Our Board Team
Nuri Heckler is an assistant professor of Public Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, teaching human relations, race, gender, nonprofit management, and administrative law. His research focuses on discovering influences that dominate most of public life, such as whiteness, masculinity, and consumer/aspirational class, and exposing those institutions for free and open debate. He is a proud parent of two and a tenacious bicycle commuter.
Ashley E. Nickels, Ph.D., is associate professor of political science at Kent State University. Her work focuses on issues of urban politics, governance, and community using a social equity lens. She is the author of the award-winning book, Power, Participation, and Protest in Flint, Michigan. She has co-authored and co-edited four books and published in a range of journals, including Administrative Theory & Praxis, State and Local Government Review, Urban Affairs Review. Dr. Nickels is the co-PI of the Growing Democracy Project and co-host of the Growing Democracy Podcast. She received her PhD in Public Affairs, with a specialization in community development, from Rutgers- Camden.
Anthony Starke is an assistant professor of public affairs at the University of Colorado Denver. His work revolves broadly around issues of democracy, identity, citizenship, and equity, with specific interests in vulnerable and traditionally marginalized populations and public service education. His research examines the role of public administrators in constructing the identity of target populations and how public service education can help promote positive social constructions and equitable outcomes. Dr. Starke has published in Administrative Theory & Praxis, Journal of Public Affairs Education, State and Local Government Review, Metropolitan Universities Journal, and several book chapters and technical reports.
Peter’s research focuses on the politics of administration, and how bureaucrats engage in political action and behavior. His research engages public administration within the political, historical, and cultural context in which it exists. His work has appeared in Public Administration Review, Public Integrity, Public Performance and Management Review, and elsewhere.
Sebawit G. Bishu is an Assistant Professor in the School of Public Affairs (SPA) at the University of Colorado Denver. Her research interests center around gender equity, urban governance, organizational behavior, and public management. Dr. Bishu currently applies her interests within the context of health and human service organizations as well as local governments within the U.S. and the Sub Saharan Africa region. Dr. Bishu has published in peer-reviewed journals such as Administration and Society, American Review of Public Administration, and Review of Public Personnel Administration.
Brad A. M. Johnson is a PhD student at NC State University who studies the causes of public system complexity particularly through the lens of government technology, civic engagement, and local governance. Future research includes the effects of that complexity on public values. He was previously an urban planner and co-founded a software company to manage public involvement.
Jessica E. Sowa is a Professor in the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy & Administration at the University of Delaware. Her research focuses on public and nonprofit management, with an emphasis on the management of human resources (HRM) in public and nonprofit organizations, organizational effectiveness, and collaboration. With Jessica Word, she is the editor of The Nonprofit Human Resource Management Handbook: From Theory to Practice (CRC Press/Routledge). With Jone Pearce, she is the author of Organizational Behavior: Real Research for Public and Nonprofit Managers (Melvin and Leigh Publishers). She is the editor-in-chief of the Review of Public Personnel Administration.
@SethRWright is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Utah. His research interests include municipal transparency mechanisms, the politics of experience, and Eurasian public administration.
History of the Network
The Network formed on May 4, 1978 in response to the lack of a common space affording like-minded academics a place to discuss theoretical ideas in the field of public administration. At that time, such dialogue fell outside of the mainstream focus of significant journals and conferences and the origins of the Network rest in the effort to address this issue. The name, “Public Administration Theory Network” was coined by Guy Adams in a letter detailing just what was needed. Adams assumed an informal role of a coordinator, and crafted an informal series of discussions via the newsletter Dialogue that would grow to include an annual conference, journal, and fellows program for developing new theorists. The “coordinator” role would continue, though responsibilities between journal editor and coordinator would come to be divided into two roles. (Previous coordinators of the Network include Gary Marshall and Eric Austin.)
Though ATP had been largely self-published since its founding by Jon Jun; (more on this later) and under Jun and, then, Richard Box the journal gradually became more professionalized. With time, it no longer was really an informal outlet to exchange ideas but a fully-fledged peer reviewed journal with a fledging international reputation. Yet the journal was, in essence, still self-published with considerable manual labor required to copy edit and distribute the journal. The world of the academy was also changing and faculty were coming under increasing pressure to publish more and in high quality outlets; and to become ever more “entrepreneurial” in their academic work. The world also had gone digital with students and faculty accessing journals electronically rather than in print. In short, the previous model of publishing the journal needed to be updated.
In 2008, Thomas Catlaw (as editor) and Angela Eikenberry (as managing editor) were selected as part of a team to edit ATP. They made contracting with a commercial publisher a key element in their plans for the journal. As they saw it, this would free the editorial team from basic copyediting and formatting tasks, provide resources for electronic distribution and marketing, and, in time, raise the visibility of the journal. As Catlaw and Eikenberry sought a publisher, questions arose. The Network was an informal group. Did it own the journal? Could it enter into contracts? Could it collect royalties? Where would the money go?
At the same time, similar issues were complicating the management of the conference. University accounting officers grew leery of interacting with such an informal entity. Whereas universities once had been willing to act as “fiscal agents” on our behalf in the past, they now were reluctant to deal with an entity that did not have a bank account or a Tax Payer ID. It became hard to advance the aims of the journal and the Network in the face of such challenges.
Catlaw and Eikenberry pressed ahead with finding a commercial publisher, ultimately partnering with long-time friend of the Network and publisher of many Network authors, Harry Briggs, at M.E. Sharpe. The first ATP published by M.E. Sharpe was the March 2009 edition. (M.E. Sharpe would be sold to Taylor & Francis during the editorship of Larry Luton. T&F remains the publishers of the journal.) Parallel with this, a committee was formed and led by the then-coordinator of the Network, Eric Austin, to incorporate the Network as a nonprofit membership organization in Montana (Austin was on the faculty of Montana State University). An interim Board was named to draft bylaws and get an organization up and running.
This was, for some, a somewhat bittersweet moment. While the membership recognized and voted in favor of incorporation in the face of the real challenges we faced, many understandably lamented the “end of an era.” Yet throughout those discussions there persisted the important, even noble, idea of trying to maintain the Network’s open, informal, and democratic ethos while struggling with the demands of organizational formality and the contemporary university. This continues to be part of the Network’s culture.