Sunshine Week 2021
Celebrate Sunshine Week with the National Archives!
National Archives and Records Administration
Sunshine Week Program (Virtual Event)
Mon, March 15
1:00 - 3:00 p.m. (ET)
We are pleased to announce that Senior U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth will join us for a special event celebrating Sunshine Week with the National Archives. The event will also include a special message from U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy. The first hour of the program will feature a conversation with Senior Judge Lamberth and Adam R. Pearlman on open government and the legal landscape. The second hour will include a panel discussion with users of FOIA moderated by OGIS's Kirsten B. Mitchell. Panelists are:
- Michael Bekesha, Judicial Watch
- Alexandra Perloff-Giles, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher’s Media, Entertainment and Technology Group
- Katie Townsend, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Members of the public are welcome to
- Watch the livestream on the National Archives’ YouTube Channel.
- Attend the meeting virtually through Webex. Those attending the meeting via Webex will need to connect to the audio portion of the meeting by telephone.
If you wish to attend via Webex, you must register by March 12 at 11:59 p.m. (ET). After you register, we will send you information for accessing the meeting.
If you require an accommodation for the program (such as a transcript or a sign language interpreter), please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-741-5770 in advance.
- Presentation Slides
- YouTube Video of the Program
- Welcome Remarks for Sunshine Week by the Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero
David S. Ferriero was sworn in as 10th Archivist of the United States on November 13, 2009.
David S. Ferriero was confirmed as 10th Archivist of the United States on November 6, 2009. Early in 2010 he committed the National Archives and Records Administration to the principles of Open Government—transparency, participation, and collaboration. To better position NARA to fulfill these goals, Mr. Ferriero initiated an agency transformation in 2010. The transformation restructured the organization and set goals to further our mission, meet the needs of those who rely on us, and find new, creative ways to approach the agency's work.
Openness and access drive NARA's actions in a variety of ways. The agency has embraced a number of social media tools—Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, Tumblr, and others—to reach a wider and broader audience. NARA uses this digital engagement as a two-way street. Early in his tenure, Mr. Ferriero celebrated the contributions of "citizen archivists," and he encourages public participation in identifying historical Federal records and sharing knowledge about them.
Access and protection go hand in hand, and NARA has taken steps to ensure that future generations will continue to enjoy access to Federal records. In August 2012, NARA produced the Managing Government Records Directive to modernize and improve Federal records management practices. Mr. Ferriero also instituted new security measures to deter theft or mishandling of records.
Several new facilities, designed to protect the records and improve access to them, have been opened since 2010. The George W. Bush Presidential Library became the 13th Presidential Library under NARA's administration. The National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO, moved into a newly constructed building that is better equipped to preserve the millions of veterans records in its care. And the National Archives at New York and the National Archives at Denver moved to new locations. In Washington, DC, the National Archives Museum's visitors entrance was reconfigured, and the new David M. Rubenstein Gallery opened in December 2013.
Previously, Mr. Ferriero served as the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the New York Public Libraries (NYPL). He was part of the leadership team responsible for integrating the four research libraries and 87 branch libraries into one seamless service for users, creating the largest public library system in the United States and one of the largest research libraries in the world. Mr. Ferriero was in charge of collection strategy; conservation; digital experience; reference and research services; and education, programming, and exhibitions.
Before joining the NYPL in 2004, Mr. Ferriero served in top positions at two of the nation's major academic libraries, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA, and Duke University in Durham, NC. In those positions, he led major initiatives including the expansion of facilities, the adoption of digital technologies, and a reengineering of printing and publications.
Mr. Ferriero earned bachelor's and master's degrees in English literature from Northeastern University in Boston and a master's degree from the Simmons College of Library and Information Science, also in Boston. Mr. Ferriero served as a Navy hospital corpsman during the Vietnam War.
Alina M. Semo became the Director of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Ombudsman in December 2016.
Prior to joining OGIS, Ms. Semo served as the Director of Litigation in NARA's Office of General Counsel for two and a half years. Before coming to NARA, Ms. Semo led the FOIA Litigation Unit in the Office of the General Counsel at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for over ten years, and also served as an Assistant General Counsel in the Litigation Branch for nearly five years. Ms. Semo began her federal government career as a Department of Justice trial attorney and later senior counsel in the Federal Programs Branch, Civil Division, from 1991 to 1999, and from 1988 to 1991 worked as an associate at Hopkins & Sutter in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Semo holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University Law School; she is licensed in the District of Columbia and Maryland.
