Board of Directors

2023 Board

Kent Griffin, Chair

Kent Griffin is the Managing Director of PHICAS Investors, which provides investment and strategy services. Kent previously served as the President and Chief Operating Officer of BioMed Realty, a San Diego-based real estate investment trust focused on life science real estate in the United States and the United Kingdom, which was acquired by Blackstone in 2016. Previously he worked as an investment banker for JP Morgan in New York and San Francisco and Raymond James in St. Petersburg. Kent began his career with Arthur Andersen as a C.P.A. A native Floridian, Kent received a B.S. from Wake Forest University and an M.B.A. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Kent currently serves on the Board of Directors of Healthpeak Properties (NYSE: DOC) a Denver-based real estate investment trust focused on lab space and outpatient medical facilities properties and on the Board of Directors of Cousins Properties (NYSE: CUZ) an Atlanta-based real estate investment trust focused on trophy office properties in the Sunbelt. He also serves on the Charleston County School District’s Audit and Finance Committee and on various boards for the Wake Forest University School of Business, the Wood Center for Real Estate Studies at Chapel Hill and Charleston Waterkeeper. Kent lives in Mount Pleasant with his wife and two children.

Steve Zoukis, Vice Chair

Steve was born in Montpelier, Vermont. As a son of an Army officer, he moved frequently. He graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Virginia in 1971 and a JD from Columbia University’s law school in 1974. His background includes working for the Council on Environment of New York City, Powell Goldstein Frazer and Murphy, and Hansell Post Brandon and Dorsey in Atlanta. He left to start the Atlanta office of a Chicago firm, Wildman Harrold Allen and Dixon, now Holland and Knight. In 1993, after almost 20 years of law practice, Steve left to become partner in a high profile real estate company from 1993-2005. His interest in real estate continues in Charleston and Western North Carolina with his company, Raven Cliff Company, LLC. Steve has served on the boards of the Midtown Business Association in Atlanta, Charleston Moves and the Sullivan’s Island Park Foundation. Steve served as Board Chair of the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate. Steve lives in Charleston with his wife Suzan. He is an enthusiastic fly fisherman in both fresh and salt water, and a regular bike rider.

Bill Brenizer, Treasurer

Bill was born in Charlotte, North Carolina and moved to Concord, Massachusetts at age ten. He returned south for college at UNC where he earned a BA degree in English, followed by an MBA in Finance at UPenn’s Wharton School. Bill spent the next forty years in New York, working as an investment banker, primarily at Dillon Read and its successor firms. Coincident with retirement, Bill and his wife, Margi, moved to Charleston early in 2018. They have three sons in North Carolina and California. Bill’s interest in the Conservation League was sparked by his 20-year tenure on the Board of the Nantucket Land Council, an environmental organization whose mission and activities are very similar to those of the Conservation League.

George Gephart, Secretary

George is a Baltimore native and a graduate of Yale University (BA) and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (MBA). He spent 25 years in the investment management business, primarily in Philadelphia with 1838 Investment Advisors, focusing on large endowment and foundation management. In 2010, he was named President and CEO of the Academy of Natural Sciences, and he led that organization until his retirement in 2017. George was also engaged in a number of non-profit efforts in the region, including Main Line Health System where he served as Trustee and Board Chair. He also served on the boards of Natural Lands Trust, the Nature Conservancy (PA), and the Curtis Institute of Music. George and his wife, Pooh, moved to Charleston in 2017 and live on lower King Street.

Dr. Tamara Butler

Dr. Tamara T. Butler is a plant mom and an educator who draws upon lessons learned growing up on Johns Island, South Carolina. Currently, she serves as the Executive Director of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture and Associate Dean of Strategic Planning & Community Engagement for the College of Charleston Libraries. She earned 2 Master’s degrees and her Ph.D. from THE Ohio State University. She also holds a Bachelor of Science from her beloved Xavier University of Louisiana. Prior to joining the team at the Avery Research Center, Dr. Butler was an Associate Professor of Critical Literacies at Michigan State University, where she authored over 10 publications focused on English Education. In 2015, she launched the BlackGirlLand Project, which documents Black women’s connections to land and memory—starting with members of her Sea Island community.

At the College of Charleston, she is a member of the Executive Committee for African American Studies and the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning’s Advisory Board. Beyond campus, Dr. Butler serves as a board member for the International African American Museum, member of the Angel Oak Tree Steering Committee as well as a member of the Gibbes Museum of Art’s IDEA committee.

