Our Mission, Our Vision
A Message from SELC’s Founder and Executive Director, Rick Middleton
The Southern Environmental Law Center was born out of a love of the South, its natural treasures, and its strong sense of place. Twenty five years ago, this special region needed a champion: an organization capable of taking on big issues, and smart and tough enough to challenge the toughest opponents and get the job done.
I am proud to say this describes SELC today. In every major environmental issue affecting our region, SELC is there, playing a central role.
The secret to SELC’s success has always been its people. Over the years we have assembled a team of unparalleled credentials, expertise, and dedication.
- SELC has about 40 top-notch attorneys on our staff. The first nine of them that I hired are still with us today—giving SELC exceptional depth—and they are mentoring the young attorneys who represent the next generation of outstanding lawyers and leaders.
- Our board and president’s council include CEOs and entrepreneurs, community and philanthropic leaders, planners and architects, former elected officials and highest-level appointed officials, scientists, and senior partners in prestigious law firms and financial institutions, all of whom are volunteering their impressive talents and valuable time.
- Finally, we are fortunate to have the loyal partnership and support of major foundations and hundreds of individuals and families who see SELC as their “blue chip” environmental investment—the most capable agent for accomplishing their own conservation goals.
Together, we have created a law and policy model that is second to none. We can pull the lever that works—in Congress, in state legislatures, in regulatory agencies, and, when necessary, in the courts. SELC works collaboratively with more than 100 partner groups who depend on our expertise, regional perspective, and professionalism to complement and strengthen their efforts. Our consistent track record has earned us a reputation as one of the most effective non-profits in the nation.
On the occasion of SELC’s 20th anniversary, our board and staff took a careful look into the future. What we saw reiterated that our region needs us—and more of us—more than ever. The Southeast, already the fastest growing region in the U.S., faces unprecedented pressures from explosive population growth and development trends. These threaten to overwhelm all the places we hold dear and have fought so successfully to protect: our mountains, forests, rivers, coast, and our countryside and community character.
We came to the important conclusion that no other organization is positioned to mount a comprehensive defense of this region. So we are implementing an ambitious strategic action plan to build on our powerful model and significantly expand SELC’s reach and capacity.
SELC believes there is simply no reason we cannot have economic prosperity; a beautiful and healthy environment; and attractive, vibrant, and livable communities in the South. Our message is clear: if you care about the quality of the region we live in and will leave to our children and grandchildren, join the Southern Environmental Law Center in taking decisive action. It’s up to us.