FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The New England First Amendment Coalition is seeking nominations for its 2020 Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award.
The award is given to an individual from one of the six New England states who has fought for information crucial to the public’s understanding of its community or what its government is doing — or not doing — on its behalf. The candidate should have shown tenacity or bravery in the face of difficulty while obtaining information that the public has a right to know.
Nomination materials can be found here. The deadline for submissions is January 10, 2020.
The award will be presented at NEFAC’s 10th annual New England First Amendment Awards luncheon from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. on February 7 at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel, 606 Congress Street in Boston. The awards luncheon is part of the New England Newspaper & Press Association’s winter convention.
Also to be presented at the luncheon are the Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award and the Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award.
The Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award, named after the late publisher of The Providence Journal, is given to an individual who has promoted, defended or advocated for the First Amendment.
The FOI Award, named for NEFAC board member and retired long-time Burlington Free Press reporter Michael Donoghue, is given each year to a New England journalist or team of journalists for a body of work from the previous calendar year that protects or advances the public’s right to know under federal or state law. Preference is given to applicants who overcome significant official resistance. Nomination forms for the FOI Award can be found here.
The Citizenship Award is named after Antonia Orfield, an author, mother, optometrist, clinical professor and active citizen. Orfield worked to improve the schools in the communities she lived in, serving on one of the first elected local school councils in Chicago. She operated a vision clinic in Mather Elementary School in Dorchester, Mass., which documented the improvement of children’s grades and test scores with unconventional vision-related remedies to learning problems. The findings were published in several articles and in “Eyes for Learning,” her 2007 book.
Previous recipients of the Citizenship Award include:
• 2019 David Saad | Saad co-founded Right to Know NH as a nonpartisan citizen coalition working to improve transparency of New Hampshire state, county, and local governments.
• 2018 Hyde Square Task Force | A group of teenage-volunteers used the Mass. public records law to find an unenforced agreement between the city of Boston and the owners of TD Garden to give millions of dollars back to their community.
• 2017 Donna Green | Green won a public records battle in the New Hampshire Supreme Court which required the distribution of public, non-confidential information in commonly used electronic formats when available.
• 2016 Michael A. Champa | Champa uncovered inequities in special education services provided by Massachusetts towns after fighting a public records battle that was decided in his favor by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court.
• 2015 Harriet Cady | Cady is a long-time open government activist, frequently speaking on freedom of information concerns and helping to create the watchdog group Right to Know NH.
• 2014 Kit Savage | Savage’s investigation uncovered violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which formed the basis of a complaint to the Connecticut Department of Education.
• 2013 David Lang | After a nine-year crusade, Lang exposed the mismanagement of health insurance premiums, resulting in a court order to refund $53 million to New Hampshire public employees.
NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.
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Major Supporters of NEFAC include Hearst Connecticut Media Group, the Barr Foundation, The Boston Globe, WBUR and Boston University.