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Board of Directors

Cynthia Powell, Myrtle Beach | Chair: Cynthia is an entrepreneur and lifelong conservationist. She proactively gathered over 2,000 signatures in order to protest billboard construction on Highway 22 in Myrtle Beach. In addition, she is former Chair of the Winyah Chapter of the South Carolina Sierra Club. Cynthia received her B.A. in Education from USC and her Masters in education from Winthrop University.

Susan Hilfer, Beaufort | Vice Chair: Susan is a retired medical illustrator who worked for the USC School of Medicine prior to establishing her own practice specializing in medical-legal illustration. She has served on advisory panels for the federal South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, most recently, the Habitat & Environmental Protection AP.

Kevin Kay, Easley | Secretary & Treasurer: Kevin is a retired businessman with a background in assisted living facilities. A former elected school board member, he is actively involved with political activities and conservation efforts in Pickens County.

Paul Agnew, Due West: Paul served as a Representative in the SC House from District 11 from 2004-2012 and was recognized by CVSC for his conservation efforts with the CVSC Green Tie Award for House Conservation Leadership. He is also a founding member of the Upper Savannah Land Trust. He is currently working as an attorney in Abbeville.

Marian Brailsford, Charleston: Marian has been actively involved in the conservation movement for more than 20 years. After serving as Executive Director of Edisto Island Open Land Trust from 2003-2011, Marian began consulting with Land Trusts in the Southeast, with a specialty of assisting them in the Accreditation process. She has a BA degree from the University of South Carolina, and spent a majority of her career in sales and marketing.

Bruce Cole, Columbia: Bruce is Managing Director of Palmetto Realty Advisors. He has been engaged in real estate, financial services, and financial management for various companies for over 30 years, and holds degrees from Clemson, Stanford, Northeastern, and Harvard Universities. Bruce is the 2019 recipient of the Joe Neal Environmental Justice Award from the SC Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Sue Doran, Columbia: Sue is an advocate for environmental, human and animal health. She holds a B.S. degree in Dietetics and Institutional Management from the University of Georgia and is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She earned an M.S. degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of South Carolina. She is also a member of the Society of Fellows at the Aspen Institute.

Greg Gregory, Lancaster: Greg served for over 25 years in the South Carolina General Assembly representing his hometown of Lancaster. During his tenure in the Senate, Greg chaired the Fish, Game, & Forestry Committee until retiring (for the first time) in 2008. Greg returned to the Senate in 2011 and, in 2014, was honored with the CVSC Green Tie Award for Senate Conservation Leadership. After retiring from the Senate in 2020, Greg continues to serve as President of Builders Supply Company, one of the largest lumber and millwork stockers in the Carolinas.

Jay James, Darlington: Jay is an attorney in Darlington. Jay served on Darlington City Council from 1978 -1985.

Ben Johnson, Rock Hill: Ben is an attorney with Robinson Bradshaw in Rock Hill. An advocate for environmental issues throughout his legal career, Ben was named by Gov. Jim Hodges to the Nuclear Waste Task Force in 1999, which mapped out a plan to close Barnwell as the nation’s nuclear waste landfill. Governor Hodges later appointed Ben as Chairman of the Atlantic Low-Level Nuclear Waste Compact Commission. Ben received the South Carolina Wildlife Federation’s Industrial Conservation Award and was honored by the SC Senate for his efforts on behalf of South Carolina’s environment.

Millie Knowlton, Washington, DC: Millie has been a consistent advocate for clean energy, working to advance solar energy growth throughout the Southeast at Tesla, as a mayoral appointee to the DC Sustainable Energy Utility Advisory Board, and as energy provider within reformed energy markets.

Willie Morgan, Clarks Hill: Willie is the South Carolina State Manager for the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project, where he provides training and technical assistance to rural, low-income communities and others related to electric, natural gas, water, and wastewater utility issues. He served as Deputy Director for Utility Rates for the SC Office of Regulatory Staff and Permitting Liaison for the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control. He is a Licensed Professional Engineer and a Certified Public Manager.

Chynna Phillips, Columbia: Chynna is the Senior Director of Policy Research for the Sisters of Charity Foundation, focusing on public policy and advocacy on systems-level poverty drivers. She leads the Foundation’s external partnership with HBCUs through the President’s Fellows Program and provides hands-on support to and interaction with community, state, and national stakeholders. Chynna was named a Connecting Leaders Fellow by the Association of Black Funding Executives (ABFE) in 2021, listed as one of The State newspaper’s “Top 20 under 40, Young Adult Honorees” in 2020, and listed on Columbia Business Monthly’s “Best and Brightest: 35 and Under” in 2019.

Mark Robertson, Columbia: Mark worked for The Nature Conservancy for 34 years as the founding director of the Florida Keys Initiative and 21 years as South Carolina State Director. Throughout his career, Mark worked on all aspects of non-profit conservation work including conservation strategy, public policy, fundraising, supporting volunteer leaders, financial management, and staff management and leadership.

Harry Shealy, Ph.D, Aiken: Harry is the former President of the Aiken County Open Land Trust, former Vice-Chair of the Hitchcock Foundation, and former professor of Biology at University of South Carolina Aiken.

Libby Smith, Charleston: A former Board member of the Coastal Conservation League, Libby is retired in the Charleston area and a community advocate for various environmental and social causes.

Taylor Speer, Greenville: Taylor serves as Counsel with Fox Rothschild, LLP, advising and litigating for clients on renewable energy matters and representing employers in workplace litigation and immigration. He has represented a diverse group of energy sector clients, including major ratepayers, solar developers and special interests, in multiday trials before the South Carolina Public Service Commission. A frequent contributor to the public dialogue on clean energy, Taylor has been cited as an authority on environmental issues pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Taylor also serves on the Green Ribbon Advisory Committee for City of Greenville.

Mike Young, Columbia: Mike is the Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at The Center for Community Health Alignment under the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. Previously, Mike served as the Co-Interim Executive Director and Director of Capacity Building at PASOs where he worked to strengthen South Carolina’s Latinx communities by overseeing and supporting a statewide team of Community Health Workers/Promotores and strengthening networks in their ability to address the strengths and needs of the community through trainings, technical support, and customized support for partners and coalitions. Mike is also a Fellow of the Diversity Leaders Initiative at the Riley Institute, a Board of Directors Member for South Carolina Community Economic Development (SCACED), and a member of several equity and inclusion coalitions.

Akin Watson, Irmo: Akin is a native of Saluda and is currently the President of AllCaregivers Inc. He is also on the board of SC Home Care and Hospice Association. Akin earned his B.S. in Mathematics & Computer Programming from UCLA and his MBA from the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.