NEFAC Accepting Nominations for Annual Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award


CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |

The New England First Amendment Coalition is seeking nominations for its 2018 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.

Nomination materials can be found here. The deadline for submissions is January 11, 2019.

The award will be presented at NEFAC’s ninth annual New England First Amendment Awards luncheon from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. on February 15 at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel, 606 Congress Street in Boston.

Also to be presented at the luncheon are the Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award and the Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award.

The Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award, named after the late publisher of The Providence Journal, is given to an individual who has promoted, defended or advocated for the First Amendment.

The FOI Award, named for NEFAC board member and retired long-time Burlington Free Press reporter Michael Donoghue, 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 applicants who overcome significant official resistance. Nomination forms for the FOI Award can be found here.

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

Previous recipients of the FOI Award include:

• 2018 Hyde Square Task Force | A group of teenage-volunteers used the Mass. public records law to find an unenforced agreement between the city of Boston and the owners of TD Garden to give millions of dollars back to their community.

• 2017 Donna Green | Green won a public records battle in the New Hampshire Supreme Court which required the distribution of public, non-confidential information in commonly used electronic formats when available.

• 2016 Michael A. Champa | Champa uncovered inequities in special education services provided by Massachusetts towns after fighting a public records battle that was decided in his favor by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court.

• 2015 Harriet Cady | Cady is a long-time open government activist, frequently speaking on freedom of information concerns and helping to create the watchdog group Right to Know New Hampshire.

• 2014 Kit Savage | Savage’s investigation uncovered violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which formed the basis of a complaint to the Connecticut Department of Education.

• 2013 David Lang | After a nine-year crusade, Lang exposed the mismanagement of health insurance premiums, resulting in a court order to refund $53 million to New Hampshire public employees.

The awards luncheon is part of the New England Newspaper & Press Association’s winter convention. More information about the luncheon can be found here.

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.

Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.

Major Supporters of NEFAC include the Barr Foundation, The Providence Journal Charitable Legacy Fund, The Robertson Foundation, The Boston Globe, WBUR and Boston University.