Staff and Board
Amy Armstrong, Executive Director and General Counsel, started working for SCELP in September, 2002, after receiving a competitive two year fellowship from Equal Justice Works, formerly the National Association of Public Interest Law. Once her fellowship ended, she become a staff attorney at SCELP, a position she held for over eight years until the untimely death of SCELP's founder, Jimmy Chandler. Amy graduated from University of South Carolina in May, 2002, with a Juris Doctor and Master´s in Earth and Environmental Resource Management. She is a Liberty Fellow and also serves as a municipal court judge for the City of Georgetown.
Amy received her B.S. in Biology from the University of Michigan in 1992. Before attending law school, she worked with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, managing a population of federally endangered Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. She grew up in Columbia and now lives in Pawleys Island with her dog, Roxanne. She enjoys kayaking, drawing, birding, playing the piano, cooking, and reading on the beach.
Jessie White, Staff Attorney, started working at SCELP in April 2013. Prior to graduation from USC School of Law in 2012, she interned with the Coastal Conservation League, the Conservation Voters of SC, and the Department of Natural Resources. She moved to Georgetown from Columbia where she had been working at the Law Offices of Brian L. Boger.
Jessie is from Charlottesville, Virginia and a 2009 graduate of the University of Virginia with a B.A. in Environmental Thought & Practice and a B.A. in Psychology. She enjoys cooking, photography, traveling, kayaking, exploring the great outdoors, and spending time with her dog Huckleberry ("Huck"). In late 2018, she moved to the Beaufort area to lead our Lowcountry Office, where she is looking forward to laying down roots and serving as a local community resource.
Filippo Ravalico, Program Manager, joined SCELP in January 2016. He was born and raised in Italy where he practiced corporate, securities and investment law from 1999 to 2009 in Milan and Rome. After moving to the United States and earning an LL.M. from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, Filippo has redirected his energy to sustainability and a better economic system.
Joining the Slow Money movement to financially support healthy local food systems in 2010, he has worked with community leaders and entrepreneurs to expand access to capital and good food in New England, Ohio and South Carolina. He was lucky to collaborate closely with The Carrot Project and the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, and he was in charge of operations at the New Economy Coalition in Boston for two momentous years in 2012-2014. Filippo and his wife moved to Mount Pleasant in 2014 and they feel quite fortunate to have chosen the Lowcountry to raise their family.
Michael Corley, Upstate Coordinator and Staff Attorney, rejoined SCELP in October 2016 to open our Upstate office. Michael previously served as Staff Attorney in the Georgetown office from 2010-2014, after which time he spent two years in private practice in Greenville.
Michael graduated magna cum laude from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 2007 and began his legal career with a federal clerkship in the District of South Carolina. He is currently an adjunct environmental law professor at Furman University, a member of the City of Greenville's Brownfields Taskforce, and a board member for several Upstate environmental organizations, including Friends of the Reedy River.
Leslie Lenhardt, Staff Attorney, began working for SCELP in January of 2019. She served as staff attorney for SCDHEC's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management from 1999 to 2002 and its Chief Counsel from 2002 to 2007. From 2007 to 2018 she was in private practice with with her focus on environmental and administrative litigation as well as regulatory matters.
Leslie grew up in Columbia, SC. She graduated from the University of the South in Sewanee, TN in 1995 and the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1999. She lives in Charleston, SC with her husband Cody and their three children, Cody, Bratton and Mac.
Ben Cunningham, Staff Attorney, began working for SCELP in May of 2019 after spending 15 years in private practice in Georgia and in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. In Georgia, Ben was engaged in general practice with his father, Wm. David Cunningham. Ben worked for Motley Rice LLC in Mount Pleasant and focused on representing families harmed by exposure to asbestos.
Ben grew up in Northwest Georgia and graduated from the University of Georgia in 1997 and from Mercer University's Walter F. George School of Law in Macon, Georgia in 2004. He lives in Charleston with his wife, Janna, and their son, Felix.
Lauren Megill Milton, Lucey Law Fellow, joined SCELP in October of 2019 from Lucey Law Firm where she represented plaintiffs in construction litigation. Lauren grew up in the Upstate and graduated from Anderson University and Charleston School of Law. Lauren lives in Charleston and is a nature enthusiast who enjoys reading, volunteering, cooking, traveling and spending time with her family and cats.
Debbie Weiner, Office Manager, started at SCELP in April 2019. Before moving to South Carolina in March 2017, she lived in Nantucket Island, Massachusetts where she was the treasurer of the town and county of Nantucket for 17 years. She lives in Georgetown and enjoys cooking, traveling and spending time with her two children and grandchildren.
Lorraine Chow, Communications Specialist, started at SCELP in February 2019. She has a background in environmental journalism and was a reporter and editor at various publications in New York City. Lorraine was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and is a 2012 graduate from New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She currently lives in Pawleys Island and enjoys cooking, spending time with her dog, Lela, and fosters dogs for the local animal shelter.
