When merited, the CFOIC membership presents two categories of awards, the Jean Otto Friend of Freedom Award and the Sue O’Brien Award for Public Service.

The Jean Otto Friend of Freedom Award recognizes someone for sustained and/or significant open-government activities. It honors the legacy of Jean Otto, a long-time editor and reader representative at the Rocky Mountain News who founded the CFOIC and was a tireless advocate for First Amendment and freedom-of-information rights.

The award was given once, in 1999, before it was named for Jean Otto. The recipient was James Manspeaker, former clerk of the U.S. District Court in Denver. Other recipients have been:

  • Joyce Meskis, owner of Tattered Cover bookstores, Nov. 29, 2000
  • Jean Gray, former publisher of the Haxtun-Fleming Herald, June 21, 2002
  • Karen Salaz, Office of the State Court Administrator, May 31, 2005
  • Jeff Thomas and Pam Zubeck, The Gazette in Colorado Springs, June 5, 2009
  • The Ballantine family, owners of The Durango Herald, Sept. 27, 2010
  • Dean Singleton, chairman of The Denver Post, June 5, 2014
  • Teresa Benns, Center Post-Dispatch, Oct. 11, 2014

CFOIC President Steve Zansberg (left) and former CFOIC President Tom Kelley (right) present the Jean Otto Friend of Freedom award to Denver Post Chairman Dean Singleton in June 2014.



Members of the Ballantine family display their Jean Otto Friend of Freedom award in 2010 with CFOIC President Tom Kelley (far left). Richard G. Ballantine, chairman of The Durango Herald’s editorial board and chairman of Ballantine Communications Inc., stands between sisters Elizabeth Ballantine (holding the plaque) and Helen Healy, both members of the board of Ballantine Communications.

The Sue O’Brien Award for Public Service recognizes a person in government who displays consistent understanding of the importance of public access to official records and meetings – qualities demonstrated by the award’s namesake. The CFOIC created the award in 2007 in memory of Sue O’Brien, who was editorial page editor of The Denver Post when she died in 2003. She also had been Gov. Dick Lamm’s press secretary, campaign manager for Gov. Roy Romer, a tenured professor at the University of Colorado and a television and radio journalist in Denver and nationally. Recipients of the award have been:

  • State Rep. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, Nov. 15, 2007
  • State Rep. Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, April 30, 2009
  • Robert (Rob) McCallum, public information officer for the Colorado Judicial Branch, May 23, 2013

CFOIC President Tom Kelley presents the Sue O’Brien Award for Public Service to Rob McCallum in May 2013.