Charlottesville, Va. — The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) is pleased to announce that widely respected Georgia environmental leader and attorney Stephen O’Day was just elected to be the new chairman of SELC’s Board of Trustees. O’Day is partner and head of the Environmental and Sustainability practices at Atlanta-based Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP. SELC is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and there have only been three previous board chairs in the organization’s history.
“I am extremely honored to have been chosen. The Southern Environmental Law Center sets the standard for an effective, professional organization,” O’Day explains. “Protecting the environment has always been a driving force in my life, and it is exciting to have the opportunity to help SELC make a big, positive impact on the part of the world that means the most to me.”
The Southern Environmental Law Center is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization with a unique and focused mission: use the power of the law to protect the environment of the Southeast (TN, VA, NC, SC, GA, and AL).
In 2006, O’Day was the recipient of SELC’s annual James S. Dockery, Jr. Southern Environmental Leadership Award. He is also a trustee of the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, and past trustee of the Georgia Conservancy. He has served on numerous governmental task forces and advisory bodies, including eight years chairing the Environmental Advisory Committee for Georgia’s lieutenant governor, Pierre Howard. An active member and leader of the Georgia Bar and a fixture on Atlanta Magazine’s list of “Georgia Super Lawyers,” O’Day recently received the 2011 Ogden Doremus Award for Excellence in Environmental Law.
O’Day has handled environmental litigation, consultation, and negotiations for almost 35 years. He leads two practice areas at Smith, Gambrell & Russell: one that handles all aspects of traditional environmental law issues; and another that provides focused legal advice and representation to companies and entities regarding sustainability initiatives, sustainable businesses and business practices, renewable energy, business issues, planning, and litigation.
With his firm’s support, O’Day has been heavily involved over the years in litigation for leading environmental groups — including SELC — that has secured precedents or important rulings affecting polluted runoff from construction sites; degradation of high-quality waters like Lake Lanier; solid waste management planning and disposal; billboard proliferation; protection of Georgia’s marsh hammocks; and coastal development.
“Steve O’Day brings a wealth of expertise and experience to this position, as a top litigator and longtime leader in Georgia’s environmental community,” explains Rick Middleton, founder and executive director of the Southern Environmental Law Center. “But we at SELC also appreciate Steve for many of his other excellent qualities. He is a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. A loyal friend. A good listener and wise counselor. He’s generally the nicest guy you would ever want to meet.”
Middleton continues, “SELC’s board chair is a critically important position, and each of these leaders makes a tremendous impact on this organization. Steve already has a long history with SELC: he was a founding board member, is a longtime member of our executive committee, and was part of the two strategic planning processes (1996 and 2006) that have charted this organization’s major directions and priorities. I’m looking forward to working with Steve as we build on the remarkable success of our recently-completed Power of the Law Campaign and utilize SELC’s enhanced capacity to champion the South’s environment from the mountains to the coast–and help lead our region toward a cleaner, more sustainable future.”
About the Southern Environmental Law Center
SELC is the largest environmental organization focused exclusively on the South. For 25 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has worked successfully in all three branches of government to create, implement, and enforce environmental law and policy. Their major programs cover clean energy, transportation and land use, southern forests, the coast and wetlands, and preservation of rural countryside and community character. SELC has 47 attorneys (out of a total staff of 90) and offices in Charlottesville (SELC’s headquarters) and Richmond, Virginia; Chapel Hill and Asheville, North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; Birmingham, Alabama; and Washington, D.C.