Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced appointments to the Committee on Open Government during Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote the importance of open government and freedom of information. As part of the New York Department of State, the Committee oversees and advises the government, public, and news media on Freedom of Information, Open Meetings, and Personal Privacy Protection Laws.
The New Yorkers appointed to the Committee on Open Government today will help bring a balanced, representative voice to the Committee and enable it to continue to play a key role in fostering the publics faith, trust and confidence in todays state government, Governor Cuomo said. The Committee will continue to encourage New Yorkers to participate in their government.
The Committee on Open Government is composed of 11 members, including four ex-officio members: the Lieutenant Governor, the Secretary of State, the Commissioner of the Office of General Services and the Director of the Division of the Budget. There are seven appointed members, one each appointed by the Temporary President of the Senate and the Speaker of the Assembly and five appointed by the Governor. Of these five, at least two shall be or shall have been representatives of the news media and one shall be a representative of local government who, at the time of appointment, is serving as an elected officer of a local government.
The Governors appointments announced today are:
M. Jean Hill (Media)Ms. Hill is a Buffalo resident and former broadcast and print journalist, including twelve years in Western New York as an anchor at Buffalos ABC affiliate, WKBW-TV (Channel 7). She has worked for network affiliated television stations in Georgia and South Carolina and for a FOX television network program. Ms. Hill is a Kiplinger Fellow and has taught journalism at higher education institutions and served as a facilitator for the University at Buffalo School of Managements Executive Communicator program. She has received numerous awards in the field of journalism and continues to write freelance articles. She is currently a V.P. and Senior Compliance Officer at M&T Bank. Ms. Hill earned an MBA from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She also holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a masters degree in journalism from The Ohio State University. She routinely serves on governing boards and committees of non-for-profit organizations and has provided her services to numerous public and private organizations that support the Buffalo/Niagara region.
Hadley Horrigan (Media)Mrs. Horrigan was a reporter for the Associated Press from 1999-2001. She participated in the APs coverage of many high profile issues, including the Hillary Clinton vs. Rick Lazio U.S. Senate Campaign and 2000 Presidential Campaign (in New York State), and provided spot coverage and enterprise reports on state government, state and national political campaigns, sports, the environment and education. She has conducted one-on-one interviews with Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Rudolph Giuliani and Pat Buchanan among others. Her bylined work has appeared in state and national newspapers including The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Seattle Times and The Detroit Free Press. In 2001, she left journalism to work as a strategic public relations counsel to a number of high-profile local clients, receiving numerous gold Excalibur Awards from the Public Relations Society of America, including two Best in Show honors for her work. Starting in 2005 she drove the government affairs, PR, lobbying, events and marketing efforts of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, and from 2007-2008 she advised Governor David A. Paterson and former Governor Eliot L. Spitzer on economic development issues in Upstate, NY as the Chief of Staff at Empire State Development in Buffalo, NY. She received a bachelors degree in Public Policy Studies, from Duke Universitys Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy in 1999.
Peter D. Grimm (Local Government)Mr. Grimm is a county legislator with a 30-year record of civic leadership in the City of Troy. He was elected to the Rensselaer County legislature in November 2005 and re-elected in 2009. He has been an active community volunteer in Troy for decades. Devoted to strengthening pride in Troy, Mr. Grimm has served as a board member of several community organizations, among them the Friends of Prospect Park, Mayors Beautification Council, Troy United Ink, Commission of Economic Opportunity, Community of Friends of Saint Patrick, and F. Warren Travers Supreme Court Library. He is a lifelong resident of Rensselaer County and has lived in the City of Troy for more than 50 years. He attended Saint Patrick's School and Saint Mary's Academy and is a graduate of Hudson Valley Community College.
