We have been your lifeline during the pandemic, economic fallout, wildfires, protests and the election. Support us with a tax-deductible donation.

Nonprofit news pioneer and renowned investigative journalist Norberto Santana, Jr. has been elected as president of CalAware, one of the state’s foremost First Amendment advocacy groups.

CalAware is a nonprofit with the mission to: “foster the improvement of, compliance with and public understanding and use of, public forum law, which deals with people’s rights to find out what citizens need to know to be truly self-governing, and to share what they know and believe without fear or loss.

Santana now leads CalAware after decades of leadership pursuing better access and information to local government. His work has included audacious and nonpartisan government reporting and bold legal challenges that successfully ensured public access to government records that officials wanted to keep secret.

“I’m deeply honored and humbled to lead such a venerated group of First Amendment defenders, made up of civic activists, journalists, lawyers and academics from across our great state and appreciate their support,” Santana said.

“It’s so important as free people that we continue to band together to protect our right to know, to express ourselves and to check our government leaders. It’s more important today than ever and we look forward to taking the sacred mantle handed to us by former generations of Californians to keep ourselves informed and in charge of our governing institutions.”

Santana also continues to charge forward locally at Voice of OC and nationally on the Institute for Nonprofit News Board of Directors in building the future of sustainable news.

CalAware uses its position to be a centerpoint in California to protect and push for freedom of information and freedom of speech in local government.

Voice of OC’s Litigator Kelly Aviles also continues her role in CalAware, serving as secretary and litigation counsel. Aviles is distinguished for her work championing access to public records and government meetings.

The CalAware board will also include JW August as vice president and Dan Laidman as treasurer.

Have an opinion on this story? Join the conversation… In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join the open conversation on our Facebook page. Message us via our website form or staff page. Send us a secure news tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.