The St. Simons Land Trust board of directors announced Monday that Emily Ellison has been named as the organization’s new executive director, effective immediately.
Ellison has served for nearly two years as the development and communications director for the Land Trust. She replaces Ben Slade, who began serving as interim executive director of the organization on July 1. The former executive director David Pope resigned in June.
“We are genuinely thrilled to have Emily as the new leader of the Land Trust,” said Scott McQuade, chairman of the Land Trust’s board of directors, in a press release. “The St. Simons Land Trust board unanimously and enthusiastically supported the appointment.”
Ellison has more than 20 years of experience as a nonprofit executive. She cofounded the Atlanta Girls’ School, a 6th through 12th-grade independent school that opened its doors in 2000 and will graduate its 16th class of seniors in May 2020.
Ellison also served as the president and executive director of Literacy Action, Inc., a nonprofit organization in Atlanta that serves undereducated adults.
Ellison served as the CEO of the YWCA of Greater Atlanta before moving to St. Simons in 2015.
She is also the author of several published books, including the award-winning novel, “The Picture Makers.”
“I am so pleased with the selection made by the board,” Slade said. “Emily’s dedication and enthusiasm will greatly benefit the mission and vision of the St. Simons Land Trust.”
Slade, the co-founder of the Land Trust, served as founding chairman of the organization’s board of directors from 1997-2006. He returned as executive director in 2011 and retired from the Land Trust in 2016.
“We are grateful that Ben once again stepped up when he was needed,” McQuade said. “With Ben at the helm during this time of transition, we were able to move forward without missing a beat and continue to focus on the important mission and goals of the Land Trust.”
The Land Trust established a search committee and hired an executive search firm before launching its national search for a new executive director.
“The committee is delighted with the results of our work and excited about the next chapter in protecting the nature and ambiance of (St. Simons Island),” said board member Jack Kilgore, who chaired the search committee.
Slade will serve as a volunteer consultant to the Land Trust over the coming weeks, and through that role he will chair an ad hoc committee that will focus on access to the waterfront at Guale Preserve.
“We have important priorities to complete before the end of the year, and Ben’s participation will be crucial as we work with DNR, Glynn County and our neighbors at Guale Preserve,” Ellison said. “All of us are grateful that he will continue to be our partner.”