TALLAHASSEE – Pamela Marsh, the First Amendment Foundation’s executive director, will become a full-time Visiting Professor of Practice at the University of Florida Levin College of Law for the 2022-2023 academic year.
Marsh joined the Foundation in 2019 after serving as the United States Attorney for Florida’s Northern District. As the Panhandle’s top federal prosecutor, she supervised the work of 34 attorneys in 23 counties, overseeing health care fraud, public corruption, cybercrime, and human trafficking investigations and prosecutions.
Marsh led the Foundation at a particularly difficult time during the organization’s nearly 40-year history. Like many other nonprofits or charities, the Foundation’s fundraising efforts were significantly challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, which made it impossible for large groups to gather in person for cultural and educational events.
Despite these difficulties, Marsh’s tenure was marked by great progress toward the Foundation’s mission. The Foundation tracked how municipal governments were meeting and allowing public involvement amid the pandemic and successfully called on local and state government agencies to provide virtual means of attendance to ensure that officials made decisions with full public participation.
“The Board of Trustees could not be more pleased that Pamela will be bringing her commitment to and passion for open government to one of Florida’s great universities,” said Trimmel Gomes, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees Vice-Chair. “While we are saddened that she is moving on, we also congratulate her on being offered this tremendous opportunity, and we are gratified that she will bring her love for the First Amendment with her to the UF College of Law.”
Marsh worked diligently to ensure Florida’s open government laws sustained relatively few successful legislative exemptions. In 2020, for example, the Foundation tracked 123 bills – and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law only seven new exemptions, the lowest number of new exemptions passed since 2012. In 2021, FAF supported Senate Bill 400, which prevents an agency from bringing legal action against a person seeking public records. The bill, a critical protection for members of the public exercising their constitutional right of access, was signed into law.
Last year, Marsh oversaw the publication and distribution of more than 1,500 copies of the Foundation’s iconic Government in the Sunshine Manual, the state’s most authoritative guide to public records and open government law. The Foundation provided free of charge more than 800 copies of the guide, which is published in partnership with the state Attorney General’s Office, to employees of public agencies.
The Foundation’s open government hotline – which accepts requests from all those seeking help – fielded 218 calls last year from Floridians in all walks of life, including journalists, attorneys, government officials, researchers, records custodians, environmentalists, public information officers, a private investigator, a union president, and a historic preservationist.
Among the media organizations accessing the hotline were ABC Action News, the Bradenton Herald, Breeze Newspapers, Business Insider, Capital News Service, CBS-12, CNN, the Coastal Star, the Daily Beast, Fox-13 Tampa Bay, Florida Today, Gadsden County News, Herald-Advocate, Islander News, Key Biscayne Independent, Lakeland Ledger, Miami Herald, Miami New Times, Naples Daily News, NBC News, NBC-6 Miami, the News-Press, News Service of Florida, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Northwest Florida Daily News, Orlando Sentinel, Politico, Real World Police, Seeking Rents, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Tallahassee Democrat, Tampa Bay Times, TC-Palm, The Wakulla News, WCTV, WFLA, WFSU, WFTS ABC, WGFL-Gainesville, WINK, WKMG, WPTV, WSVN 7 and WTSP.
The Foundation’s Board of Trustees has begun the process of recruiting a new executive director.
The First Amendment Foundation focuses on training government employees on compliance with the public records law and advocating broadly in support of government transparency. Its mission to protect and advance the public’s constitutional right to open government is more critical than ever. For more information about the Foundation, and to support our work, please visit www.floridafaf.org.