President and Executive Director
The past, present, and future of SELC is evident in DJ’s work since 2004. A longtime successful litigator and leader in multiple positions at SELC, recently DJ was named next President and Executive Director of the organization.
Formerly Director of Programs, DJ collaborated with leaders across the organization to develop region-wide strategies and focus SELC resources on high-value work. In this role, he helped SELC look ahead and prepare to take advantage of future opportunities and tackle coming problems. Along with the deputy director, DJ is a resource SELC program staff can call to think through tough legal questions and get timely answers on difficult decisions.
“I went to law school because I wanted a career producing real change by standing up to bad actors,” said DJ, who also has a master’s degree in urban and environmental planning. “SELC is the best place I have ever found to pursue that mission.”
Over his years at SELC, DJ has worked with SELC teams making headlines for protecting natural places, stopping pipelines, and cleaning up coal ash. His favorite project, though, did not get as much public attention. In North Carolina, developers and self-interested politicians wanted to dam a river to create a lake for future residential development. They called it a drinking water “reservoir” and expected working families to pay for it even though no one needed it. “We litigated that case and won, but the most important work we did was shining a light on dirty deals and corrupt decision makers,” DJ said.
In the South, a special place for DJ and his wife is Charleston, S.C. They honeymooned there and return whenever possible to soak up the Lowcountry charm.
I went to law school because I wanted a career producing real change by standing up to bad actors. SELC is the best place I have ever found to pursue that mission.DJ Gerken, President and Executive Director
- SELC senior attorney, managing attorney, and director of programs
- Shea & Gardner, attorney
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit, clerk
- J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, Order of the Coif
- M.A., University of Virginia School of Architecture
- B.A., Davidson College, magna cum laude
- With SELC since 2004