Board of Directors & Staff

Tom M. Susman

President

Tom Susman serves as the American Bar Association’s International Policy Coordinator and Strategic Advisor to the Governmental Affairs Office after serving as Director of the Governmental Affairs Office for over a decade. Before that, he was a partner in the law firm of Ropes & Gray LLP, where his work included counseling, litigation, and lobbying on access to government information and privacy. Tom has litigated FOIA cases against the CIA, State Department, and other agencies; testified on FOIA reform before the U.S. Congress; advised clients on information issues; and authored a number of works on information and privacy. He has advised on drafting and implementing open government information legislation abroad, co-authored a portfolio on business uses of the FOIA, and taught classes and courses on the FOIA.

After receiving his J.D. from the University of Texas Law School, Tom began his career in the U.S. Department of Justice. He then served as general counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and various subcommittees. In 1974, he was the principal Senate staff counsel involved in developing the 1974 FOIA Amendments.

Tom was inducted into the First Amendment Center’s Freedom of Information Hall of Fame and received the American Library Association’s “Champion of Public Access” award, among other honors. He is Founding President of the D.C. Open Government Coalition and serves on the Board of the National Freedom of Information Center and on the Steering Committee of OpenTheGovernment.


Traci L. Hughes

Vice President

Traci Hughes brings a wealth of experience to the OGC as a recognized government transparency expert. Most recently, Traci completed a five-year term as the inaugural director of the Office of Open Government for the District of Columbia Government. While in that role, she served as the Chief Freedom of Information Act Officer for the District, ensuring compliance of all District government agencies with open records laws, and enforcing the adherence of boards and commissions to requirements of the Open Meetings Act. In addition to advancing government transparency laws, Traci’s policy recommendations spurred tremendous advancements in open data and civic engagement tools utilized by the executive and legislative branches of government. She has delivered numerous keynote addresses on government transparency and is often sought by international leaders looking to learn more about the technical and practical aspects of creating sustainable systems for improving government access in their countries. Prior to heading the Office of Open Government, Traci led a decades-long career as an award-winning communications professional with expertise spanning strategic communications, political and crisis communications, and broadcast and print journalism.


Fritz Mulhauser

Secretary

Fritz Mulhauser has used the open government laws for decades as an attorney in DC, at the ACLU and Legal Counsel for the Elderly. His research and investigative background comes from prior jobs on a U.S. House of Representatives committee and at the U.S. GAO. Fritz writes the Coalition’s blog.


William M. Choyke

Treasurer

Bill Choyke serves as the senior strategist/writer in the Media Relations Division of the American Bar Association, based in Washington, D.C. He spent more than 30 years in journalism and the media, most recently at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk where he was business editor for nearly six years among other duties. He began his professional career at his hometown newspaper in Waukegan, Ill., and worked for 14 years in Washington, providing coverage for Texas newspapers, including The Dallas Morning News from 1981 to 1989. Bill also worked for Gannett Co. Inc. for nearly 10 years as an editor or marketing director, in addition to several other publications. He was awarded a Batten Media Fellowship at the Darden Business School at the University of Virginia in 1989 and received his MBA in 1991.


Amy Bennett

Co-chair - Government Relations

Amy Bennett works on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) policy and compliance at the Department of Homeland Security — which receives and processes about 40% of FOIA requests government-wide. Previously, she worked for three and a half years as a management and program analyst at the FOIA ombudsman’s office, the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) at the National Archives and Records Administration. While at OGIS, she worked primarily on the compliance program, and led the office’s outreach and communication efforts.

Prior to joining OGIS, Amy served as the assistant director of OpenTheGovernment (OTG), a coalition working to increase federal government openness and accountability. While at OTG, she helped coordinate civil society participation in the creation of the United States’ First and Second National Action Plans. Amy also organized and led the coalition’s lobbying effort to strengthen FOIA and testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on FOIA reform in March 2014.

