About the FOI Council


The Iowa Freedom of Information Council was organized in the fall of 1976 and formally incorporated in 1977 as a non-profit consortium of newspapers, radio and television stations, media associations, educators, publishers, broadcasters and others interested in openness in government and First Amendment rights. The council is thus among the oldest, if not the oldest, of such statewide FOI organizations in the nation.


The Iowa council was established primarily in response to increases in the amount and the costs of litigation involving the news media. The council’s bylaws still provide that it can serve as a voluntary assessment district to finance lengthy court battles that would benefit Iowans interested in open government. The council also has created an Openness Defense Fund that is available to members of the Iowa Newspaper Association and Iowa Broadcasters Association to help finance lawsuits involving serious violations of the open meetings and records laws.

Over the years, however, the council’s work has been primarily educational in nature – acquainting journalists and the public with the Iowa open records and meeting laws and conducting workshops for public officials and other citizens.

The council publishes the Iowa Open Meetings, Open Records Handbook. The first edition was published in late 1978. That was soon after the Iowa Legislature had adopted a revised open meetings law to replace one that the Iowa Supreme Court found unconstitutional because of its combination of vagueness and criminal penalties.

The handbook is updated every two years, and tens of thousands of copies have been distributed throughout Iowa, through county auditors’ offices, the state ombudsman’s office and journalism organizations.

The council operates on an annual budget of about $50,000. Most of the funds come from donors. Other important sources of revenue are sustaining members, who pay annual dues of $685, and the Iowa Broadcasters Association, which annually contributes $4,000 to help support the council’s work with Iowa’s courts on the Iowa Judicial Branch’s Expanded News Media Coverage program. First Amendment members pay annual dues of $265. Individual members’ dues are $100 per year.

The council presidency rotates each year between representatives of the Iowa Broadcasters Association and the Iowa Newspaper Association. The council’s trustees come from these two groups, other sustaining members and representatives of the working news media and the First Amendment members.

Professor Herbert Strentz of the Drake University School of Journalism and Mass Communication served as the council’s executive secretary from its founding until June 2000, when Kathleen Richardson, a former news editor of the Des Moines Register, took over the day-to-day duties of the council. Richardson, by then the dean of the Drake University journalism school, stepped down in October 2015. She was replaced by Randy Evans, a longtime Des Moines Register editor.

Attendance at first organizational meeting, October 21, 1976

  • Jim Autry
  • David Belin
  • Wendell Benson
  • Ginny Benware
  • Ferne Bonomi
  • Jerry Bretey
  • Barbara Brooker
  • Shirley Brown
  • L.K. Brutin
  • Dale Cervin
  • Gaye Charlton
  • Jim Crane
  • Margaret De Lucia
  • J. Michael Downey
  • John Eppenheimer
  • Dean Gabbert
  • Michael G. Gartner
  • P.L “Pinkie” George
  • Gary Gerlach
  • Jack Gilbert
  • John Gilbert
  • Joan Hartsuck
  • Joe Hladky
  • Jim Hoak
  • John S. Janes
  • Phil Kelly
  • Howard Kennedy
  • Wes Krawcyk
  • Frank M. Lane
  • Ed Lasko
  • Kenneth MacDonald
  • C. Ross Martin
  • Phil Marty
  • John McCormally
  • Forrest Mitchell
  • Louise Moon
  • Buddy Murchison
  • Dan C. Palen
  • Joe Patrick
  • Tom Quinlan
  • Don Reid
  • Carol C. Rick
  • Robert G. Riley
  • Ron Rohr
  • Dennis Schneider
  • J.W. Schwartz
  • Chuck Seel
  • Jack Shelley
  • Bill Sherman
  • Don Silcott
  • Ann Smeltzer
  • Glenn L. Smith
  • Kenneth Starck
  • Herbert Strentz
  • Wayne Svoboda
  • Jo VonStein