John Barton (Vice-Chair) received his undergraduate degree in 1974 from the University of South Carolina and his juris doctor in 1977 from the University of South Carolina School of Law. Mr. Barton served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Criminal Division of the South Carolina office of the United States Attorney for over twenty-one years, during which time he served in numerous positions, including Chief of the Criminal Division, National Security Coordinator and Health Care Coordinator. During his tenure Mr. Barton was involved in the prosecution of some of the state's most noteworthy cases, including Operation Lost Trust.
In 2004, Mr. Barton opened his law office in Columbia, South Carolina, where his practice concentrated primarily on the defense of individuals and companies charged with white-collar crimes. John and his wife, Barbara, who specializes in complex bankruptcy matters, reside in Pawleys Island. John retired from the active practice of law in 2015.
Barbara Burgess is a graduate of Brown University and Suffolk Law School. Worked as a lobbyist in Washington for John Hancock Financial Services, headed up Washington Government Relations office. Worked on all issues affecting Hancock including tax and pension legislation as well as acquiring a license to operate an insurance company in China. After retirement, moved to Seabrook Island, SC. Have been an active participant in the Charleston arts scene, as President of the Board of Charleston Stage, board member of Charleston Symphony, board member of Sea Island Habitat for Humanity. Taught Advocacy Law at Law School at the University of South Carolina. Currently serve on the board of World Affairs Council of Charleston. Have been writing for the blog Tidelines for 4 years.
Nancy Cave, joined the Board in March 2017. She recently retired from the Coastal Conservation League after 15 years as North Coast Office Director. Prior to the League, Nancy worked in marketing and communications at Citicorp, Nationsbank and Dun and Bradstreet, after beginning her career in radio and television in Chicago. Nancy has been leading the charge and collaborating closely with SCELP in many past and ongoing battles in the North Coast area.
Allen Grumbine was a corporate and banking attorney in Greenville. Prior to his recent retirement, Allen practiced with the Wyche Firm for 25 years before opening the Greenville Office of Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP. Allen received undergraduate and law degrees from Vanderbilt University and has served on community and business boards, including the Board of the YMCA of Greenville, the local Board of Advisors of TD Bank and the Board of the Nantahala Outdoor Center.
Susan Hilfer (Secretary) joined the SCELP Board in 2016, bringing a range of experiences, including serving on the Habitat Committee of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council for 14 years. Susan has been involved with environmental issues for many years and is an avid birder and skilled recreational angler. Susan's husband, the late Bill Campbell, was a lead author of South Carolina's Coastal Zone Management Act -- a tool which the SCELP team regularly utilizes in our natural resource protection efforts.
Susan was trained as a professional medical illustrator and was on the staff of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine prior to entering private practice.
Liz Igleheart graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Industrial and Labor Relations, and began her career in the management development program of Aetna Life and Casualty. When Aetna formed a joint venture company with Voluntary Hospitals of America, she moved to Dallas, TX as Dir. Of Marketing and Product Development for the new company. While in Dallas, Liz finished her MBA, had her two children, Alex and Austin, became a healthcare consultant for a national firm and had her first non-profit board experience. Liz and her family moved to Atlanta in 1995 and after a few years, realized that consulting and being on the road 70% of the time was not conducive to a healthy work-life balance. She left Towers Perrin for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia before taking the big step of moving into non-profit work. First as Dir. Of Operations for Jane Fonda’s organization GCAPP, then as Executive Director of Senior Services North Fulton, all while serving as Board Chair for another Atlanta area human services organizations, and chairing development and fundraising activities at her children’s private school. A move to Columbia, SC in 2010 led to positions on the EdVenture and Senior Resources boards and a development position with USC, in the Arnold School of Public Health, which is how she met Amy Armstrong. Liz is now the Vice President of Advancement for Transitions Homeless Center in Columbia.
Justin Lucey is the founder of Lucey Law Firm in Mount Pleasant. He enjoys a good professional reputation in the community as a construction and complex transaction litigator. He has served as Plaintiff's counsel in dozens of defective construction cases, involving large groups of townhomes, condominium complexes, primary and secondary residences, low-rise and mid-rise buildings, and residential and commercial structures. His firm is reputed to have two of the three largest residential construction settlement recoveries in the state of South Carolina.
Clarkson McDow is a graduate of The Citadel and the University of South Carolina School of Law. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, including a tour in Vietnam. Clarkson practiced law in Rock Hill, South Carolina for 23 years with a concentration in commercial litigation and bankruptcy. In 1994 he was appointed by Attorney General Janet Reno as the United States Trustee for Region Four (South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia) and he served in that position for 19 years before retiring in 2013.
Since retiring Clarkson has become a Master Naturalist, and has taken a course in Ornithology. He enjoys travel with his wife, Mary Ann, and spending time with his three grandchildren. He also enjoys backpacking, kayaking, biking, and bird watching.
