MSW/ MUP from the University of Michigan
Areas of Interest:
Rachel Wells’ research examines assumptions about poverty that shape social services and the role of community-based organizations (CBOs). Her research focuses on frontline work with community members as a key site situated within a CBO’s mission, funding requirements, and poverty policy. Through an ethnography of CBOs that combine community organizing with service provision, Rachel’s dissertation looks at whether and how CBOs can challenge dominant narratives of poverty through this combination of services and organizing. As ideas of poverty shape different aspects of social welfare, from policy to implementation to community organizing, her research helps to understand critical moments when ideas of poverty change or are maintained and the consequences of these ideas for anti-poverty programs and program implementation.
Rachel specializes in qualitative research, specifically at the organizational level. Her prior research on nonprofit organizations has been published in Voluntas: International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations (as first author) and Human Services Organization: Management, Leadership, & Governance and her research as part of a team focusing on youth civic engagement has been published in Children and Youth Services Review. She has also presented her research at multiple conferences, including Society for Social Work Research and Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Organizations.
Prior to her doctoral program, Rachel gained practice experience in macro social work, through work as a program manager with a Detroit public health non-profit and volunteering with grassroots community organizations in Detroit. These experiences with case management, human services program design, and grassroots community efforts helped her to identify challenges with service delivery and have influenced her interests in and commitment to both social work research and teaching.
Rachel continues to be involved with community organizations through her research and integrates this knowledge of community-based efforts into her teaching. Rachel has taught at the graduate level and undergraduate level, including Social Work policy and research courses. Through a year-long teaching fellowship, she designed and taught her own seminar, titled Aging and Social Justice in Los Angeles, drawing from her background in social policy, urban planning and community organizing. Additionally, she holds an MSW and MUP from the University of Michigan (2009).