Southern Environmental Law Center

Nonprofit and nonpartisan, we are the Southern Environmental Law Center. The South’s largest and most effective environmental advocate and protector.

aka SELC   |   Charlottesville, VA   |
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Southern Environmental Law Center

EIN: 52-1436778


We are the Southern Environmental Law Center — the largest nonprofit, nonpartisan environmental legal advocacy organization rooted in and focused on the South. Our mission is to protect the basic right to clean air, clean water, and a livable climate; to preserve our region’s natural treasures and rich biodiversity; and to provide a healthy environment for all. Rooted in the South with over 200 attorneys and professional staff, we use strong legal and policy work, strategic vision, and pragmatic problem solving in all three branches and at all levels of government. With our commitment to place, SELC is building on nearly 40 years of success in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, and driving results that resonate across the nation.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Mr. DJ Gerken

Main address

120 Garrett Street Suite 400

Charlottesville, VA 22902 USA

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Subject area info


Environmental health

Public interest law


Urban development

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Population served info

Children and youth


NTEE code info

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (S01)

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Clean Energy & Air

If the South were a country, it would be the seventh-largest emitter of carbon in the world. Recognizing that the South is central to any solution to global warming, SELC seeks to prevent further construction of coal-fired power plants in the Southeast; to retire old, dirty, coal-burning plants; and to increase investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

Population(s) Served

The water-rich South has iconic and treasured waterways throughout our region. SELC seeks to protect the South’s cleanest waters, to rescue the most polluted ones, and to make sure there remains enough water flowing in our rivers and streams to support a healthy and diverse array of aquatic life.

Population(s) Served

The Southern Appalachian Mountains are the backbone of the South, ranging uninterrupted from Virginia to Alabama. We are fortunate to have five million of these acres in public trust as national forest—the largest concentration of public land east of the Rockies. SELC is a staunch defender of these treasures, advocating particularly for long-term protection of old growth forest remnants, wildlife habitat, headwater streams, and places enjoyed for backcountry recreation.

Population(s) Served

Throughout our rapidly growing region, poorly planned development and road projects threaten the scenic landscapes and the everyday quality of life that we take for granted in our southern communities. SELC is focused on stopping destructive highway projects; reforming asphalt-centered transportation policies and wasteful land-use practices; and advancing cleaner, more efficient transportation choices such as rail and transit.

Population(s) Served

The coast is one of the South’s defining natural features. Nowhere else in the world can you find such an assemblage of sandy beaches, barrier islands, marshes, maritime forests, and estuaries. SELC is using our powerful arsenal to fend off destructive activities related to growth pressures and lax enforcement—and to proactively shape a sustainable future for our precious coastline.

Population(s) Served

“Nature lacks a voice with which to speak for itself. Recognizing this, Congress has charged under federal law that agencies listen to the interests of the environment.” SELC couldn’t agree more with this pivotal decision, handed down in our litigation to prevent a Navy landing field, which ultimately protected a pocosin lake landscape that harbors tundra swans, snow geese, coastal black bears, and endangered red wolves. SELC’s legal team continues to defend the wild areas that are home to the South’s impressive array of wildlife. Our efforts are needed now more than ever, in light of attempts to undermine the Endangered Species Act and remove protections for sensitive species and critical habitat.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of organizational partners

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

As lawyers, policy and issue experts, and community advocates and partners, we take on the toughest challenges to defend and protect our air, water, climate, wildlife, lands, and the people who live in the South. Our region is home to natural wonders and some of the greatest environmental issues facing our world today.

Transforming our region away from fossil fuel to clean energy, righting environmental injustice, stopping pollution, and protecting nature—When we solve these issues here, we lead the way for others.

The landmark work we do in court, in government, and in our communities helps shape and drive environmental policies and protections across our country. That's why we say: Solutions start in the South.

Through our regional planning and coordination, we think strategically across issues and states, and focus our resources where they are most needed to achieve broad impacts and meaningful legal and policy results at the local, state, and federal levels.

Strong partnerships with local, state, regional, and national organizations enable us to accomplish our collective goals. Our Washington, D.C. team strengthens our ability to work effectively at the federal level on issues of critical importance to our region.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?


Southern Environmental Law Center
Fiscal year: Apr 01 - Mar 31
Financial documents
2022 Southern Environmental Law Center
done  Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant. info

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2023 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 100.93 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2023 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 2.6 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2023 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 20% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Southern Environmental Law Center

Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Apr 01 - Mar 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

Southern Environmental Law Center

Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Apr 01 - Mar 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

Southern Environmental Law Center

Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Apr 01 - Mar 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of Southern Environmental Law Center’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

