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Transparency Project, First Amendment Foundation join forces

ATLANTA – The Georgia First Amendment Foundation and the Transparency Project of Georgia have announced a new partnership to advocate for greater transparency in the way public officials do the peoples’ business.

“Our team is dedicated to the same cause, so it was only natural for us to join forces,” GFAF Executive Director Holly Manheimer said. “Now, we’ll be able to fight to protect our rights to access in even more ways.”

Together, Manheimer and TPOG co-founders, journalists Jim Zachary and Kelsey Cochran will marry their respective talents to continue to host dynamic workshops and educational opportunities, and a variety of services will be available, including legal information and helpful tips for filing effective open records requests.

Working alongside GFAF, the Transparency Project will continue to develop a collaborative, full-service online presence to promote the work of like-minded individuals across the state. The TPOG site offers free editorials, a list of resources and a new, interactive question-and-answer section with expert advice from Manheimer.

“We’re thrilled that the First Amendment Foundation believes so strongly in supporting our joint cause, and this partnership is only the beginning of what open government advocates across the state have proven we can accomplish,” Zachary said. “Now we can do even more work on the front lines supporting journalists who expose corruption, offering tips to citizens looking for information from their city or county government and helping public officials identify how they can more openly do the public’s business.”

In coming months GFAF and TPOG will provide updated open government literature including “A Citizen’s Guide to Open Government,” training materials, educational seminars and support services to journalists, media companies, government officials, civic groups and private citizens throughout the state of Georgia.

The Georgia First Amendment Foundation relies on an annual mid-summer fund drive and modest grants for its support.

Visit www.gfaf.org or www.transparencyprojectofgeorgia.com to learn about how to teach Georgians about the need for more open government.

GFAF, a member of the National Freedom of Information Coalition and a federal 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, was incorporated in 1994 and has since worked to educate and empower citizens to fight for a faster pace in, and a stronger emphasis on, freedom of information. In addition to leading open government workshops across the state for citizens, public officials and the media, Executive Director Hollie Manheimer provides her expert knowledge as an attorney to pen an annual legislative analysis during the 40-day January-to-March General Assembly session.

The Transparency Project of Georgia was launched in January 2013 by veteran newspaper editor and longtime sunshine advocate Jim Zachary and journalist Kelsey Cochran. Both have dedicated their careers to promoting greater openness and accountability in local and state government, and have been honored numerous times in Georgia and Tennessee for their efforts.

Most recently, the two worked with State Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) to draft a new law that prohibits profiteering from mugshots with minimal effect on the state’s Open Records Act.