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National FOI Day conference speakers


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  • National FOI Day resources page

  • Steven Aftergood is a senior research analyst at the Federation of American Scientists. He directs the FAS Project on Government Secrecy, which works to reduce the scope of government secrecy, to accelerate the declassification of cold war documents, and to promote reform of official secrecy practices. In 1997, he was the plaintiff in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency, which successfully led to the declassification and publication of the total intelligence budget ($26.6 billion in 1997) for the first time in 50 years. An electrical engineer by training, he joined the FAS staff in 1989. He was inducted into the FOIA Hall of Fame last year.

    Scott Armstrong is an investigative journalist and executive director of the Information Trust, a nonprofit organization devoted to facilitating freedom of expression in the U.S. and abroad, improving the quality of journalism, increasing accountability in government through access to information and reforming abuses of government secrecy. He is the co-author with Bob Woodward of The Brethren, a narrative account of the Supreme Court from 1969 through 1976, and assisted Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward as a researcher/writer on The Final Days. He is the founder of the National Security Archive, a private, nonprofit research institute that provides journalists, scholars, congressional staffs, present and former public officials, other public interest organizations and the general public with comprehensive government documentation. He has been inducted into the FOIA Hall of Fame and awarded the James Madison Award by the American Library Association.

    John W. Berry is the national president of the American Library Association. He is the executive director of NILRC: A Consortium of Community Colleges, Colleges and Universities based in Chicago. The 25-five year old consortium has 60 members across Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. From 1990 to 1996, he was director of advancement and research associate professor at the University Library, University of Illinois at Chicago. From 1985 to 89, he served as executive director of the Library Administration and Management Association, a division of the ALA. He also has held faculty and management positions at Northern Illinois University, Elmira College in New York and Indiana University. He is a member of the Council of the American Library Association and is active in several library and educational associations. A widely published author and frequent lecturer, his areas of research interest include digital libraries, intellectual property, asynchronous (distance) learning, library-building design and fundraising for libraries.

    Kassy Benson worked on Capitol Hill from 1962 to 1984, joining the staff of Rep. John E. Moss in the spring of 1963 and remaining until his retirement in 1978. In 1975, Moss appointed her to his staff to oversee the Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, Calif., congressional offices. She also worked for the Honorable John D. Dingell on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. After leaving Capitol Hill, she worked for the Keystone Center, an organization dealing in conflict resolution, and then joined the lobbying law firm of Williams & Jensen as assistant to J.D. Williams, a position she held until retiring in 1994. A native of Alexandria, Va., she remains in the Washington, D.C., area and works full time for The John E. Moss Foundation on a pro bono basis, as do all associated with the foundation.

    Lucy Dalglish is the executive director of the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press. Prior to taking that position in January 2000, Ms. Dalglish was a media lawyer for almost five years in the trial department of the Minneapolis law firm of Dorsey & Whitney, LLP. From 1980 to 93, she was a reporter and editor at the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In 1995, she was awarded the Wells Memorial Key, the highest honor bestowed by the Society of Professional Journalists, for her work as chair of SPJ’s national Freedom of Information Committee from 1992 to 95 and for her service as a national board member from 1988 to 91. She also was named to the inaugural class of the National Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame in 1996. She earned a J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1995, a master of studies in law degree from Yale Law School in 1988 and a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of North Dakota in 1980.

    Steven Garfinkel served as director of the Information Security Oversight Office from May 1980 until his retirement in January of this year. As director of ISOO, he was responsible to the president for policy oversight of the government-wide security classification and declassification system and the National Industrial Security Program. He also led the drafting of the current legal foundations for the security classification and industrial security systems. Concurrent with his service as ISOO director, he served as chairman of the National Industrial Security Program Policy Advisory Committee, executive secretary of the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, and chairman of the Interagency Classification Management Working Group. Under special appointment, he continues to serve as chair of the congressionally chartered Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group, a position he assumed in December 2000. He previously served for almost 10 years in the Office of General Counsel of the General Services Administration and is a member of the District of Columbia Bar. Among a long list of professional awards he has received: 25 written commendations or citations from Presidents G.W. Bush, Clinton, G.H.W. Bush, Reagan, Carter and Ford.

    Patrice McDermott is the assistant director of the Office of Government Relations in the American Library Association’s Washington, D.C., office. She joined ALA in December, after serving eight years as the senior information policy analyst for OMB Watch, a nonprofit research, educational and advocacy organization whose goals include promoting public access to government information and encouraging broad public participation in government decision-making to promote a more open and accountable government. She co-directs OMB Watch’s Agenda for Access initiative — a project to strengthen public access to government information through a proactive agenda that grows out of the problems, needs and experiences of the nonprofit sector in the use of federal government information. She has lead responsibilities for promoting public-access initiatives, monitoring information policy and e-government issues. She has testified in congressional hearings and is a frequent speaker on public-access issues. She is also a regular columnist on information policy for Federal Computer Week. She was inducted into the FOIA Hall of Fame last year.

