Memphis attorney Lucian Pera has been named as the new President of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that seeks to improve citizen access to public information and open government in the state.
Pera, a partner with the Memphis office of Adams and Reese LLP, has served as a member of TCOG’s Board of Directors since 2007 and as its vice president since 2010.
Adam Yeomans, the Associated Press Regional Director for the South, was elected as vice president. The board also re-elected to new terms on the executive committee Marian Ott as treasurer and Dorothy Bowles as secretary.
Pera succeeds Doug Pierce, a partner with the Nashville law firm King & Ballow, who served as TCOG’s board president for eight years. During this time, Pierce helped navigate the organization as it expanded its Help Line and educational outreach, and provided continual tracking on legislation and litigation that could impact a citizen’s right to know under the state’s public records and open meetings laws.
Pierce will remain on TCOG’s executive committee as immediate past president.
“Under Doug Pierce’s steadfast leadership as President and Deborah Fisher’s excellent work as Executive Director, TCOG has become the most effective broad-based voice for transparency in Tennessee state and local government,” Pera said. “We’re poised to continue an important role in advancing government transparency in an era of increasing pressure for government secrecy.”
More about members of TCOG’s Executive Committee:
Lucian Pera — Pera’s practice at Adams and Reese includes media law, commercial litigation, and legal ethics and the lawyer professional responsibility. He represents a number of Tennessee and national media outlets. A Memphis native, he is an honors graduate of Princeton University and Vanderbilt University School of Law.
A long-time member of the Media Law Resource Center’s Defense Counsel Section, Pera has authored the Tennessee chapters in two of the MLRC’s annual 50-state surveys of media and privacy law for almost 20 years. He also chaired the MLRC’s ethics committee for six years.
Pera has been very active in Tennessee and nationally in lawyer ethics and professional responsibility, chairing the Tennessee Bar Association’s committee that led the overhaul of Tennessee’s lawyer ethics rules. He was a member of the ABA commission that in 2002 thoroughly revised the American Bar Association Model Rules on Professional Conduct, on which the legal ethics rules of every American jurisdiction except California are based. He currently chairs the governing committee of the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility, which houses the ABA’s ethics committee and other committees that work in the lawyer regulation arena.
He is the immediate past Treasurer of the American Bar Association, and has served in the ABA House of Delegates since 1990. He is now the Vice President of the Tennessee Bar Association and will be its President in 2017.
Adam Yeomans – Yeomans was named the Associated Press Regional Director for the South in late 2015 after serving as AP’s bureau chief for Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi based in Nashville.
Prior to this, he was AP’s assistant bureau chief in Miami from 1998 to 2004, and news editor for Florida from 1996 to 1997. He joined the AP in Tallahassee, Fla., in 1993 as a reporter after working for The Orlando Sentinel, where he covered tourism and economic development.
At AP, he helped oversee the AP vote tabulation system that was crucial to reporting the outcome of the 2000 Florida presidential balloting and was part of the AP team nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He helped supervise coverage of the Elian Gonzalez custody fight in 2000, and led coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorists’ connection to Florida, the slaying of Gianni Versace, Florida’s $13 billion settlement with the tobacco industry, and other major news events.
Yeomans serves on the boards of the Nashville/MidSouth Region of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the Tennessee AP Broadcasters and Media Editors, the Mississippi AP Broadcasters, the Kentucky AP Broadcasters, and the Louisiana-Mississippi AP Media Editors. He also serves on the government relations committee of the Tennessee Press Association.
He is a native of Fort Myers, Fla., and a graduate of the University of Florida.
Marian Ott — Ott is president of the League of Women Voters of Tennessee and chair of the Metropolitan Transit Authority. In 2007, she served on the Tennessee Legislative Study Committee on Open Government, known as the “Sunshine Committee,” whose work led to the first significant revision of the state’s open records law in many years. She has been a member of TCOG’s Board since 2008 representing the League of Women Voters, and has served as its treasurer since 2012.
Ott has been active with the League, serving in roles of treasurer at the state level, and treasurer and president with the Nashville chapter. She has especially been involved in Voter Service and was co-chair of a LWV Nashville committee that conducted a performance assessment of the Davidson County Election Commission.
Ott is a founding board member and past chair of Cumberland Region Tomorrow and actively participates in many other civic and community endeavors, including as a board member at St. Luke’s Community House, a volunteer with the Nashville Adult Literacy Council and an IRS-certified volunteer through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program to help low-income citizens. A civil engineer, her professional career included serving as executive director of the Regional Transportation Authority from 1991-1998. She received her master’s degree in civil engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University.
Dorothy Bowles, Ph.D. — Bowles is professor emerita in the University of Tennessee School of Journalism & Electronic Media. She has worked at daily newspapers in Texas, Kansas, Wisconsin and Minnesota. In addition to academic journal articles, Dr. Bowles has authored or co-authored six books, plus a number of textbook chapters.
She is a founding member of TCOG and, with TCOG’s founder and first executive director Frank Gibson, guided TCOG’s state-wide audit of compliance with the Tennessee Public Records Act. She served for six years on the Advisory Committee on Open Government, appointed by the Tennessee Comptroller. For more than 30 years, she has worked with the Student Press Law Center, serving on its initial board of directors and continuing today on its advisory board. In 2001, SPLC presented Bowles with its first Public Service Award. She resides in Knoxville.
Doug Pierce — Pierce is a partner in the litigation section of the law firm of King & Ballow. He earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee with honors. While attending the University, he was Assistant Editor and Associate Editor of the Tennessee Law Review. He received his undergraduate degree in Radio and Television Communications from Morehead State University with high honors. Before attending law school, he served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Signal Corp.
Pierce formerly served as law clerk to the Honorable Robert L. Taylor of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Tennessee. He has been General Counsel to the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters since 1988.
Pierce is a member of the Nashville, Tennessee and American Bar Associations, and the ABA’s Forum on Communications Law. He frequently represents both print and broadcast media clients in First Amendment matters nationwide, and he has defended the media against libel and privacy claims in Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia. He is the author of the Tennessee portion of the 50 State summary of open meetings and open records laws published by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and also co-author of a portion of a survey of media privacy and related legal issues published by the Media Law Resource Center.
Tennessee Coalition for Open Government was formed in 2003 as an educational organization whose mission rests on the belief that access to government information, through public records and public meetings, is crucial in allowing informed citizen participation in a democratic society.
Its programs includes education and outreach, training, development of resources and research, and a Help Line that has assisted thousands of citizens and journalists with public meetings and records questions.
TCOG’s method is to work through a unique alliance of citizens, media and civic groups. It is a member of the National Freedom of Information Coalition.