Awards Luncheon 2014

About NEFAC’s Annual Awards Luncheon

February 7, 2014 at 12:30 p.m.
Boston Park Plaza Hotel

Twitter Archive (via Storify)

Featured Speakers
Kit Savage, Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award 12:36
Brent Curtis and The Rutland Herald, FOI Award 27:21
Jill Abramson of The New York Times, Introducing James Risen 40:37
James Risen, Stephen Hamblett Award 46:11


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 Photos Courtesy David Rosen

Awards Luncheon 2014 News

Official Invitation (.pdf)

2014 Award Recipients

  • Stephen Hamblett Award | James Risen, The New York Times

James Risen is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who’s done ground-breaking work on domestic spying and now faces legal peril for refusing to disclose the source for his account of a failed CIA operation in Iran. An investigative reporter for The New York Times, Risen was told by a divided 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to identify his source and testify in the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who’s charged with leaking classified information to Risen in violation of the Espionage Act, a dusty law cited with new frequency by the administration in efforts to crack down on leakers. Risen, despite the threat of imprisonment, has refused.

“James Risen is not just one of the best investigative reporters in the country. He is a journalist of enormous principle and courage, so committed to the public’s right to know that he is willing to sacrifice his own freedom in defense of the freedoms that make it possible for all journalists to hold government officials and institutions accountable,” said Walter V. Robinson, chairman of the New England First Amendment Coalition committee that recommended Risen for the Hamblett award.

  • Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award | Kit Savage, Darien, Conn.


“Kit Savage has likely done more to promote open governance in Darien, Connecticut than anyone in the town’s history,” wrote David DesRoches, a reporter from the Darien Times who has written more than 120 stories on the legal rights of disabled students in Darien and submitted Savage’s nomination letter for award. “She came to me, a reporter at the local paper… armed with a vast knowledge that she gained during years of research. She filed numerous FOIA requests many of which were denied illegally or answered incompletely. She persevered… She has stood up for the town’s most vulnerable children… [and] embodies what it means to be a good citizen, to care about the greater good, about what is right and to hold those in power accountable.”

Her requests and investigation uncovered a litany of violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which formed the basis of a complaint against the district to the state Department of Education. Through an investigation launched as a result of the complaint, 32 violations of the IDEA were identified, which together hampered the education of more than 100 special education students in Darien. As a result of the state Department of Education investigation, the Darien school district hired one of the nation’s foremost civil rights experts on education, Attorney Sue Gamm, to conduct an extensive evaluation. Savage continues to be on the front lines pressing the district to make good on the recommendations of the reports, as it seems to parents that recommended changes have yet to be felt on the front lines.

  • FOI Award | Brent Curtis and The Rutland Herald


Brent Curtis, a reporter for The Rutland Herald, requested police records of an internal investigation of a Rutland detective sergeant and an animal control officer who allegedly viewed pornographic material on their computers. Those requests were denied by the police department, the denial of which became the subject of a three-year litigation which was decided in the Herald’s favor last fall. Through the records, the paper found that the detective sergeant in question downloaded 25,839 pornographic images to his computer, including 15 images identified as possible child pornography. The state police launched an investigation into these images but could not determine if underage subjects were involved, despite the fact that one of the bookmarked sites on the sergeant’s computer had “teen” in the name. Both the sergeant and animal control officer were suspended for two weeks without pay; the sergeant was placed on paid administrative leave for two months during the investigation.

Interviews by Curtis of the former mayor of Rutland revealed that the light punishment came after the sergeant threatened he would go public with names of other officers viewing pornography at work. The police chief determined such a move would give his department “a black eye,” and imposed the two week suspension. The same sergeant was later assigned to head the department’s bureau of criminal investigations. The litigation resulted in a legal precedent which will serve to open up more police documents to public viewing in Vermont.

Award Application Materials (Closed)