About Us

Our Staff

Meet Our

Staff and Contributors

David Snyder, FAC Executive Director

David Snyder

Executive Director

David Snyder, a lawyer and former journalist, became executive director of the First Amendment Coalition in 2017. During David’s tenure, FAC has grown its staff and programs, which now include a journalist Subpoena Defense Initiative, FOI Boot Camps, a broad range of strategic litigation in state and federal court, and more live programs in California and beyond. David frequently comments on issues surrounding free speech, a free press and government transparency in the local, regional and national press.

Before leading FAC, David represented journalists and news companies as a lawyer with Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton. His clients included Mother Jones magazine, Salon, California Sunday Magazine and the San Jose Mercury News. David had an active pro bono practice that included representing FAC in a long-running case seeking public access to data on applicants for admission to the State Bar of California. David served a two-year term as the volunteer attorney member of the San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, which hears citizen complaints about violations of that city’s open-government law. 

Before law school, David was a reporter who started his career at his hometown newspaper, the Albuquerque Tribune, where he covered high school sports. He went on to work at the Dallas Morning News and The Washington Post, where he was a staff writer on the metro desk from 2000 to 2005.

He received a Bachelor of Arts with highest honors from the University of Texas at Austin’s Plan II Honors Program and a Master of Science in Journalism, with honors, from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. He earned his law degree from the UC Berkeley School of Law. During law school, he held internships with the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, where he worked on civil liberties matters. After law school David clerked for Justice Richard Bosson of the New Mexico Supreme Court.

David is the 2020 recipient of the Freedom of Information award given by the Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and under his leadership, FAC was named the nonprofit recipient of the 2020 James Madison award given by the Society of Professional Journalists’ Northern California Chapter.

David was raised in New Mexico and is a member of the California and New Mexico bars.

Annie Cappetta

Legal Fellow

Annie earned her law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2021. In law school, she was recognized as a member of the Phi Delta Phi legal honor society, received the Garrison Social Justice Scholarship, and served as the web and publication editor for the Vanderbilt Law Review. She also worked on free-speech litigation in the First Amendment Clinic at Vanderbilt. 

Annie joins in FAC’s work of expanding access to public records and government meetings, and defending freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Accordingly, she drafts amicus briefs and advocacy letters, helps operate FAC’s free Legal Hotline, and assists with FAC attorneys’ litigation. 

Her previous legal experience includes a two-year clerkship for Judge Travis R. McDonough, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, as well as legal internships with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center. She is licensed to practice law in Tennessee.

Annie received her undergraduate degree in Ecosystem Science & Policy and Political Science from University of Miami, where she was managing editor of The Miami Hurricane. During her time in Miami, she also worked locally as a freelance writer and reporter. 

Annie Cappetta is not licensed to practice law in the state of California. She is applying for membership to the California Bar.

Deborah Fruin

Managing Director

Deborah Fruin joined FAC in 2009. She was previously employed as a community journalist in the Napa Valley. Deb was one of the founding editors of The Calistoga Tribune, Features Editor of The Napa Valley, and Editor in Chief of The Weekly Calistogan. In 2008, she edited the blog Poor Us: The Great Depression 2.0. Before moving to Northern California with her family in 1993, Deb worked in magazine and book publishing in New York for Conde Nast and the Sterling Lord Literary Agency. Later she worked as a story analyst at Creative Artist’s Agency in Los Angeles. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Suzanne Ito

Communications Director

Suzanne Ito joined the First Amendment Coalition in 2022. She brings nearly 20 years of experience in nonprofit communications to the role, with positions at civil liberties, reproductive rights, and police reform organizations. At FAC, Suzanne will raise awareness about FAC’s programmatic work, including litigation, advocacy, and education programs.

Before joining FAC, Suzanne worked for the Policing Project at NYU School of Law, the ACLU of the District of Columbia, the International Women’s Health Coalition, and the national ACLU.