Senior Judge Royce C. Lamberth was nominated by President Ronald Reagan on March 19, 1987, to the seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia vacated by Judge Barrington D. Parker. The U. S. Senate confirmed him on November 13, 1987. He served as Chief Judge from May 1, 2008, to July 15, 2013, at which time he became a Senior Judge. Since then, Judge Lamberth has been assigned as a visiting judge in San Antonio for several months per year at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.
A San Antonio native, Judge Lamberth graduated from the University of Texas with a BA degree in 1966. He received an LLB degree from the University of Texas School of Law in 1967. He served as a Captain in the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1974. After service at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and in Vietnam, Judge Lamberth served in the Litigation Division of the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Army at the Pentagon from 1971 to 1974.
Judge Lamberth served as an Assistant U.S. States Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1974 to 1987. He was Chief of the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office from 1978 to 1987.
Judge Lamberth is former Chairman of the Federal Litigation Section of the Federal Bar Association, and a member of the American Bar Association and the Bar Association of the District of Columbia, and the District of Columbia Bar.
He is also former Chairman of the Professional Ethics Committee of the Federal Bar Association. During his chairmanship, the Committee drafted the Federal Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct for Federal Lawyers, approved in October 1990.
Chief Justice William Rehnquist appointed Judge Lamberth to be Presiding Judge of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on May 19, 1995. That appointment ended May 19, 2002.
Judge Lamberth served as a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States from May 2008 to July 2013. He also served as a member of the Judicial Conference’s Committee on Automation and Technology from 1990 to 1996, and from 2003 to 2008, served as Chairman of the Judicial Conference’s Committee on Intercircuit Assignments. Chief Justice John Roberts appointed him to again Chair the Intercircuit Assignment Committee, effective October 1, 2013.
Adam R. Pearlman is the Founder and Managing Director of Lexpat Global Services, an international law and consulting firm specializing in security, defense, investigations, compliance and training. He is a National Security Law expert and a senior leader with more than fifteen years of experience across the U.S. Departments of Justice, Defense, and State, in the White House, and with the U.S. Federal Judiciary.
A former Associate Deputy General Counsel of the Department of Defense, Mr. Pearlman was agency counsel for complex civil and criminal national security matters in federal and military courts. He also led the Supreme Court and appellate unit of the team dedicated to litigating classified counterterrorism cases. His earlier service in the Department of Justice spanned four litigating divisions and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General. His diverse experience included reviewing complex international transactions and mergers, and advising on immigration removal proceedings, human rights abuses, and terrorist financing investigations. Mr. Pearlman also served with distinction in Iraq as an early advisor to the Iraqi High Tribunal’s prosecution of Saddam Hussein. He was a law clerk for The Honorable Royce C. Lamberth, and during law school interned in the White House Counsel’s Office.
Mr. Pearlman is a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Visiting Fellow at the National Security Institute at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, a member of the American Bar Association’s Africa Law Initiative Council, and a member of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Project on Nuclear Issues. He is a former National Security Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, vice chairman of the ABA Section of International Law’s committees on national security, and aerospace and defense, and also previously served as a liaison to the Board of Directors of the ABA’s Rule of Law Initiative. He has co-edited the U.S. Intelligence Community Law Sourcebook since 2011 and has published articles in the Harvard National Security Journal, Stanford Law & Policy Review, and Intelligence and National Security.
Mr. Pearlman earned his BA, with honors, from UCLA, and his JD, with honors, from The George Washington University Law School, where he was a member of the International Law Review. He also earned a MS of Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University, where he was the inaugural recipient of the Kornblum Award for national security law and ethics. Mr. Pearlman holds certificates in international human rights law from the University of Oxford and in U.S. and international anti-corruption law from American University’s Washington College of Law. He is admitted to the State Bars of California and Virginia, as well as to the Bar of the U.S. He speaks and reads Portuguese at the intermediate level.
