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New executive director appointed to lead NY open government panel
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New executive director appointed to lead NY open government panel

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The state Committee on Open Government has a new leader. 

Shoshanah Bewlay has been appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to serve as executive director of the committee, which provides guidance to the press and public on the state's Freedom of Information, Open Meetings and Personal Privacy Protection laws. 

Bewlay fills the position vacated by Robert Freeman, the longtime director of the committee. He was fired in June 2019 after several women accused him of sexual misconduct

Before being hired to lead the committee, Bewlay served as general counsel and chief legal officer at the state Office of Information Technology Services. She had several responsibilities in those roles, including overseeing the agency's legal department and providing guidance on complying with laws and regulations. 

Bewlay was the agency's records access and personal privacy protection officer before being promoted to general counsel and chief legal officer.

A graduate of Vassar College and the University of Connecticut School of Law, Bewlay also worked for seven years in the state attorney general's office and has more than 10 years of private practice experience. 

"Open and transparent government is a priority of Governor Cuomo and I look forward to working with the committee to continue to highlight the importance of the Freedom of Information, Open Meetings and Personal Privacy Protection laws," Bewlay said. 

As executive director, Bewlay will lead a committee that's an important resource for New York's reporters and the public. Members of the news media regularly consult with the Committee on Freedom of Information and Open Meetings laws. The Citizen has contacted the committee in the past when facing challenges with FOIL requests and writing stories about questionable local government meeting practices.

Good government groups welcomed Bewlay's appointment as executive director. Reinvent Albany issued a statement saying it's "optimistic that her experience as a lawyer for an executive branch agency will help her provide pragmatic and useful guidance to state and local officials." The group also said it's looking forward to Bewlay "embracing her new role as an independent voice for Freedom of Information and Open Meeting laws." 

While Bewlay will take over as director, Kristin O'Neill will remain as assistant director of the committee. O'Neill led the committee after Freeman's termination last year. 

Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.

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