Amy has a Master’s of Public Policy from the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown and earned her undergraduate degree from Tufts University (MA). She has served several terms as President and Secretary of the American Society of Access Professionals (ASAP).


Alyssa Doom

Co-chair - Community Outreach

Alyssa Doom is a senior associate with the Pew Charitable Trusts, where she works with state and local government leaders to advance the use of data and evidence in decision-making. Prior to joining Pew, Alyssa was a member of the Sunlight Foundation’s Open Cities team where she worked on the Bloomberg Philanthropies What Works Cities initiative, helping to advance open data policy and practice at the local level. Alyssa is an active member of the Arlington County Open Data Advisory Group, where she provides guidance and insight to the County’s open data leadership team. Alyssa also serves as a board member for the National Freedom of Information Coalition, which advocates for public access to government information.


James McLaughlin

Co-chair - Legal Committee

James McLaughlin is deputy general counsel of The Washington Post, where his regular areas of practice include libel law, the First Amendment, state and federal FOIA, subpoenas, newsgathering liability, and privacy. He also oversees the Post’s lobbying and legislative interests as its director of government affairs. Before coming to the Post in 2006, James worked at two Washington, D.C. law firms and as a legal fellow at The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. A proud D.C. resident for 17 years, he is a graduate of Amherst College and Yale Law School (where he was a senior editor of the Yale Law Journal), and currently teaches media law as an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown University Law Center.

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James McLaughlin

Alison Thaung

Co-chair - Community Outreach

Alison Thaung is a Data Scientist who has been living in the DC area for several years. As a DC resident, and analytics professional, she is interested in open government and especially, open data. Alison strongly believes in the potential and benefit of bringing together technology, advanced analytics skills, and open data to increase transparency and civic engagement.


Robert S. Becker

Bob Becker is a lawyer in the District, focusing on media-related legal issues, including access to government information. As a member of the Coalition board since 2009, he has worked on bills to create the D.C. Office of Open Government and to strengthen the FOI and Open Meetings acts. He is a public member of the D.C. Open Government Advisory Group. From 1982 to 1991, Bob was assistant director for publications and a staff attorney at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, where he advised lawyers and journalists, and wrote amicus curiae briefs on the media's right to access court proceedings and records, prior restraints on publication, and libel. Before becoming a lawyer, he was a newspaper reporter and editor for 12 years. Bob is a member of the National FOI Committee of the Society of Professional Journalists.


Chad Bowman

Chad Bowman has practiced media law in Washington, D.C. since 2003, working with new and legacy media organizations, as well as other nonprofit and for-profit entities engaged in public advocacy and speech. As part of that practice, he has litigated public-records and court access issues in D.C., numerous states, and the federal courts. Chad is currently a partner at Ballard Spahr LLP. Prior to attending law school, Chad worked as a news reporter both in Upstate New York and in Washington, D.C.


Robert Vincent Brannum

Robert Brannum is a native Washingtonian and a strong believer in community service. He is a retired military veteran of the U.S. Air Force. Robert is an advocate for transparency in all levels of government, supports full voting rights for the residents of the District of Columbia, and speaks out on District issues including matters relating to public safety/emergency preparedness, high quality public education, justice and human rights. Along with serving as a board member of the Open Government Coalition, Robert is an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner - ANC5E08; Chairman, NAACP-DC Veterans Committee; Commissioner, DC Commission on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday; President Emeritus, DC Federation of Civic Associations, Inc.; Former President, Bloomingdale Civic Association, Inc.; Chairman Emeritus, 5th District Citizens’ Advisory Council, Inc.; Chairman Emeritus, Ward 5 Democratic Committee; Former Interim Chairman, DC Commission on National and Community Service; Former Board Member, North Capitol Neighborhood Development Corporation, Inc.; Former Board Member, DC Crime Solvers, Inc.; Incorporator and Founding Board Member, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Inc.; and Founding Board  Member, Veterans and Military Families for Progress, Inc.