Signers, Articles of Incorporation

  • James A. Autry, Meredith Corporation
  • Roger Bryant, Consolidated, Inc., Iowegian & Citizen
  • John M. Butler, Iowa High School Press Association
  • Michael Downey, The Des Moines Register and Tribune
  • E.G. “Red” Faust, Iowa Radio Network, KJAN
  • David Feingold, WOI-AM-FM
  • Michael Gartner,The Des Moines Register and Tribune
  • Gary G. Gerlach, The Des Moines Register and Tribune
  • Fred Grawe, Iowa Press Association
  • Robert H. Harter, Palmer Broadcasting Co.
  • Sid Hayman, Cedar Rapids Television Co.
  • Rox Laird, Des Moines Pro Chapter, SPJ/SDX
  • Edwin J. Lasko, Iowa Broadcasters Association
  • and KCRG-TV
  • John McCormally, The Burlington Hawk Eye
  • Louise Moon, Iowa League of Women Voters
  • David Nixon, Sr., Greater Sioux City Press Club
  • Bruce Northcott, WMT Stations, Inc.
  • Frank Nye, The Gazette Company
  • Joe R. Patrick, Drake University
  • James W. Schwartz, Iowa State University
  • Charles J. Seel, Iowa Broadcast News Association
  • and KRNT
  • Kenneth Starck, University of Iowa
  • Herbert Strentz, Drake University
  • William F. Turner, KCAU-TV, Forward of Iowa
  • Kirk Winkler, WOI-TV
  • Robert Woodward, Drake University
  • William Woodward, Iowa Daily Press Association, Dubuque Telegraph-Herald
  • George Zucker, The Associated Press

Past Presidents

  • 1977 Edwin Lasko, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids, Iowa Broadcasters Association
  • 1978 John McCormally (1922-1993), Burlington Hawk Eye, Iowa Daily Press Association
  • 1979 C.W. “Bill” Wilcox (1925-1983), Madrid Register-News, Iowa Press Association
  • 1980 Gary Gerlach, Des Moines Register and Tribune
  • 1981 Jack Shelley, Iowa State University, IBA
  • 1982 C.W. “Bill” Wilcox, Madrid Register-News, Iowa Newspaper Association
  • 1983 Forrest Kilmer, Quad-City Times, INA
  • 1984 Barbara Mack, Des Moines Register
  • 1985 Jack Gilbert, KCAU-TV, Sioux City, IBA
  • 1986 John Robertson, Cedar Rapids Gazette, INA
  • 1987 David Witke, Des Moines Register
  • 1988 Michael Giudicessi, WHO-TV, IBA
  • 1989 Mark Hamilton, Iowa Falls Citizen, INA
  • 1990 Rox Laird, Des Moines Register
  • 1991 Mary Quass, KHAK Radio, IBA
  • 1992 Bill Mertens, Burlington Hawk Eye, INA
  • 1993 Diane Graham, Des Moines Register
  • 1994 Bill Tubbs, North Scott Press, INA
  • 1995 Bob Allen, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids, IBA
  • 1996 Richard Doak, Des Moines Register
  • 1997 Randall (Rusty) Cunningham, Ottumwa Courier
  • 1998 Bob Day, KCCI-TV, Des Moines
  • 1999 Randy Evans, Des Moines Register
  • 2000 Mark Bowden, Cedar Rapids Gazette
  • 2001 Jim Field, KJAN, Atlantic
  • 2002 Rox Laird, Des Moines Register
  • 2003 Brian Cooper, Dubuque Telegraph Herald
  • 2004 John Phelan, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids
  • 2005 Paul Anger/Rick Tapscott, Des Moines Register
  • 2006 Joe Buttweiler, Mason City Globe Gazette
  • 2007 Dave Vickers, KROS Radio, Clinton
  • 2008 Carol Hunter, Des Moines Register
  • 2009 Steve Delaney, Burlington Hawk Eye
  • 2010 Dave Vickers, KROS Radio, Clinton
  • 2011 Randy Brubaker, Des Moines Register
  • 2012 Steve Delaney, Burlington Hawk Eye
  • 2013 Dave Vickers, KROS Radio, Clinton
  • 2014 Rox Laird, Des Moines Register
  • 2015 Brian Cooper, Dubuque Telegraph Herald
  • 2016 Jim Boyd, WHO Radio, Des Moines
  • 2016 Dave Busiek, KCCI-TV, Des Moines
  • 2017 Lynn Hicks, Des Moines Register
  • 2016 Jim Boyd, WHO Radio, Des Moines, and
  • 2016 Dave Busiek, KCCI-TV, Des Moines
  • 2017 Lynn Hicks, Des Moines Register
  • 2018 Zack Kucharski, Cedar Rapids Gazette
  • 2019 Keith Bliven, KTIV-TV, Sioux City
  • 2020 Tom Cullen, Storm Lake Times
  • 2021 Kyle Ocker, Ottumwa Courier/Oskaloosa Herald
  • 2022 Kyle Ocker, Ottumwa Courier/Oskaloosa Herald
  • 2023 Carol Hunter, Des Moines Register
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