John P. Schmidt – President
Walter M. Luers, Esq. – Vice President
John Paff – Treasurer
Linda S. Baum – Secretary
Maureen Nevin Duffy
Cynthia A. McBride, C.T.C.
Lee “Griff” Dorry
John P. Schmidt, President – As an open government advocate, John is committed to improving transparency and has worked to educate himself and others with regard to New Jersey’s open public records and meetings laws. He is also well-versed in other laws, including those applicable to boards and authorities, and has a strong interest in government financial accountability.
John has served as a Commissioner for the Clementon Borough Housing Authority since 2011 and is now serving his second 5-year term following re-appointment in 2016. He has served as Board Chairman since July of 2015.
John was born and raised in South Jersey and attended high school at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia, PA before attending college at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He holds a degree in Politics with a minor in Media Studies.
John served as vice president of NJFOG from August 2015 through July 2016 and currently serves as president of the organization.
Walter Luers, Vice President – Walter is an attorney licensed to practice law in New Jersey. He graduated from Rutgers University in 1996 and from Fordham University in 1999.
Since 2007, Walter has concentrated on matters pertaining to the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) and the Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”). He advises and successfully represents individuals and corporations in lawsuits and administrative actions against public agencies that have violated these laws. In 2010, Walter was recognized by the New Jersey Law Journal as one of ten “Lawyers of the Year” for his work in OPRA.
Walter regularly speaks to community groups around the State about OPMA and OPRA. He served as the president of NJFOG from June 2011 through July 2016 and currently serves as vice president.
John Paff, Treasurer — John has advocated for governmental transparency for many years. He has served on the NJFOG board for the past seven years and has served as the organization’s treasurer since August 2013. Additionally, John has served as the Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party’s Open Government Advocacy Project since 2003 and is a founder of Libertarians for Transparent Government, a New Jersey non-profit newly formed in February 2016.
John works to ensure that public agencies are following the OPRA and OPMA laws and writes about noteworthy issues in his blog NJ Open Government Notes, one of several blogs he maintains to publicize matters of public interest. John was dubbed “New Jersey’s busiest open government activist” by reporter Colleen O’Dea, who featured him in her February 2014 profile piece “Profile: The Man Who Makes Sure Government Works – Right Out in the Open.” He was also featured in a May 2015 Philadelphia Inquirer article by Jan Hefler entitled “The transparency guru of New Jersey” and an article by Claire Lowe published on October 26, 2016 in the Press of Atlantic City entitled “How John Paff relentlessly pursues public’s right to know.”
In 2014, John was honored as the year’s sole award winner and 15th inductee into the State Open Government Freedom of Information Hall of Fame. Known as the “Heroes of the Fifty States,” the joint initiative of the National Freedom of Information Coalition and the Society of Professional Journalists recognizes the recipient’s “long and steady effort to preserve and protect the free flow of information about state and local government that is vital to the public in a democracy.”
John is a graduate of Rutgers College, New Brunswick. After college, John opened an insurance agency that he operated for several years in both New Brunswick and North Brunswick, NJ. He served as a member of the Middlebush Volunteer Fire Department from 1992 through 2015 and served as the Department’s president from 2009 to 2014.
Linda Baum, Secretary – A 22-year resident of New Jersey’s Middletown Township, Linda has taken an active interest in the operations of her local government since 2010. She regularly attends Township meetings and has worked to educate herself about the OPRA and OPMA laws, getting a great kick start in 2011 when she attended a seminar hosted by The Citizens Campaign at Rutgers Eagleton Institute.
Linda describes herself as a proponent of open government, best practices, and out-of-the-box thinking. She advocates for greater public participation in government, opportunity for oversight, transparency, and flow of information. Like many NJFOG members, Linda is a passionate researcher, and she has posted work on her local Patch or as a guest on local blog MiddletownMike.com. She is also an activist for consumer & environmental health and a volunteer for non-profit organization Food and Water Watch.
