Dennis Winston, President
Mr. Winston, formerly a partner with the firm of Moskowitz, Brestoff, Winston, Blinderman LLP in Los Angeles and now in solo practice, specializes in business litigation, including wrongful termination (representing employers and employees), insurance coverage and general business disputes. Over the past several years, Mr. Winston has also emphasized litigation involving open meetings, public records and First Amendment litigation, representing news organizations, elected representatives, private citizens and public interest organizations such as Californians Aware and the California First Amendment Coalition in cases under the Ralph M. Brown Act, the Bagley-Keene Act and the California Public Records Act. Published decisions in open government law in which Mr. Winston has participated include: McKee v. Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force, 134 Cal.App.4th 354 (2005); McKee v. Orange Unified School Dist., 110 Cal.App.4th 1310 (2003); Epstein v. Hollywood Entertainment District II Business Improvement District, 87 Cal.App. 4th 862 (2001). He recently participated in the litigation securing the release of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's speaking contract at a university fund-raiser, Californians Aware v. California State University, Stanislaus.
Donna Frye, Vice President
Ms. Frye served as a member of the San Diego City Council from 2001 through 2010. During her tenure, she distinguished herself as an independent thinker fought continuously for an open and honest government accountable to the public. Councilmember Frye used her leadership skills to open the doors of government and put an end to the culture of secrecy. In 2004, she worked with Terry Francke and rallied public consensus around a tough open-government City Charter ballot measure that passed with 82 percent of the vote. Her 2004 boycott of closed session meetings and collaboration with Terry Francke resulted in a reform of the rules to allow for greater public access and more transparency of those meetings. This included requiring that a transcriptionist take minutes in all closed session meetings and ensuring that the public could testify on any closed session item. Further, she saved public comment from being pushed back to the end of City Council hearings. Continuing her quest for an honest and accountable government, Frye created the Government Efficiency and Openness Committee. As its first chair, she accomplished a number of open government reforms in less than a year: she exposed the city's misrepresentations of the budget and pension system deficits to the public and pushed for the enforcement of mandatory disclosure laws for those doing business with the city.
Tim Crews, Secretary-Treasurer
Tim Crews, editor and publisher of the twice weekly Sacramento Valley Mirror, continues, at 65 years old, to edit and publish what the California Press Association called "California's most courageous newspaper," in naming him their Newspaper Executive of the Year in 2009. Mr. Crews is also about to be presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Northern California chapter, Society of Professional Journalists as part of its March 2011 Madison Day Awards. The Valley Mirror, which covers a multi-county area of the north Sacramento valley's rural heartland. It covers the local scene in extreme detail augmented by columns of provocative opinion including his own fiery editorials. The paper has three times won the California Newspaper Publishers Association's annual Freedom of Information award and first place for investigative reporting in CNPA contests. Mr. Crews is the recipient of the Hofstra University Francis Frost Wood Award for Courage in Journalism and the California Society of Newspaper Editors' Bill Farr award. Mr. Crews served five days in jail in 2000 for refusing to disclose the source of an embarrassing story of a gun stolen by a police officer. He wrote up that experience in a searing indictment of rural jails. His crusades on behalf of the public continued in 2009 with additional victories in court which pried loose documents and revealed hidden actions. To date his aggressive willingness to use the California Public Records Act and the Ralph M. Brown open meetings law has resulted in many hundreds of thousands of dollars paid in attorney fee awards.
Kelly Aviles, Vice President for Open Government Compliance
Kelly Aviles, daughter of renowned open government activist, Richard P. McKee, attended University of La Verne College of Law, located in Southern California. During law school, she served as Law Review Senior Staff Writer and Staff Editor, received CALI Awards in Legal Research and Writing, Contracts, Wills, Sales, and Remedies, and served as PASS Tutor, where top ranking members of the class are invited to assist fellow students with their studies. After graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2006, she opened her own legal practice in her hometown of La Verne, specializing in the requirements of the California Public Records Act, the Ralph M. Brown Act, and the Bagley-Keene Act. The Law Offices of Kelly Aviles provides legal guidance and litigation services to clients throughout the state, including non-profits, government agencies, press organizations, and private citizens. In her spare time, she also assists parents of children with disabilities, helping them access special education programs and community resources.
J.W. August, President Emeritus
Mr. August is the managing editor for 10News with KGTV, the ABC television affiliate in San Diego, where he has worked for 29 years. He now oversees special projects and the 10News I team, the longest running investigative unit in San Diego. In his career, August has been recognized by the U.S. Attorneys Office for exposing fraud, received the public service award from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and numerous local advocacy groups have thanked him for his work on behalf of the public, including the Environmental Health Coalition and San Diego Hunger Coalition. National, state and local press and broadcast organizations have presented him with more than 100 awards. The National Press Club recognized him for consumer reporting, and Investigative Reporters and Editors recognized him for outstanding investigative reporting. The National Society of Professional Journalists awarded JW their "Sunshine Award" for his efforts in fighting for open government. The Freedom Foundation awarded his team their national award for reporting on hate crimes. He has won 26 Emmys for investigative reporting, writing, and journalistic enterprise. The San Diego Press Club and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences have recognized him for lifetime achievement in the news business. Mr.August is also is president of Friends of Journalism and Mass Media Studies of San Diego State University.
