2008 National FOI Day conference: Biographies

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Editor’s note: Not all of the speakers’ bios appear on this page. For links to other speaker bios, see the agenda.

James E. Baker is a judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Previously, he served as special assistant to the president and legal adviser to the National Security Council (1997-2000), where he advised the president, the national security adviser and the NSC staff on U.S. and international law involving national security. He has also served as deputy legal adviser to the NSC (1994-1997) and as counsel to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and its Intelligence Oversight Board. Before being seconded to the NSC, he served as a career attorney at the Department of State. He has also served as a legislative aide and acting chief of staff to Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1985-1987). He is the author of In the Common Defense: National Security Law for Perilous Times (Cambridge University Press, 2007) and, with Michael Riesman, Regulating Covert Action (Yale University Press, 1992). Upon graduating from Yale College, Baker served as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps. He also received his law degree from Yale Law School. Baker is the recipient of the 1999 Colonel Nelson Drew Memorial Award, the NSC’s highest honor. And he is the recipient of the Director of Central Intelligence’s Director’s Award.

Ted Gup is the Shirley Wormser Professor of Journalism at Case Western Reserve University. He is a former staff writer for The Washington Post and Time magazine and has written for a wide range of other publications. He has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist and has received more than 20 awards, including the George Polk Award, the Worth Bingham Prize, the Gerald Loeb Award, and the Book-of-the-Year Award from Investigative Reporters and Editors. His Nation of Secrets: The Threat to Democracy and the American Way of Life won the 2008 Goldsmith Book Prize. He’s been a Fulbright Scholar, a MacArthur Fellow and a Guggenheim Fellow, among his many other honors.

James C. Ho is of counsel in the Dallas office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and an active member of the firm’s appellate and constitutional law practice group. He has litigated in federal and state courts across the country and also regularly represents clients in government investigations and other adversarial settings outside of formal litigation proceedings. He has authored numerous briefs, legal opinions and white papers, presented oral argument, testified before legislative committees, and advised trial counsel in anticipation of appeal. Ho has over seven years of experience working in all three branches of the federal government — including the U.S. Supreme Court, the Department of Justice and the Senate Judiciary Committee — as well as in state government. He served as chief counsel to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on the Senate Judiciary Committee from 2003 to 2005. He worked at the U.S. Department of Justice from 2001 to 2003, first as special assistant to the assistant attorney general for civil rights, and then as an attorney-adviser in the Office of Legal Counsel. He served as a law clerk for Judge Jerry E. Smith of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals from 1999 to 2000, and for Justice Clarence Thomas of the U.S. Supreme Court during the 2005 October term. Before law school, Ho was a legislative aide to California State Sen. Quentin L. Kopp (I-San Francisco). Ho was named one of the best lawyers under 40 by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association in 2006 and one of the best 35 congressional aides under 35 by The Hill in 2005. In 2007 he was honored for his outstanding contributions to law by the Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce, the largest Asian American chamber in the country. He received the Exceptional Civilian Service Award for his work at the Justice Department in 2002. Ho graduated in 1999 with high honors from the University of Chicago Law School.

J. William Leonard recently retired after 34 years of federal government service. In his last position, as the director of the Information Security Oversight Office, he was responsible for policy oversight of the executive branch’s national security information classification system. Before that appointment, Leonard served in the Department of Defense as the deputy assistant secretary of defense (security and information operations). In 2002, the president conferred upon him the rank of meritorious executive. Leonard holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from St. John’s University in New York City and a Master of Arts degree in international relations from Boston University. He is currently the principal of his own consulting firm.

Pamela Louwagie is a reporter at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, where she has covered legal affairs and a variety of topics since 2001. Before that, she worked as a reporter for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans and as a correspondent for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Among other topics, she has written about clergy abuse, gang rape and prostitution, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the foreclosure crisis and the Interstate 35W bridge collapse.

Daniel J. Metcalfe is on the faculty of American University’s Washington College of Law and is the director of its new Collaboration on Government Secrecy project. Previously, he served as founding director of the Department of Justice’s Office of Information and Privacy, where from 1981 until retiring in January 2007 he advised federal agencies on all aspects of FOIA administration and supervised the defense of more than 500 FOIA lawsuits. Before 1981, he was a Justice Department trial attorney and worked there during both college and law school in the early 1970s. He became a career member of the Senior Executive Service in 1984.

Brian T. Pallasch is the managing director of government relations and infrastructure initiatives at the American Society of Civil Engineers in Washington. He has been responsible for managing the ASCE’s government relations department, including federal and state legislative affairs, regulatory affairs, grassroots, and policy development, since joining the staff in 1999. Since 2008, Pallasch has been responsible for managing ASCE’s strategic initiatives regarding infrastructure, including development of the Report for America’s Infrastructure. Before joining ASCE, Pallasch served as the director of government relations for the American Subcontractors Association, where he was responsible for all federal and state relations. Pallasch also serves as president of the American League of Lobbyists, after serving on the board of directors from 2004-2006. In 2001-2002, he served as the chair of the Government Relations Section Council of the American Society of Association Executives. He served as chairman of the Procurement Committee of the Small Business Legislative Council from 1997-1999.

Tonda F. Rush is president of American PressWorks in Arlington, Va., and the former CEO of the National Newspaper Association and associate general counsel of the American Newspaper Publishers Association. American PressWorks now represents the National Newspaper Association and manages its Washington office. Rush is an attorney, consultant, lecturer and writer on issues involving the First Amendment, media law and the newspaper business. She began her career managing a small newspaper in Kansas and working as a reporter and editor in that region. She has been involved in First Amendment and open-access matters on behalf of the press since her days as director of the Freedom of Information Center of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in the early 1980s. She has taught media law as adjunct faculty at the American University School of Communications in Washington and the College of Journalism of the University of Maryland in College Park, Md. She presently serves on the advisory board of the William Allen White Foundation and is on the boards of directors of the Student Press Law Center and the Virginia Coalition of Open Government. Rush is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Law and the William Allen White School of Journalism.

Ellen Smith is the owner of Mine Safety and Health News and directs all news coverage. She has been covering mining issues since 1987 and has won 23 journalism awards for her reporting. Most recently, Smith won three awards for reporting on the 2006 Sago Mine Disaster, including the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service in Newsletter Journalism — the second such award in her career. She has been recognized for her analytical and interpretive reporting on the Freedom of Information Act and on credit-card abuse at the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Other awards include an investigative journalism award for her coverage of the Williams Station Mine Disaster, the “all white center” coal industry dust sampling controversy. Her coverage of the issue of closed meetings at the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission was key in keeping the meetings open to the public.