Linda holds a BS in mathematics from St. John’s University with a concentration in computer science and has obtained the designation of Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter. She has credit for several actuarial exams and numerous years of actuarial experience in various property-casualty insurance lines.
Fran Brooks – Fran practiced Applied Anthropology with a focus on land use and farmland preservation for over 25 years. She has worked as a consulting anthropologist for Rutgers University, Michigan State University, and independent clients. She received her BA degree from the University of Wisconsin and Ph.D. from Rutgers University.
Fran served on the Tabernacle Township Committee 1999-2000 before devoting herself to advocating for government accountability & transparency as a member of the public. In 2013, she created “The Tabernacle Journal”, a blog that provides in-depth coverage of local government in Tabernacle Township, NJ.
Saul Qersdyn, a married father of four, is the publisher of Roselle Park News (roselleparknews.org) as well as a member of The Concerned Citizens Of Roselle Park.
Maureen Nevin Duffy – Maureen is a full time independent journalist specializing in financial topics and is creator/ host of Asbury Radio, the Radio Voice of Asbury Park – 88.1FM. She serves on NJFOG’s board as the representative for the NJ Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Maureen has been successful at exposing wrongdoing numerous times during her reporting career, which has included coverage of municipal and county governments for the former Home News and coverage of state issues for the Jersey Section of the Sunday New York Times.
Maureen has held government accountable as a private citizen, too. She took her own municipality to court for holding private meetings with developers, conduct she deemed to be a violation of the Sunshine Law (OPMA). The appellate court agreed; its written opinion required all local governments in New Jersey to stop the practice and hold such meetings in public.
Maureen is the recipient of nine awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for newspaper and magazine articles and a First Place Award from the National Press Club for an exposé of the Better Business Bureau. She holds a degree in Journalism from Rutgers University.
Michele Arminio – Michele is a full time real estate agent and lifetime New Jersey resident. She currently resides in Monroe Township and serves as an elected member of the Monroe Township Board of Education.
Michele is a member of grass roots community action groups that advocate for citizen participation in municipal, county and state governance. She has been instrumental in implementing Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) policies that increase the transparency of Monroe School District’s operations. Michele is also an advocate for local and state environmental protection. She is a member of the Edison Wetlands Association, Lawrence Brook Watershed Council and Pinelands Preservation Alliance.
Michele is a graduate of Douglass College, Rutgers University.
Don Baldwin – Don, a New Jersey native and the married father of three sons, is CEO and principal of Flemington-based General Pallet LLC, a leading supplier of pallets and specialty packaging. Don himself designed automated manufacturing equipment for the business.
Don graduated from Bowling Green State University in Ohio with a major in Philosophy. He also attended The New School in New York City, took courses at Middlesex County College, received flight training at Princeton Airport and is trained as an emergency medical technician.
An instrument-rated private pilot, Don owns a Cirrus SR22 aircraft and is a volunteer member of the Veterans Airlift Command, a group that provides free air transport to wounded soldiers and their family members. Don’s company is a corporate sponsor of the Air Force Association and participates in the ESGR Program (Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve), which gives priority to the hiring of returning veterans and their spouses. In addition, Don serves on the board of directors of the New Jersey Aviation Association.
Don’s other activities include freelance writing, stand-up comedy, rhythm guitar, motorcycles, politics and open-government activism.
After serving in the United States Marine Corp, he enrolled in Middlesex County College to pursue a business management degree. He also attended Raritan Valley Community College for further studies and to obtain his New Jersey real estate license.
Tom spent twenty plus years of his corporate career with Foster Wheeler Corp and was transferred to many locations around the globe including Houston, TX; Reading, England; Tokyo, Japan; Kuwait; Dubai; St. Croix and Clinton, NJ. Thereafter, he took a key position with Stone & Webster Engineering directing the procurement activities for a refinery project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Tom has been a resident of Woodbridge Township, NJ since the early 1950s and currently resides in the Fords section of the township.
