The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition has a new president for the first time in 17 years, and the board of directors and membership of the open-government alliance just got a lot bigger.
Steven D. Zansberg was elected CFOIC president on Wednesday. He succeeds Thomas B. Kelley, who has presided over the coalition’s board and membership since 1997. Both Zansberg and Kelley, partners in the law firm of Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, have distinguished careers defending the First Amendment and access-to-information rights of journalists and Colorado residents.
“Steve brings to this post an extraordinary background of both expertise and leadership,” Kelley said. “He has been involved in more freedom-of-information litigation than any other Colorado lawyer and is regarded as the state’s premier expert in matters of citizen access to public places, meetings, tribunals and documents.”
Zansberg has represented the national news media in connection with coverage of the Aurora movie theater shootings case, the Oklahoma City bombing trials and the Kobe Bryant rape prosecution. On behalf of news media clients, he secured access to public records related to the murder of JonBenét Ramsey and the Columbine High School shootings. He has taught mass media at the University of Colorado and Internet law at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. Prior to becoming a lawyer, he was a freelance documentary producer in San Francisco.
The CFOIC, founded as the Colorado Freedom of Information Council in 1987, is a non-partisan alliance of groups, businesses and individuals dedicated to ensuring the transparency of state and local governments in Colorado by promoting freedom of the press, open courts and open access to government records and meetings. Past presidents include the late Denver Post editor Bill Hosokawa, Gannett Broadcasting President David Lougee, lawyer Andy Low and former state Sen. Martha Ezzard.
The organization changed its name and expanded its mission in 2013 after receiving 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. The CFOIC hired former Denver Post reporter and editor Jeffrey A. Roberts as executive director last July and began calling itself a coalition, rather than a council, to better reflect the broad constituency it represents.
Member organizations now include the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, the Associated Press, BillTrack50, the Colorado Bar Association, the Colorado Broadcasters Association, Colorado Common Cause, Colorado Ethics Watch, the Colorado Press Association, Colorado Press Women, the Independence Institute, the League of Women Voters of Colorado, the Public Relations Society of America and the Society of Professional Journalists. Members also include newspapers affiliated with the Colorado Press Association and broadcast stations affiliated with the Colorado Broadcasters Association.
Re-elected to the coalition’s board of directors were Vice President John Fosholt, retired investigative news producer for KUSA-TV; Secretary Fred Brown, retired political editor of The Denver Post; and Treasurer Ruth Anna, CEO of Anna Public Relations Consultants.
Kelley will continue to serve on the board of directors. “Tom has been an incredible leader and steward of this organization,” Zansberg said. “He is among the most knowledgeable, thoughtful and well-regarded champions of transparency, not only here in Colorado but throughout the nation.”
New board directors are: Jim Clarke, bureau chief for the Associated Press; Samantha Johnston, executive director of the Colorado Press Association; Dean Lehman, publisher of the Longmont Times-Call; Don Lindley, editor at Ballantine Communications; Peter Maroney, president/general manager of KDVR-TV/KWGN-TV; Ann Penny, owner/president of Krystal 93 radio station in Dillon; Wick Rowland, former president/CEO of Colorado Public Television; Justin Sasso, president/CEO of the Colorado Broadcasters Association; Bart Smith, publisher of the Greeley Tribune; and Nicole Vap, KUSA-TV executive producer.
The CFOIC plans to add citizen members to the board of directors.
@CoFOIC on Twitter