Ginny LaRoe

Ginny LaRoe

Advocacy Director

Ginny LaRoe directs FAC’s advocacy and outreach programs. She joined the coalition after more than a decade working as a reporter and editor at newspapers in five states, primarily focused on the criminal justice system and local government. In San Francisco, Ginny covered federal courts for the legal affairs newspaper The Recorder, where she held several leadership roles, including managing editor and interim editor-in-chief. She got her start as a city desk intern at the Chattanooga Times Free Press and went on to work in newsrooms across the South, including as criminal justice editor at The Times-Picayune of New Orleans. Ginny also worked with a Bay Area nonprofit that focuses on advancing diversity in the legal profession, and held a temporary assignment as an editor on The San Francisco Chronicle’s business desk. Ginny received her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, where she was editor-in-chief of The Sagamore, the independent student newspaper. At FAC, she launched a training program for journalists, and has produced live educational events and initiated advocacy campaigns to advance press freedom and government transparency. 

David Loy, FAC Legal Director

David Loy

Legal director

David Loy became the First Amendment Coalition’s legal director in 2022. David is an experienced free speech and open government litigator. He has defended the First Amendment rights of reporters, photographers, bloggers, students, teachers, activists, protesters, musicians, Marines, and motorcycle club members. He has fought for public disclosure and governmental transparency for over 20 years.

Before joining FAC, David served as legal director of the ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties for almost 16 years. He also worked as a staff attorney with the Office of the Appellate Defender in New York City, a public defender in Spokane, Washington, and a staff attorney with the Center for Justice in Spokane.

He received his A.B. in History and Chinese Language from Brown University, where he was photo editor of the Brown Daily Herald. After college, he worked for a law firm in San Francisco, taught English in China, and served as the legal assistant for a Chicago legal services office. He graduated from Northwestern University School of Law in 1994 and clerked for Judge Dolores K. Sloviter of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

David is an active member of the California and New York bars, with inactive status in Washington and Illinois. He has served on the Southern District of California lawyer representative committee and the boards of California Appellate Defense Counsel and American Constitution Society, San Diego Lawyer Chapter.

Kathleen Morgen

Philanthropy Director

Kathleen Morgen served most recently as the Principal of Proven Fundraising Solutions, a full-service consulting firm for nonprofits. Kathleen has raised millions of dollars annually for her clients and employers. Throughout her 30+ year career, Kathleen has supported the growth and development of nonprofits and hospitals across California, strengthening their infrastructure and deepening their relationships with constituents.

Kathleen’s job at FAC is to attract transformational gifts that ensure a steady income stream and serve to sustain and grow FAC’s work fighting for free speech, a free press, and the public’s right to know. Kathleen is a great believer in and inspired by the power of philanthropy, having seen the impact on both the giver and receiver, and is honored to be part of the FAC Team.

Mary Needham

Development Coordinator

Mary Needham has been with the First Amendment Coalition’s development team since 2022. Previously, Mary has worked in development at nonprofit organizations including The Conversation US and the USS Hornet Museum. Mary has also worked as a student fundraiser whilst obtaining her master’s degree in International Cultural Heritage Management at Durham University in England and her undergraduate degree in Archaeology from Willamette University in Oregon.

Donal Brown

Volunteer Editor

Donal Brown, volunteer reporter and editor, began work for the coalition in January of 2009. From 1999 to 2009, he was a reporter and editor for the New America Media of San Francisco, previously know as the Pacific News Service. He taught English and journalism for 35 years in California’s public schools, 33 years at Redwood High School in Larkspur. He also taught for three summers at the Andover Summer Session in Massachusetts and was a Fellow in the Bay Area Writing Project.

Among his distinguished former journalism students are Laura McCorkindale, film producer and National High School Journalist of the Year 1984; Eric Schmitt of the New York Times winner of two Pulitzer prizes; Steve Fainaru of the Washington Post and a Pulitzer prize winner in 2008; Mary Anne Ostrom formerly of the San Jose Mercury News, a Pulitzer prize winner in 1989; Christopher Marquis (deceased) of the New York Times; Dan Kurtzman, political satire editor for the New York Times on About. com; Mark Fainaru-Wada of ESPN; Chris Bull winner of the Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship grant; and Dina Temple-Raston of NPR News.

He is a graduate of Stanford University and served in the Peace Corps in Nigeria from 1963 to 1965.