Don Gemberling: Hall of Famer

Don Gemberling, MNCOGI’s longest serving board member, has been unanimously inducted into the National Freedom of Information Coalition’s State Open Government Hall of Fame, class of 2023.

NFOIC issued a press release informing Don of its choice on Sept. 21. The statement reads:

“Having never forgotten his formative years during the Watergate scandal and secrecy surrounding the Vietnam war, Don was integral in Minnesota’s legislative response, not only shepherding the 1979 Minnesota Government Data Practices Act’s implementation but also by drafting key sections of the law in his position at the Minnesota Department of Administration and negotiating with media and government stakeholders to help the law evolve.

“When legislators granted his department permission to issue advisory opinions on the MGDPA, Don wrote them all until his retirement in 2005. Additionally, he co-wrote two massively influential law journal articles that are cited whenever data practices questions require resolution in the courts.

“Since retiring, Don has been a Minnesota Coalition on Government Information board member, the lion of its cause. As the board’s chief spokesman and educator, he helps journalists and citizens alike understand the head-spinning ins and outs of data practices, open meetings and privacy law and their implications.

According to Kevin Featherly of MNCOGI: ‘Bottom line. He is a hero in the struggle over the public’s right to know.’”

Don is one of just two new members named to the NFOIC’s Hall of Fame this year. Peter Canfield, an attorney and founding member of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, was the other inductee. 

The Hall of Fame Class of 2023 will be recognized at the NFOIC’s annual FOI Summit, being held virtually Oct. 3-5. The specific segment for Don’s Hall of Fame induction is scheduled for Oct. 4 at 11 am CST.

This is one of MNCOGI’s proudest moments. We couldn’t be happier. MNCOGI wishes Don the heartiest of congratulations, and our thanks for the tremendous work he has done and continues to do for the people of Minnesota and their right to know.

Letters of Nomination from MNCOGI members

Hal DavisMatt EhlingKevin Featherly

MNCOGI in the news

MNCOGI and board member Don Gemberling have been featured in recent Minnesota news coverage.  On November 11th, Minnpost ran a piece on data privacy issues, and Don Gemberling made an appearance in a recent Almanac broadcast about lawsuits stemming from drivers license data breaches.

Minnesota’s Government Data Practices Act: A Primer

COGI-tations: A program of the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information

Minnesota’s Government Data Practices Act : A Primer
Hint: It’s Not as Complicated As You Think!

Presenter: Don Gemberling – “Godfather” of Minnesota data practices

Minnesota’s data practices law is based upon openness to information by and about state and local government. Advocacy groups, citizen journalists, concerned citizens, bloggers and all concerned about access to government activities need to know their rights. Elected and appointed officials need to understand their responsibility to assure access. Don Gemberling knows the law and can clarify it for those who may be intimidated, confused or overwhelmed by a straightforward law based in the assumption of transparency. Attendees are encouraged to bring their government information horror stories for analysis and feedback.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009
4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
Midtown Commons, 2324 University Ave West, St. Paul
(just East of Raymond)
Minnesota Council of Nonprofits conference room, Suite 20

COGI-tations are public forums sponsored by the
Minnesota Coalition on Government Information.
All COGI-tations are free and open to the public.