Nominations are now open for 2021 William S. Dixon First Amendment Freedom Awards

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government (FOG) is now accepting nominations for the 2021 William S. Dixon First Amendment Freedom Award – given to those who believe in government transparency at the state or local level – and who have made significant contributions to casting sunshine (transparency) on government operations in New Mexico. 

Award recipients will be selected by a panel of FOG Directors. Dixon Award winners will be announced in September with a virtual Dixon Award event set for Oct.7, 2021, in a hybrid ceremony.

See the nomination form here.

“The Dixon awards bring attention to and celebrate those individuals who advance the cause of open government in New Mexico,” Kathi Bearden, FOG Dixon Award committee chair, said.  “It’s important, especially as we come out of what can only be classified as unusual times, to recognize and honor the dedicated New Mexicans who represent open government in action. We know these individuals may sacrifice hours of their personal time performing crucial legal, educational and investigative work to ensure an open and transparent democracy. Their hard work enables New Mexicans to enjoy open and transparent government throughout our state.”

She said past award recipients range from neighbors standing up for open government in their communities to elected officials who have carried the flag for open meetings and open government.

“We are asking all those who value open government to consider submitting a nomination for the Dixon Award. If you know someone you think has made a difference in local or state government procedures or actions, please let us know,” Bearden said.

The award honors the late William S. Dixon, a First Amendment advocate and FOG co-founder. 

“Bill was a First Amendment lawyer, a leading defender of free speech and public-access rights and one of FOG’s founders,” Bearden said. “Each year we honor his keen intellect, ringing laughter, lucid writing, integrity and idealism through this award.”

The nomination process is easy. Anyone who wishes to nominate an individual or organization is urged to visit the FOG website at for all of the requirements. The deadline for nominations is July 31, 2021.

Previous recipients include: Government: Albuquerque Mayors Martin Chavez and R.J. Berry, public information officer Charles Wollmann,  State Sen. Sander Rue, State Sen. James White, Bob White, State Sen. Dede Feldman, State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, State Rep. Joseph Cervantes, State Rep. Ted Hobbs, State Rep. Jeff Steinborn; the League of Women Voters of Santa Fe County, Sonny Aris, Animal Village; Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, Lea County Clerk Keith Mane, State Sen. Jim Townsend and Albuquerque City Clerk Ethan Watson; Media: Mike Gallagher, Larry Barker, Nancy Laflin, Kent Walz, Sandra Fish, Jeff Proctor, Colleen Heild, Rob Dean, Heath Haussamen, Robert B. Trapp, Sammy Lopez, Rockford M. Hayes, Kathi Bearden, Peter St. Cyr, the Jal Record and Ryan Lowrey; Law: The Freedman Law Firm, Blair Dunn, Jim Dines, Patrick Griebel, Jeremy Theoret, Pat Rogers, Matthew R. Hoyt, Hal Simmons, Greg Williams, Martin Esquivel, Dolph Barnhouse and Charles “Kip” Purcell and Adam Flores; Business: Corrales International School newspaper advisors Bryant Furlow and Scott Blackwell; Mark Leech, IT manager with the City of Albuquerque; New Mexico Tech President Daniel Lopez; UNM Regent President Jamie Koch; former PNM CEO Jeff Sterba; former First State Bank CEO Michael Stanford; Lea County State Bank President Sam Spencer; Education: Chad Painter, Eastern New Mexico University; J. Sean McCleneghan, New Mexico State University; Citizen: Nancy Henry, Sondra Everhart, nursing and assistant-living homes ombudsman, ; NM, Presbyterian Healthcare Services President Jim Hinton and Jorja Armijo Brasher, Teri Garcia and Stephanie Mortensen, citizens; Health: Tom Scharmen, regional state epidemiologist.