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Biographies of 2006 National FOI Day conference

Editor's note: Not all of the speakers' bios appear on this page. For links to other speaker bios, see the agenda.

Rick Blum coordinates, a broad coalition of journalists, labor, free-speech and environmental advocates formed to fight the expansion of government secrecy. As a policy analyst at OMB Watch from 1997 to 2001, he worked with librarians, environmental groups, freedom-of-information advocates, and others in the 1999 fight to maintain public access to chemical-accident risk-management plans. Blum has testified before Congress on EPA’s science program. Before returning to OMB Watch to coordinate efforts to fight government secrecy, he conducted research on the effects of the commercialization of science on environmental and public health protections.

Leslie Burger is the incoming president of the American Library Association and the director of the Princeton Public Library. She planned and funded the new 62,000 square-foot Princeton Public Library, which opened in April 2004. In 1991, she founded Library Development Solutions, a consulting firm that guided more than 100 libraries and cooperatives across the U.S. in strategic planning, space-needs assessments, evaluation and program implementation. Before joining the Princeton Public Library, Burger served as a development consultant at the New Jersey State Library, where she worked on leadership and marketing initiatives on behalf of the state’s libraries.

Charles N. Davis is executive director of the Freedom of Information Center at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and an associate professor and chair of the News-Editorial Department. Davis conducts scholarly research on access to government information and new media law, including jurisdictional issues, intellectual property and online libel. His first edited book, Access Denied: Freedom of Information in the Information Age, was published in 2001 by Iowa State University Press. Davis has earned a Sunshine Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Provost's Award for Outstanding Junior Faculty Teaching in 2001 from the University of Missouri.

Louis Fisher is a specialist in the law library of the Library of Congress. Previously he was an expert on separation of powers in the Library’s Congressional Research Service. Fisher has testified before Congress 38 times and is cited as an authority in a number of Supreme Court briefs. He is the author of several books, including Nazi Saboteurs on Trial: A Military Tribunal, American Law: Constitutional Conflicts Between Congress and the President, and Religious Liberty in America. His most recent CRS Report for Congress is “National Security Whistleblowers” (Dec. 30, 2005).

Mike German served 16 years as a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where he specialized in domestic terrorism and covert operations. German twice infiltrated right-wing extremist groups, and his work produced important criminal convictions in anti-terrorism cases. In 2004 he left the FBI, testifying before Congress in February of this year that he had been retaliated against for reporting the intentional falsification of records in a counterterrorism investigation. He is currently a senior fellow at and an adjunct professor at the National Defense University. A philosophy graduate of Wake Forest University, he has a law degree from Northwestern University Law School.

Daniel J. Metcalfe is the director of the Department of Justice’s Office of Information and Privacy, which manages the department’s responsibilities related to the Freedom of Information and Privacy acts. Since 1981, he has advised federal agencies on all aspects of FOIA administration and has supervised the defense of more than 500 FOIA lawsuits. Metcalfe also served as a principal adviser to the Department of Homeland Security on post-9/11 information policy, as well as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Prior to 1981, he was a Justice Department trial attorney and worked there during both college and law school in the early 1970s. He has been a career member of the Senior Exec­utive Service since 1984.

Pete Weitzel is the coordinator for the 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 FOI Coalition and served as its second president.

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