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Kimberly L. Nelson

Professor of Public Administration and Government; Director of Strategy, Programming, and Research, Center for Public Leadership and Governance

Kimberly L. Nelson is a professor of public administration and government at the School of Government. Her expertise and research on local government management, form and structure, and corruption has been published in Public Administration Review, The American Review of Public Administration, State and Local Government Review, and other journals.

As a member of the Center for Public Leadership and Governance, she conducts training and provides advice on leadership and management topics. Nelson is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, co-editor of State and Local Government Review, and serves on the editorial boards of Public Administration Review and The American Review of Public Administration. She joined the School faculty in 2013 and was named Albert and Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Term Associate Professor for 2017–2019. Nelson serves as the lead faculty member for the School's Public Executive Leadership Academy.

Previously, Nelson served as faculty member at Northern Illinois University.

Her accolades include receiving a Gregory J. Bielawski Illinois City/County Management Association Special Service Award for Service to the Profession (2022); being named the Albert and Gladys Coates Distinguished Term Associate Professor (2017); the  Distinguished Service Award, ASPA Section on Public Administration Research (2017); the School's Diversity Impact Award (2016); and the Legacy Project Award for Promoting Gender Equity in Local Government,The Illinois Legacy Project (2013).

Nelson received an MPA from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University. 


Selected Publications

Nelson, K.L. and Afonso, W.B. (2019), Ethics by Design: The Impact of Form of Government on Municipal Corruption. Public Admin Review, 79: 591-600.

Nelson, Kimberly L., and Stenberg, Carl W. 2018. Managing Local Government: An Essential Guide for Municipal and County Managers with Carl Stenberg. Washington, DC: CQ Press/Sage.

Nelson, K.L. and Svara, J.H. (2015), “The Roles of Local Government Managers in Theory and Practice: A Centennial Perspective.” Public Admin Review, 75: 49-61.

Municipal Choices During a Recession: Bounded Rationality and Innovation."  State and Local Government Review, 44 (1S): 44-63. K. L. Nelson, 2012.

Form of Government Still Matters: Fostering Innovation in U.S. Municipal Governments.”  American Review of Public Administration, 42 (3): 257-281. K.L. Nelson, K. L., and J. H. Svara, 2012.

Conflict and Cooperation in Municipalities: Do Variations in Form of Government Have an Effect?”  Urban Affairs Review, 47(5): 696-720. K. L. Nelson and K. Nollenberger.  2011.

State Level Autonomy and Municipal Government Structure: Influence on Form of Government Outcomes.”  American Review of Public Administration, 41 (5): 542-561. K. L. Nelson, 2011.

 Additional Publications

Refereed Articles and Book Chapters

Nelson, Kimberly L., and James H. Svara. 2015. The Roles of Local Government Managers in Theory and Practice: A Centennial PerspectivePublic Administration Review, 75(1): 49-61.

Lange, R. and Nelson, K.L. 2014. Advancing Women in Local Government: The Case of IllinoisPublic Voices, 13(2): 89–106.

Bryer, T., and Nelson, K.L. 2013. Social Media Adaptation in Urban Governance: A Conceptual Model.  In Citizen e-Participation in Urban Governance, Carlos Nunes Silva, Editor. IGI Global Publishers.

Gabris, G.T., and Nelson, K.L. 2013. Transforming Municipal Boards into Accountable, High-Performing Teams: Toward a Diagnostic Model of Governing Board Effectiveness. Public Performance and Management Review, 36(3): 473–496.

Nelson, K.L., Gabris, G., and Davis, T. 2011What Makes Municipal Councils Effective?  An Empirical Analysis of How Council Members Perceive Their Group Interactions and Processes. State and Local Government Review, 43 (3): 196–204.

Nelson, K.L., Wood, C.H., and Gabris, G.T. 2011. Innovation management in local government: An empirical analysis of suburban municipalities. International Journal of Organization Theory and Behavior, 14 (3): 301–328.

Nelson, K.L., and Svara, J. H. 2010. Adaptation of models versus variations in form: Classifying structures of city governmentUrban Affairs Review, 45 (4): 544–562.

Gabris, G.T., Davis, T., and Nelson, K. 2010. Demand and supply: Assessing the capacity of MPA programs to satisfy the growing need for professional management in local government. Journal of Public Affairs Education, 16 (3): 379–400.

Non-Refereed Publications

Nelson, K.L. and Svara, J.H. 2014. Upholding and Expanding the Roles of Local Government Managers: State of the Profession 2012. In 2014 Municipal Yearbook. Washington, DC: ICMA.

Nelson, K.L. 2014. Managed Competition. Book chapter in Alternative Service Delivery: Readiness Check (Ed. Kurt Thurmaier). Washington, DC: ICMA.

Gabris, G.T., Nelson, K.L., and Wood, C.H. 2009. Managing for innovation in local government: Three core strategic factors. Government Finance Review. 25 (6): 22–28.

Svara, J.H., and Nelson, K.L. 2008. Taking stock of form and structure in county governmentPublic Management.  90 (11): 21–26.

Svara, J.H., and Nelson, K.L. 2008. Council-manager government at 100: Growing and making a difference. Public Management. 90 (7): 6–15.

Nelson, K.L. 2002. Assessing the role of CAOs in strong-mayor governmentsNational Civic Review. 91 (1): 41–54.

Nelson, K.L. 2002. Elected Municipal Councils. Special Data Issue no. 3. Washington, DC: International City/County Management Association.

Nelson, K.L. 2002. Structure of American Municipal Government. Special Data Issue no. 4. Washington, DC: International City/County Management Association.

Kim L. Nelson CV (pdf, 109.20 KB)
Fields of Expertise
City and County Managers
City Government (Management)
County Government (Management)
Elected Officials (Non-Legal)
Form of Government
Governing Boards (Management)
Leadership Development
Local Government Organization/Administration
Public Administration
Public Management
Strategic Planning and Visioning
Women in Public Service
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