Julie Hayward Biggs, Director
Ms. Biggs is a partner with Burke, Williams & Sorenson LLP and served as chair of its Public Law Practice Group from 2000-2010. She is the designated City Attorney for the City of Wildomar, the Assistant City Attorney for the City of Laguna Woods, and serves as special counsel to numerous local governmental entities including the City of Goleta, the City of Ojai, the City of Moreno Valley and the Jurupa Community Services District. Ms. Biggs also provides expert representation to virtually all other clients of the firm in the areas of general municipal law, land use, election, healthcare and public records act issues. Ms. Biggs has special expertise in the complex process of incorporating new cities. She has represented the proponents of incorporation in their successful effort to create the Cities of Laguna Woods in 1999, Goleta in 2002 and Wildomar in 2008. Over the course of her career, Ms. Biggs has represented numerous public agencies and municipalities in Southern California and in Colorado, including the cities of Goleta, Banning, Hemet and Colton as City Attorney, as well as Fontana, Corona, Redlands and Elk Grove as special counsel. Ms. Biggs has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Redlands Whitehead Center where she taught courses in environmental law and at the University of California at Riverside where she taught courses in the Public Records Act.
Jeffrey Glasser, Director
Mr. Glasser, an associate with Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. advises clients on legal issues related to intellectual property, with a focus on the media and the entertainment industries. Prior to practicing law, he worked as a senior editor at U.S. News & World Report. He was also a researcher and collaborator with Bob Woodward on the 1999 No. 1 bestseller "Shadow: Five Presidents & The Legacy of Watergate." His experience includes:
- Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights v. U.S. Treasury, in which he successfully prosecuted a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to compel disclosure of individuals mistakenly identified on the federal government's terrorist watch list.
- Hollingsworth v. Perry, representing a national media coalition in expedited proceedings in support of U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker's proposal to broadcast trial proceedings to overflow courtrooms in five cities and to make the proceedings publicly available on YouTube.com in this landmark federal constitutional challenge to California's Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage.
- Los Angeles Times Communications LLC v. Superior Court, in which he successfully represented Los Angeles Times in securing order from California Court of Appeal lifting prior restraint that had prohibited the newspaper from publishing photographs of a murder defendant that its photographer had taken in open court.
Adam Keigwin, Director
Mr. Keigwin is currently the Chief of Staff for California Senator Leland Yee - one of the State's most outspoken advocates for government transparency and public access. Prior to his current role, Keigwin served as Yee's Communications Director in the State Senate and Assembly. He has staffed or supervised more than a dozen bills regarding issues of open government and freedom of expression, including successful measures to:
- make California the first state to prohibit censorship of student speech;
- shield from retaliation employees who protect such student speech rights;
- prohibit government entities from collecting attorney's fees from individuals unsuccessfully attempting to enforce public meetings or public records statutes;
- provide legal rights for whistleblowers;
- to mandate all audits of government agencies be made public;
- and require all executive compensation decisions at the University of California and the California State University to be made in an open session with full disclosure and public comment.
Marjie Lundstrom, Director
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Marjie Lundstrom is a reporter at The Sacramento Bee, where she is assigned to its projects and investigations team. In 2008, Ms.Lundstrom was one of the first reporters in California to test a new state law requiring the release of confidential government records of children who die of suspected abuse or neglect. Her three-year investigation of Sacramento County's Child Protective Services, and the mysterious death of a 4-year-old foster child, prompted numerous reforms in the county's child welfare system. Ms. Lundstrom's work was honored in 2008 with the James Madison Freedom of Information Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California chapter. The same year, she was commended for a "lifelong commitment to the public's right to know" by the California Newspaper Publishers Association, receiving its 2008 Freedom of Information Award. The following year, she and her husband, Bee reporter Sam Stanton - who joined her for critical follow-up work on the CPS series - were given the First Amendment Award from the national Society of Professional Journalists for their "their extraordinarily strong efforts to preserve and strengthen the First Amendment." Ms. Lundstrom previously worked for The Denver Post and Gannett News Service in Washington, D.C., and has been a national correspondent, city editor, assistant managing editor and columnist before joining the investigative team.
