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Luncheon celebrates successes and supports NEFAC’s open-government mission

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The New England First Amendment Coalition on Feb. 8 will celebrate the retired firefighter who helped win a $53 million health insurance refund for New Hampshire public employees, the reporter who exposed misdeeds in a Connecticut police department and the lifetime achievements of NECN founder and GlobalPost co-founder Philip Balboni.

David Lang, president of The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, will receive the first-ever Citizen’s Right to Know Award for the probing that yielded the refund from the non-profit Local Government Center. Don Stacom of The Hartford Courant will be awarded the inaugural Freedom of Information Award for the revelations that caused an upheaval in the New Britain Police Department.

But awards are not all that NEFAC is about, said Executive Director Rosanna Cavanagh.

“NEFAC’s mission goes on year-round,” she said. “We have training programs for journalists on FOI and media law, and we advocate for greater access to public records through friend of the court briefs and expert legislative testimony.”

And there are more visible NEFAC activities, such as the annual three-day New England First Amendment Institute that brings an all-star faculty to Dedham, Mass. to work with the region’s journalists, The NEFAC Report, a monthly newsletter on First Amendment issues, and the NEFAC Blog.

“These activities call for the generous help of our sponsors and supporters, and the people who attend the luncheon are a big part of that,” Cavanagh said.

Tickets to the event are available on NEFAC’s Web site.

The awards luncheon will be held in conjunction with the New England Newspaper & Press Association’s convention and trade show at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. Luncheon tickets are offered at a discount as part of the NENPA conference registration.

The luncheon is supported by the Providence Journal Charitable Foundation, the Presenting Sponsor of the event, The Boston Globe, a Leadership Circle sponsor, and Bingham McCutchen LLP, a Liberty Circle sponsor.