Will Ferroggiaro

Will Ferroggiaro is a Director at Strategy for Humanity LLC, where his work for clients covers human rights, good governance, and freedom of expression with a focus on hate speech. Among his past work roles, he led programs on media and conflict and Internet Freedom for Internews and headed the freedom of information project at the non-profit National Security Archive. Will has worked on freedom of information in countries ranging from Romania to South Africa and is the author or co-author of articles and reports on access to information and government accountability. He has trained personnel on freedom of information for the US Justice Department and World Bank, among others, and he was twice elected President of the American Society of Access Professionals. A longtime Ward 1 resident, Will is a member of St. Augustine Catholic Church and the Washington Interfaith Network (WIN), and was an assistant baseball coach for the Cardozo Clerks. He filed his first DC FOIA request to DCRA in 2004.


Mara Gassmann

Mara Gassmann is an attorney in the Media & Entertainment Law practice of Ballard Spahr, LLP, where her practice focuses on litigating and counseling media clients in a wide range of matters implicating their First Amendment rights, including libel and privacy law, state and federal FOIA, newsgathering liability, intellectual property, and subpoenas. She has served as an adjunct professor of media law at the American University School of Communications. Following her graduation magna cum laude from the Georgetown University Law Center, Mara was a law clerk to the Honorable Leonie M. Brinkema in the Eastern District of Virginia. She has been a resident of the District of Columbia since 2003. In addition to her work as a board member for the D.C. Open Government Coalition, Mara is a member of the National Press Club.


Kevin M. Goldberg

Kevin Goldberg is a former President (2014-2016) and Treasurer (2012-2014) of the D.C. Open Government Coalition. He is an attorney with the law firm of Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, P.L.C., where he focuses on First Amendment, Freedom of Information Act, and Intellectual Property issues. His work in these areas primarily involves counseling of and advocacy for journalists. Kevin joined the DCOGC board after realizing that he wasn’t active on those same transparency issues where it matters most: his own hometown. This was something he found particularly troubling given that he (like his parents) was born in the District of Columbia. Kevin traveled “the circuit” of local jurisdictions – going to high school in Maryland, college (at James Madison) in Virginia, and law school (at George Washington) back in D.C. He now lives in Ward 6, near Eastern Market which he loves because of its sense of community. He is also active in other local organizations, serving on the Board of the District of Columbia Public Access Television Corporation (DCTV) and having been a former Board member (and former President of) the D.C. United Foundation (the charitable arm of D.C. United).


Liz Hempowicz

Liz Hempowicz is the Director of Public Policy at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), a nonpartisan independent watchdog that investigates and exposes waste, corruption, abuse of power, and when the government fails to serve the public or silences those who report wrongdoing. Liz leads POGO’s policy team and oversees the organization's legislative reform work, with a focus on whistleblower protections and government accountability. She moved to DC in 2011 for law school, which is where she developed a healthy obsession with the Freedom of Information Act and other open government initiatives. Liz volunteers with Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop's monthly "Write Night" program.


Miranda Spivack

Miranda Spivack is an award-winning, independent journalist who has written extensively about open government issues, most recently in her "State Secrets" series for Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. The series was honored in 2017 with the Society for Professional Journalists' Sunshine Award. She won first prize for local government reporting from the Maryland, Delaware, DC Press Association in 2013 while working for The Washington Post where she was a reporter and editor for nearly 20 years. From 2016-18, Miranda was the Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism at DePauw University. In spring 2019, she will be a Fulbright Scholar in Macedonia, where she will teach journalism at two universities.


Saideh Ezzatebaghani

Executive Director

Saideh Ezzatebaghani has over a decade of experience in the international development arena at various organizations such as the Eurasia Foundation and prior to that at FHI 360. Her areas of interest are the intersection of law and technology, as well as the issues of human security, employment, and migration.

Saideh holds a Masters degree in International Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution from the University of Notre Dame, a Master of Law in Human Rights from the Allameh Tabataba'i University of Tehran, and a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of Tehran.