Power Women 2020: Terry Mutchler
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Partner, Dilworth Paxson.
Terry Mutchler has been working to keep government officials and agencies honest for decades. As a reporter for Allentown’s The Morning Call, Mutchler was sentenced to six months in prison for protecting a source that provided her information about a police officer who beat his wife. Despite the fact that he was a public official, those records weren’t available. “I couldn’t get the report anywhere,” says the Glenside resident.
Luckily, the court sided with Mutchler and the paper, further igniting her passion for transparency. She went on to pursue a career in law, where she continued to hold public officials accountable. Pennsylvania needed some drastic changes, so the governor tapped Mutchler to be the founding director of Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records in 2008. “It was very challenging,” she says. “But it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career—to be able to handpick a team and start a state agency from scratch.”
Now a partner at Philadelphia’s Dilworth Paxson, Mutchler helps clients navigate the law and understand what is and isn’t public record. In 2018, she was inducted into the Open Government Hall of Fame for her life’s work. “At the end of the day, taxpayers are running the show—they’re the ones funding it,” says Mutchler. “The records are the goods behind what’s really going on, and I think it’s incumbent upon a government to be transparent so it can work better for the people that actually own it.”
Terry Mutchler was not available to be photographed.