National Forests Expert and Senior Attorney Sarah Francisco Named Director of SELC’s Virginia Office

Charlottesville, VA—The Southern Environmental Law Center has announced that longtime attorney Sarah Francisco has been named the new Virginia office director, where she will lead the organization’s legal and policy work throughout the state.

A senior attorney at SELC, Sarah first joined the organization 15 years ago as a legal intern and then as an associate attorney following her graduation from the University of Richmond School of Law. Her work has focused on protection of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, and for the past seven years Sarah has been the leader of SELC’s National Forest and Parks program.

“Sarah is an extraordinary lawyer and she has earned tremendous respect for her impressive track record protecting beloved mountain lands throughout our region,” said Rick Middleton, SELC founder and executive director. “She brings a deep knowledge and understanding of the environmental challenges and opportunities facing Virginia, and we’re thrilled to have her at the helm as we look ahead to the next 30 years for SELC.”

Sarah is a native of the Shenandoah Valley, growing up on an Augusta County farm surrounded by the lands she has done so much to protect over the past 15 years. She served as a leader of the successful campaign with partners to convince the U.S. Forest Service to keep fracking out of the million-acre George Washington National Forest, and she has directed the SELC team that has successfully stopped destructive timber sales, inappropriate road building, and new oil and gas leasing on public lands throughout the Southeast. 

She was named director of the Virginia office, with its team of 14 attorneys, after a national search following the departure of Cale Jaffe earlier this year to lead the University of Virginia’s Environmental Law Clinic.

“It’s a great honor to have the opportunity to build upon SELC’s remarkable history protecting Virginia communities and beautiful lands,” said Sarah Francisco. “From my earliest days growing up in the Shenandoah Valley, I’ve wanted to do what I could to protect all that’s special about Virginia. I can imagine no better way to do that than leading SELC’s incredible Virginia team.”

SELC is the largest environmental organization in the Southeast, with 70 attorneys in nine offices throughout six states (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama) and on Capitol Hill. Working at the national, regional, state, and local levels and in all three branches of government enables SELC to combine region-wide perspective and strategy with local presence and place-based action.

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About the Southern Environmental Law Center:

The Southern Environmental Law Center is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. With nine offices across the region (Charlottesville, VA; Chapel Hill, NC; Atlanta, GA; Charleston, SC; Washington, DC; Birmingham, AL; Nashville, TN; Asheville, NC; and Richmond, VA), SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect the South’s natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org

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