Walton "Walt" McLeod III, is an attorney and former legislator living in Little Mountain in Newberry County. He began his career as a law clerk to Judge Haynsworth of the United States 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Later he was an assistant U.S. Attorney and then became the Deputy South Carolina Attorney General from 1987 to 1988. Walt served as a Democratic member of the S.C. House of Representatives from 1996 until 2017.
Walt served in the U.S. Navy, and attained the rank of captain in the Navy Reserve. He is married with one child.
Leon Rice Leon Rice was born in Winston-Salem, NC, and practiced law in Atlanta, Georgia, for 30 years, dealing mainly in real estate law and transactions. He retired to Murrells Inlet, SC, where his family has owned a creek house for the last 90 years. He was a board member of Murrells Inlet 2007 (now Murrells Inlet 2020). He is president of Preserve Murrells inlet, Inc., a non-profit corporation, with the mission of the preservation and conservation of Murrells Inlet and its natural resources. He served on SCELP Board from 2011 to 2016 and rejoined the team in 2018. Leon is married to Jan, and they have 3 children and 3 grandchildren who live in Charleston.
Leon enjoys all outdoor activity, including fishing, hunting, golf, biking and boats of all types. He is a graduate of Duke University and Emory University Law School, and is a former arbitrator American Arbitration Administration. Leon says he is passionate about the goals of SCELP, and the conservation of our wonderful natural resources.
Greg VanDerwerker (Chair) was born in Kentucky and raised in Connecticut. He graduated from the University of Vermont with a Bachelor's degree in Zoology, Magna Cum Laude and was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society.
After receiving his M.D. degree from Emory University School of Medicine, followed by post-graduate medical training in pathology at the University Hospitals of Cleveland / Case Western Reserve University and fellowship training at N. C. Baptist Hospital / Wake Forest University School of Medicine, he accepted an invitation to join a hospital-based pathology practice at Self Memorial Hospital (now known as Self Regional Healthcare) in Greenwood, South Carolina where he practiced until retiring in 2005.
Since moving to Kiawah Island upon retirement, Greg has been actively volunteering with numerous organizations including Sea Island Habitat for Humanity, Kiawah Island Naturalist Group, and the Coastal Conservation League. Married and a father of two grown daughters, Greg enjoys hiking, camping, white water and ocean kayaking as well as cooking
Wendy Zara (Treasurer) lives in Sheldon and works in Beaufort for A. G. Edwards & Sons. Wendy is active in local environmental and land use planning issues and a leader of the Northern Beaufort County Committee, the Beaufort Chamber of Commerce, and other community committees and task forces.
December 4, 1949 - August 7, 2010
James S. (Jimmy) Chandler, Jr., (December 4, 1949 - August 7, 2010) former President and General Counsel, founded SCELP in 1987. For over 15 years, he was SCELP's sole staff attorney. Jimmy represented national, state, and local organizations in environmental cases before state and federal courts and agencies. His cases involved a variety of issues, including wetlands, coastal management, water quality, air quality, solid and hazardous waste landfills and incinerators, and mining. Prior to forming SCELP, Jimmy practiced law in Columbia for 10 years. His environmental work has been recognized by several state and national awards, including the Sierra Club's William O. Douglas Award, the South Carolina General Assembly's Environmental Awareness Award, and the South Carolina Wildlife Federation's Conservationist of the Year Award.
Jimmy grew up in Georgetown and resided in Pawleys Island. He received a B.A. in Economics from Davidson College in 1972, a Masters in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina in 1973, and a law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1977.
Jimmy was married to Rebecca McCarthy Chandler and had one daughter, Leigh, who was born in 1994. When not working, Jimmy spent his time watching his daughter play softball and enjoyed getting out on the water and playing rhythm guitar for Three Way, an oldies rock & roll, blues and party band.
Sadly, Jimmy lost his battle with cancer on August 7, 2010. His death represents a tremendous loss to South Carolina and those that knew him, yet gives cause for reflection on a life and career well lived. The impact he made on our state's environment is immeasurable. He was the trailblazer in environmental law in South Carolina and he left an amazing legacy that SCELP is proud and determined to carry on, in his honor.
Some of Jimmy's most significant cases included:
Jim Smiley vs. DHEC -- ensured that citizens have the right to challenge environmental permitting decisions through the administrative and legal systems;
Dewey Wise -- the first case establishing that citizens can bring enforcement actions for violations of the Coastal Zone Management Act;
Debordieu Dredging & Beach Nourishment Project -- set the precedent that is still utilized today in dredging permits - you must stay 10 feet away from marsh grass and oyster beds to prevent sloughing of the marsh and damage to the oyster beds;
Willbrook Dredging Case -- the SC Supreme Court ruled that economic benefits alone were not enough to establish an overriding public interest necessary for dredging, permit for the dredging of a canal and the creation of waterfront lots was denied;
Project DP (Spectre) -- an extremely significant case that removed the cloud over isolated freshwater wetlands in the coastal zone and affirmed that the Coastal Management Program (CMP) is a binding and enforceable law.