NEFAC Seeks Nominations for Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award – nefirstamendment.org

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 | justin@nefirstamendment.org

Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award Nominations

Deadline February 1, 2015

Nomination Forms Here

The New England First Amendment Coalition is seeking nominations for the 2015 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.

“We are looking for private citizens who have experienced difficulty accessing information important to their communities,” said Justin Silverman, NEFAC’s executive director. “We want to recognize those individuals who act as public watchdogs not because they are obligated to, but because they have a personal desire to educate themselves and others, and to hold their elected leaders accountable.”

The award will be presented at NEFAC’s annual First Amendment Luncheon from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. on February 20 at the Seaport Hotel, 1 Seaport Lane in Boston, Mass.

Also to be presented at the luncheon is the Stephen Hamblett Award and the FOI Award. The Hamblett Award, named after the late former publisher of The Providence Journal, is given to an individual who has promoted, defended or advocated for the First Amendment. The FOI Award is given to a New England journalist, pair of journalists or media institution for a body of work from the previous year that protects and advances the public’s right to know.

Previous recipients of the Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award include:

  • Kit Savage (Darien, Conn.) Savage’s investigation and public records requests uncovered violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Act and formed the basis of a complaint to the Connecticut Dept. of Education against her school district.
  • David Lang (Concord, N.H.) Lang spent nine years investigating the mismanagement of health insurance premiums by the New Hampshire Local Government Center. His findings resulted in an order to refund $53 million to New Hampshire employees.

“There are many New England citizens who are asking questions of their leaders, seeking information and trying to make sure their government is doing the right thing,” Silverman said. “They deserve recognition.”

The Citizenship Award is named after Antonia Orfield, an author, mother, optometrist, clinical professor and active citizen. Dr. Orfield worked to improve the schools in the communities she lived in, serving on one of the first elected local school councils in Chicago. Dr. Orfield 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.

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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