From concept to community: Ascend Magazine one year later
Ascend Magazine Anniversary
In March 2022, Thentia launched Ascend Magazine to engender education, conversation, and community around regulation and licensure. One year later, Editor-in-Chief Paul Leavoy reflects on the community it has built and its bright future ahead.

Thentia is a highly configurable, end-to-end regulatory and licensing solution designed exclusively for regulators, by regulators.


Thentia is a highly configurable, end-to-end regulatory and licensing solution designed exclusively for regulators, by regulators.



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A little over a year ago, Ascend Magazine was just a concept. Amidst a patchwork of disparate regulated professions as varied as engineering, podiatry, and landscape design, leadership at Thentia saw common ground and a bigger conversation to be had. For while regulators deal with very different subject matter from profession to profession, the ‘how’ and ‘why’ remain fairly constant through them all: regulators license individuals, manage professional complaints and investigations, and conduct supporting activities in the name of public protection. They are, as Margaret Busse of Utah’s Department of Commerce put it, part of the ‘unseen force’ that permeates the public sphere, affecting all citizens whether they’re aware of it or not.

As such, Thentia, which provides regulatory information systems for regulators, created Ascend Magazine to engender education, conversation, and community around regulation and licensure.

In the year since its launch, Ascend has managed to establish its place within the broader picture of regulation by striving to showcase the people who do the work of regulation, the processes they follow and refine, the technology they use, and the bright possibilities ahead.

But it hasn’t been easy.

It’s hard to develop an audience for a net-new internet publication in the 2020s. It means standing out from nearly five billion other indexed web pages (exactly 4.95 billion at the time of this writing). It means attracting audiences in a world where it’s hard to displace people from the familiar feeds of their preferred social media platforms. And it means captivating that most precious resource – attention – in an age when it is constantly being stolen, by phone notifications; by likes, shares, and follows; by games, apps, and videos; and by an infinity of other alluring things to do.

When I started to explore the realm of licensure, regulation, and public policy at the beginning of my journalism career 20 years ago, I was struck by the enticing banality the curious often find when they go ‘deep in the weeds’. Beneath the sensational headlines of the 24-hour news cycle, there’s a wealth of nuance: rules, laws, tools, and people with unique perspectives. Nuance, however, is anathema to the restless attention economy of the present age.

I have long believed process proximity neuters bias of its reactive impulse; that as we’re forced to perceive the complexity – the who, what, where, why, and how – of something like regulation, the less reactionary we’re inclined to be, the less stridently partisan we become, and the more focused on common ground and sensible solutions we find ourselves.

It’s this ethic we’ve hoped to extend across Ascend. To our delight, it’s an approach that’s resonated and we are thrilled Ascend has managed to find such traction in its first year.

In that time, we’ve covered everything from AI, cryptocurrency, digital government, and cybersecurity to licensing reform, license portability, labor shortages, licensing compacts, cannabis and health care regulation, regulatory transformation, and so much more.

We’ve drawn thousands of subscribers to our weekly newsletter, Week in Brief, which brings the daily headlines of regulation and licensing to your inbox – something we began over 80 weeks ago, when Ascend started to materialize as a concept.

Beyond the daily headlines, we’ve provided hundreds of articles on everything from licensing fundamentals to how housecats can illustrate the merits of preventive regulation. We’ve welcomed dozens of seasoned regulators from around the world to discuss regulatory matters that transcend borders or else migrate across them, as many regulators learn from, replicate, and evolve models established by peers in distant geographies.

We’ve been proud to publish exclusive, experience-informed opinion, analysis, and insight from our growing network of contributors from around the globe, including esteemed doctor, lawyer, and academic Dr. Marie Bismark; NCSBN CEO David Benton; ethics and regulation professor Anna van der Gaag; esteemed regulatory guru Harry Cayton; Utah’s aforementioned Margaret Busse; and many, many others, whose contributions can be found in our Voices section.

But as much as our global contributors are a part of the ongoing conversation at Ascend, it’s important to acknowledge the people that are so vital to its ongoing success. In between ideation and publishing, an article, interview, or podcast trades many hands, from editorial to design to subject matter expert, and the quiet work done in the wings to make it all come together warrants attention.

Namely, these people are:

  • Senior Content Specialist Ariel Visconti, who provides in-depth explorations on regulatory issues while ensuring the many cogs needed to get content live are well-oiled, and turn on time.
  • Jordan Milian, who draws on a background in journalism and research to dig into key regulatory practices and themes.
  • Designers Zeynab Abdolghaffari and Deseree Lau, who render the often-abstract principles and processes of licensure and regulation concrete in the priceless visuals that are so integral to Ascend’s visual identity.
  • Michael Nitsopolous, who conceived of the magazine’s original design.
  • Developer Jithin Matthew, who keeps the publication’s digital experience seamless.
  • And leadership at Thentia, including Dr. Sheila Marchant-Short, VP, Regulatory, and CEO Julian Cardarelli, who grasps the broad landscape of regulation and technology writ large. His commitment to a better future for regulation permeates Thentia and Ascend Magazine.

Which brings us to the division of church and state: the ‘church’ being the software product of Thentia Cloud, the ‘state’ being the condition of regulatory licensing broadly. As I explained in my introduction to Ascend, we pride ourselves on being able to provide vendor-neutral, objective, useful content. If there is a bias, let us admit it upfront: we believe there is a better future for licensing and regulatory processes, and it is one that technology enables, and people deliver. If our editorial bias tacks in any direction, it favors that future.

And that future is bright, both for regulation at large and Ascend in particular. For as we look ahead to what’s next, there’s plenty in store: deeper research and analysis, premium reports, more contributors and conversations, a new weekly podcast, live interviews, expert panels, presence at events – including CLEAR’s International Congress in Dublin and Annual Educational Conference in Salt Lake City – and much more.

So, to our loyal audience and esteemed contributors, we offer our sincere thanks for being a part of our inaugural year. And to the visitors yet to come, we hope you find in Ascend a vision for a better future for regulators around the world.

Paul Leavoy is Editor-in-Chief of Ascend Magazine and writes on and researches occupational licensing, regulation, digital government, and public policy.



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Paul Leavoy
Written byPaul Leavoy
Paul Leavoy is Editor-in-Chief of Ascend Magazine and writes on occupational licensing, regulation, digital government, and public policy.


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