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Meet Commissioner Kate Farrish
In her decades as a journalist working in Connecticut, including 23 years as an editor and reporter at The Hartford Courant, Kate Farrish found utilizing the Freedom of Information Act to be an essential part of the job.

“I found the law very valuable to bolster my stories, to make them more credible, by using public records to provide evidence that supported my reporting,” says Farrish, who now works as an assistant professor of journalism at Central Connecticut State University.

But in her new role as a Commissioner of the Freedom of Information Commission, Farrish wants Non journalists to know the law can be of great benefit to them as well.

“The law is really designed for regular people, residents of the state,” Farrish says. “One big misconception is that it’s just for journalists. Whenever I can I tell people ‘No, the law is for everyone.’”

Farrish says she would like to see state and local officials who receive FOI requests not feel defensive or threatened. “They should see [FOI] as a valuable tool that we have in our democracy that they don’t have in many other countries; it’s a positive thing that you have a citizen who is interested in learning more about what government is doing.”

And after years as a journalist covering public agencies from the outside, Farrish said she is intrigued to be part of one.

“Getting the inside view will be fascinating, seeing how decisions are made,” she says. “I want to learn more nuances about FOI that I can bring back to the classroom. It’s a great opportunity to get even more educated about FOI and pass that on to my students.”

While she has extensive journalism experience, Farrish, who is not an attorney, also hopes to bring a bit of an everyday person’s perspective to the Commission. In her hometown, Farrish serves on the Tolland Public Library Foundation Board of Directors, so she has firsthand experience with the meetings requirements of the FOIA.

In addition to her volunteer service in Tolland, Farrish was recently elected President of the Connecticut Foundation for Open Government, a nonprofit with a mission to educate the public about the importance of transparent and open government.

Before joining the Commission, Farrish organized educational events about FOI, including a panel at CCSU that included journalists and the FOI Commission. She hopes to be able to continue those efforts.