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2005 FOI Day biographies

Floyd Abrams is a partner in the New York law firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel and is the William J. Brennan Jr. Visiting Professor of First Amendment Law at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Last year he served as chair of the New York State Commission on Public Access to Court Records. Abrams has argued frequently in the U.S. Supreme Court in significant First Amendment cases and was co-counsel to The New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case. He has represented the Times, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Time magazine, Business Week, The Nation, Reader’s Digest and other media clients. In 2003, he represented Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the National Association of Broadcasters in a First Amendment-rooted challenge to the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance legislation. Abrams served on the Technology and Privacy Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of Defense in 2003-04. He has received many awards, including the William J. Brennan Jr. Award for outstanding contributions to public discourse and the Learned Hand Award of the American Jewish Committee. He is the author of the recently published book Speaking Freely: Trials of the First Amendment (Viking, 2005).

Andy Alexander is the Washington bureau chief for Cox Newspapers, overseeing the reporting and editing staff in the nation’s capital as well as bureaus in Baghdad, Jerusalem, London, Beijing, Mexico City, the Caribbean, New York and the West Coast. Alexander currently chairs the Freedom of Information Committee of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. He began his career as a reporter for the Melbourne Herald in Australia and joined the Cox Washington Bureau in 1976 as a correspondent. He was named foreign editor in 1989, deputy bureau chief in 1994 and bureau chief in 1997. He has reported from more than 50 countries and covered armed conflicts in Vietnam, Angola, Iran and Iraq. Alexander has won or shared in the Raymond Clapper award for distinguished Washington correspondence, the Global Media Award, the Thomas L. Stokes award for environmental reporting, the Ohio Associated Press award for investigative reporting (twice), and the Ohio Associated Press award for feature writing.

Thomas S. Blanton is director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University in Washington D.C. The Los Angeles Times described the Archive as “the world’s largest nongovernmental library of declassified documents.” Blanton served as the Archive’s first director of planning and research beginning in 1986, and became deputy director in 1989 and executive director in 1992. He filed his first Freedom of Information Act request in 1976 as a weekly newspaper reporter in Minnesota and has filed many hundreds since, including the FOIA request and subsequent lawsuit (with Public Citizen) that forced the release of Oliver North’s Iran-contra diaries in 1990. Blanton’s books include White House E-Mail (1995). He co-authored The Chronology (1987) on the Iran-contra affair and served as a contributing author to three editions of the ACLU’s authoritative guide, Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws. In 1996, he received the American Library Association James Madison Award for “defending the public’s right to know.”

John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002. He is the first Texas senator since 1961 to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal government information laws. Last month, Sen. Cornyn introduced the bipartisan Open Government Act with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to update and improve the Freedom of Information Act. He is also chairman of the Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship Subcommittee. Cornyn has previously served as attorney general of Texas, Texas Supreme Court justice, and state district judge in Bexar County. In 2001, the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas presented him its James Madison Award for his efforts to promote open government.

Lucy Dalglish is executive director of the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press. Before joining the RCFP in 2000, Dalglish was a media lawyer for almost five years in the trial department of the Minneapolis law firm of Dorsey & Whitney, LLP. From 1980-93, Dalglish was a reporter and editor at the St. Paul Pioneer Press. She was awarded the Wells Memorial Key, the highest honor bestowed by the Society of Professional Journalists, in 1995 for her work as chair of SPJ’s National Freedom of Information Committee from 1992-95 and for her service as a national board member from 1988-91. She also was named to the inaugural class of the National Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame in 1996.

Robert Deyling is assistant general counsel at the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. He has extensive knowledge of state and federal court efforts to develop policies and court rules on privacy and public access to electronic records, and he assisted the Judicial Conference of the United States in its development of policy guidance for the federal courts. For the past three years he has organized the Conference on Privacy and Public Access to Court Records in conjunction with the Courtroom 21 Project of William and Mary Law School. That conference has become an important annual gathering of national experts, bringing together judges, academics, the media, and court officials representing over 25 state court systems and the federal courts. Before coming to the Administrative Office in 1995, Deyling was a Supreme Court Fellow in 1994-95, and a staff attorney for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1991-94.

