David Cuillier, Ph.D., is director of the Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Project, and co-director of the Brechner Center for Advancement of the First Amendment, at the University of Florida. Contact David.
Cuillier is a national leader in research, education, and public understanding of freedom of information – the ability for journalists and citizens to acquire the government records they need to self-govern and improve their communities.
Before joining the University of Florida in July 2023, Cuillier taught access to public records, data journalism, and other courses at the University of Arizona School of Journalism for 17 years, where he also served as director of the school and director of graduate studies. He has published peer-reviewed research on freedom of information and co-authored the books “The Art of Access: Strategies for Acquiring Public Records,” and “Transparency 2.0: Digital Data and Privacy in a Wired World.”
He served as national president of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2013-14, as well as SPJ FOI chair for five years, was president of the National Freedom of Information Coalition 2019 through 2023 and served as head of the Communication Law & Policy Division for the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. He is founding editor of the open-access peer-reviewed Journal of Civic Information, from 2019 to present.
Cuillier currently serves on the Federal FOIA Advisory Committee under the National Archives and Records Administration and has testified three times before Congress regarding FOIA. He writes the FOI Files column for the Investigative Reporters & Editors Journal, and since 2004 has trained more than 10,000 journalists and citizens in how to acquire public records.
He got his start in public records as a newspaper reporter and editor in the Pacific Northwest for a dozen years before earning his doctorate in communications at Washington State University, studying under Dr. Susan Dente Ross, who earned her Ph.D. from UF while aiding the Brechner Center. Cuillier lives in Gainesville, Florida.
Diana Mitsu Klos
Diana Mitsu Klos is senior adviser to the Brechner FOI Project. Contact Diana.
Klos was director of engagement at the Student Press Law Center, where she focused on partnerships, fundraising, donor database management, managing interns, editing and leveraging social media platforms.
As executive director of the National Scholastic Press Association/Associated Collegiate Press, Klos oversaw eight annual national collegiate and high school journalism conventions, drawing 100 to 6,500 students and their advisers per event, plus overseeing training and recognition programs.
While senior project director of the American Society of News Editors (now News Leaders Association), Klos devised and wrote grants in support of journalism-education programming. She initiated a two-week training program that nurtured 2,300 high school media advisers; launched the first free national website hosting service for student publications; and created a national online advertising network for them. She also oversaw journalism credibility and international journalism programs.
Klos researched and wrote “The Status of Women in U.S. Media 2013” for the Women’s Media Center, which became the template for subsequent annual reports. For The National Security Zone initiative at Northwestern University’s Medill School, Klos created and implemented a strategic outreach plan for resources focused on local coverage of defense, security and civil liberties.
She served as adviser to a temporary installation of children’s pajamas on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in 2019 that drew attention to the issue of migrant children being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. For “Where Are The Children?” Klos devised strategies for diverse volunteer management, news coverage, permits and logistics.
Klos graduated from the City College of New York, and began her career as a reporter, city editor and managing editor for daily news organizations in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York.
Kingsley Ngange, a leading journalism scholar from Cameroon, Africa, and Fulbright Scholar, is spending nine months with the Brechner FOI Project in 2023-24 to study developing laws that can foster democracy in his home country.
Ngange, a former broadcast journalist and current deputy vice-chancellor of research at the University of Buea, is working with David Cuillier, director of the Brechner Project, and sharing his knowledge and experiences with students and the community.
Ngange is examining how the United States and other countries protect press rights, as well as the ability for the public to acquire government information. He is also studying journalistic codes of ethics in the U.S.
Cameroon, on the west coast of Central Africa, will have an opportunity for change in the upcoming 2025 presidential election. Nearly 140 nations have freedom of information acts guaranteeing the public’s right to acquire public records. Cameroon is one of the 55 countries that doesn’t. Ngange wants to help in the process by advocating for greater press freedom.
Ashley Alarcon is a research assistant at the Brechner FOI Project. In the fall of 2023, Alarcon graduated from the University of Florida with a B.A. in Political Science. In the fall of 2024, Alarcon will begin law school at the University of Florida.
Before joining the Brechner Project, Alarcon served Congressional Representatives Kat Cammack and Byron Donalds and helped their constituents obtain fair and timely responses from whatever federal institution they were facing problems with. Since joining the Brechner Project, Alarcon has helped collect data on the financial and editorial independence of +500 student outlets to provide a comprehensive understanding of college media independence levels in the US.
Alarcon is furthering her expertise on the First Amendment regarding news gathering and dissemination. In the future, Alarcon aspires to use the law to provide society’s most vulnerable individuals with a legal voice to speak for themselves.
