Nominations Open for NEFAC’s Annual Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award; Deadline March 19

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |

The New England First Amendment Coalition is seeking nominations for its 2021 Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award.

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.

Nomination form here.

The deadline for submissions is March 19, 2021.

The award will be presented at NEFAC’s 11th annual New England First Amendment Awards. This year’s ceremony will be on April 21. Time to be determined. Ticket information can be found here. All proceeds to benefit civics and First Amendment education throughout New England.

April 21, 2021 | Online | 6 p.m.

Learn More and Purchase Tickets

Also to be presented at the ceremony 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 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.

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. 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.

Previous recipients of the Citizenship Award include:

• 2020 Cook v. Raimondo Student Activists | The Providence public school students filed a federal lawsuit against Rhode Island state officials arguing that the state is failing to provide the civics education they need to be engaged citizens.

• 2019 David Saad | Saad and several other citizens formed Right to Know NH as a nonpartisan citizen coalition working to improve transparency of New Hampshire state, county, and local governments.

• 2018 Hyde Square Task Force | The community center used the Mass. public records law to uncover a state mandate that required the owners of the TD Garden to pay millions to Boston recreational facilities.

• 2017 Donna Green | Green successfully fought for the right to electronic records under the New Hampshire Right to Know Law, prevailing in the state’s highest court.

• 2016 Michael Champa | By prevailing in a public records case heard by the Massachusetts Supreme Court, Champa uncovered systemic failures and inequities in the state’s special education services.

• 2015 Harriet Cady | A long-time open government activist whose advocacy led to several Right to Know lawsuits, Cady helped create the watchdog group Right to Know New Hampshire and frequently speaks about FOI concerns.

• 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.

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 Hearst Connecticut Media Group, Paul and Ann Sagan, The Boston Globe, WBUR, Boston University and the Robertson Foundation.