Robert Gellman is a privacy and information-policy consultant in Washington, D.C. He advises companies, government agencies and other institutions on how to address privacy concerns on the Internet, implement the federal medical-privacy rules, and integrate privacy law and policy in their national and international operations. A graduate of Yale Law School, Gellman has worked on information-policy issues for more than 25 years. He spent 17 years as chief counsel to a subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives responsible for privacy, freedom of information, government-information dissemination, health-record confidentiality and other information-policy matters. He also served as a member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (1996-2000), a federal advisory committee with responsibilities for health-information infrastructure matters, including HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Carla D. Hayden is the executive director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, in Baltimore and the immediate past president of the American Library Association. Prior to coming to Baltimore, Hayden was the first deputy commissioner and chief librarian of the Chicago Public Library, an assistant professor in the School of Library and Information Science of the University of Pittsburgh, and the library services coordinator at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. She is a member of the boards of the Maryland African American Museum Corp., Goucher College, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and Library, and Maryland Historical Society, among other organizations. She was the recipient of the Librarian of the Year from Library Journal (1995) and was named one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women from Warfield’s Business Record (1996).

James C. Ho is chief counsel on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. He is also chief counsel of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship, chaired by Sen. Cornyn. He will serve as a law clerk on the U.S. Supreme Court during the October 2005 term. Before moving to Washington, Ho was a law clerk for Judge Jerry E. Smith of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He then served as an associate in the Washington, D.C., firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. In March 2001, he joined the U.S. Department of Justice, where he served as special assistant to the assistant attorney general for civil rights and then as an attorney-adviser at the Office of Legal Counsel. Ho is also a senior editor of The Green Bag.

Claudia James is president of PodestaMatoon, where she provides strategic counsel and government-relations assistance on First Amendment, publishing, telecommunications, broadcasting, hi-tech and intellectual-property issues. Before joining the firm in 1992, James was vice president of legal and government affairs and associate general counsel of the American Newspaper Publishers Association. She represented the association before Congress on First Amendment, communications, recycling, tax and labor issues. She also supervised the association’s legal filings with the courts and regulatory agencies. Before that, she served as legislative director to Rep. Peter Peyser, D-N.Y., and earlier worked as a legislative assistant on judiciary issues to then-Rep. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn. James also practiced law for two years with the Washington office of Kirlin, Campbell & Keating, specializing in labor law.

Jane E. Kirtley has been the Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota since August 1999. Prior to that, she was executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Arlington, Va. She was appointed director of the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law in May 2000, and was named to the affiliated faculty of the University of Minnesota Law School in March 2001. Kirtley speaks frequently on First Amendment and freedom-of-information issues. She writes the “First Amendment Watch” column for American Journalism Review. She is a member of the New York, District of Columbia and Virginia bars. She has earned many awards and honors, including induction into the Medill School of Journalism’s Hall of Achievement (1999); the FOIA Hall of Fame (1996); and receiving the John Peter Zenger Award for Freedom of the Press and the People’s Right to Know from the University of Arizona (1993).

Lee Levine is a founding partner of the Washington, D.C., law firm of Levine Sullivan Koch & Schultz and an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center. He has represented media clients in libel, invasion of privacy, copyright and related First Amendment cases for two decades. In the U.S. Supreme Court, Levine has argued Harte-Hanks Communications v. Connaughton (1989) on behalf of the newspaper defendant and Bartnicki v. Vopper (2001) on behalf of the media defendants. He has litigated in the courts of more than 20 states and the District of Columbia and has appeared in most federal courts of appeal and in the highest courts of 10 states. He is the co-author of Newsgathering and the Law (2d ed. 1999). Levine is a member of the Advisory Board of the Media Law Reporter and served as an ABA Advisor to the Uniform Defamation Act Drafting Committee of the Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.

Tara Magner serves as a counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she works for Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat. Magner advises Sen. Leahy on a variety of issues, including government secrecy and freedom of information, homeland security, crime and terrorism. She previously served as deputy director of the Winston Foundation, a private, grant-making institution supporting human rights in conflict regions around the world. She is a graduate of Wesleyan University and the Georgetown University Law Center.

Paul McMasters is the First Amendment ombudsman at the First Amendment Center. 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, free press and FOI matters. He is a former national president of the Society of Professional Journalists and served as the National Freedom of Information Committee chair for that organization from 1986 to 1990. He is in his second term as president of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government. He is also a charter member of the FOIA Hall of Fame and a recipient of the John Peter and Anna Catherine Zenger Award in 2000 for his First Amendment and FOI work.

