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Heroes of the 50 States
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Contact Awards Coordinator Abbi Martzall via email or by phone 317/927-8000, ext. 210.

Home > Awards > Heroes of the 50 States

Heroes of the 50 States
The State Government Hall of Fame

Nomination deadline: March 23, 2014

There are heroes among us. They are heroes who may or may not be well known within their respective states and communities, but whose labors have gone largely unrecognized elsewhere. They are heroes whose efforts have kept state and local government records and meetings open and accessible to their fellow citizens.

Annually, the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Freedom of Information Coalition recognizes such an individual — someone whose service, accomplishments and contributions have left a legacy at the state and local level.

2013 Hall of Fame Inductee
Brian Sonntag

Previous inductees

2012   Toby Nixon, Washington
2011   John R. Finnegan, Sr., Minnesota
2010   Robert J. Freeman, New York
2009   Mitchell W. Pearlman, Connecticut
2008   Bill F. Chamberlin, Florida
2007   Frosty Landon, Virginia
2006   Byron M. Baer, New Jersey
2005   John Kuglin, Montana
2004   Herb Strentz, Iowa
2003   Michael Donoghue, Vermont
2003   Sue Hale, Oklahoma
2003   Robert Johnson, New Mexico

Heroes of the 50 States: The State Open Government Hall of Fame is a joint venture by SPJ and the National Freedom of Information Coalition. It was developed by leaders in both organizations as a way to recognize long-term contributions of individuals to open government in their respective states.

Specifically, induction into the Hall recognizes “long and steady effort to preserve and protect the free flow of information about state and local government that is vital to the public in a democracy.”

The formal induction occurs annually at the FOI Summit.


The Open Government Hall of Fame is open to anyone who has made a substantial, sustained and lasting contribution to open government or freedom of information within one particular state. Even if the nominee has been active in national efforts or national organizations, the judges will only consider accomplishments at the state level.

Nominees may come from government, the media, the non-profit sector, the legal profession, or any other area of endeavor that involves citizen access to government records, meetings and procedures.

Nominees may be living or dead, active or retired.


Nominations should include the following:

— Cover letter identifying the nominee and the person or group making the nomination.
— Adequate support material to demonstrate the worthiness of the nominee.

Please send all nomination materials to:

Melissa MacGowan
NFOIC Executive Director
University of Missouri-Columbia
101E Reynolds Journalism Institute
Columbia, MO 65211
Phone: 573-882-4856

Nominations must be received by March 23, 2014.


All nominees will be evaluated by a screening committee of SPJ and NFOIC leaders, who will select the winners.

For more information, contact Melissa MacGowan at

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