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FLCGA Executive Director Barbara Petersen honored for work defending open government laws

FLCGA Research Assistant CD Davidson-Hiers

FLCGA Executive Director Barbara Petersen has been inducted into the National Freedom of Information Coalition’s State Open Government Hall of Fame. As part of the Class of 2021 inductees, Petersen was one of four journalists, attorneys and activists nationwide recognized in a September live-streamed ceremony.

Barbara Petersen, Executive Director, FLCGA

“(It is a) tremendous honor to be recognized by those I admire most — those of you, like me, who are committed to government transparency,” Petersen said during the ceremony.

In early 2020, Petersen stepped away from Florida’s First Amendment Foundation. She later returned to her role as an open government watchdog when she founded the Florida Center for Government Accountability.

Petersen holds a law degree from Florida State University and has worked for decades analyzing legislative bills’ effects on Florida’s open government laws. She has been a devoted defender of the law itself.

“In many ways, Barbara created the model for a state open-government coalition that many of us follow today,” Megan Rhyne said, Vice President of NFOIC.  “So respected and so well known, Barbara’s work and her presence, too, is closely related to Florida’s reputation nationally as having one of the best, if not the best, open-government laws in the country.”

Petersen told the group in September that at times she has been called “too passionate” in her work. She quips in response to this accusation: “I’m not paid enough to be dispassionate.”

“Robust democracy depends on the public’s ability, its right, to oversee our government and hold it accountable for its actions,” Petersen said.

Other inductees included Pennsylvania attorney Craig Staudenmaier, Wisconsin journalist and editor Bill Lueders, and posthumously, Michigan journalist, professor and First Amendment advocate Jane Briggs-Bunting.

To watch the ceremony, click here. Visit the National Freedom of Information Coalition here.