Thomas Susman, President
Traci Hughes, Vice President
Fritz Mulhauser, Secretary (also Co-chair, Legal Committee)
William Choyke, Treasurer
Board members & Staff
Robert Vinson Brannum
Alyssa Doom (Co-chair – Community Outreach Committee)
Saideh Ezzatebaghani (Executive Director)
Liz Hempowicz (Chair, Government Relations Committee)
James McLaughlin (Co-chair – Legal Committee)
Alison Thaung (Co-chair – Community Outreach Committee)
The coalition was established in 2009 when the founding president, Tom Susman, convened several dozen community members and found enthusiasm for formalizing a wide variety of advocacy and public education efforts around open records, open meetings and government transparency generally in the District of Columbia. The Washington, D.C., office of the Boston-based law firm of Ropes & Gray provided pro bono help for incorporation and later has continued as Coalition general counsel.
Early activities included advocacy for the Open Meetings Act that passed in 2010 after an earlier attempt failed in 2006. Later years saw annual advocacy for resources and autonomy for the Office of Open Government to enforce the Open Meetings Act, review FOIA implementation and generally lead transparency work throughout the executive branch.
As the community debated in 2015 the extent of public access to video from police body-worn cameras, the coalition played a strong role (providing research on privacy and access to police video nationwide) leading to the Council adopting the most open access anywhere.
In 2018 the coalition forecast that proposed changes to the Open Government Office would reduce its independence and unsuccessfully opposed the changes in repeated testimony to the Council and meetings with members.
Press contact: Thomas Susman, 202-365-1291
A comprehensive file of Coalition advocacy and research is elsewhere on the site.
The Coalition has no job opportunities at this time.
How you can help
- The Coalition does not have formal memberships. Supporters are welcome to attend monthly Coalition board meetings to learn of our activities. Legal, government relations and community outreach committees also meet occasionally and guests are welcome in meetings and related work between meetings
- Work on a Coalition project—writing for our blog, studying a topic for public education or upcoming Council action, or diving into a part of D.C. government that needs sunshine.
- Give testimony about an open government topic. The Coalition testifies several times each year to the D.C. Council. More citizen voices are always useful, to show how open government benefits the community.
- Attend community events such as the annual Open Government summit held in March at the time of nationwide Sunshine Week celebrations.
- Stay in touch by adding our Twitter, Facebook and other addresses, and adding your email to our list to get updates directly.
- What is open government? Originally advocates emphasized that “open” government was responsive to requests for records in government files and would let people know about and attend meetings of executive and legislative branches of government. With coming of the Internet, new emphasis is on online access to government records and any other data in bulk.
- Does the Coalition work on problems of federal government transparency? No.
- What can the Coalition do for me? The Coalition is an organization of volunteers, which limits our efforts on anyone situation. We do answer questions promptly, refer people to other resources, and generally help individuals understand the rules and get the access they want. In our advocacy we amplify the voices of individuals so that officials know we want government to be open for all. If you’re a reporter without legal backup, we can often provide useful advice about getting government data for your purposes.
- Doesn’t transparency hinder government, slowing down decisions and causing officials to just find better ways to hide their actions? Every law we have advocated for allows government officials to do their work without major interference. We understand privacy is sometimes needed; even the Constitution was written in strict secrecy.
P.O. Box 73771
Washington, DC 20056