Thursday, July 7, 2022 Press Releases

The Coastal Conservation League Announces New Executive Director Faith Rivers James

by Diane Knich

Press release from the Coastal Conservation League

For immediate release: July 7, 2022

Media Contact: Diane Knich, Coastal Conservation League, [email protected], (843) 530-0211

The Coastal Conservation League Announces  New Executive Director Faith Rivers James

The Coastal Conservation League’s Board of Directors announced today that it has hired Faith Rivers James as the organization’s new Executive Director. James, who was selected from a broad field of candidates following a national search led by Koya Partners and a Search Committee, comprised of Board members and community stakeholders, will begin her duties on August 15.

“I am excited to have the privilege of serving the Lowcountry as Executive Director of the Coastal Conservation League,” James said. “I look forward to applying the leadership experiences I gained at The Citadel, Vermont and Elon Law Schools, and the S.C. Bar Foundation to the challenges of protecting the environment, sustaining our rural landscapes, and preserving our local communities. As a native, I am honored to carry on the Conservation League’s legacy of advocating for our beautiful Lowcountry.”

James, a Lowcountry native who is currently serving as Assistant Provost for Leadership and Head of the Department of Leadership Studies at The Citadel, brings an extraordinary set of experiences and accomplishments to the Conservation League. She is a graduate of Porter-Gaud, Dartmouth College, and Harvard Law School. Within four years of launching her law career in Washington, D.C., she was negotiating the federal budget as senior counsel to the House Majority Leader. Soon thereafter, she returned to the Lowcountry and served as Executive Director of the South Carolina Bar Foundation, where she cut her teeth in public service by overseeing programs enhancing access to justice, and where she was instrumental in launching the Heirs’ Property Preservation Project.

James then seized an opportunity to teach and deepen her legal scholarship, first as a member of the Environmental Law faculty at Vermont Law School, and then as Professor and Associate Dean for Experiential Education and Leadership at Elon University School of Law, where she created from scratch a Law and Leadership program and helped mount the Elon Law Environmental Law Society and spearheaded a joint JD/Master of Science in Environmental Law and Policy program with Vermont Law. Fortunately for South Carolina, the position at The Citadel lured her back to Charleston, where she recently built a house on property that has been in her family since the 19th century.

As compelling as her extensive professional accomplishments is her personal connection to the Lowcountry. As a Mount Pleasant native who grew up in the historic Four Mile community, James has not only witnessed firsthand the change that unbridled growth and development have had on our landscape, but she has devoted her energy, expertise, and legal acumen to checking that growth in pragmatic and entrepreneurial ways. Whether by writing and producing a landmark video to educate heirs’ property landowners in how to secure title to their land, or by successfully representing her congregation, Olive Branch AME, in negotiations with the S.C. Department of Transportation over a Highway 17 widening project, she has demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of how to get things done. She knows how to effectively advocate for communities—both human and natural—that are too often disenfranchised and disempowered.

Ceara Donnelley, Chair of the Conservation League’s Board, said, “as a property law scholar and land use expert, nonprofit executive and legislative attorney, seasoned administrator and teacher of leadership, and perhaps most importantly, as an effective and nimble community advocate, Faith is uniquely positioned to lead the next chapter of the Conservation League’s mission and mandate: to protect the health of the natural resources of the South Carolina coastal plain and ensure a high quality of life for all of the people who live in and love this special place.”

Dana Beach, the Conservation League’s founder and former Executive Director, said, “Faith is imminently qualified to lead the Conservation League in its fourth decade of advocacy on behalf of our beautiful Lowcountry. There has never been a more important time to redouble our conservation efforts in the face of unprecedented development pressure. Faith’s background in land use and law, along with her exemplary communication skills, are perfectly aligned with the goals and needs of the organization today.”

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About the Coastal Conservation League:

Since 1989, the Coastal Conservation League has worked to protect the health of the natural resources of the South Carolina coastal plain and ensure a high quality of life for all of the people who live in and love this special place. The Coastal Conservation League is a 501(c)3 charitable organization. Learn more and get involved at www.coastalconservationleague.org.


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