Sara Ganim, Hearst Journalism Fellow, launched the second season of the Why Don’t We Know podcast in January 2023.
She won the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting for her coverage of the Jerry Sandusky-Penn State scandal as well as the 2011 George Polk Award in Journalism. That same year, Newsweek magazine named Ganim one of “150 Women Who Shake the World.”
Ganim joined CNN as an investigative reporter in 2012. In 2015, she received the Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for a story exposing questionable admission standards for college athletes. She left CNN to work on a book and on a documentary film project, “No Defense,” about the military’s role in toxic contamination linked to the use of firefighting chemicals, which has been linked to serious health problems for those exposed. Ganim is a 2008 graduate of Penn State University with a B.A. in Communications.
Lila Greenberg is a legal researcher for the Brechner FOI Project and a first-year law student at the University of Florida. She plans to study Intellectual Property and Media Law. Greenberg’s Brechner work focuses on research regarding the First Amendment and Freedom of Information laws.
Greenberg joined the Brechner FOI Project in summer 2021 as a student research assistant. She also completed work with the National Freedom of Information Coalition by writing profile stories on freedom of information champions.
In spring 2022, Greenberg graduated summa cum laude from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Media Production, Management, and Technology,
Prior to her time at the Brechner Project, Greenberg interned for Mr. 305 Records and worked for Entercom Communications in Miami, implementing her expertise in different sectors of media and communications.
Karry King is an environmental research assistant at the Brechner FOI Project. Having grown up in a rural Midwest community before moving to Florida, King became interested in chemicals and environmental issues and worked with local farmers transitioning their crops to organic. She owned two natural food grocery stores, in Illinois and Florida, and a certified organic farm.
After learning about farmland being mined and water contamination in her hometown during a visit, King enrolled at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications to study advertising and learn how to investigate and write about environmental destruction and contamination in rural communities. King launched a blog in 2023 and began reporting on a chemical factory explosion in La Salle, Illinois. She will graduate in August 2024 and plans to write a book.
Brett Posner-Ferdman is a researcher for the Brechner FOI Project and a fourth-year undergraduate at the University of Florida. He is pursuing a dual degree in journalism and political science.
Posner-Ferdman began working at the Brechner Project in 2021, specializing in Freedom of Information Act stories and requests. It includes investigating instances of excessive uses of force by police, and highlighting the widespread use of non-disclosure agreements for employees of Fortune 500 companies. He also worked closely with Sara Ganim on the production of the Why Don’t We Know podcast.
In early 2022, Posner-Ferdman and Ganim worked together to expose the use of ‘gag-orders’ as part of university Title IX investigations across the country. The story was published as a special report for USA Today.
Posner-Ferdman worked as a data analyst at US Consulate General in Toronto, Canada, and as a member of CNN’s editorial and fact-checking team, The Row.
Abigail Rillo is a fourth-year journalism student and a legal researcher at the Brechner FOI Project. Rillo expects to graduate summer 2024 with a B.S. in Journalism, with a concentration in social media and a minor in Innovation via the Innovation Academy.
Rillo began at the Brechner Project in fall 2023, working on independent media, Freedom of Information Act and vexatious information request projects. With an expressed interest in media law, Rillo plans to attend law school in 2025.
Prior to joining the Brechner Project, Rillo was social media director at Innova Leaf Creative Solutions and a communications intern at Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center, where she managed teams working towards restrategizing marketing initiatives.
Savannah Rude joined the Brechner FOI Project as a research assistant in October 2023.
Rude is currently working on a project regarding the freedom of college press organizations. She is a second-year student at the University of Florida pursuing a major in journalism and a minor in international development and humanitarian assistance.
Rude is also on the staff of Strike Magazine and an assistant director for the brand ambassador team. Rude has done previous research on sex trafficking and had her study published in the Journal of Student Research. She is interested in a career in investigative journalism.
Jessica Sparks is a Ph.D. student at the University of Florida. Prior to this undertaking, she was a tenure-track assistant professor at Savannah State University in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications.
In that role, she served as the track coordinator for the journalism concentration in the department, as well as director of the 69th annual Southern Regional Press Institute. At Savannah State, she advised the award-winning student publication Tiger’s Roar and the honors group for the department, the Savannah State chapter of the Society for Collegiate Journalists.
Sparks is a former news reporter with a specialization in political news. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in journalism at Ball State University in 2007 and Master of Arts degree in digital storytelling through the Department of Telecommunications at Ball State in 2010.
Spakrs and former Brechner Director Frank D. LoMonte authored How COVID-19 has Affected College Newspapers: A Mixed Methods Study, which was published in the Newspaper Research Journal in May 2023.