NEFAC Featured Speaker Program to Teach Students Value of First Amendment Freedoms, Fourth Estate

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |

The New England First Amendment Coalition is pleased to announce the launch of its Featured Speaker Program, an educational initiative that will bring First Amendment and journalism experts to the region’s college campuses and high school classrooms.

The announcement follows several recent surveys that show a diminishing understanding among students and the general public about constitutional rights and the need for an independent press. The Annenberg Public Policy Center, for example, found in September that more than a third of Americans are unable to name a single right guaranteed by the First Amendment.

There is also an increasing hostility to free speech at many colleges, leading the Brookings Institution to recently declare that “freedom of expression is clearly not, in practice, available on many campuses, including public campuses that have First Amendment obligations.”

“There’s an urgent need to reinforce the value of the First Amendment and the Fourth Estate,” said Justin Silverman, NEFAC’s executive director. “Through our Featured Speaker Program, we can help provide that education. We have many of the region’s elite attorneys and journalists available to give presentations to high school and college students.”

Featured Speaker Program topics include, but are not limited to, First Amendment history, freedom of information law and the value of an independent press. There is no fee for presentations and topic suggestions are welcome. If you would like to schedule a speaker or apply to become a featured speaker, please contact Silverman at

Speakers include:

Jonathan Albano, Esq. | Albano represents newspapers, entertainment and news broadcasters, publishers, universities, non-profit organizations, and individuals in cases involving a variety of constitutional issues, including free speech rights; the public’s right of access to information; and privacy.


Karen Bordeleau | Bordeleau is a retired executive editor of The Providence Journal and an award-winning journalist. She now teaches journalism in the United States and abroad. She has served as a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes in 2015 and 2016. Bordeleau is president of NEFAC.


Michael Donoghue | Donoghue was an award-winning writer for the Burlington Free Press for more than 40 years and has been an adjunct professor of journalism and mass communications at St. Michael’s College since 1985. Donoghue has been an officer with the Vermont Press Association since 1979.


Edward Fitzpatrick | As the Providence Journal’s political columnist, Fitzpatrick championed First Amendment freedoms, pressing for access to public records. He worked for the Journal for 16 years before becoming the director of media and public relations at Roger Williams University.


Elizabeth Ritvo, Esq. | Ritvo counsels media organizations in libel, invasion of privacy, access, First Amendment, pre-publication, and copyright matters. Ritvo was recognized by The Best Lawyers in America as its 2017 “Lawyer of the Year” for First Amendment Law in Boston.


Walter V. Robinson | Walter V. Robinson led The Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Spotlight Team investigation that uncovered the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal. He has been city editor, metro editor, White House correspondent and foreign correspondent for the Globe.


Naomi Schalit | Schalit is an investigative reporter, editor and co-founder of the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. She has written for magazines and newspapers around the country, worked as a columnist for the Maine Times and as a reporter and producer at Maine Public Radio.


Gregory V. Sullivan, Esq. | Sullivan has served as General Counsel for the Union Leader Corporation for the past 39 years. He teaches First Amendment Media Law at Suffolk University Law School and at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.


Tim White | White is an investigative reporter for the CBS news affiliate in Providence, R.I., covering organized crime, government corruption, public waste and politics. He is the recipient of three regional Emmy Awards and an Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting.


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, Lois Howe McClure, The Boston Globe and Boston University. Celebration Supporters include The Hartford Courant and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.