Annual Conference

The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Annual Conference in Austin brings together journalists, government leaders, attorneys and interested citizens to delve into the current issues of government transparency and free speech. We honor FOI heroes with the James Madison Award, and the State Bar of Texas honors outstanding journalists with Texas Gavel Awards.

This year, we are back in person. Our state conference will be Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, at the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center in Austin, 1900 University Ave, and registration is open! (The conference hotel and FOIFT strongly encourage all attendees to wear masks, and FOIFT requires masks for those not vaccinated for COVID-19. A livestream link will be available for those who register but do not wish to attend in person.) Among the confirmed speakers and panelists are Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, a candidate for attorney general; state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, state Rep. Joe Moody of El Paso; Eva Ruth Moravec of the Texas Justice Initiative; and other open government experts and advocates. See the full agenda below:. Register today!

CONFERENCE AGENDA
8:15 a.m.: Registration opens; enjoy coffee and pastries
8:55: Welcome, FOI Foundation president Arif Panju
9 a.m. to 10 a.m.: Law enforcement transparency: Where do we stand? Josh Hinkle of KXAN, moderator; panelists are Rep. Joe Moody and Eva Ruth Moravec of Texas Justice Initiative
10 a.m.: Spirit of FOI Awards presentation
10:15 to 10:30 a.m.: Break
10:30 to 11:30 a.m.: Texas Legislature: Looking Ahead. Yvonne Mintz of Brazosport Facts, moderator; panelists are Sen. Judith Zaffirini, First Amendment attorneys Laura Prather and Arif Panju, co-chairs of the FOI Foundation legislative committee; and James Quintero of the Texas Public Policy Foundation
Noon to 1:30: John Henry Faulk Awards Luncheon, honoring Texas Gavel Award winners and the FOI Foundation’s James Madison Award recipient, Patrick Canty, and featuring an interview with Texas Land Commissioner and AG candidate George P. Bush by Dallas Morning News capitol bureau chief Bob Garrett.
2 to 3 p.m.: Pro tips: Managing information roadblocks. Diana Fuentes of Investigative Reporters & Editors, moderator; panelists are Lexi Churchill of ProPublica-Texas Tribune; Jaie Avila of WOAI-TV; and John Tedesco of the Houston Chronicle.

Photos from past conferences:

FOI Conference 2014Paul Watler, an FOIFT board member and First Amendment attorney, leads a discussion in 2014 on the Texas Public Information Act that included state Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi; Austin attorney Bill Aleshire; Texas Tribune reporter Terri Langford; and Amanda Crawford (not visible in photo), chief of the Open Records Division of the Texas Attorney General’s Office. (Photo by Jack Plunkett.)

Photos from the 2013 state conference:

Panelists at the annual conference discuss open government legislation. From left to right, Tom "Smitty" Smith of Public Citizen; Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake; and First Amendment attorney Laura Prather.

Panelists at the 2013 annual conference discuss open government legislation. From left to right, Tom “Smitty” Smith of Public Citizen; Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake; and First Amendment attorney Laura Prather.

Transparency in higher education panelists listen to questions from conference attendees. From left to right, Reeve Hamilton of The Texas Tribune; Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo; and Jim Vertuno of the Associated Press. Photos by Jack Plunkett.

Transparency in higher education panelists listen to questions from conference attendees in 2013. From left to right, Reeve Hamilton of The Texas Tribune; Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo; Jim Vertuno of the Associated Press; and Kelly Brown, editor of The Eagle of Bryan-College Station. Photos by Jack Plunkett.