The following is a response from Jamee Haley, Executive Director of Lowcountry Local First, on the mass shooting that occurred in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17th, 2015, claiming the lives of nine community members.

Donations can be made to support the families of the victims and the Mother Emanuel AME Church.


Grace is the word I continue to use to describe the families who had loved ones taken from them this past week, to the congregation of Mother Emanuel AME, to our city’s leadership, and to our community as a whole which has come together stronger than ever.

As a non-profit leader, a parent, and a citizen, I am proud to be part of a community that shows compassion, respect and love for each other. I am proud to be part of a community that is loudly declaring, “it’s time for us to move beyond a history or repression and hate; it has no place here.” I am proud to be a part of a community that demands change and is willing to work for it.

Now is the time for us to come together and have some tough conversations. Conversations that will make us all uncomfortable but are vital cornerstones in the foundation of a path forward. Conversations around the fact that a significant portion of our population is not included in economic development planning, new housing development, and the growth of entrepreneurship in our community. Conversations that unmask large-scale development plans and question the lack of opportunities for the people who currently live in our community.

When the cameras finally leave our beloved city, how do we extend this love and grace to create opportunities for prosperity for all people — and who is willing to join in that conversation? My belief is that we will need a public-private partnership to effect change – one inclusive of citizens young and old, rich and not, and of all colors. A conversation that harnesses the power of community, government, and the business community, because we are only made stronger by diverse voices.

My door and inbox are open to ideas, discussions and challenges.


In solidarity,



* Image is an original collage by Nikki Seibert Kelley

Jamee Haley
Executive Director at Lowcountry Local First