Twyla Blackmond Larnell
Dr. Twyla Blackmond Larnell’s research and teaching interests focus on the interaction between politics, group identity, and the economy. More specifically, she focuses on urban/local politics and policy with an emphasis on race, ethnicity, and gender politics as well as local community and economic development policy. Professor Larnell’s research agenda is divided into two areas.
The first line of research centers on the seminal question of “who governs?” This area of research examines the structure of government, policy networks (public-private partnerships responsible for policy-making) as well as mayoral attributes (race and gender). The purpose of this research is to identify the political interests dominating the agenda-setting and policy-making process and examine their influence on policy. Dr. Larnell has a compiled a dataset including 705 American cities with populations larger than 45,000. Several variables are included in the dataset representing local government structure, municipal finances, mayoral characteristics, city socioeconomic demographics as well as policy issues (i.e. crime and housing). As a Faculty Fellow with LUC’s Gannon Center for Women and Leadership, Twyla has developed three papers focusing on woman and women of color mayors. More specifically, she’s analyzed the factors that influence the election of women and women of color to the Mayor’s office, variations in their formal powers, as well as their professional/civic backgrounds prior to office. This same dataset is also being used to reexamine “The Dilemma of the Minority Mayor” to determine if Black mayors continue to struggle to uplift their cities and if other minority mayors face the same dilemma.
Dr. Larnell’s second area of research concentrates on analyzing the impact of city policies on the social and economic conditions of low-income and predominantly minority communities. Dr. Larnell is currently investigating Chicago’s controversial use of Tax Increment Financing. This study compares the intent of the policy (to address “blight”) as well as how it performs across neighborhoods. Findings indicate that TIF districts in areas with low levels of blight are benefiting from tax increment financing while TIFs in overwhelmingly blighted areas are underperforming. Prof. Larnell is also investigating the impact of TIFs on the financing and closing of Chicago Public Schools. She has also utilized ArcGIS to conduct a spatial analysis of liquor stores to determine whether these establishments represent a stronger “hotspot” for violent crime in distressed communities.
Currently, Dr. Larnell is collecting data on Chicagoan’s thoughts of local government, policing and economic development. In an effort to oversample for people of color, who are often considered hard to target populations, she relied upon an online survey, social media advertisements and got out in the community! This same survey is also being conducted in Baltimore, Maryland.
In her pretenure career at Loyola, Dr. Larnell has been awarded the Gannon Center for Women Leadership Faculty Fellowship and LUC’s Office of Research Services Research Support Grant. She was also nominated for the Sujack Teaching Award and named a Master Teacher in 2015 (her second year as an Assistant Professor!).
Ph.D., Michigan State University, 2013