David Snyder, a lawyer and journalist who has worked at the highest levels of both professions, has been selected as the new Executive Director of the First Amendment Coalition. He takes over leadership of the free speech and open-government organization on January 1.
Snyder is an attorney in the San Francisco office of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, a global law firm. His practice includes litigation and counseling in the areas of First Amendment rights (freedom of speech, freedom of the press), access to government information (California Public Records Act, federal FOIA), intellectual property (copyright) and anti-SLAPP cases.
Snyder, a reporter at the Washington Post before switching to a law career, has provided legal representation to journalists and news media, including Mother Jones magazine, Salon, and the San Jose Mercury News. He has also represented FAC in its long-running litigation against the State Bar of California for access to data on applicants for admission to the Bar.
“David is taking over at a crucial time for First Amendment freedoms,” said Peter Scheer, FAC’s outgoing Executive Director. “In a nation so deeply divided, in which people’s differences overwhelm their shared heritage, there is precious little tolerance for dissenting voices. The First Amendment demands resistance to all efforts to suppress expression, regardless of its content or the political affiliations of the speaker.”
“Fortunately, David has the perfect combination of skills, professional experience and commitment to First Amendment values to meet this challenge, to resist all forms of censorship, and to lead FAC in the years ahead,” Scheer said.
Snyder received his law degree at UC Berkeley Law School (Boalt Hall). While a law student, he focused on First Amendment, privacy, national security and related matters as an intern at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit in San Francisco, and as research assistant at the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at Boalt. Following graduation from law school he served as law clerk to Justice Richard Bosson on the New Mexico Supreme Court.
Snyder’s journalism career spanned nearly 16 years, from stints at the Albuquerque Tribune, the Dallas Morning News and the New York Times (as a freelancer), to the Washington Post, where he was a reporter on the metro staff from 2000 to 2005. Along the way Snyder also received a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York City.
“FAC’s role as an independent, non-profit advocate for First Amendment rights has never been more critical,” Snyder said. “The rights of free speech and a free press will undoubtedly come under great strain in the coming years, and the challenges to these rights are perhaps greater now than they have ever been in FAC’s nearly 30-year history. But I believe our opportunities are even greater than the challenges, and that with hard work, diligence and creativity, we will not just endure these challenges; we will prevail.”
Snyder was selected from over 50 applicants across the country, many of them highly qualified. Scheer told the FAC Board of Directors in June that he would step down at the end of the year. The search for a successor was conducted over four months by a committee of the FAC Board led by Board President Carol Melamed. Scheer will remain involved in FAC as a member of the FAC Board.
“The FAC Board of Directors is indebted to Peter for his wise and intelligent leadership of FAC,” said Melamed. “And as we look to the future and build on Peter’s work, we are incredibly lucky to have a journalist and lawyer of David’s skill taking the helm.”
FAC is a 501C(3) nonprofit organization, with offices in San Rafael, CA. Founded in 1988, FAC is dedicated to protecting freedom of speech and the public’s “right to know.” FAC files test case lawsuits and provides a Legal Hotline service offering free consultations. FAC also produces educational events and engages in public advocacy.
FAC is a nonpartisan organization with members from across the political spectrum. The organization recently launched a membership campaign which has netted nearly 600 new members. FAC is also in the final weeks of a push to raise $100,000 in contributions, to be matched by a $100,000 grant from the Reva & David Logan Foundation.
For more information, checkout FAC’s website: firstamendmentcoalition.org
David Snyder: 415-774-3117
Peter Scheer: 415-460-5060
Carol Melamed: 202-674-1983