Skip to main content
Blog Post

The Department of Justice Celebrates Sunshine Week

The Office of Information Policy (OIP) celebrated its annual kick-off to Sunshine Week at the Department of Justice and via livestream on March 11, 2024.  The event featured remarks from Acting Associate Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer and OIP Director Bobak Talebian, as well as the presentation of the 2024 Sunshine Week FOIA Awards. 

Ceremony opened with the presentation of the colors and the national anthem.

The Acting Associate Attorney General provided keynote remarks, noting that Sunshine Week is "an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the broader principles of openness, transparency, and accountability that FOIA serves."  The Acting Associate Attorney General also recognized the momentous year FOIA programs across the federal government had, processing over one million requests and uploading over 226 million proactive disclosures to agency websites. "Hour-by-hour and line-by-line," FOIA professionals have worked to "apply the presumption of openness and shine light on the government's policies and operations." 

Acting Associate Attorney General Mizer provided keynote remarks.

Director Talebian then discussed some of OIP’s ongoing efforts to support agencies in their FOIA operations this past year.  Those efforts included providing FOIA training and guidance, updating the DOJ Guide to the Freedom of Information Act, completing draft FOIA business standards in line with the Federal Integrated Business Framework, and launching a new interactive Search Tool on  Director Talebian also highlighted OIP’s new policy guidance on a range of topics including: Standard Operating Procedures for FOIA Offices and OIP Guidance for Further Improvement Based on 2023 Chief FOIA Officers Report Review and Assessment based on agencies’ 2023 Chief FOIA Officers Reports.  He also highlighted achievements from agencies’ 2024 Chief FOIA Officer Reports, which are being posted this week.   

Following his remarks, Director Talebian presented awards to this year’s Sunshine Week Award recipients as Lindsay Steel, Chief of OIP’s Compliance Staff, highlighted awardees' exceptional achievements in FOIA administration. 

Director Talebian presented awards to FOIA professionals across the government.


The following awards were presented:

Exceptional Service by a FOIA Professional or a Team of FOIA Professionals

This award recognized exemplary performance by an agency FOIA professional or team of FOIA professionals in carrying out the agency’s administration of the FOIA.  Exceptional Service awards were presented to:

  • Andrea Everett – Department of the Army
  • LT Brandon Maitlen – Department of the Navy
  • Brian May and the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) FOIA Team – Department of Health and Human Services.  Team members include:
    • Brian May
    • Elizabeth Diamant
    • Angela Purnell
    • Brion McConville
    • Alexis Chancellor
  • Defense Finance and Accounting Service FOIA Team – Department of Defense.  Team members include:
    • Shaunna Morris
    • Vanessa Robinson
    • Alton Mackey
    • Gregory Outlaw
  • Gregory Brooks Liswell – Department of Agriculture
  • Gregory Turney – Department of the Army
  • Food and Drug Administration Office of the Commissioner FOIA Team
  • Kristi Scarantino and Sarah Lilly – Federal Bureau of Prisons
  • Marissa Wagner – National Labor Relations Board
  • Michael McIntyre – Department of the Air Force
  • Office of the Secretary of Defense/Joint Staff FOIA Team

Award for Advancements in Government-Wide FOIA Administration

This award recognizes notable contributions to furthering government-wide FOIA administration.  This award was presented to:

  • Abioye Oyewole (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) and Michael Bell (Department of Transportation) – Co-Chairs of the Chief FOIA Officers Council Committee on Agency Collaboration and Innovation

Award for Outstanding Contributions by a New Employee

This award recognizes exceptional performance and notable contributions in carrying out the agency's FOIA responsibilities by a new employee with fewer than three years of work in FOIA.  Four Outstanding Contributions by a New Employee were awarded to:

  • Conner Veverka – Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Jordan Barber – Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • Shauniece White – Federal Bureau of Prisons
  • Brenna Schertz and William Hearne – National Labor Relations Board

Exceptional Advancements in IT to Improve the Agency's FOIA Administration

This award recognized exceptional achievements in utilizing technology to make information more accessible.  These efforts could include the implementation of new and advanced technologies to increase efficiencies as well as to improve proactive disclosures and the online availability of information.  One award was presented to:

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection FOIA 'Bots' Team – DHS.  Team members include:
    • Sabrina Burroughs
    • Christie Sharpe
    • Lauren Corbett
    • Jeremy Cole
    • Brittany Snider
    • Casey Terrel
    • Alexandra Van Nederveen

Exceptional Advancements in Proactive Disclosure of Information

This award recognized exceptional achievements by an agency or team of professionals at the agency to proactively make more information available online.  These efforts could include both the posting of more information online and steps taken to make that information more useful to the public.  Four awards were presented to:

  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission FOIA Team
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation FOIA Log Enhancement Project Team.  Team members include:
    • Jason Combs
    • Paul Marquette
    • Jaclyn Stiles
    • Michael Stephenson
    • Marcia Morgan
    • Zachary Harrell-Zook
    • Erika Bittner
    • Don Lingo
  • DHS Transparency Initiative Team.  Team members include:
    • Bill Bice
    • Korrina Stewart
    • Amy Nafziger
    • Jimmy Wolfrey
    • Jessica Cooper
    • Leslie Schwager
    • Eric Neuschaefer
  • EPA Pesticide Incidents Transparency Team.  Team members include:
    • Mark Bustin
    • Feroz Daraseng
    • Susan Jennings
    • Emily Li
    • Matthew Manupella
    • Bibiana Oe
    • Briana Otte
    • Maya Piper
    • Shanna Recore
    • Colleen Rossmeisl
    • Robert Schultz
    • Lynn Vendinello
    • Linsey Walsh

Lifetime Service Award

This award recognized an individual with at least twenty years of service who demonstrated high standards of excellence and dedication.  Six Lifetime Service awards were presented to:

  • Carroll Field – Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
  • Delores Barber – Department of Homeland Security Privacy Office
  • Joan Moumbleaux – Environmental Protection Agency
  • Kathy Lewis – Department of the Navy
  • Lisa Snider – Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  • Rita Tate – Environmental Protection Agency
  • Wanda Frazier – Department of Education

OIP congratulates this year’s awards recipients and thanks everyone who attended our event.  A recorded version of the event is located on the Department’s videos page.

Updated March 14, 2024