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Business model indicators

Profitability info 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation $21,764,051 $18,215,449 $60,617,646 $4,114,599 $16,819,269
As % of expenses 75.5% 61.6% 210.7% 12.7% 42.3%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation $21,457,383 $17,930,002 $60,332,379 $3,724,231 $16,032,209
As % of expenses 73.7% 60.0% 207.6% 11.3% 39.6%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $60,076,970 $39,889,386 $40,991,033 $82,818,237 $53,489,044
Total revenue, % change over prior year 27.8% -33.6% 2.8% 102.0% -35.4%
Program services revenue 1.1% 2.0% 0.6% 0.2% 3.8%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 4.5% 8.1% 7.0% 3.3% 6.4%
Government grants 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other grants and contributions 60.4% 89.4% 89.4% 57.7% 84.7%
Other revenue 34.0% 0.5% 3.0% 38.9% 5.0%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $28,812,350 $29,575,814 $28,772,573 $32,430,242 $39,732,923
Total expenses, % change over prior year 5.2% 2.6% -2.7% 12.7% 22.5%
Personnel 63.7% 64.4% 67.7% 68.3% 63.7%
Professional fees 8.4% 9.0% 8.8% 2.0% 2.1%
Occupancy 6.8% 7.6% 7.7% 8.0% 9.7%
Interest 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Pass-through 0.4% 0.2% 0.5% 0.1% 0.9%
All other expenses 20.8% 19.0% 15.3% 21.6% 23.7%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Total expenses (after depreciation) $29,119,018 $29,861,261 $29,057,840 $32,820,610 $40,519,983
One month of savings $2,401,029 $2,464,651 $2,397,714 $2,702,520 $3,311,077
Debt principal payment $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Fixed asset additions $0 $0 $0 $3,950,019 $0
Total full costs (estimated) $31,520,047 $32,325,912 $31,455,554 $39,473,149 $43,831,060

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Months of cash 3.4 1.4 4.9 3.6 2.3
Months of cash and investments 54.2 53.4 75.9 73.2 58.2
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 34.3 40.7 67.0 59.5 53.4
Balance sheet composition info 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Cash $8,116,595 $3,454,821 $11,859,350 $9,619,501 $7,755,533
Investments $122,056,767 $128,242,959 $170,084,934 $188,125,562 $184,999,424
Receivables $525,000 $479,859 $132,766 $1,350,000 $2,538,514
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $3,026,792 $3,265,925 $2,978,003 $6,928,024 $7,556,018
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 74.5% 77.8% 76.3% 38.4% 45.7%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 0.7% 0.7% 0.6% 7.0% 7.3%
Unrestricted net assets $83,026,747 $100,956,749 $161,289,128 $165,013,359 $181,045,568
Temporarily restricted net assets $43,927,255 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $4,100,000 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $48,027,255 $31,482,621 $21,109,529 $36,824,910 $16,803,047
Total net assets $131,054,002 $132,439,370 $182,398,657 $201,838,269 $197,848,615

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Material data errors No No No No No


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

Executive Director

Mr. DJ Gerken

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990

Southern Environmental Law Center

Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization

Southern Environmental Law Center

Highest paid employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of highest paid employee data for this organization

Southern Environmental Law Center

Board of directors
as of 11/07/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board co-chair

Mrs. Laura Gates

Board co-chair

Grey McLean

Joel Adams

Financial Advisor, Raymond James Financial Services

Dell Brooke

EBSCO Foundation

Cathy Brown

Secretary, Stewart Home School

Marion Cowell

Of Counsel, Kilpatrick Stockton, Charlotte Office; Former Board Member, NC Dept. of Transportation

Wendy Brown

Founder, Center for Nonprofit Excellence; Co0founder, Community Investment Collaborative

Melvin Davis

Private Equity Professional

Stephen Dockery

Managing Partner, Fidus Partners

James Hanes

Owner/Manager, Senah Farm

Anna Kate Hipp

Trustee Emeritus, Mary Baldwin College

Mark Logan

Former Chair and CEO of VISX, Inc.

Nimrod Long

President, Nimrod Long and Associates Architects

Allen McCallie

Partner, Miller & Martin

Frederick Middleton

Founder and Executive Director, Southern Environmental Law Center

Edward Miller

Chair, WestWind Investment Management

Deaderick Montague

Writer; Board Chair of Boys & Girls Club of Chattanooga

Susan Mullin

Owner/Manager, Ridgeway Farm

Jean Nelson

President, Land Trust for Tennessee

Stephen O'Day

Partner, Smith Gambrell & Russell

William Schlesinger

President, Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Thomas Taft

President, Taft, Taft & Haigler

William Want

Environmental Lawyer; Author, The Law of Wetlands Regulation

Nancy White

Board of Visitors, UNC Institute for the Environment

Marcia Angle

Adjunct Professor of Environmental Science, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University

Clay Rolader

President and COO, Fuqua Capital Corp.

Charles Patrick

Partner, Richardson, Patrick, Westbrook, & Brickman, LLC

Melanie Grinney

Writer & Photographer, Board of Directors, Alabama Symphony Orchestra

Jeanie Nelson

Land Trust for Tennessee Founder and Board Member Emeritus

John Simpkins

Former General Counsel for the US Agency for International Development; Senior Lecturing Fellow at Duke Law School

Marcia Angle

Adjunct Professor of Environmental Science, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke Universtiry

Laura Fjeld

Principal, Clear Voice Partners

Jeffrey Gleason

Executive Director, Southern Environmental Law Center

C. Grey McLean

Director, Adiuvans Foundaiton; Albemarle Housing Improvement Program President

Laura Gates

Trustee and Past Chair, Wellesley College; Director, National Archives Foundation

Phyllis D.K. Hildreth

Vice President for Strategy and Institutional Advancement, American Baptist College

Julie Price

Sustainability Manager, University of Alabama at Birmingham; Board Member, Cahaba River Society & Freshwater Land Trust

Zakiya Seymour

Principal Management Consultant, Arcadis Water & Wastewater Business Advisory Services

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/6/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 07/09/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.


Fiscal year ending

Professional fundraisers

Fiscal year ending

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 Schedule G

Solicitation activities
Gross receipts from fundraising
Retained by organization
Paid to fundraiser