Andrew Carmines

Andrew Carmines, President at Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks, has dedicated his life to the seafood industry in South Carolina. With the goal of providing the freshest seafood to Hudson’s guests, Carmines has developed unique supply chains, often involving harvesting and processing seafood with the help of his staff. In 2012 the restaurant began shedding soft shell crabs on premises. in 2013, Carmines started Shell Ring Oyster Company, a responsible mariculture operation in Port Royal Sound. The restaurant also harvests stone crab claws in the summer months. Carmines fosters relationships with commercial fisherman who’s boats are located at the restaurant and provide Hudson’s with all their white shrimp. Andrew has received a great deal of media attention due to his unique approach to business.  Carmines uses this platform to create awareness and educate the public on the value of the area’s natural resources and the importance of protecting them.

In addition to his passion for all things seafood, the Carmines family is very passionate about serving the local community. Brian and Gloria Carmines, after the passing of their son David in 2002, started the David M. Carmines Foundation. Andrew took over leadership of the foundation in 2007, and since, the organization has donated over one-million dollars to local non-profits. Much of these funds are raised through a week-long southern culinary festival called the Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival. The foundation aims to support non-profits that make the area a better place to live and work.

The Carmines family, in partnership with St. Andrew’s by the Sea Methodist Church, hosts the Community Thanksgiving Dinner each year. In its 25 year, in 2021, the event served a free-of-charge Thanksgiving Feast to over 1300 guests. Donations from the event benefit the Deep Well Project, which has received over $200,000 in donations from the event since its creation.

Carmines also serves on the Board of Directors for the Port Royal Sound Foundation. The Port Royal Sound Foundation aims to protect the Port Royal Sound watershed through education, research, and outreach.

Being in the hospitality industry Carmines also sits on the Board of the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. He is passionate about the local area, and enjoys sharing this with visiting media and others.

Carmines and his wife Erin of 12 years live on Hilton Head Island. They have three children, Alice (10), Milly (8), and Oak (6).

Ascanio Serena di Lapigio

Ascanio grew up in New York City with family ties to Italy and South Carolina.  He attended Hobart and William Smith Colleges where he graduated in 2010 with a BA in Architecture and a Masters of Sustainable Real Estate Development from Tulane University in 2014.  He started his career in Charleston working for an architecture firm with a focus on historic preservation and eventually transitioned to real estate investment when he moved back to New York in 2014.  Ascanio is an avid outdoorsman and has a family hunting property/farm in Williamsburg County, SC which he is actively involved in managing.  Through this, Ascanio has always had an interest in environmental conservation, farming and providing healthy wildlife habitat.  Ascanio moved back to Charleston in 2020 with his wife and two daughters and serves on the board of Middleton Place Foundation.

Ceara Donnelley

Ceara graduated summa cum laude from Yale with a BA in History and received her JD from Yale Law School.  She has worked at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Clinton Foundation and the World Policy Institute.  Ceara currently serves as Vice Chair and Strategic Counsel for the Center for Humans and Nature (CHN)—a not-for-profit ideas organization founded by her late father, philosopher and ethicist Strachan Donnelley. Ceara sits on the board of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, which supports land conservation and artistic vitality in Chicago and the Lowcountry. Though a native and devoted New Yorker, Ceara recently moved to the Lowcountry with her husband and two young children.

Francie Downing

Francie received a B.A. from Vanderbilt University and a MA from Parsons School of Design in the History of the Decorative Arts. For over 10 years, she served in curatorial positions at The New-York Historical Society and at The V & A Museum in London. After London, Francie, her husband, John, and their three daughters lived in NJ. For the next 25 years, she served as a Trustee on several school and museum boards. She is a Founding Trustee of the Stony Point Foundation of which has supported land conservation and food insecurity for over 30 years. Fifteen years ago, Francie and John moved to the Low Country and bought a farm on the Combahee River. In addition, her early involvement with Grow Food Carolina and receiving her SC Master Naturalist Certificate from Clemson has brought Francie to more broadly supporting the Conservation League’s mission.

Lee Edwards

Lee grew up on Hilton Head Island and worked at his family’s landscaping business off and on for many years. He graduated from Tulane University with a BA in History and minor in English. He lived for several years out west, in The Caribbean and in Central America teaching English, working on sailboats and landscaping. Lee is now president of The Greenery Inc., an employee owned landscape company with over 650 employees working in nine different branches along the coast of SC and GA. Lee was elected to and served for five years on the Hilton Head Town Council. He served on the Board of Hilton Head Preparatory School, and was a board member for The Beaufort County Open Land Trust. He is also on the Board of Neighborhood Outreach Connection. Whether he is surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, duck hunting or sailing on his wooden schooner, Lee is passionate about being on the water in the South Carolina Lowcountry. He and his wife Becca are trying to teach their three daughters that same appreciation for the outdoors as they grow up on Calibogue Sound on Hilton Head Island. Lee has been a member of the SC Coastal Conservation League off and on since the late nineties.

