Riley advisor selected to head up Charleston Parks Conservancy

Harry Lesesne (Source: Holly Fisher)
Harry Lesesne (Source: Holly Fisher)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - One of South Carolina's most recognized philanthropists has chosen one of Mayor Riley's senior advisors to be the new executive director for the Charleston Parks Conservancy.

Banking pioneer Darla Moore, founder and chairman of the board of the Charleston Parks Conservancy, announced Wednesday Harry Lesesne has been selected to serve as the new executive director.

According to a release, Lesesne has served as senior adviser to Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. since 2004. Prior to that, he served as the South Carolina director for The Conservation Fund, a national land conservation organization.

The previous executive director and long-time horticulturist, Jim Martin, will focus his efforts on the Conservancy's program development.

"Bringing Harry on board as executive director frees Jim to devote his tremendous talents and energy to program development," Moore said. "Jim was the perfect choice to lead the Conservancy through its infancy, but as the Conservancy grew, the responsibilities for development and administration were just taking too much time away from the growth and day-to-day operations of the extraordinary programs Jim has developed.

"Now, we have the very best of both worlds – Harry, with his administrative expertise and skills working with Mayor Riley and experience with The Conservation Fund, and Jim, with his tremendous horticultural talents, working together to help Charleston continue to be not only the historic and architectural jewel of this country but also a city with equally beautiful parks and public spaces for everyone to enjoy," Moore added.

Lesesne is completing his transition from Mayor Riley's senior adviser and will begin his work with the Conservancy full time in early December.

Lesesne said, "I'm honored and excited to have the opportunity to work with the Parks Conservancy's board, staff, and volunteers to help make Charleston's many parks and public spaces even better. In a very short time, the Conservancy has become a key organization in improving the quality of life of the citizens of this special city. I look forward to building upon the Conservancy's wonderful partnerships with our neighborhoods and with the city to make our parks better and our city even more livable."