David McMillen is on the minority staff of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight. As the full committee government-information specialist for Chairman Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., McMillen covers issues involving the collection, dissemination and preservation of government information. That assignment includes issues of privacy and confidentiality, public access, the National Archives and the federal statistical system and decennial census. In 1991 he joined the Senate Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulation and Government Information, working on the census, IRS, education, information systems, reinventing government, the federal statistical system, welfare reform, computer security, the Archives, and federal employees. He joined the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight in 1995. McMillen has published in a number of books and journals on popular culture, migration, population-projection methodology, and survey methodology.

Carol Melamed has been vice president of government affairs of The Washington Post since 1995. Melamed joined the Post in 1979 as assistant counsel and became associate counsel the following year. She had practiced law at the Washington, D.C., firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering from 1975-1979 and clerked at the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., for a year before that. She is the immediate past president of the Virginia Press Association.

Dan Metcalfe is co-director of the Department of Justice’s Office of Information and Privacy, which discharges the attorney general’s adminis¬trative and governmentwide policy respon¬sibili¬ties under the Freedom of Information Act. In that position, which he has held since 1981, Metcalfe has supervised the defense of hundreds of FOIA lawsuits at the district court and court of appeals levels, and has met with representatives of more than six dozen nations as they have considered developing their own freedom-of-information laws. Most recently, he served as the principal adviser to the Department of Homeland Security on matters of post-9/11 information policy, including the protection of critical infrastructure information and the prospective safeguarding of sensitive homeland security information. He became a career member of the Senior Executive Service in 1984, the youngest Department of Justice attorney then and since to hold such a position. Previously, he was a judicial clerk and then served as a trial attorney in the Depart¬ment of Justice’s Civil Division for four years, specializing in Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act litigation.

Geneva Overholser holds the Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Reporting, for the Missouri School of Journalism, in its Washington, D.C., bureau. She is a frequent print and broadcast media critic, and is currently co-editing a book, The Press as an Institution of Democracy. Overholser was editor of The Des Moines Register from 1988 to 1995. She has also been a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group, ombudsman of The Washington Post and a columnist for the Columbia Journalism Review. She has been a member of the editorial board of The New York Times, deputy editorial page editor and editorial writer for The Des Moines Register and reporter for the Colorado Springs Sun. Overholser was a Nieman fellow at Harvard and a congressional fellow with the American Political Science Association. She was named Editor of the Year by the National Press Foundation. Under her leadership, the Register won the 1990 Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service. In 2002, she received the Anvil of Freedom Award.

David Sobel is general counsel of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit research organization that examines the privacy implications of computer networks, the Internet and other communications media. He has litigated numerous cases under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking the disclosure of government documents on privacy policy, including electronic surveillance and encryption controls. His recent cases have sought disclosure of information concerning the USA PATRIOT Act, the Total Information Awareness program and the privacy impact of aviation-security measures and other homeland-security initiatives. He also has served as co-counsel in the challenge to government secrecy concerning post-Sept. 11 detentions and participated in the submission of a civil liberties amicus brief in the first-ever proceeding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. Sobel has a longstanding interest in civil liberties and information-policy issues and has written and lectured on these issues frequently since 1981. He was formerly counsel to the nonprofit National Security Archive, and his clients have included Coretta Scott King, The Nation magazine and ABC News. In 2004, he received the American Library Association’s James Madison Award.

Thomas M. Susman is a partner in the Washington office of Ropes & Gray. Before joining the firm in 1981, he was chief counsel to the Senate Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure and general counsel to the Antitrust Subcommittee and to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Prior to that, he worked in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. Susman is also general counsel to the Advisory Counsel of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and is on the board of the National Security Archive. His litigation experience includes a Freedom of Information Act action against the Central Intelligence Agency on behalf of an author seeking CIA reports; a suit against the State Department challenging its practice of deleting “non-responsive” information; and a second suit against the CIA seeking historical material. He has testified before Congress on FOIA reform and on the Electronic Freedom of Information Act and has written widely on these subjects.

Pete Weitzel is the coordinator for the newly formed Coalition of Journalists for Open Government, an alliance of journalism organizations working to limit government secrecy and fight for citizens’ rights of access to government records and meetings. Weitzel is a former managing editor of The Miami Herald who became involved in freedom-of-information issues with the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. He chaired that organization’s Freedom of Information Committee for 15 years and in 1984 helped found the Florida First Amendment Foundation, serving as president for its first 11 years. He also helped launch the National Freedom of Information Coalition and served as its second president. As president of the Florida First Amendment Foundation, he helped draft an amendment to the Florida Constitution that guarantees citizens a right of access to both records and government meetings. In 1997, he was selected as one of the initial inductees into Florida’s Freedom of Information Hall of Fame.

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