Carol Ervin

Carol first served on the Conservation League board from 1993-2002 and was chair from 1995-2001. She attended University of the South (Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, 1978), Phi Beta Kappa, and Duke University (Juris Doctor, 1982). She worked at Young, Clement, Rivers & Tisdale in Charleston, specializing in Insurance and Commercial Litigation, Administrative, Admiralty, Appeals, Banking, Bankruptcy, Corporate, Creditor’s Rights, Employment, Environmental, Estate Planning and Probate, Health Care, Products Liability, Professional Liability, Real Estate, Tax, and Workers’ Compensation Law.

Carol and her husband, Bailey Bolen, live on Wadmalaw Island.

Shayna Howell

Shayna is a lifelong resident of the Lowcountry of South Carolina. She grew up in Hampton County but has spent the past 25 years in Charleston. She has a BS in Anthropology (College of Charleston) and a joint M.P.A (College of Charleston, University of South Carolina) where coursework included environmental law, public policy, and environmental ethics. She is also a 2019 Riley Fellow (Diversity Leaders Initiative.)

Following the birth of her children, she has committed to volunteerism as a way to connect with and serve her community. Much of her energy has been dedicated to the League of Women Voters of the Charleston Area, where until recently she served as the VP of Communications, focusing on citizen engagement, advocacy on good governance issues in SC, and voter education. She also served as the Co-Chair of the Redistricting Workgroup for the League of Women Voters of South Carolina during South Carolina’s redistricting process. Additional volunteer efforts have included the Next30 Committee of the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Public Policy Committee at Trident United Way, and even packing boxes at Grow Food.

In spring of 2022 she completed a Master Naturalist certificate and has recently joined Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission’s volunteer team as a nature interpreter.

Shayna lives in Folly Beach with her husband Travis (Groundswell Capital, Groundswell Foundation), two very busy middle-schoolers at Porter Gaud (where she is the Co-Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Parent Alliance) and two rescued hound dogs.

Chris Jaros

Chris lives in Charleston and is a partner at Quinlan Partners, LLC, a boutique, global investigations and intelligence firm with offices in Charleston, Washington, DC, and New York City. Prior to joining Quinlan, Chris practiced environmental law for more than a decade at K&L Gates LLP and Arnold & Porter LLP. Chris is a graduate of Brown University and the University of Virginia School of Law, and is an avid outdoorsman. Chris has guided dozens of flat-water and white-water wilderness canoe trips, including some as long as twenty-days in length, and enjoys spending time with his wife and two children exploring South Carolina’s waterways.

Whit Johnson

Mr. Johnson was a co-founder and Principal with PlumRiver LLC, a pioneer provider of B2B Commerce Platforms and Sales Automation software focused on the Consumer Goods sector, with a focus on Footwear, Apparel and Sporting Goods industries. Customer examples are Patagonia, Timberland, Puma, Quiksilver, New Balance and others. PlumRiver’s (now ElasticSuite) mission is to bring efficiencies to the relationship between manufacturer and their independent, specialty retail customers. As an extension of the manufacturers’ customer service department and sales force, PlumRiver’s web-based solutions bring access to accurate order and inventory information, easy-to-use ordering capabilities and overall convenience to the independent retailer.

He oversaw two major acquisitions of competitors ElasticSuite and Centerstone, which help propel the company into a leadership position in the B2B commerce space, and which resulted in a sale of the company in Dec 2020 to EmeraldX, a public company and the largest B2B Trade Show business in N America.

Prior to co-founding PlumRiver LLC, Mr. Johnson was the founder and CEO of Lion Rock International, a major sourcing and manufacturing company with offices in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Boston as well as manufacturing plants in Costa Rica and customers such as J Crew, Timberland, North Face and LL Bean. One of the divisions of this company, called Natural Sources, focused on producing and marketing apparel made from 100% organic cotton, a growing and environmentally beneficial segment of the textile market . Mr Johnson also served on the board of directors for a natural dye manufacturer, Allegro Inc, a leader in producing textile dyes without the harsh chemicals and heavy metals normally associated with this industry.

Before founding Lion Rock, he was the Senior VP of Karhu, in charge of their Outdoor Division, which included the Merrell Footwear and Trak and Karhu cross country ski brands. In that capacity, Mr Johnson, in addition to his duties in the US and Canada, worked with a variety of subsidiaries and distributors throughout Europe as well as the home office in Finland.

Mr. Johnson grew up in Switzerland and Germany and speaks both French and German. He currently resides in Charleston SC with his wife, Mollie.

Cynthia “Cynnie” Kellogg

Cynnie is a lifelong resident of Short Hills, NJ, and has been a member of the Short Hills Garden Club for 30 years. She served for 20 years on the board of the NJ Conservation Foundation and has been deeply involved in conserving farm and forest land in New Jersey. Cynnie and her husband Peter are longtime supporters of the Coastal Conservation League and have a long history of supporting land conservation efforts. Cynnie and Peter are winter residents of Yeaman’s Hall.

