NEFAC honors each year individuals who have promoted and defended the First Amendment throughout New England. During its annual ceremony, the coalition presents the Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award, the Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award and the Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award. Learn more about previous ceremonies:

2011 | 2012 | 2013201420152016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021 | 2022 | 2023 | 2024

Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award

About Stephen Hamblett

His first newspaper job was as a summer reporter at his hometown paper, the Nashua Telegraph. It must have been a rewarding experience because soon after he graduated from Harvard, he signed on at The Providence Journal. That was 1957, and Stephen Hamblett never looked back. Steve rose from advertising department clerk to publisher in a career fueled by qualities for which he became famous — quick wit, dedication to excellence, warmth, good humor, passion for his community and deep-seated belief in the wonder of newspapers. During his leadership, The Providence Journal prospered financially and journalistically, the two most fundamental measures of a newspaper’s success. The Journal’s strong financial health drew the attention of the Belo Corporation, which acquired The Providence Journal Co. in 1997. [More]

The Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award is given to an individual who has promoted, defended or advocated for the First Amendment.

Previous recipients are Brian McGrory, former editor of The Boston Globe and current chair of the Boston University journalism department (2023); Raney Aronson-Rath, executive producer of FRONTLINE (2022); Yamiche Alcindor, White House Correspondent for PBS NewsHour (2021); A. G. Sulzberger of The New York Times (2020); Stephen Engelberg of ProPublica (2019); Jane Mayer of The New Yorker (2018); Margaret Sullivan of The Washington Post (2017); U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont (2016); retired federal judge Nancy Gertner (2015); James Risen of The New York Times (2014); Philip Balboni, co-founder of GlobalPost and founder of NECN (2013); Martin Baron, former executive editor of The Washington Post (2012); and Anthony Lewis, the late journalist and author (2011).

Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award

About Michael Donoghue

mikedMichael Donoghue is an award-winning news and sports writer. He worked for more than 40 years at the Burlington Free Press and now is a freelancer. He was selected as the 2013 New England Journalist of the Year by the New England Society of News Editors and in 2015 received the Matthew Lyon First Amendment Award. Donoghue has been an adjunct professor of journalism and mass communications at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt. since 1985. Donoghue has served as an officer, including executive director, with the Vermont Press Association since 1979. He is a former board member for the New England Press Association and has served continuously as state chairman of Project Sunshine in Vermont since it was started by the Society of Professional Journalists in 1990. [More]

The Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award is given each year to a New England journalist or team of journalists for a body of work from the previous calendar year that protects or advances the public’s right to know under federal or state law. Preference is given to those who overcome significant official resistance.

Previous recipients are Nancy West at InDepthNH (2023); the Worcester Telegram & Gazette (2022); The Bangor Daily News (2021); Hearst Connecticut Media Group (2020); the Hartford Courant (2019); Todd Wallack of The Boston Globe (2018); The Sun Journal in Lewiston, Maine (2017); Jenifer McKim of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting (2016); James W. Foley (posthumously), the war correspondent and New Hampshire native killed by the Islamic State (2015); Brent Curtis of the Rutland Herald in Vermont (2014); and Don Stacom of the Hartford Courant (2013).

Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award

About Antonia Orfield

ToniAntonia Orfield was an author, mother, optometrist, clinical professor and active citizen. She worked to improve the schools in the communities she lived in, serving on one of the first elected local school councils in Chicago. She also sought to advance her profession and improve the lives of her patients through the use and teaching of therapeutic non-surgical methods of vision therapy. As a researcher, she knew the importance of access to data to analyze, draw conclusions and challenge existing assumptions of screening and treatment protocols. 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.

The Antonia Orfield Citizenship 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.

Previous recipients are Susan Hawes (2023); Tara Gunnigle (2022); Jeanne Kempthorne (2021); the Cook v. Raimondo Student Activists (2020); David Saad (2019); the Hyde Square Task Force (2018); Donna Green (2017); Michael Champa (2016); Harriet Cady (2015); Kit Savage (2014); and David Lang (2013).