Changing of the Guard at JPAE: Longtime Managing Editor Steps Down

Retiring after nine years as the managing editor of the Journal of PA Education, or JPAE, (and 12 years with PAEA), Libby Alesbury has made her mark on the journal and PAEA.

As readers of the Networker know, JPAE publishes scholarly manuscripts germane to PA educators and provides a forum for the sharing of ideas and innovations that will enhance the education of PA students.

Alesbury said that JPAE has made a significant contribution in helping to advance the profession.

“The journal is a great asset for PA educators because it is the only journal focused specifically on PA education and provides important research on issues that most PA faculty encounter on a regular basis. It also helps to make their jobs easier by offering innovative and interesting ideas about how to more effectively teach students the skills they need to become compassionate, competent providers,” she said.

When asked what she’ll miss about working on the journal, Alesbury said she’ll really miss working with Trent Honda, PhD, MMS, PA-C, the editor in chief, and with members of the Editorial Board, both past and present, and the other volunteers.

“It was inspiring to see how much some of them care about the journal and just the amount of time and effort they put into their volunteer roles. They were always willing to go the extra mile to elevate the journal. I also found it extremely rewarding working with authors to help them revise and tweak their articles to become the best they could be.”

A few issues of JPAE on a table

Her appreciation also extends to Dave Asprey, PhD, PA-C, chair and professor of the PA program at the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa. Asprey, the former editor in chief of JPAE, worked with Alesbury for almost 10 years.

“The role of managing editor can be very challenging at times,” said Asprey. “It requires a high level of knowledge and insight for each manuscript’s content and, at the same time, the interpersonal skills to work with the authors, the editor-in-chief, and the production staff. Libby did this with great aplomb for many years, making my role an easy one.”

Alesbury started at PAEA in 2010 as communications manager and became managing editor of JPAE in 2014. During that run, there were many changes, and Alesbury said she is proud of how the journal has grown, not just in size, but in the quality and level of articles that are being published.

“When I first started working on the journal back in 2011, we barely had enough articles to fill each issue,” she said. “Now, fortunately, there is a robust pipeline of accepted articles ready to be published. This is obviously due in part to the growth in the number of PA programs and faculty, but it is also the result of a push to encourage newer PA educators to get involved in research.”

Alesbury noted that she was also proud of the special 50th anniversary issue, published in 2017, to commemorate the anniversary of the profession.

“It was a monumental group effort to produce a fifth issue that year, which included articles on ‘hot topics’ by invited authors, along with other articles about the profession’s past as well as future,” she explained. “Hopefully, this special issue will remain a keepsake for members for years to come.”

By the time she joined PAEA, Alesbury already had a significant amount of professional experience. She spent the first part of her career working in broadcast journalism but moved into the publishing side of writing and editing in search of a better work/life balance after getting married and having children. Before joining the Association, she worked for the Children’s Defense Fund for 10 years as the managing editor of their numerous research reports and other publications.

On its website, the Children’s Defense Fund describes its mission as championing policies and programs that lift children out of poverty; protect them from abuse and neglect; and ensure their access to health care, quality education, and a moral and spiritual foundation.

Even though she will no longer be involved with the journal, she’ll still be using her vast experience with PAEA and communications for some upcoming projects.

Libby’s strong work ethic, communication skills, attention to detail, and knowledge of the publishing world will be greatly missed. I wish her some well-deserved rest and relaxation, along with time to attend to her many interests in her retirement.”

“I am going to stick around for a little longer to work part-time on this year’s Presidents Commission project to complete an article for JPAE and a presentation for the Education Forum. Then with my newly found spare time, I have plans to travel to England and Ireland this summer and also Istanbul during the coming year, as well as to Cape Cod and Vermont to visit family. Also, on the agenda is to get more involved in advocating for gun control, helping run our Airbnb in Annapolis, finding the perfect yoga class, and entertaining our 7-month-old puppy.”

Denise Rizzolo, PhD, MPH, PA-C, a member of PAEA’s Research team, has stepped into the role of Alesbury’s successor at JPAE.

“Libby was an outstanding editor for JPAE and will be missed greatly by both her colleagues and the community,” said Rizzolo.

Asprey said his colleague impressed him with her commitment to doing all the hard work of making the journal look fantastic without getting the public praise she deserved for her role.

“Libby’s strong work ethic, communication skills, attention to detail, and knowledge of the publishing world will be greatly missed. I wish her some well-deserved rest and relaxation, along with time to attend to her many interests in her retirement,” he said.

During more than 12 years with PAEA, there have been many memorable moments, but Alesbury said what first comes to mind are snapshots from the various Education Forums.

“Watching members hugging each other and staff after a three-year hiatus caused by the pandemic, listening to so many inspiring speakers over the years, and attending the Forum in 2018, held in Disneyland, which added an extra layer of fun. But the biggest ‘highlight’ of all has been getting to know and work with the people at both PAEA as well as the members,” she said. “The PA education community is such a tight-knit group. I hope that no matter how much it grows, it can always stay that way.”