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
Deputy News Editor and Digital Director, Innovation News Center
Retired Editor, The Florida Times-Union
Senior Counsel, NBC Sports
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
Senior Deputy Editor, Tampa Bay Times
News Director, Cox Media Group Orlando
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
Barbara A. Petersen, President
Barbara Petersen is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia and Florida State University College of Law. She has been president of Florida’s First Amendment Foundation since 1995 and was previously a staff attorney for the Joint Committee on Information Technology of the Florida Legislature, where she worked exclusively on public records legislation and issues. Petersen served as chair of Florida’s Commission on Open Government Reform and was appointed by Senate President Don Gaetz to a government transparency task force. Petersen currently serves on the boards of the National Freedom of Information Coalition and the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. A passionate advocate of the public’s right to oversee its government, she has provided open government training to thousands of government officials, public employees, citizen action organizations, and reporters across Florida
Katie Bohnett, Development Director
Katie Bohnett came to Florida State by way of Colorado Springs, CO, to attend Florida State University in 2002. Her introduction to the First Amendment Foundation occurred while serving as Senior Staff for then-boss, Governor Charlie Crist, who founded the Governor’s Office of Open Government and hosted the First Amendment Foundation Annual fundraiser at the Governor’s Mansion each year. She is a proud member of the Florida Society of Association Executives, Capital Tiger Bay, and the First Amendment Foundation. She also serves on the Board of the League of Women Voters Tallahassee and is an instructor at Hot Yoga Tallahassee.
Erika Benton, Office Administrator, and 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.