The leader of the Charleston Parks Conservancy is stepping down and a new interim executive director has been appointed. Harry Lesesne, who has been executive director of the Charleston Parks Conservancy since 2012, is moving to lead the Darla Moore Foundation as executive director. The Foundation was established by Darla Moore, the philanthropist who also founded the Charleston Parks Conservancy in 2007 and has served the Conservancy as chairman since it was founded.
“Harry has done an outstanding job leading the Conservancy through a period of growth, and I am highly confident in his ability to lead my foundation as we go forward in these challenging times,” Moore said.
Lesesne said, “The opportunity to serve the Conservancy has been an honor, and I am so proud of what we were able to accomplish with our staff, volunteers, donors and partners in the community. We have an amazing team of staff and volunteers that made this work a joy for me.”
The Conservancy’s board of directors moved to appoint Leslie Wade as interim executive director. Wade currently serves as the Conservancy’s director of community programs. Prior to joining the Conservancy, Wade was executive director for a therapeutic horticulture organization, and her many years as a director of operations for a local, multi-unit restaurant group merged with her six years at the Conservancy will translate well into her new role.
“Leslie has been a great leader in developing our community programs and will do a wonderful job as interim director in sustaining the Conservancy’s positive direction and momentum,” Moore said.
Wade said of her new position, “The Conservancy staff, volunteers, board and community inspire me with their creativity, hands-in-the-dirt attitudes and dedication. With such an incredible group of park stewards, we will grow upon Harry’s direction, and the Conservancy will continue to engage and educate our neighbors and elevate our parks."
The Conservancy’s board will begin a search for a new permanent executive director.
For more than 10 years, the Conservancy -- through public-private partnerships -- has had a hand in renovating, beautifying and bringing programs to more than 25 parks in the City of Charleston. Notable projects include the complete renovation of Colonial Lake, the renovation of the Rose Pavilion at Hampton Park as well as Allan Park, Wragg Square, McMahon Playground at Hampton Park, Magnolia Park and Community Garden, Marion Square, Medway Park and Community Garden and Corrine Jones Park and Community Garden.
About the Charleston Parks Conservancy
The Charleston Parks Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring the people of Charleston to connect with their parks and create stunning public places and a strong community. The Conservancy opens doors to individuals and organizations in Charleston wanting to engage with their parks and green spaces in a kaleidoscope of positive ways. With the help of its Park Angels, the Conservancy improves, enhances, and invigorates these spaces, making Charleston even better, stronger, and more successful. For more information about or to support the Charleston Parks Conservancy, visit www.charlestonparksconservancy.org.