Home /   Charleston Parks Conservancy Announces Executive Director and CEO

CHARLESTON, SC – The Charleston Parks Conservancy Board of Directors has named Darlene Heater as the organization’s new Executive Director and CEO after an extensive national search. Heater will further the Conservancy’s work to build partnerships in the City of Charleston to connect the people of Charleston to their parks.

Heater brings more than three decades of experience in leadership positions in both the public and private sectors. She served as the Executive Director of University City Partners and was the Vice President of Neighborhood Development and Sustainability at Charlotte Center City Partners. In both roles, she championed investment to protect and activate greenspace and create equitable access to public spaces for all.

“Darlene has an impressive track record of building strong relationships with elected officials and municipal partners while actively advocating for the communities she has served,” said Charles McLendon, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Charleston Park Conservancy. “We look forward to her leadership in building on the Conservancy’s progress in enhancing and expanding Charleston’s parks and programming in partnership with the city and our communities.

She worked on transformational projects such as the Charlotte 2020 Vision Plan, which served as the blueprint for development for the uptown area of Charlotte and Envision Charlotte, a sustainability initiative. She also served as the Director of Strategic Partnerships for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

“I could not be more excited to join the Charleston Parks Conservancy and step into a position that is the culmination of my interest in the transformative power of our parks,” said Heater. “As a long-time community advocate, my goal to balance the needs and demands of growth with the needs of the community, striving always to create a livable, sustainable and prosperous Charleston so that everyone can experience the profound impacts of public green spaces.”

Most recently, Heater was the Managing Director of Partner Relations and a member of the executive committee for Panorama Holdings, a development company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C.

Harry Lesesne, the Conservancy’s former Executive Director and a current member of the Board of Directors, said, “Since its founding 16 years ago, the Conservancy has become an integral partner with the City of Charleston in building better parks and stronger communities. Darlene’s background in public-private partnerships and strong track record in community advocacy will lead the Conservancy to new and exciting opportunities.”

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. For more than 15 years, the Conservancy has had a hand in renovating and beautifying more than 20 parks in partnership with the City of Charleston. Notable projects include the complete renovation of Colonial Lake, the renovation of the Rose Pavilion at Hampton Park, Moultrie Playground, St. Julian Devine Community Center & Park as well as Magnolia Park and Community Garden and Medway Park and Community Garden. For more information, visit www.charlestonparksconservancy.org.