U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1974 and remains the only Democrat elected to this office from Vermont. At 34, he was the youngest U.S. Senator ever to be elected from the Green Mountain State. Sen. Leahy was born in Montpelier and grew up across from the State House. A 1961 graduate of Saint Michael's College in Colchester, he received his law degree from Georgetown
University Law Center in 1964. He served for eight years as State's Attorney in Chittenden County where he gained a national reputation for his law enforcement activities and was selected as one of three outstanding prosecutors in the United States in 1974.
Sen. Leahy is the president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate; Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee; and senior-most member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He is Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State Department, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. He ranks first in seniority in the Senate.
Sen. Leahy has been the Senate's leading champion of open government and of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and in 1996 was installed in the FOIA Hall of Fame in recognition of his efforts. He is one of only two politicians ever awarded the John Peter Zenger Press Freedom Award. An avid and accomplished photographer, Sen. Leahy’s photography has been published in USA TODAY, The New York Times, Time Magazine and Roll Call.
Sen. Leahy has crusaded for the protection of privacy rights, copyright protections and freedom of speech on the Internet. He was a co-founder and remains a co-chair of the Congressional Internet Caucus. Sen. Leahy has taken the lead on several privacy issues, including drafting legislation to address data and email privacy and security and leading the effort to enact privacy safeguards for electronic health records. A leader on Internet and technology issues, Sen. Leahy was the second senator to post a homepage. His website consistently has been named one of the Senate's best, and a leading Internet magazine called Sen. Leahy the most "Net-friendly" member of Congress.
Active on human rights issues, Sen. Leahy is the leading U.S. officeholder in the international campaign against the production, export and use of anti-personnel landmines. In 1992, he wrote the first law by any government to ban the export of these weapons. He led efforts in Congress to aid mine victims by creating a special fund in the foreign aid budget, and the Leahy War Victims Fund now provides up to $14 million of relief to these victims each year.
In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, Sen. Leahy headed the Senate's negotiations on the 2001 anti-terrorism bill, the USA PATRIOT Act. He added checks and balances to the bill to protect civil liberties, provisions to triple staffing along the U.S.-Canada border, to authorize domestic preparedness grants to states, and to facilitate the hiring of new FBI translators.
Sen. Leahy is the chief sponsor of the Innocence Protection Act, which addresses flaws in the administration of capital punishment. Parts of Sen. Leahy's death penalty reform package, which were enacted in 2004, help reduce the risks that innocent people are executed by providing for post-conviction DNA testing and better access to competent legal counsel.
Always ranked among the top environmental legislators by the nation's foremost conservation organizations, Sen. Leahy successfully opposed attempts to allow oil and gas exploration in wildlife refuges in the United States, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and the Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge in Vermont.
Sen. Leahy led bipartisan efforts to streamline the Department of Agriculture, and the 1994 Leahy-Lugar bill reorganized the U.S. Department of Agriculture by closing 1,100 offices and saving more than $2 billion.
Sen. Leahy co-chairs the Senate National Guard Caucus and led in ensuring that members of the National Guard in Vermont and across the nation receive the necessary resources to fulfill their heightened missions after 9/11. In 2003 the National Guard Association presented Sen. Leahy with its highest individual honor, the Harry S. Truman Award, for his "sustained contributions of exceptional and far-reaching magnitude to the defense and security of the United States in a manner worthy of recognition at the national level.
Michael Bekesha is a senior attorney for Judicial Watch, a conservative non-profit activist group that uses freedom of information laws to obtain records about the activity of government officials. Since 2009, Mr. Bekesha has litigated over 100 public records cases in both state and federal courts on behalf of Judicial Watch, individuals, media organizations, and other not-for-profit organizations. In addition to government transparency litigation, he has extensive experience litigating accountability and integrity lawsuits in both federal and state court. Michael also has drafted legislation, testified before state legislatures, and filed friend-of-the-court briefs on behalf of state legislators. Mr. Bekesha was a member of the 2016-2018 term of the federal Freedom of Information Act Advisory Committee. He received his law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, School of Law in 2009 and received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from Northwestern University in 2004. Michael has been published three times and is a member of the bars of the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and numerous federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
Alexandra Perloff-Giles is an attorney with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher’s Media, Entertainment and Technology Group, where she represented White House correspondents Jim Acosta and Brian Karem in litigation regarding their press credentials. She was a 2019-2020 First Amendment Fellow at The New York Times where she was the principal attorney in charge of public records requests. Ms. Perloff-Giles is a member of the 2020-2022 term of the Freedom of Information Act Advisory Committee. Ms. Perloff-Giles began litigating FOIA cases as a student at Yale Law School. She was a law clerk for Judge Marsha S. Berzon of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. During her recent fellowship at The Times, Ms. Perloff-Giles advised reporters on public records issues, administrative appeals, law school clinics, negotiating with government attorneys, and drafting briefs related to FOIA lawsuits the paper is currently litigating. Ms. Perloff-Giles has a JD from Yale Law School, an MA from the University of Paris, Sorbonne, and a BA from Harvard University.