Emelyn Rodriguez, Director
Emelyn Rodriguez is Commission Counsel with the Fair Political Practices Commission where she advises the Commission, writes regulations and provides legal assistance to public officials in the areas of campaign finance and conflict of interest laws. During her time at the FPPC, Ms. Rodriguez has written the state's Electronic Media Advertising regulations. She has written rules to close loopholes involving political legal defense funds. And she has served on the FPPC Chairman's Task Force, which issued a report with detailed recommendations to improve and modernize California's Political Reform Act. Prior to her legal career, Rodriguez worked as a print journalist for newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, The Seattle Times and the San Francisco Examiner. She also worked as senior editor for the California Journal, the state's top political magazine. As a reporter, Ms. Rodriguez's assignments included covering healthcare and medicine, education and law. She was a national finalist for the prestigious Livingston Award, honoring the best young journalists in the country. She has worked extensively in public service, volunteering for non-profit organizations such as United Way and Legal Services. Ms. Rodriguez is a U.C. Berkeley graduate with B.A. degrees in Mass Communications and Political Science. She is also has a J.D. degree from U.C. Davis' King Hall School of Law.
Robert M. Stern, Director
Mr. Stern has been active in the political reform movement for nearly 40 years. Peter Schrag in The Sacramento Bee called him "the godfather of modern political reform in California." He began drafting and analyzing political reform laws as a staff attorney for the California Legislature's Assembly Elections Committee in 1971; he then served as the Elections Counsel to the California Secretary of State's office. He was the principal co-author of California's 1974 Political Reform Act, adopted by 70 percent of California's voters, and was a principal drafter of the City of Los Angeles' Ethics and Public Campaign Financing laws approved by voters in 1990. Mr.Stern was the first general counsel of California's Fair Political Practices Commission, the state agency charged with administering and enforcing California's campaign finance, ethics and conflicts of interest laws. He has been with the Center for Governmental Studies since 1983 and has served as its president since 2000. CGS is a Los Angeles based non-profit, nonpartisan research organization that studies a wide variety of governance issues, including campaign financing, the initiative process, term limits, redistricting and voter information. He has testified before numerous legislative bodies throughout the United States and Canada.
Dale Smith, Director
Since 1994 Mr. Smith has directed Alfa Omega Associates (AOA), public relations, publicity and general management consultants in land-use, environmental and historic preservation issues. AOA has served clients from Eureka to Marina Del Rey, specializing in establishing grass-roots organizations and providing clients with comprehensive organization and structure to carry out their community oriented work. AOA specializes in getting environmental groups organized and helps them incorporate as nonprofits. Mr. Smith is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and writes feature stories on environmental issues and California public administration. Previously he built and managed five radio stations and a TV station in the first 12 years of his career; owned and operated advertising agencies and production companies in Mexico City, California & Colorado; for 25 years was an accredited network broadcast correspondent with MBS and ABC News; and spent 12 years directing the largest public sector organization operating behind the Iron Curtain, residing in Munich, with a multi-national staff of 22 different language groups, 150 full time and 200 to 300 part time workers.
Emily Francke, Executive Director
Emily Francke has a versatile background which began as an emergency medical technician in Los Angeles and included work for a governmentally-specialized public relations firm and a U.S. Senator's office in Sacramento. After completing her degree in government and history at California State University Sacramento, which earned her membership with Phi Beta Delta honor society, she turned her focus towards following in her father's open government footsteps, working briefly as office manager for the California First Amendment Coalition before founding Californians Aware in 2004 with her father and colleague, Terry Francke. Emily strives to keep CalAware relevant and effective for the good of its members as well as all Californians. She is responsible for the organization's educational programs, special projects such as the public information law compliance audits, membership relations, and website and office management.
Terry Francke, General Counsel
Terry Francke has a 31-year history of helping journalists, citizens and public officials understand and use their First Amendment and open government rights. With CalAware, Francke has authored comprehensive and authoritative guidebooks to California law on access to government meetings and public records and the news gathering and publication rights of journalists. Focusing on these issues in public forum law, he supervises CalAware's legislative and litigation initiatives; conducts workshops on legal compliance; helps design public records audits; supports local sunshine ordinance drafting efforts; writes CalAware Today, a blog on current developments and proposals in the law and best practices; and answers countless queries by phone and e-mail from citizens, journalists, public officials and employees, and lawyers. Francke previously served 14 years as executive director and general counsel to the California First Amendment Coalition, after a 10-year post as legal counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association. He has served as an advisory panel member to the National Center on Courts and the Media; taught journalism law at the Department of Communication at Stanford University; and served as an expert contributor to the 1994 major revisions to the Ralph M. Brown Act and the 2004 ballot proposition making open government a basic right of citizens under the California Constitution. Francke is a 1967 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a 1979 graduate of McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific. Prior to his legal career, Francke worked as a weekly newspaper editor and in military and local government public affairs positions.