Life is 'Devine' -- Tom Devine To Lead Revamped American Whistleblowers' League On Policy

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Tom Devine will serve as Policy Advisor and Major Initiatives Spokesperson for The American Whistleblowers’ League or AWL. He brings to the group his encyclopedic knowledge of federal whistleblower legislation which he has advanced before Congress, quasi-judicial agencies, various courts, and the media for nearly three decades. With his help, AWL will be more the voice of than a voice for government whistleblowers.

My fellow directors and I are delighted to have Tom Devine anchoring our efforts on behalf of government whistleblowers across America

In addition to working as Legal Director for The Government Accountability Project (GAP) of Washington, D.C. and Seattle, Washington, acclaimed whistleblower advocate, Tom Devine, will serve as Policy Advisor and Major Initiatives Spokesperson for the recently reorganized and renamed coalition now known as The American Whistleblowers’ League or AWL. "AWL embraces the mission GAP has pursued, namely 'to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability through advancing occupational free speech and ethical conduct, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists'” says Zena D. Crenshaw, Executive Director for AWL. Ms. Crenshaw adds that AWL's uniqueness and strength largely relate to it being sponsored by National Judicial Conduct and Disability Law Project, Inc. (NJCDLP), a nonprofit organization for which she is also CEO.

NJCDLP combats abuses of the American legal system that are facilitated by judicial misconduct. It accordingly lobbies with AWL for legislation to protect lawyers and judges "blowing the whistle" on judicial misconduct and/or the ineffectiveness of government agencies charged with protecting whistleblowers. Tom brings to the effort his encyclopedic knowledge of federal whistleblower legislation which he has advanced before Congress, quasi-judicial agencies, various courts, and the media for nearly three decades. He is a Phi Beta Kappa honors graduate of Georgetown University, and received his J.D. in 1980 from Antioch School of Law. Crenshaw projects that with Tom's help, AWL will be more the voice of than a voice for government whistleblowers.

Most legal and judicial reform activists are not lawyers or represented by paid advocates. Hence they are very accustomed to pro se or unrepresented advocacy and support it through a vast internet network. Though quite familiar with the corresponding tools of self-empowerment, NJCDLP directors recruited Betsy Combier to be AWL’s Image Counseling Director. As an award-winning writer, video producer, and journalist, Betsy will guide AWL members in accomplishing their goals through affordable public relations campaigns. She has a BA in Child Psychology from Northwestern University; MA Certificate from the Johns Hopkins' School For Advanced International Studies, where her specialization was the Soviet-Military-Industrial Complex; MPS in Interactive Telecommunications from New York University; and Certificate in Art and Drama Therapy from The New School.

Any natural person may qualify to be a member of AWL if he or she has disclosed alleged error(s) of an American government agency at the local, state, or federal level to at least one person with authority to correct the situation; only to have the allegation disregarded or refuted with no apparent investigation or fair consideration; and his or her work with the agency significantly altered in a negative way. AWL’s Executive Director emphasizes that exposing such an experience is only one part of a healthy strategy to survive it. AWL members are encouraged to marshal their collective strength, remain positive as best they can under the circumstances, avoid isolation, and collaborate with various groups to accomplish shared goals. These common sense strategies can be difficult if a person is ostracized and even dehumanized, perhaps for just doing his or her job well. Fortunately AWL works closely with skilled and dedicated psychotherapist, Dr. Donald Soeken of the D.C. based, Integrity International. For several decades Dr. Soeken has counseled government whistleblowers, often serving as an expert witness in related cases.

Crenshaw explains that she is one of seven NJCDLP directors in addition to being an executive officer for the nonprofit corporation and AWL. “We determined to partner primarily with executive branch whistleblowers through AWL as they apparently face the judicial nullification of their many legislative victories”. Most likely AWL will directly and indirectly challenge courts more often than other government whistleblower coalitions. “AWL is also more likely to partner with faith based groups and civil as well as human rights organizations than other whistleblower groups as I am accustomed to working with a wide range of good government advocates” says Crenshaw. AWL is a member of the D. C. based, No Fear Coalition which similarly works with a broad spectrum of activists in advocating for federal employees.

Crenshaw was designated by AWL's predecessor (Whistleblowers for an Honest, Efficient and Accountable Government) as its spokesperson on tactics used in professional disciplinary actions that thwart properly stated standards for regulating First Amendment activities among lawyers when their criticism of the judiciary or a judicial officer is involved. She is one of the relatively few licensed attorneys to whistleblow on judges and has her bar admissions limited to the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana and the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit as a result. In 1981, Zena graduated with a dual major in English and Philosophy and distinguished as a National Merit, Notre Dame, and Indiana State Scholar from the University of Notre Dame at Notre Dame, Indiana. In 1984 she graduated from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago, Illinois, distinguished as an Earl Warren Scholar. A summer session of her legal education was completed at the Notre Dame Law Centre in London, England.

AWL represents an unprecedented alliance among good government advocates involving experts on executive, legislative, and judicial branch misconduct. "My fellow directors and I are delighted to have Tom Devine anchoring our efforts on behalf of government whistleblowers across America" says Crenshaw. She is confident that all Americans will ultimately benefit.

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