FOIA Fest returns March 16 in-person at Loyola University

Our annual public records conference, FOIA Fest, is returning as a one-day in person event on Saturday, March 16. Kimbriell Kelly, Assistant Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief at the LA Times, will headline the event. Visit our website for the the full program.

FOIA Fest typically sells out and space is limited — so make sure to get your tickets today! 

Since the start of the pandemic, the Chicago Headline Club has provided a virtual or hybrid conference. This year, FOIA Fest will return in its original in-person format while our FOIA Fest Boot Camp will offer ongoing virtual and in person sessions into April. As always, we want to prioritize an exceptional educational, inspiring and community-building experience. In order to keep information learned throughout the sessions accessible, we are drafting a plan to make resources/tips learned from the event accessible online, including a recording of our keynote speaker, and highlights from the day. The Headline Club invites anyone who is interested to sign up to volunteer for note taking, social media support, day of event support and more.

Saturday, March 16, you’ll have the opportunity to join us in person for a full day of sessions touching on a range of topics from learning the fundamentals of the Freedom of Information Act and best practices to sharpening your investigative reporting skills. You’ll hear from some of the best reporters, lawyers, editors and producers working in Illinois, northwest Indiana, and across the U.S., and you’ll learn alongside seasoned reporters, early career journalists and students working and studying the field.

More details and a sampling of the sessions are available on eventbrite.

If you have questions or are interested in volunteering as a speaker or event volunteer, email us at

FOIA Fest Boot Camp

The Chicago Headline Club is now accepting applications for its 2024 FOIA Fest Boot Camp, a training program for Chicago-based reporters from marginalized communities to help them navigate accountability journalism — from story-idea to publishing. 

The training focuses on collective learning, best journalism practices and resources on how to stay grounded during long investigations. It is designed for early-career journalists with at least three years of professional journalism experience. The journalists will receive specialized training and mentoring from seasoned journalists who can offer concrete advice on how to use public records and structure an investigative project.

This year’s FOIA Fest Boot Camp is being led by investigative reporters and Boot Camp founders Alejandra Cancino and María Inés Zamudio. Last year, the program was led by Taylor Moore of the International Women’s Media Foundation and Jessica Villagomez of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. An earlier cohort was led by Maya Dukmasova of Injustice Watch and Nader Issa of the Sun-Times. The program launched in 2021.

Learn more about this program and how to apply. 

What is FOIA Fest?

As the Chicago Headline Club’s signature training event, FOIA Fest gives reporters, organizers and everyday people the tools they need to turn public records into impactful insights and investigations.

FOIA Fest brings together award-winning investigative journalists, attorneys and experts to host a wide range of interactive training sessions, panels and workshops.

While many sessions cover Freedom of Information Act specific to Illinois, they also dig into federal FOIA rules and real-world examples of how journalists turn public records into news and tools people can use.

After growing from a one-day to a three-day conference, FOIA Fest went virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2023, FOIA Fest moved to hybrid and this year, FOIA Fest will be a fully in person event. In order to keep information learned throughout the sessions accessible, sharing notable tips online.

Led by a volunteer board, the Chicago Headline Club has trained hundreds of journalists and members of the public through FOIA Fest.

FOIA Fest is made possible by the support of the Loevy + Loevy, MacArthur Foundation, Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and the Chicago Headline Club Foundation. Please email our organizers to inquire about sponsorship opportunities.

Event Sponsors