National Freedom of Information Coalition
Protecting Your Right to Open Government

2009 FOI Summit Panelists

Paul Anger | Charles N. Davis | Jaimi Dowdell | Katherine Garner | Frank Gibson | Charles Glasser | Jane E. Kirtley | Jeff Lennan | Patrice McDermott | Mary Jo McGuire | James R. Nobles | Tom O'Hara | Rebecca Otto | Karl Pearson-Cater | Barbara Petersen | Kathleen Richardson | James Eli Shiffer | Lisa Skube | Tisha Thompson | Richard J. H. Varn

Paul Anger

Editor and Publisher, Detroit Free Press

Mr. Anger was named editor and publisher of the Detroit Free Press in April, 2009, after serving as vice president and editor since August, 2005. He supervises 260 journalists, including reporters, photographers, videographers, artists, editors and Web producers who craft news coverage, multimedia content and commentary for the Free Press and Under his leadership, the newspaper has enhanced its commitment to watchdog and investigative journalism, launched new products, become an industry leader in video production and video quality (winning more national Emmy awards than any newspaper-based Web site) and shown record growth on Mr. Anger serves on the Detroit Media Partnership executive committee and is a board member of Detroit’s Metropolitan Affairs Coalition. He has twice served as a Pulitzer Prize judge and has been recognized four times with the Gannett Company’s President’s Ring, awarded annually to the top 10 editors across the company’s 80-plus newspapers. Before coming to Detroit, he was vice president and editor of the Des Moines Register. The Register was a Pulitzer finalist in investigative reporting during his tenure there.

Mr. Anger is the keynote speaker for Saturday's luncheon.

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Charles N. Davis

Executive Director, National Freedom of Information Coalition

Charles N. Davis worked for nearly ten years as a journalist after his graduation from North Georgia College in 1986, working for newspapers, magazines and a news service in Georgia, Florida and Ireland. He completed a master's degree from the University of Georgia's Henry W. Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communication and to earn a doctorate in mass communication from the University of Florida in 1995. As a member of the Missouri School of Journalism faculty since 1999, he has continued to write for business and legal publications while conducting scholarly research on access to governmental information and new media law, including jurisdictional issues, intellectual property and on-line libel. His first edited book, Access Denied: Freedom of Information in the Information Age, was published in 2001. Davis has earned a Sunshine Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his work in furthering freedom of information.

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Jaimi Dowdell

Training Director, Investigative Reporters and Editors

Jaimi Dowdell joined IRE as Training Director in October 2008. Before that she was computer-assisted reporting editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for more than three years. Her duties included obtaining and analyzing data for daily and long-term stories; training staff on CAR and investigative techniques; and maintaining the newspaper’s online data center. In addition to her work at the Post-Dispatch, she taught a CAR course for Washington University in St. Louis. Previously she worked at IRE and NICAR in the Database Library and Resource Center while completing her master’s degree at the University of Missouri.

Ms. Dowdell is participating in the FOI and Infrastructure panel.

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Katherine Garner

President, KLGarner Consulting, Treasurer, NFOIC

Katherine Garner recently started her own communications and nonprofit consulting firm after working for the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas for more than 14 years. She also serves as the Treasurer for the National Freedom of Information Coalition. She has a background in reporting, copy-editing and layout design from several colleges and local papers. She gained management experience in various retail organizations and as a Junior Volunteer Coordinator for Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children by supervising more than 150 junior volunteers. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business journalism from University of North Texas and a Master of Arts from the University of Texas at Dallas with emphasis in business and nonprofit management and communications.

Ms. Garner is participating in the FOI as Civics Education panel.

