2016 New England First Amendment Awards

Video courtesy Audrey Adams

Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award

Presented to U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy 00:30:45 [Text]

Freedom of Information Award

Presented to Jenifer McKim 00:13:05

Anotonia Orfield Citizenship Award

Presented to Michael A. Champa 00:00:29 [Text]












Click to Enlarge


About NEFAC’s First Amendment Awards Luncheon

February 19, 2016
12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Boston Park Plaza
50 Park Plaza at Arlington Street
Boston, Massachusetts

Event Program

#NEFAA2016 Twitter Archive (via Storify)

Award Application/Nomination Materials (Closed)



2016 Award Recipients

  • Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award | Patrick Leahy

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, the son of parents who owned a small private printing company in Vermont’s capital, has said that he comes by his “deep appreciation of the First Amendment honestly. It’s in my blood.” He is perhaps best known for his work to strengthen the federal Freedom of Information Act and his efforts to improve transparency within the court system, most notably his calls for televised court proceedings.

“We have the power to use technology to allow greater access to public proceedings of the government so that all Americans can witness the quality of justice in this country,” Leahy said in 2012, after the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation allowing cameras in the U.S. Supreme Court. “Doing so would deepen Americans’ understanding of the work of the Supreme Court and allow all Americans to see the continuing importance of the constitution.”

More recently, Leahy authored the FOIA Improvement Act which would require federal agencies to adopt a “presumption of openness” standard when considering the release of information under FOIA. The bill would also strengthen the power of the Office of Government Information Services, which acts as a FOIA ombudsman and helps resolve disputes between record requesters and agencies. In 2009, the senator authored the OPEN FOIA Act. This act required Congress to clearly state its intentions when providing statutory exemptions to FOIA in new legislation. In 2007, Leahy authored legislation that resulted in the first significant reforms to FOIA in more than a decade. [Read More]

  • Freedom of Information Award | Jenifer McKim

mckimshot-144Jenifer McKim has a stellar investigative journalism record, including two recent Publick Occurrences awards by the New England Newspaper & Press Association. In 2015, she won the award for two reports on homeowner debt, which raised public awareness of growing debt problems disproportionately affecting lower income communities and the elderly. In 2014, she won the award for her stories on child fatalities in the Massachusetts welfare system. This year’s Freedom of Information Award is in recognition of her series, “Out of the Shadows,” a 2015 investigation into child abuse and neglect that was first published by The Boston Globe.

Before joining NECIR in 2013, McKim worked as a social issues and business reporter at the Globe, where she earned a 2011 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism for a story on the sex trafficking of minors. She finished in second place for the same award two years later for an investigation into a global child pornography network.

Prior to joining the Globe, McKim was a member of the investigation team at the Orange County Register in California where she led a group of reporters in writing about lead-tainted candy imported from Mexico. The project created awareness of a growing public health threat and was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service.

McKim was a 2008 fellow at the Nieman Foundation of Journalism at Harvard University. She is a graduate of Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

  • Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award | Michael A. Champa

champa-144Through his own personal experience, Michael Champa uncovered systemic failures and inequities in special education services in Weston, Mass. He filed a public records lawsuit and emerged victorious after the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in his favor. His victory has leveled the playing field for all special education students and ensures that school districts across the Commonwealth are held accountable. 

Champa began his career as a social studies teacher at Stoughton High School in 1974. He held numerous posts within the Stoughton Teacher’s Association, serving as its president in 1978. During the past 30 years, Champa has become a successful entrepreneur and has held senior management positions in successful local communications technology companies, including Cascade Communications, where he was on the founding management team; Omnia Communications, where he was president and CEO; and Winphoria Networks, where he served as president and CEO.

Champa has a long history of interest in education and health care.  He currently serves as a trustee of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the New England Entrepreneurs Foundation. He has formerly served on numerous private company boards, as well as the boards of the Catholic Schools Foundation, the Museum of Science and the North Cambridge Catholic High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and master’s degrees in public administration and business administration from Suffolk University. Champa is a well-known Boston philanthropist and lives with his wife Maureen and their three children in Boston.

News and Press Coverage

Photos courtesy David Rosen, Kareya Saleh and Chris Christo


Sponsors, Supporters and Table Hosts

Globe logo




















FOX25 WFXT Stacked LogoSMC_new_logo_in_color