    Doyle McManus, Washington bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times, has reported on national and international issues for 25 years from Washington, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. His work on foreign policy has three times won the National Press Club’s award for diplomatic reporting. The Los Angeles Times bureau he leads, with 46 reporters, editors and columnists, is one of Washington’s most distinguished news operations. He is a frequent panelist on PBS’s "Washington Week in Review" and NPR’s "Weekend Edition," and has appeared on many other news shows, including "Meet the Press" and "Nightline." He is the co-author of three books including Landslide: The Unmaking of the President, 1984-88, a bestseller that The New York Times called one of the notable books of 1988. He is working on a book on post-Cold War foreign policy. He is a member of the Steering Committee of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

    Paul McMasters is the First Amendment ombudsman at the Freedom Forum. He joined the Freedom Forum in 1992 after 33 years in daily journalism, the last 10 at USA TODAY, where he was associate editorial director. He regularly writes and lectures on First Amendment and freedom-of-information issues. Additionally, he testifies before Congress and government commissions and serves as a resource for the public and the press on free-speech and free-press matters. He is a former national president of the Society of Professional Journalists and served as the National Freedom of Information chair for that organization from 1986 to 1990. He is a charter member of the FOIA Hall of Fame and is a recipient of the John Peter and Anna Catherine Zenger Award for his First Amendment and FOI work.

    Dan Metcalfe is co-director of the Department of Justice’s Office of Information and Privacy, which discharges the Attorney General’s administrative and government-wide policy responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act. After his graduation from the George Washington University Law School in 1976, he served a judicial clerkship then served as a trial attorney in the Department of Justice’s Civil Division for four years, specializing in Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act litigation. In 1981, he was appointed to his present position as co-director of OIP. In that position, he also has supervised the defense of hundreds of FOIA lawsuits at the district court and court of appeals levels over the past 20 years. He has been a career member of the Senior Executive Service since 1984.

    Kenneth A. Paulson is the executive director of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University and senior vice-president of the Freedom Forum. In his role at the First Amendment Center, he draws on his background as both a journalist and lawyer to promote greater understanding of the First Amendment and the freedoms it brings. He was a newspaper editor and reporter for 18 years, serving as the executive editor of Gannett Suburban Newspapers in Westchester County, N.Y., the executive editor of FLORIDA TODAY and editor of the Green Bay (Wis.) Press-Gazette. He also worked as managing editor of the Bridgewater (N.J.) Courier-News. As a reporter for the Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press, he won the Florida Bar's top award for reporting on legal affairs with his study of sentencing patterns in Florida's 20th Judicial Circuit. A 1978 graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law, he is a member of both the Illinois and Florida bars. He graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1975.

    John Podesta, visiting professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, served as chief of staff to President Clinton from October 1998 to January 2001. In that capacity, he was responsible for directing, managing and overseeing all policy development, daily operations and staff activities of the White House and coordinating the work of federal departments and agencies. He first served in the Clinton administration from January 1993 to 1995 as assistant to the president and staff secretary. He also served as a senior policy adviser to the president on government information, privacy, telecommunications security and regulatory policy. Following his tenure as staff secretary, he joined the faculty of the Georgetown University Law Center, his alma mater, as a visiting professor of law, teaching courses on congressional investigations, legislation, copyright and public interest law. In January 1997, he returned to the White House as an assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff.

    Richard Reeves is an author and syndicated columnist whose twice-weekly column appears in more than 100 newspapers. His twelve books include President Kennedy: Profile of Power, named the best nonfiction book of 1993 by Time magazine. His study of President Nixon, President Nixon: Alone in the White House, was published in October by Simon and Schuster and is currently on bestseller lists around the country. Former chief political correspondent of The New York Times and a frequent contributor to several of the country’s leading magazines, he is a senior lecturer at the University of Southern California and former Regents Professor of journalism and political science at UCLA. He has also made a number of television documentaries and has won all of television’s major awards, including an Emmy at ABC News, and Columbia-DuPont and Peabody awards at PBS’s "Frontline." Twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, he is currently a Pulitzer juror as well as a judge of the Los Angeles Times Book Awards. He has been an editor at New York Magazine and Esquire and has been published frequently in The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. He was the 1998 winner of the Carey McWilliams Award of the American Political Science Association.

    Timothy R. Sample is staff director of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He joined the committee in 1995 and has since served in a variety of roles, including staff director of the Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence and deputy staff director for the Intelligence Committee before his appointment as staff director in June 2000. He has more than 20 years of experience in intelligence and policy, having served in the U.S. Air Force, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of State. He has held several senior positions within the federal government, including deputy U.S. negotiator for the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks at its signing and the executive director of the Director of Central Intelligence Nonproliferation Center. His intelligence work has ranged across a wide spectrum, including collection, processing, analysis, production, requirements, and research and development. He also serves on the Armed Forcers Communications and Electronics Association Intelligence Committee and on the American Council on Germany.

    Frank Sesno was recently appointed to the position of professor of public policy and communication with George Mason University after 17 years at CNN. During his time at CNN, he held a series of influential, high profile positions, including senior vice president and bureau chief in Washington. In that role, he was responsible for the cable network’s largest newsgathering operation — including its White House, congressional, Pentagon, National Security and political reporting. He also oversaw Washington coverage of some of the most historic events of our times: the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, the Florida election standoff of 2000, the impeachment and trial of President Clinton, and military operations in Iraq and Kosovo. Currently, he is working on several documentaries, including a major project on the life and legacy of Ronald Reagan for the History Channel, and is developing a new public affairs program for WETA public television station in Washington, D.C. He is an active member of the Council on Foreign Relations and sits on the Board of Trustees of Middlebury College.

    Carl Stern, a former television news correspondent and spokesman for the United States Department of Justice, is the J.B. & Maurice Shapiro Professor of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University. A lawyer as well as a journalist, he covered the Supreme Court and the Justice Department for 26 years for NBC News. During his 33 years with NBC, he won two Peabody Awards, one for radio and one for meritorious service to broadcasting. He later served as public affairs director at Justice for more than three years. He has been at GWU's School of Media and Public Affairs for six years. He is a member of the Ohio and District of Columbia bars and has won several Freedom of Information Act lawsuits.