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Frank Gibson

Executive Director, Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, Vice President, NFOIC

Frank Gibson is executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, a press and public alliance that works to improve and preserve Tennessee’s public records and sunshine laws. Gibson chaired the Tennessee Press Association’s Freedom of Information Committee for 11 years and now serves as TPA’s FOI coordinator. In 2004, he organized the state’s first public records audit which surveyed city and county offices in all 95 counties. The audit led to a four-part "Your Right to Know" series distributed by the Associated Press to every newspaper and broadcast outlet in the state. He authored a study of open meetings violations in 2005, showing a 45 percent increase in complaints published between 2003 and 2005. He is a director of NFOIC.

Mr. Gibson is participating in the Coalition Sustainability panel.

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Charles Glasser

Global Media Counsel, Bloomberg News

Charles Glasser has spent the majority of his life in the news industry, as a journalist and as a media lawyer. In the early 1970’s Glasser – then a high school student – began his love affair with journalism as a stringer for United Press International attending the 1972 Democratic and Republication National Conventions. Through the 1980’s Glasser then became a staffer at several daily newspapers and international wire services, where he covered the civil wars in El Salvador, insurgency in Nicaragua, and various enterprise stories out of England, India, Cuba, Haiti and elsewhere. Glasser went to New York University School of Law, where he was editor of the NYU Commentator, where he won American Bar Association awards for Best Legal Editorial Writing. As a lawyer, Glasser worked in Portland, Maine representing Gannett, Readers’ Digest, and several local broadcasters in First Amendment and freedom of information issues. He joined Bloomberg in-house as media counsel in 2002 where he is responsible for pre-publication review, ombudsman issues, ethics inquiries, newsroom litigation and libel training for more than 1,800 reporters in 107 bureaus around the world. Mr. Glass is editor of International Libel and Privacy Handbook.

Mr. Glasser is participating in the Financial Transparency panel.

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Jane E. Kirtley

Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law, University of Minnesota School of Journalism & Mass Communication

Jane E. Kirtley is an internationally-known expert and lecturer on issues of media law and freedom of information. Prior to joining the SJMC in 1999, Professor Kirtley was the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and a columnist for American Journalism Review. Having received numerous awards and recognition for her work, Professor Kirtley received the Edith Wortman First Amendment Matrix Foundation Award from the Association for Women in Communications in 2004.

Ms. Kirtley is moderating the Financial Transparency panel.

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Jeff Lennan

Chief Operating Officer, Winning Mark

Jeff is Chief Operating Officer of Winnning mark. He manages the people and systems that help Winning Mark deliver powerful, comprehensive strategic services. In 1999, Jeff founded Digital Campaigns, Inc., the first software company to bring to reality the concept of a net-native, web-centered phone and walk canvassing system for election campaigns. This concept is now the center piece of the field efforts of the largest grassroots organizations. Digital Campaigns raised nearly $6 million in venture capital over 4 years.

Mr. Lennan is participating in the Ten Technologies You Should be Using panel.

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Patrice McDermott


Patrice McDermott joined as Director after more than 4 years as the Deputy Director of the Office of Government Relations at the American Library Association Washington Office. At ALA, she had lead responsibility for government information and privacy policy, and e-government policy issues. She joined ALA in December 2001, after having served for 8 years as the senior information policy analyst for OMB Watch. She previously served as the Assistant Director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association, taught information politics at Clark Atlanta University, and worked at the National Archives and Records Administration. Patrice was awarded her doctorate from the University of Arizona in political science and received an M.Ln. in library and information management from Emory University. Dr. McDermott is the author of Who Needs to Know? The State of Public Access to Federal Government Information.

Ms. McDermott is moderating the FOI and Infrastructure panel.

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Mary Jo McGuire

Faculty, Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership, College of St. Catherine

Mary Jo McGuire is an attorney; a public policy and leadership consultant; and an adjunct professor at the College of St. Catherine. Mary Jo served for fourteen years as a State Representative in the Minnesota House of Representatives and now consults and trains in the areas of ethics, leadership, civics/government education and engagement, public policy, advocacy, organizational change and conflict resolution. She is also the Associate Director of Learning Law and Democracy Foundation, where she is the State Coordinator for Project Citizen, a civic engagement curriculum for middle and high school students. Mary Jo teaches in the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership and Political Science Departments at the College of St. Catherine. Mary Jo has a BA in Business Administration from the College of St. Catherine, a JD from Hamline University School of Law, and an MA in Public Administration from Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. She is trained as a “qualified neutral” in dispute resolution cases.

