Pete Weitzel is a former managing editor of the Miami Herald, where he worked as a reporter and editor for nearly 40 years. When he was president of the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors in 1984, he established the Florida First Amendment Foundation to serve as a government transparency watchdog and then served as Foundation president until 1995. In that role, he helped draft an amendment to the Florida Constitution guaranteeing citizens a right of access to government records and served on a Florida Supreme Court commission that modified state court rules on court records. He also helped launch the National Freedom of Information Coalition and served as its second president. Working with the American Society of News Editors, he helped launch the first Sunshine Week in 2005. In 1997, he was selected as one of the initial inductees in Florida’s Freedom of Information Hall of Fame. In 2007, he received the John Aubuchon Freedom of the Press Award from the National Press Club for his efforts in support of the public’s right to know. The National Freedom of Information Coalition inducted him into the State Open Government Hall of Fame in 2015.
Director, Local Media Southeast,
The Associated Press
Senior Deputy Editor, Tampa Bay Times
Retired Editor, The Florida Times-Union
Co-founder, Bellwether Software and IT
Founder & President, Dick Batchelor Management Group, Inc.
President, Deeson Media LLC
President, Gomes Media Strategies
President, TLH Consulting Group LLC
Attorney, Thomas & LoCicero
Executive Editor & VP of Content, The News-Press
General Counsel, Florida Press Association
Editor, The Daytona Beach News-Journal
Retired Editor, Orlando Sentinel
Broward County General Assignment Reporter, WLRN Public Media
Past State Board, League of Women Voters of Florida
Senior Editor, The Miami Herald
Pamela C. Marsh, President
Pamela Marsh served as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida from 2010 to 2015. As U.S. Attorney, Pamela was the lead federal prosecutor in 23 counties, from Alachua to Escambia, and was the first woman appointed to the position. She earned a reputation for investigating and prosecuting cases related to banking, healthcare fraud, public corruption, cybercrime, international and domestic terrorism, as well as human trafficking. Pamela was also selected by the U.S. Attorney General at the Department of Justice to serve on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, while also serving on the Subcommittee on Counter-Terrorism and National Security, as well as the White Collar Criminal Subcommittee. With more than twenty years of legal experience, Pamela has worked in both private practices and in governmental positions. A resident of Tallahassee, she was named one of the Tallahassee Democrat’s “25 Women You Need to Know” in 2016. Pamela earned her J.D., cum laude, and B.S. in Foreign Service, magna cum laude, from Georgetown University. She is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, and the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts of Florida.
Virginia Hamrick, Staff Counsel
Virginia Hamrick received her J.D. from the University of Florida Levin College of Law. She recently was the Weiss Open Government Fellow at the First Amendment Foundation. During law school, Virginia was a research assistant at the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information where she used public information laws to obtain records from college athletic departments and analyzed speech rights of student-athletes. In addition, she interned for the Honorable Gary R. Jones in the Northern District of Florida and clerked for Ausley McMullen in Tallahassee. Previously, Virginia worked as a television news producer. She graduated summa cum laude from UF’s College of Journalism and Communications.
Erika Benton, Office Administrator & Marketing Manager
Erika Benton is a graduate of The University of Alabama in Huntsville and Florida State University. She joined the First Amendment Foundation while teaching as an Adjunct Instructor for Florida State University. She received her Master of Arts degree in Public Interest Media & Communications with a certificate in Digital Productions. Erika’s studies focused on how media and communication can help the public interest industry through communication strategies and techniques. She has extensive knowledge of social media campaigns, marketing strategies, and public policy research. She currently teaches Interpersonal Communications and Public Speaking at Tallahassee Community College.