Heartland Institute Hires New Managing Editors for Four Public Policy Newspapers

Published September 17, 2014

School Reform News, Budget & Tax News, Health Care News, and Environment & Climate News aimed at elected officials, inform on issues from free-market perspective

The Heartland Institute is proud to announce four new members of its editorial team: Heather Kays as managing editor of School Reform News; Jesse Hathaway as managing editor of Budget & Tax News; H. Sterling Burnett as managing editor of Environment & Climate News, and Sean Parnell as managing editor of Health Care News.

The monthly public policy newspapers are sent to every federal and state legislator in America. An independent 2014 survey by Victory Enterprises found 74 percent of all state legislators either “sometimes” or “always” read one of these newspapers, edited and published by The Heartland Institute.

Kays takes the reins of School Reform News from Joy Pullmann, who is staying on with Heartland as a research fellow on education policy after editing the monthly publication since 2011.

“After more than a decade reporting for mainstream media news outlets I am thrilled to have a chance to effect change in a more meaningful and direct way,” Kays said. “The Heartland Institute is committed to presenting ideas on behalf of citizens who otherwise may not have a voice regarding subjects such as education policy and school choice. It’s an honor to work among people who have that level of passion and determination to seek truth.”

Hathaway takes over Budget & Tax News from Steve Stanek, who began editing the paper in its second year of publication in 2004. Stanek will remain with Heartland as a research fellow for budget and tax policy.

 “I’ve long admired the work Heartland has done educating legislators and the public about the virtues of smaller government, and no policy area is more important to upholding that principle than budgets and taxes,” Hathaway said. “I’m thrilled to join Heartland and bring my journalism and policy experience to such an important and effective publication.”

Burnett is replacing long-time Environment & Climate News managing editor James M. Taylor, who is taking a management position in the development department at The Heartland Institute. In addition to his new duties, Taylor will continue to serve as senior fellow for environment and energy policy at Heartland, offering his expertise to the media and the public. 

“Having worked with The Heartland Institute on a variety of issues for a number of years, I am thrilled to be joining the Heartland family as research fellow and managing editor of Environment & Climate News,” Burnett said. “Heartland is among the top free-market research institutes in the country. It has a real impact on policy at the federal, state, and local level. 

“James Taylor has led Heartland’s environmental policy efforts, and with his numerous successes – and the current stellar standing of Environment & Climate News – he has left big shoes for me to fill. If Environment & Climate News and Heartland’s other environmental policy efforts continue to reach new audiences and have a growing impact on policy under my stewardship, it will be, in part, because James laid such a solid foundation for my efforts,” Burnett said.

Health Care News is back to its regular publication schedule after going on hiatus after Heartland Institute Senior Fellow Benjamin Domenech stepped down last year as managing editor of the publication. Sean Parnell, who worked in Heartland’s development department about a decade ago, is happy to spearhead Heartland’s efforts at reporting about state and national health care policy.

“I’m thrilled to re-join The Heartland Institute and help to re-launch Health Care News,” Parnell said. “This publication has been fortunate to have been led by outstanding managing editors in the past, beginning with Conrad Meier and running through my immediate predecessor, Ben Domenech, and I hope to be able to build on the legacy they have created.” 

You can subscribe to each print publication by calling 312/377-4000, read stories from each daily online at the Heartlander digital magazine, and also sign up for email newsletters from Heartland to keep up on the latest news and commentary on these topics from a free-market perspective.


Heather Kays
Managing editor,
School Reform News

Kays ([email protected]) has more than 12 years experience as a reporter and editor covering mostly education and politics. She has written for the Herald News, The Record (the second largest newspaper in New Jersey) and the Staunton, Virginia Gannett newspaper the News Leader. Kays also has worked for the nonprofit education policy and school choice news group, Choice Media. Her work has been published by USA Today, the Associated Press, and various other newspapers and websites.

Kays has won numerous awards including second place for First Amendment writing (while working with four other reporters) from the New Jersey Press Association; third place for the Robert P. Kelly Award for first-year reporting from the New Jersey Press Association; second place by the Society of Professional Journalists for first-year reporting; and the Virginia School Board Association’s Media Honor Roll. In 2008, she won a scholarship to attend the Neiman Narrative Conference at Harvard University.

Jesse Hathaway
Managing Editor,
Budget & Tax News

Before joining The Heartland Institute, Hathaway ([email protected]) worked for Media Trackers, a conservative nonprofit news organization active in five states. His investigative research has appeared in local, state, and national publications including the Daily Caller, Drudge Report, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. 

Hathaway received his bachelor’s degree from Ohio University, where he majored in English. In 2010, he was one of several featured presenters at the Conservative Political Action Conference, giving an address on the subject of government transparency and accountability.

H. Sterling Burnett
Managing editor,
Environment & Climate News

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. ([email protected]) worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis for 18 years, most recently as a senior fellow in charge of NCPA’s environmental policy program. He has held various positions in professional and public policy organizations, including serving as a member of the Environment and Natural Resources Task Force in the Texas Comptroller’s e-Texas commission.

Burnett is a current director and past president of the Dallas Woods and Water Conservation Club; a senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation; an academic advisor for Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow; and an advisor for the Energy, Natural Resources and Agricultural Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Sean Parnell
Managing editor,
Health Care News

Sean Parnell ([email protected]) is a public policy consultant with more than a decade of senior leadership experience in political campaigns, nonprofit organizations, and public policy advocacy. His positions have included campaign manager for Congressman Greg Ganske of Iowa, vice-president of external affairs at The Heartland Institute, and president at The Center for Competitive Politics. Since 2011 he has run his own consulting firm, Impact Policy Management LLC.

Parnell has done extensive work on health care, both at the policy and consumer levels. He is the author of The Self-Pay Patient: Affordable Healthcare Choices in the Age of Obamacare, runs the Self-Pay Patient blog, and has written health policy papers for several think tanks. He also provides lobbying, fundraising, outreach, and strategic consulting services for a number of clients. 


The Heartland Institute is a 30-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.