Citizen activists to be honored with First Amendment Award

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MANCHESTER, NH – Two citizen activists who spoke out for open government will share the 2016 Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment Award.

David Pearl
David Pearl

The recipients are Timberlane Regional School Board member Donna Green of Sandown, and the late David Pearl of Hooksett. They will be recognized at the 14th Annual Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment Awards Event on Nov. 17 at the Palace Theatre.

Pearl was an outspoken advocate for the Right to Know Law and open government in his town and in neighboring Pembroke. He also worked tirelessly to shine light on local government, being instrumental in updating Hooksett’s cable system to televise public meetings and creating an online group in Hooksett for residents to post their own articles about town happenings. Pearl died in June.

“He would be touched and honored by this award,” said Pearl’s widow, Joanne.

Donna Green
Donna Green

Green has been has been involved in several First Amendment and open government cases, including one in which she successfully challenged a School Board policy that all members had to publicly support board decisions. This year, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled in Green’s favor in another case in which she challenged her own school district for refusing to release documents in electronic or digital form, when available.

“No properly managed public body has any reason to thwart the dissemination of public information in an electronic form,” she said at the time.

The First Amendment Award is presented annually to a New Hampshire individual or organization who exemplifies the freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment. Recipients are nominated by the public.

This year, along the lines of “Our Town, a Play in Three Acts,” the awards event is entitled “Our School, The First Amendment in Five Acts.”

Five New Hampshire media and religious leaders and citizen activists will bring the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment to life with personal stories that demonstrate why those freedoms are important to them – and to all of us.

Speakers presenting the Five Freedoms will be:

Freedom of Religion – Rev. Jerome Day, former journalist, now pastor of St. Raphael Parish and instructor at St. Anselm College.

Freedom of Speech – Jack Heath, talk show host, WGIR.

Freedom of Press – Joseph McQuaid, publisher, New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.

Freedom of Peaceful Assembly – Arnie Alpert, director American Friends Service Committee and organizer of many non-violent demonstrations and public education events.

Freedom to Petition the Government – Ann Marie Morse, who persuaded the state and Congress to enact Michelle’s Law, which permits college students to take medical leaves of absence without losing health insurance coverage. To maintain her insurance, Mrs. Morse’s daughter, Michelle, continued as a full-time college student while battling cancer that took her life.

Tickets are available through www.palacetheatre.org or the Box Office at 603-668-5588.

The event is the main fundraiser for the nonprofit school, which was founded in 1999 by Nackey S. Loeb, the late president and publisher of the Union Leader and Sunday News. Its free classes and low-cost workshops attract students from middle-schoolers to retirees. Instructors from media outlets and businesses around the state teach topics such as the First Amendment, journalism, photography, broadcasting, audio and video production, social media and public speaking.

Past recipients of the First Amendment Award are: former state Attorney General Philip McLaughlin, former Keene Sentinel Executive Editor Thomas F. Kearney, The Laconia Citizen, former legislator Daniel Hughes, former Dover City Councilor David Scott, Londonderry High School Journalism Adviser Mary Lukas, First Amendment attorney William Chapman, ConVal School Board member Gail Pierson Cromwell, The Portsmouth Herald, David Lang and the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, The Telegraph of Nashua, slain journalist James Foley and former Portsmouth Police Officer John Connors.

In some years, the school presents a Quill and Ink Award to recognize outstanding contributions to communications or public awareness of the Constitution. Past Quill & Ink recipients have been Circuit Court Judge James Carroll; Debi Clark Valentine of the YMCA’s Youth & Government Program; the late Robert Foster, publisher of Foster’s Daily Democrat; and Mike Pride, retired editor of The Concord Monitor.

Led by Presenting Sponsor People’s United Bank, 2016 First Amendment Event sponsors and supporters include: EverSource Energy; Amoskeag Beverages; AutoFair; U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management; TD Charitable Foundation; AT&T; McLane Middleton; The Common Man Family of Restaurants; Catholic Medical Center; Eastern Bank; Joseph and Signe McQuaid; Silvertech; BAE Systems; Café Services, Lincoln Financial Group.

Other sponsors are: Citizens Bank; Dartmouth-Hitchcock; Elliot Health System; Fidelity Investments; Daniel and Carol Hughes; Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University; Sean and Kirsten Mahoney; NH Healthy Families; Union Leader Corp.; Stebbins Commercial Properties, Inc.; Cross Insurance, St. Mary’s Bank, AARP; Business and Industry Association; Howe, Riley & Howe; and Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green.

Media partners are the New Hampshire Union Leader, WMUR-TV and WGIR.

For information about the event, visit www.loebschool.org or call 627-0005.

About Carol Robidoux 6416 Articles
Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!