Karen Bordeleau plans to extend the organization into more classrooms to educate the public on their First Amendment rights as president of New England First Amendment Coalition.
The regional nonprofit elected Karen Bordeleau, affiliated faculty member at Emerson College, to be their president in January.
Within the first two weeks of Bordeleau becoming President, NEFAC started a speakers bureau with board members in all New England states who will volunteer in high schools and colleges to teach about the importance of free speech.
The organization promotes and advocates for the First Amendment by lobbying for laws increasing government transparency, supporting the release of records, and collaborating with different organizations to spread their message to the public.
“[NEFAC] has done an outstanding job of training journalists, fighting for open records and open meetings, and alerting the public to government nonsense through commentaries and opinion pieces. This, of course, must continue. But it can’t stop there,” Bordeleau said.
Bordeleau has been teaching at Emerson since 2000. Last semester, she taught Foundations of Journalism and Discovering Journalism.
“Any student currently at Emerson who had her … can easily explain her passion and dedication to First Amendment rights, not merely for journalists but for every American and everyone who works and breathes in this country,” Journalism Department Chair Janet Kolodzy said.
Bordeleau said she feels passionate about making sure every citizen knows their First Amendment rights.
“[Free speech] is the only thing that prevents republics from becoming totalitarian states,” she said. “It is the First Amendment for a reason, and we all have to protect it, especially now.”
Bordeleau is an award-winning journalist and the first woman to serve as executive editor of the Providence Journal. In 2014, she was awarded the Yankee Quill lifetime award, which celebrates a journalist for their commitment to free press and their overall contribution to the field.
“Karen Bordeleau is one of the premier advocates for journalism and the First Amendment through her life’s work in the newspaper industry with the Providence Journal and also because of her great work as an educator here as affiliated faculty at Emerson College,” Kolodzy said.
Bordeleau succeeds Tom Fiedler, dean of Boston University’s College of Communications, who will remain on NEFAC’s Board of Directors.
“She had already been doing a tremendous amount of work on behalf of the coalition . . . so everyone within NEFAC and on our board already knew the type of work and leadership Karen could provide,” NEFAC’s Executive Director Justin Silverman said. “[She] was a natural choice as far as who we could ask to lead the organization going forward.”
She is the Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor of Journalism Ethics at the Walter Cronkite School at Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona for the spring 2018 semester but will return to Emerson in the fall.