Hello. I’m Nicole Esparza, Ph.D.,  an assistant professor at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. I am also the Director of Graduate Programs in Nonprofit Leadership and Management.  I received my Ph.D. in Sociology from Princeton University in 2007. Prior to joining the faculty at USC, I was a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy at Harvard University. My work has been published in the American Sociological Review, Social Forces, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly and has received support from the National Science Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


+        nonprofit organizations and philanthropy
+        inter-organizational and social networks
+        mobilization and collective action
+        poverty and urban inequality

I study the policy and management of urban nonprofits with an emphasis on the social networks and collaborations between organizations. My current research examines the mutually causal relationship of social relationships and political mobilization in the gourmet food truck industry.

My overarching questions include: what makes organizational networks emerge?; how do networks benefit or constrain participants?;  and how can networks improve collective outcomes?