Statement on death of Rob Dean

NMFOG President 2006 – 2007

The board of directors of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government is deeply saddened by the death of Rob Dean, 65, at his home in Santa Fe on Jan. 5, 2019.

Rob was a longtime editor of the Santa Fe Mexican where he mentored a generation of journalists.  He retired from the New Mexican in 2013 and at the time of his death was executive director of Searchlight New Mexico, a nonprofit, investigative journalism organization.

A fierce advocate for transparency, Dean received FOG’s highest honor, the lifetime achievement award, in 2013.  FOG Board member Billie Blair, who presented the award to Dean, captured his essence in calling him a “lifelong champion of ‘shining the light’ … a man who never compromised his core values throughout a distinguished journalism career.  Rob Dean simply was a champion of open government.” 

We are particularly in debt to Dean for navigating FOG through a time of great change. He was president of FOG when our founding executive director, Bob Johnson, suddenly died in 2007. During that transition, Dean made certain FOG continued to field the public’s questions on achieving their right to know and set the organization on a new and steady path.

Dean was unwavering in his support and mentoring of reporters who filed IPRA requests at the New Mexican, and always gave editors extra time to fight when local governments tried to shield information. He never accepted excuses that public officials made for secrecy, believing that secrecy only serves the insiders, not the public.  As a result, Dean also was not afraid to pursue litigation when compliance was not forthcoming, and at the New Mexican, Dean partnered with FOG on two successful lawsuits against public bodies.

FOG extends its deepest sympathies to his wife, Toni and two sons, Ryan and Peter Dean. For many years, he was an outstanding FOG member, a trusted advisor and a strong advocate for transparency and accountability.  He will be greatly missed.