, economic, and social change. I have conducted fieldwork in Serbia, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, and Qatar.
My first book, Delta Democracy: Pathways to Incremental Civic Revolution in Egypt and Beyond, was published with Oxford University Press (2020) and won the 2021 Virginia A. Hodgkinson Research Book Prize awarded by the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA). The book uncovers the strategies that Egyptian NGOs used to advance the aims of the country’s 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. It also provides concrete policy recommendations on how U.S. policymakers can restructure foreign aid to better help local community organizations fighting to expand democracy.
My second book manuscript, currently in progress, examines how contemporary youth mobilize for freedom. Studying the rise of voluntary grassroots organizations, social enterprises, and community philanthropy groups in Palestine, I analyze how youth in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are asserting Palestinians' rights. The book also considers the promise and potential pitfalls of international donors' efforts to support this locally embedded work.
My third book project, which is funded in part by a Fulbright grant, analyzes locally led development in Serbia.
As a 2020-2021 Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow, I studied the factors that shape U.S. democracy and development assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development.
My work has appeared in the journals Middle East Law and Governance, Public Administration and Development, Foreign Policy, Social Problems, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Nonprofit Policy Forum, and VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations.
I hold a PhD in Public Policy from Duke University.
An avid swimmer, I am a NCAA Division III All-American and a member of the Mount Holyoke College Athletics Hall of Fame.