Katie Townsend is Legal Director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a nonprofit organization that provides free legal services and resources to and on behalf of journalists. She oversees the Reporters Committee’s legal services portfolio, including its direct litigation and friend-of-the-court practices. She leads litigation efforts in public records, court access, and legal defense cases, and supervises the team of staff attorneys and legal fellows in both areas. She also manages partnerships where the Reporters Committee offers legal support and pre-publication review, particularly to documentary filmmakers and nonprofit newsrooms.
Ms. Townsend has served as the first litigation director of the Reporters Committee since 2014, securing several key victories for journalists and the First Amendment overall. Under her leadership, in 2018 alone, Reporters Committee attorneys secured the dismissal of defamation claims against a journalist under the D.C. Anti-SLAPP Act, obtained a first-of-its-kind ruling from an Oklahoma state court making clear that delayed access to public records violates Oklahoma’s Open Records Act, and defeated an agency’s attempt to charge a reporter more than $174,000 to obtain records he had requested under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
Prior to joining the Reporters Committee, Ms. Townsend was a litigation associate in the Los Angeles office of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, where she specialized in media and entertainment litigation. Prior to joining Gibson Dunn, Townsend spent a summer in the Washington, D.C. office of Levine, Sullivan, Koch & Schulz.
In May 2014, Ms. Townsend was named a "Rising Star" – one of the nation's top media and entertainment attorneys under the age of 40 – by Law360. She was recognized in 2015 as a Washington, D.C., "Rising Star" by The National Law Journal and, in 2015, was named part of the "Next Gen - Hollywood's Up-and-Coming Execs 35 and Under" by the Hollywood Reporter.
Ms. Townsend is a 2007 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, where she was a member of the editorial board of the Virginia Law Review. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Florida in 2004 with a BA in English and a BS in broadcast journalism. While pursuing her undergraduate degrees, she worked as a reporter and news producer for a local AM news radio station. Ms. Townsend is admitted to practice law in California, the District of Columbia, and New York.
Kirsten B. Mitchell is Compliance Team Lead for the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Ombudsman’s office — the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) at the National Archives. In addition to overseeing review of FOIA policies, procedures and compliance governmentwide, Ms. Mitchell also is the Designated Federal Officer for the FOIA Advisory Committee making sure, among other duties, that Committee business is conducted according to all applicable laws and regulations, including the Government in Sunshine Act. Prior to establishing OGIS’s FOIA compliance program, Ms. Mitchell worked as a facilitator and has helped to resolve disputes between FOIA requesters and federal agencies in hundreds of cases.
Before joining OGIS in 2010, Ms. Mitchell was a journalist and frequently used state and Federal records as well as database analysis to shine a light on how government operates. She spent the bulk of her journalism career at the New York Times-owned regional newspapers. Ms. Mitchell was a journalism law fellow at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a nonprofit association providing free legal assistance to journalists, and the Sunshine in Government Initiative, a coalition of media groups that worked to gain passage of the OPEN Government Act of 2007, which amended FOIA and created OGIS.
Ms. Mitchell recently completed a two-year term as president of the Board of Directors of the American Society of Access Professionals, a nongovernmental association that brings together professionals working inside and outside the government on information access issues. She earned an MA in journalism and public affairs from American University and a BA in English from Mary Washington College. Ms. Mitchell holds a certificate in mediation from Northern Virginia Mediation Service, which is affiliated with the George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, and in 2018 completed a yearlong Excellence in Government leadership development fellowship with the non-partisan Partnership for Public Service.