NEFAC Strengthens Press, Open Government Advocacy with Additions to Board of Directors

Presence in Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts Boosted as Journalists Join Coalition Leadership

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |

The New England First Amendment Coalition is pleased to announce several additions to its Board of Directors: Julia Bergman at Hearst Connecticut Media Group, Jeff Cohen at Connecticut Public Radio, Shirley Leung at The Boston Globe, Penelope Overton at the Portland Press Herald and Carlos Virgen at The Day.

“We’re honored to have these veteran journalists help lead the way for NEFAC in the coming years,” said Justin Silverman, the coalition’s executive director. “They are brining a wealth of knowledge and expertise to our work on behalf of the First Amendment.”

Julia Bergman | Hearst Connecticut Media Group | Julia Bergman covers Connecticut politics for Hearst, including how public policy decisions affect the lives of residents here. She previously reported on the military for The Day newspaper in New London. A native of Philadelphia, Bergman now calls Connecticut home, but won’t give up her 215 area code.

Jeff Cohen | Connecticut Public Radio | Jeff Cohen started in newspapers in 2001 and joined Connecticut Public in 2010, where he worked as a reporter and fill-in host. In 2017, he was named news director. In addition to covering state and Hartford city politics, Cohen covered the December 2012 Newtown shootings and the stories that followed. In 2012, Cohen was selected by NPR and Kaiser Health News for their joint “Health Care In The States” project. Much of his reporting has aired nationally on NPR. As news director, Cohen began The Island Next Door — Puerto Rico and Connecticut After Hurricane Maria, which has won several awards, including one national and two regional Edward R. Murrow awards.

Shirley Leung | The Boston Globe | Shirley Leung is a columnist and associate editor at The Boston Globe. She has written on everything from the intersection of business and politics to gender and diversity issues in the workplace. She has been a three-time finalist for the Gerald Loeb Award for Commentary. In 2018, Boston Magazine named her to its list of the “100 Most Influential People in Boston.” Leung is also a contributor to WGBH’s “Boston Public Radio” and “Greater Boston,” as well as a regular guest on New England Cable News. Previously, Leung served as the Globe’s interim editorial page editor. She also has been the Globe’s business editor, where she oversaw its award-winning coverage of the 2008 financial crisis. Prior to the Globe, Leung was a staff reporter at The Wall Street Journal. A graduate of Princeton University, she started her career at her hometown paper, The Baltimore Sun.

Penelope Overton | Portland Press Herald | Penelope Overton has been a journalist for more than two decades, the last five at Maine’s largest newspaper, The Portland Press Herald. Overton covers the state’s $1.4 billion lobster industry as well as the growing recreational marijuana industry. The New York Times Magazine once described her as a “fresh faced, but dogged investigative reporter.”

Carlos Virgen | The Day | Carlos Virgen is a journalist with more than 15 years’ experience in audience engagement, data analysis, and multimedia production. He is the assistant managing editor for audience development at The Day in New London, Conn., where he has worked for 8 years. He is also an adjunct instructor at the University of Connecticut. Prior to The Day, he worked as online editor at an affiliate of the Seattle Times. He is originally from Los Angeles and currently lives in East Lyme with his wife and three children.

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.

Leadership Circle donors include Hearst Connecticut Media Group, The Boston Globe, Paul and Ann Sagan, and the Robertson Foundation. Major Supporters include Boston University, WBUR-Boston, the Academy of New England Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation, Genie Gannett and Linda Pizzuti Henry.