David Schulz (Re-Appointment)Mr. Schulz is a law partner at Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, LLP. He has been defending the rights of journalists and news organizations for more than 30 years. He has litigated libel, privacy, access and newsgathering claims in 20 states and regularly represents news organizations on appeals before both state and federal courts. Mr. Schulzs regular clients include international newswire services, national and local newspapers, television networks and station owners, magazine and book publishers, cable news networks, and Internet content providers. He is a lecturer at Columbia and Yale Law schools. He also chairs the Media Law Committee of the International Bar Association and is the author of numerous articles and reports, including publications on freedom of expression and the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). Mr. Schulz has been recognized by Chambers USA as one of the top First Amendment litigators in the U.S. and by Best Lawyers as a preeminent First Amendment and Media lawyer in New York. The Legal 500 reports that Schulz is widely praised as a recognized expert on freedom of information and access to the courts. He received a bachelors degree, magna cum laude, from Knox College in 1974 in Galesburg, Illinois, where he served for more than twenty years on the Board of Trustees. He received a masters degree in economics from Yale University in 1976 and a law degree from the Yale Law School in 1978.
Colleen KavanaghMs. Kavanagh is a Managing Director in Stroz Friedbergs New York headquarters where she leads highly technical digital forensic engagements, investigates cases of complex cybercrime and online fraud on behalf of public entities, private corporations and law firms. Prior to Stroz Friedberg, Ms. Kavanagh served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorneys Office in the Eastern District of New York for almost a decade. As the Chief of Public Integrity, she directly supervised and prosecuted some of the Eastern District of New Yorks most sensitive cases, including sophisticated investigations of elected officials and others alleged to have abused positions of trust. During her tenure as a prosecutor, Ms. Kavanagh received the coveted Attorney Generals Award for Distinguished Service. She has served as an adjunct professor at New York Universitys School of Law teaching a seminar on ethical considerations, strategies, and practical skills with respect to prosecuting federal criminal cases. Ms. Kavanagh graduated magna cum laude from San Francisco State University with a bachelors degree in Social Science. She received her J.D. from the University of California, Davis School of Law.
The Committee is led by Executive Director Robert J. Freeman who brings more than 35 years of experience related to open government laws.
Executive Director of the Committee on Open Government Robert Freeman said, "With these appointments, the Governor has brought together a diverse mix of smart, engaged New Yorkers from all across the State. This esteemed Committee will bring an array of knowledge and experience to the Committees review of open government that will aid us in more comprehensively considering the value of promoting transparency, participation and collaboration in government for all citizens."
About the Committee on Open Government
The Committee on Open Government was created by the original Freedom of Information Law in 1974 and continues under the FOIL statute today to affirm every citizens right to know how their government operates. FOIL provides rights of access to records reflective of governmental decisions and policies that affect the lives of every New Yorker.
As part of the Department of State, the Committee on Open Government oversees and advises the government, public, and news media on Freedom of Information, Open Meetings, and Personal Privacy Protection Laws. The Committee makes recommendations to improve open government laws, including guidance about the public's right to gain access to government records, the public's right to attend meetings of public bodies, and standards of fair information practices regarding the collection, maintenance, use and disclosure of personal information by state agencies. The FOIL directs the Committee to provide advice to agencies, the public and the news media, issue regulations, and report its observations and recommendations for improving the law to the Governor and the Legislature annually. Similarly, under the Open Meetings Law (OML), the Committee issues advisory opinions, reviews the operation of the law, and reports its findings and recommendations annually to the Legislature. Since their initial enactment, the FOIL and the OML statutes have undergone significant changes based largely upon recommendations made by the Committee.
Since its creation in 1974, more than 24,000 written advisory opinions have been prepared by the Committee at the request of government, the public and the news media. In addition, hundreds of thousands of verbal opinions have been provided by telephone. Staff also provides training and educational programs for government, public interest, news media organizations, and students. Opinions prepared since early 1993 that have educational or precedential value are maintained online.
The Committee and the laws it oversees have gained national and international recognition as models for other jurisdictions. Its work and experience have been shared with professionals at international conferences, and it is represented through membership in the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws and participation on the Media Law Committee of the New York State Bar Association.