Tim Maloney

Tim and his wife Sharie moved to Spring Island from Chicago after he retired in 2017.  A former financial services executive, Tim served on several non-profit boards in Chicago, including the United Way of Metro Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago, and was a member of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club.  In addition to his participation on the Coastal Conservation League board, Tim is the Treasurer of Roaring Brook Family Foundation.

Pierre Manigault

Pierre began working in media/communications in 1987 as a photographer and editor of television news at KOAA (NBC) in Colorado Springs, Co.  In 1989 he moved to Washington, D.C. and joined the National Geographic Society as a film editor in the television division. He next went to work for The Washington Post, where he wrote on the business desk and served as a copyeditor for the editorial page.  In 1994 he returned home to Charleston to join the family business at Evening Post Publishing Co.  He spent five years as an editorial writer for The Post and Courier under Barbara Williams before moving into business operations and heading the company’s subsidiary newspaper division.  In 2004, upon the death of his father, Peter Manigault, Pierre was named Chairman of the Board of Evening Post Publishing. He is actively involved in the management of White Oak Forestry Co., a subsidiary of Evening Post that owns 17,000 acres of timberland in Charleston and Georgetown Counties. He is also a founder and co-owner of Garden & Gun magazine.  Pierre is on the executive committee of the InterAmerican Press Association, is a founding trustee and current chairman of the American College of the Building Arts and is a founder of the S.C. Maritime Foundation, which built the schooner, Spirit of South Carolina.

He is a member of the College of Charleston’s School of Business Board of Governors, a trustee of the Middleton Place Foundation and a trustee of Magnolia Cemetery. He has previously served on the boards of the Historic Charleston Foundation, the Lowcountry Open Land Trust, the Gibbes Museum, the Preservation Society of Charleston, the Historic Rice Fields Association, the Palmetto Conservation Foundation, the International Crane Foundation and the National Steeplechase Foundation.  He is a graduate of Southern Methodist University in Dallas (1984) and Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va. (1980). He lives downtown and has two daughters: India and Gigi.

Jeremiah “Jerry” Milbank III

Jeremiah Milbank III joined Silvercrest Asset Management as a Managing Director as a result of Milbank Winthrop & Co.’s merger into Silvercrest. He founded Milbank Winthrop & Co. in 1980, and has worked for over 30 years in investment businesses, including Fahnestock Investment Advisory Group and the former family office of Milbank & Co. He also served at the White House and in the State Department. Mr. Milbank received an M.B.A. from Stanford, a J.D. from the University of Virginia Law School and a B.A. from Trinity College. He is President and a director of Cypress Woods Corporation, a timber and farming company, and President and a director of the JM Foundation and the Milbank Foundation for Rehabilitation. He serves on the boards of Boys and Girls Clubs of America, The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, The Herbert Hoover Foundation, and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is a member of the New York Society of Security Analysts.

Margot Rose

Margot Rose graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in English.  After attending culinary school in Paris and working for several years in marketing for the food service industry, she switched gears to study horticulture at Temple University before moving to Charleston in 1995. She served on the Board of The Ethel Walker School in Simsbury Connecticut for twelve years, five as its president, and was very active in fundraising across the country. In South Carolina, she has served on the board of Historic Charleston Foundation, the School of the Building Arts and the Charlestowne Neighborhood Association, where she continues to serve on the Cruise Ship Task Force and as the organization’s Secretary.  Margot is also a charter member of the Charleston Horticulture Society and served on the South Carolina State Museum Board commission as an appointee by Governor Jim Hodges. She currently serves on the Board of the Northeast Harbor Golf Club in Northeast Harbor, Maine.  Margot and her husband, Boykin, split their time between Charleston and Maine, where they enjoy hiking in Acadia National Park, boating and whale watching. Margot is also an avid golfer, gardener, cook and photographer.

Claire Theobald

After growing up in Connecticut and several decades spent in New York City, Claire fell in love with the natural wonders of South Carolina and moved full-time to Charleston in 2019. She is co-owner and co-founder of Beatrix New York, a boutique global children’s accessories manufacturer, wholesaler, and retailer established in 2007. She worked for several design and advertising firms, including Tigerman McCurry Architects, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, and Ogilvy & Mather, before founding Beatrix upon encountering the dearth of well-designed backpack options for her twin kindergarteners. In 2018 she granted licensing, distribution, and sales rights to Beatrix and continues to consult for the company today. Claire has been on the Board of Trustees at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, CT since 2017.  She has a B.A. in architecture from Columbia and M.Arch. and M.F.A. in graphic design from Yale.


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