About Us

As lovers of the Lowcountry, we understand that we have a choice in what we buy and from whom we buy it. We have a choice in what we eat – and from where and by whom it’s grown.

Collectively, our choices have great power. To build or break a life. A business. An economy. A city. A culture.

The people of Lowcountry Local First offer a simple solution: Choose The Lowcountry.

It’s an understanding that if we choose to neglect the Lowcountry, something beautiful, meaningful, and unique fades away.

Lowcountry Local First is a way of life that celebrates and supports what we love most: the local, independent businesses and farmers who reflect the unique character, flavor, and culture of the place we call home.

You have a choice. To choose the Lowcountry with your dollars. Your vote. Your voice. Your heart.

So, choose – with everything you’ve got.


Lowcountry Local First cultivates an economy anchored in local ownership, because local-independent businesses are the cornerstone of our culture, economy, and character.


See what local, regional and national media outlets are saying about Lowcountry Local First: VIEW



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Jamee Haley

Executive Director

Recklessly optimistic that the world can be a better place. She leads the organization with fierce determination to show the value our homegrown businesses bring to our community and quality of life. People connector, big idea thinker and new idea junkie.

Favorite quote (not just because of the name) Buckminster Fuller; "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."

Lauren Gellatly

Community Development Director

Forever optimistic to change the traditional model of economic development and to prevent Charleston from becoming “Anywhere, USA,” Lauren works on advocacy and community development projects, as well as leads the Good Business Summit and Workshops. Armed with strategy, stats and process, Lauren works with independent businesses, consumers, and policymakers to cultivate place-based economic development with a grassroots-y approach. After going to school for city-preserving (B.A. @ College of Charleston), then city-planning (M.S. @ Pratt Institute), Lauren found a use for her 15-year strong boycott of Walmart and joined the team at Lowcountry Local First in 2013.

Larry Downey

Community Manager

They say Rome wasn't built in a day... neither is a thriving local economy, or an epic beard. Larry is dedicated to both! As Community Manager his focus is connecting members in a way that strengthens the bonds of Localism. That means he has a deep understanding of the members who are engaged and because of that understanding, he can make sure the right people get a chance to meet each other. This love for making connections translates to helping businesses at Local Works, LLF's coworking space, make connections with the larger community of local businesses. When he's not playing business matchmaker, you can find him fixing the internet, cursing the printer, taking out the trash, or chasing lizards from under desks.

Jordan Amaker

Director of Marketing and Communications

Jordan came to be the lead story-wrangler and cheerleader for the organization after 7 years in the marketing agency world. She claims to have the easiest job at Lowcountry Local First, promoting the many reasons consumers, policy-makers and the business community should support one another and create real prosperity. When not touting the local scene, you may find her on her bike, in Hampton Park, instagramming her cat, or listening to her husband perform spoken word around town.

Brian Wheat

Director of Sustainable Agriculture

Starting with his toddler days of being propped up next to a basket of peaches in his grandfather’s orchard and selling pumpkins at his family's roadside stand through his years educating high schoolers about food systems, production, and nutrition via schoolyard gardens, Brian’s background in plant science and deep connection to ecology have always been steering him towards educating and supporting farmers. Life in Upstate, New York and Minneapolis, Minnesota just got too darn cold for him and the idea of an extended growing season led him, inevitably, to Charleston where he helps to support and promote sustainable agriculture and ushers beginning farmers towards realizing their vision. Also an avid forager, cook, and musician, we would like to think his addition to the team sets us up nicely for any emergency/apocalypse-type situations.

Alex Pappas

Engagement Coordinator

Since middle school, Alex has had a knack for leadership and event management. She was that girl who was always sitting at a table fundraising for a good cause or planning a pep rally for her school’s basketball team. A Hospitality and Tourism Management graduate from the College of Charleston, Alex lends her experience towards fundraising, marketing and event design in the local nonprofit sector. Alex uses her positive attitude, high attention to detail and collaborative work ethic to create memorable experiences to those around her. At LLF she works closely with current membership, engaging new members, leading sponsorship recruitment, and coordinating events to support local-independent businesses. She enjoys the creative side of life - dabbling in photography, painting, wedding planning and being a "tourist" in her own city.

Maud Bentley

Graphic Designer

Never one to shy away from bright colors or bold patterns, Maud is the creative crusader at Lowcountry Local First where she brings visual awareness to the local movement in Charleston. Some might call her attention to detail and design fanatical —we call it brilliant. Maud has been conquering the design world since 2013 when she launched her own freelance graphic design business after earning a degree in Art History from the University of Virginia and mastering a multitude of various design courses.

Board of Directors

Jennifer Murray

South State Bank

Christy Allen

Wills Massalon & Allen, LLC
Vice Chair

Julie Dombrowski

Ted's Butcherblock

Terri Thomas

Central Park Accounting

Dave Dawson

Urban Electric Company

Lee Deas

Obviouslee Marketing

Jessica Derrick

Garden and Gun Magazine

Sherman Evans

Utopia Charleston

"Mini" Mariana Hay

Croghan's Jewel Box

Nicki Root

Grassroots Wine Wholesalers

Elliott Smith

BACE League Charleston

Jean-Marc Villain

Medical University of South Carolina

Employment and Internship Opportunities

Lowcountry Local First is not hiring at this time.


We’re always on the lookout for volunteers who can help with event coordination, office work (filing, mailing, phone calls, etc.), or even getting your hands in the dirt for a day. If you have the time, talents and passion, we’d love to hear from you at volunteer@lowcountrylocalfirst.org.


1630 Meeting Street Road, Building #2
Charleston, SC 29405