Since retiring, Tom has focused his interests on community affairs and working for greater efficiencies at all levels of government. He has served with the U.S. Coastguard Auxiliary and held the position of chairman. In addition, he is a member of the Visual Arts Council and Edison Arts Society, is a life member of the Marine Corp League, and served as vice president of the Woodbridge Chapter of the AARP. He currently sits on the Board of Trustees of both the NJ Taxpayers Association and the NJ Taxpayers Foundation.
Miriam Ascarelli – Miriam is a former reporter and editor whose career began at the now-defunct City News Bureau of Chicago and included nearly ten years at The Jersey Journal in Jersey City. She has used public records to write stories about municipal expenditures and campaign contributions. She now teaches composition and journalism at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark. Miriam currently serves as president for the New Jersey chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and previously served as vice president for the organization.
Cynthia A. McBride, C.T.C. – Cindy is a life-long resident of New Jersey and has been a Certified Tax Collector for over 25 years. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from The College of New Jersey and is currently employed by Signature Information Solutions in Trenton. Signature is a provider of information services to the title insurance, banking and lending industries, and its products include tax searches, county searches and upper court judgment searches. Cindy is Signature’s representative on NJFOG’s board.
In her role at Signature, Cindy requests public records from many New Jersey government entities. As a result, she has daily interaction with these entities. She monitors activities of the NJ Government Records Council (GRC), attends GRC meetings regularly and is a committed supporter of government transparency.
Cindy enjoys volunteering as a tutor for English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) students at the English School in Lawrenceville, traveling and spending time with her family and friends.
Ron Miskoff – Ron is a graduate of Rutgers College (now Rutgers University) in New Brunswick and received his Master’s of Liberal Studies from Rutgers-Newark. While at Rutgers, he was an editor of The Targum and was a member of WRSU radio. He spent many years in the broadcast industry on the air and later as a reporter for The Home News Tribune; after that he worked as a photographer for Greater Media newspapers. Ron also owned a printing company, a photo studio and a firm that provides layout services for high school and college student newspapers. In the 1980s he published a local newspaper. He has been a part-time lecturer at Rutgers since the 1980s and is now a full-time faculty member. He is also the associate director of the Journalism Research Institute at Rutgers.
Ron is a former president of the New Jersey chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ-NJ), currently serves as Treasurer for SPJ-NJ and also serves on the board of the Garden State Scholastic Press Association. Ron served as the President of NJFOG from 2009 to 2011.
Lee “Griff” Dorry – Lee is a citizen journalist and the founder of The Essex Watch (formerly Nutley Watch, established in February 2014). Lee’s Essex Watch Project is dedicated to promoting civic engagement in local issues, open government, accountability in public office, and increased voter participation.
Within the first year of his project, Lee has established a visible presence across two townships, Nutley and Belleville. For his long term goal, he intends to expand his project by linking arms with other local community advocates and organizations in order to eventually form a “Watch” in each of the 22 municipalities in Essex County.
Lee has been featured twice on News 12’s popular “Kane In Your Corner” series for his investigative journalism that helped uncover a $4 million deficit being hidden by the Belleville Board of Education and a USB drive scandal involving a sitting Belleville Councilman.
A former Wall Street securities trader, he eventually turned his passion for technology into his career. Lee has been a professional IT business consultant for over 15 years, specializing in information security and management. He is also a lifelong aviation enthusiast, student pilot, and occasional skydiver.
Raymond has combined his background in journalism and writing to focus on media law, First Amendment and open government issues in his career. He has worked at North Jersey Media Group, publisher of The Record, as both an attorney and a reporter. During law school he interned at a range of open government and First Amendment organizations, including the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the ACLU-NJ, Media Coalition, and the Media Law Resource Center. He also served as part time faculty in the writing program of Rutgers University-New Brunswick for more than 4 years. As an individual keenly interested in the future of government transparency as well as journalism, he continues to be involved in open government and First Amendment matters as practicing attorney today.