Ms. McGuire is participating in the FOI as Civics Education panel.

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James R. Nobles

Legislative Auditor, State of Minnesota

Jim Nobles is the Legislative Auditor for the State of Minnesota. He directs a staff of 60 professionals. His office conducts 45 to 50 financial audits, 6 to 8 program evaluations, and several investigations each year. Most of these reviews are focused on state agencies and state-funded programs. Minnesota’s Legislative Auditor is appointed by the bipartisan Legislative Audit Commission. Jim is currently serving his fifth six-year term as Legislative Auditor. He previously served as Deputy Legislative Auditor for Program Evaluation. Jim earned a BA in political science and MA in public affairs from the University of Minnesota.

Mr. Nobles iis participating in the Financial Transparency panel.

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Tom O'Hara

Adviser, The Ohio State Lantern

Tom O'Hara is the adviser for The Ohio State Lantern, the student newspaper. He joined OSU in September 2008. Before that he did a stint as a professional in residence at the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Kent State University. He taught journalism ethics and news writing. Between November 2000 and September 2007, he was the managing editor of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. Before that he worked for The Palm Beach Post for 14 years, the last 11 as managing editor. He earned a bachelor's degree with honors in Humanities from Rutgers University-Camden, N.J. in 1972 and a master's degree in communications from the University of Florida in 1974. He then went on to work at several Florida newspapers including the Gainesville Sun, The Orlando Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News Journal, The Miami Herald and, finally, the Palm Beach Post. O'Hara is past president and a current member of the board of the National Freedom of Information Coalition and past president of both the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors and the Florida First Amendment Foundation. In 2006 he was named as one of "Rutgers-Camden Finest," a group of alumni honored for their professional accomplishments since their graduation. He has two children, ages 18 and 21. They attend Ohio University.

Mr. O'Hara is moderating the FOI as Civics Education panel.

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Rebecca Otto

State Auditor, State of Minnesota

Rebecca Otto was elected Minnesota's 18th State Auditor in 2006 after receiving the endorsement of three previous State Auditors from both major political parties. She is the first woman Democrat to be elected to the post. Public service is important to State Auditor Otto, who was elected to the Auditor's post after service in state and local governments. She served on the Forest Lake school board and on the district's ad-hoc finance committee. As a state representative from the Stillwater area she served on the House Local Government, Environment, and Agricultural Policy and Finance committees. In 2003, then-Representative Otto united legislators of both major parties in her effort calling for a truly balanced state budget. This helped earn her the prestigious New Legislator of the Year Award. State Auditor Otto holds a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Minnesota and a B.A. in Biology from Macalester College. She taught public school seventh-grade science for five years. She has served on several boards and committees and has been an active volunteer for a number of organizations, including Warner Nature Center and Big Brother/Big Sister.

Ms. McDermott is participating in the Financial Transparency panel.

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Karl Pearson-Cater

Director of Operations,

Karl Pearson-Cater is responsible for improving the efficiency of news and advertising production, and supporting the development of new products and services that will improve the user experience, build traffic and support revenue growth. Pearson-Cater most recently worked at as the product management supervisor in the Digital Media Business Development group. Previous to that, he managed all aspects of web systems and business development for from 1997-2006 as web director.

Mr. Pearson-Cater is participating in theTen Technologies You Should be Using panel.

