Former Public Leadership Board Members

Robert Cook

Bob Cook is Senior Vice President of Government Relations at HNTB Corporation having returned from a stint as Vice President of the Milwaukee Bucks. He has also spent time as the executive director of the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin, a 400-member trade association that promotes statewide transportation investment. Additionally, he was the executive assistant to the secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, where he assisted in setting transportation policy for the state’s programs and acted as a liaison between his organization, different levels of government, and the public.

Bob has extensive experience working with elected officials to build consensus for infrastructure projects and get the funding necessary to build them.  In 2012, he was appointed by Senate Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald, to the Wisconsin Transportation Policy and Finance Committee. In 2015 he was instrumental to the passage of Act 60, which authorized and funded a new sports and entertainment arena in Madison.

Ryan J. Owens

Position title: Former Thompson Center Director

Ryan J. Owens served as the first Director of the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership and is currently a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He earned his Ph.D. at Washington University in St. Louis and was a faculty member at Harvard University before joining UW-Madison in 2011. Owens earned his J.D. at the University of Wisconsin in 2001 and practiced law before attending graduate school. He is an affiliate faculty of UW-Madison’s Law School. Owens’s research focuses on American political institutions, with a particular focus on the courts. Owens is the coauthor of Supreme Court Opinions and Their AudiencesThe Solicitor General and the United States Supreme Court: Executive Influence and Judicial Decisions; and Supreme Court Justices, Their Motives, and Judicial Behavior (under contract). Owens has published articles in journals such as the American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, the British Journal of Political Science, Political Research Quarterly, the Journal of Law and Courts, the Georgetown Law Review, and elsewhere.