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Barbara Petersen

President, Florida First Amendment Foundation, President, NFOIC

A graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia and Florida State University College of Law, Barbara A. Petersen is president of Florida's First Amendment Foundation. Before taking her current position in 1995, Ms. Petersen was staff attorney for the Joint Committee on Information Technology Resources of the Florida Legislature, where she worked exclusively on public records legislation and issues. She is a passionate advocate of the public's right to oversee its government, and is the author of numerous reports and articles on open government issues. Ms. Petersen currently serves as president of the National Freedom of Information Coalition and was appointed by Florida Governor Charlie Crist as chair of the Commission on Open Government Reform in June 2007.

Ms. Petersen is participating in the Coalition Sustainability and FOI as Civics Education panel.

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Kathleen Richardson

Director, Drake School of Journalism and Mass CommunicationExecutive Secretary, Iowa Freedom of Information Council

Kathleen Richardson is director of the Drake School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Des Moines, Iowa, where as an associate professor she also teaches reporting and writing and also media law and ethics. Prior to teaching, Richardson worked for 20 years as a news editor, copy desk chief and columnist at the Des Moines Register and the Des Moines Tribune. She also worked as a freelance book and magazine editor for Meredith Corp. She received her master's degree in journalism from Drake in 2001 and her law degree from the Drake Law School in 2002. She is a member of the Iowa bar. Richardson is also executive secretary of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, a non-profit coalition of journalists, educators, attorneys, librarians and others that promotes open government and is headquartered in the Drake journalism school.

Ms. Richardson is participating in the Coalition Sustainability panel.

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James Eli Shiffer

Reporter and Editor, Star Tribune

James Eli Shiffer started the Whistleblower blog and column for the Star Tribune in 2008. Before coming to the Star Tribune in 2005, Shiffer spent more than 12 years as a reporter and editor at The News & Observer in North Carolina. He is fascinated with the stories of regular people and believes in the power of journalism to make their lives better.

Mr. Shiffer is participating in the FOI and Infrastructure panel.

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Lisa Skube

Principal, Creaturekind Communications

Lisa Skube is the principal of Creaturekind Communications; she has served in multiple online/offline marketing leadership roles across the non-profit and for-profit sector for 17 years. She has produced campaigns and enhanced brand platforms for multi-billion dollar technology firms as an online customer experience advocate; provided site evolution and e-commerce strategy for companies like Hewlett Packard; and built creative services teams to deliver online initiatives for global clients. Lisa has also created social marketing programs to revitalize relationships with constituents and engage citizens for national, regional and local nonprofits, and has contributed to dozens of organizational development, planning, and evaluation efforts.

Ms. Skube is participating in the Ten Technologies You Should be Using panel.

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Tisha Thompson

Investigative Reporter, WTTG Fox 5, Washington, D.C.

Tisha Thompson uses FOIA almost everyday, much to the chagrin of public officials in and around Washington, DC, where she is the investigative reporter for WTTG-TV. A graduate of Princeton University and Missouri's Graduate School of Journalism, she has won more than 50 national and regional awards, including Sigma Delta Chi, Edward R. Murrow, National Headliner and 6 Emmy Awards. Tisha was recently selected as a 2009 finalist for IRE's FOI medal for her investigation of the antiquated filing system used to track millions of FBI files.

Ms. Thompson is participating in the FOI and Infrastructure panel.

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Richard J. H. Varn

Executive Director, Coalition for Sensible Public Records Access

Richard J. H. Varn has served as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the City of San Antonio since May of 2007 and previously served as the city’s first CIO in 2005 on an interim basis. For over 20 years he has also been a small business entrepreneur and managed his own consulting company. Founded in 1988, RJV Consulting serves public and private sector clients in the areas of information technology, business strategy, innovation, education, and public policy. He is the Technology Policy Advisor to the National Retail Federation, Director of the Coalition for Sensible Public Records Access, and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Educational Testing Service. From 2003-2008 he was a Senior Fellow with the Center for Digital Government. His technology honors include being named twice to the Federal 100 and winning the National Association of State Chief Information Officers Outstanding Achievement Award.

Mr. Varn is delivering the opening remarks at Friday's luncheon.

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