About Us


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


We work with a diverse range of partners from the nonprofit, private and public sectors:

* Local-independent businesses
* Policymakers
* Local, state, and national nonprofit and governmental partners
* Donors and funders who share our values


Our programs implement a new model of local economic development – integrating advocacy, education and training, and relationship-building toward a more equitable, diversified economy.


We develop innovative models for sustainable and equitable local economies. Our work leverages our understanding of our over 550 local business members and 12,000 employees across all sectors, and is informed by staff with expertise and on-the-ground experience in local economy building, innovative economic development, entrepreneur support, sustainable agriculture, and food systems. We are connected to local economy and sustainable business organizations throughout the country, granting us access to the best models, case studies and thought leaders.



To visit (for GPS): 1630 Meeting Street Road, Building #2, Charleston, SC 29405
Mailing address: 1630-2 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29405
Call: 843.801.3390









* 2017 State of Local // 2017 Form 990
* 2016 State of Local – Celebrating 10 Years
 // 2016 Form 990
* 2015 State of Local 
// 2015 Form 990

* View recent press coverage
* Explore our guiding Manifesto


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." Jamee also currently serves City of Charleston’s Health and Wellness Advisory Committee, College of Charleston’s Sustainability Literacy Institute’s Advisory Board and Together SC's Lowcountry Membership Chair.

Matt Hayden

Director of Development

Matt hails from the D.C. area and brings the Lowcountry a passion to inspire communities to rally behind worthy causes. This former semi-pro basketball player turned beach volleyball novice brings new heights to the Lowcountry Local First team, literally and figuratively. Matt's a proud pop of a rescue mutt named Murphy and a 5-time Funcle (Fun Uncle) of the Year Finalist. When not volunteering his time with a number of community organizations, he can be found enjoying live music or fumbling on his own guitar.

Lauren Gellatly

Community Development Director

Lauren works with independent businesses, consumers, and policymakers to cultivate place-based economic development through advocacy, policy, communications, and project management. Lauren earned a B.A. from the College of Charleston for Preservation & Community Planning, an M.S. from Pratt Institute in City & Regional Planning, and completed a fellowship in Urban Planning at the Pratt Center for Community Development in Brooklyn, NY. After nearly 10 years in non-profit leadership and community planning, Lauren found a use for her 18-year strong boycott of Walmart and joined the team at Lowcountry Local First in 2013. Lauren has served on the Charleston Regional Development Alliance Economic Scorecard Task Force; the Charleston Upper Peninsula Equitable Development Task Force; and currently serves on the ReThink Folly Road Steering Committee and the James Island Neighborhood Council.

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. He has a deep understanding of the members who are engaged and can thus make valuable connections. This love for relationship-building 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 full-service marketing agency world. When not touting the local scene, you may find her on her bike, with her hands in the dirt, or listening to her husband perform spoken word. Jordan served on the board of directors for Charleston Moves from 2011 - 2017, previously served on the board of the Charleston American Marketing Association and chaired the 2013 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

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, Brian’s background in plant science and ecology have always steered him towards training 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 to Charleston where he helps to support and promote sustainable agriculture and usher in new and beginning farmers. Also an avid forager, cook, and musician, Brian sets our team up nicely for any apocalypse situation. Brian also serves on the Sustainable Agriculture Research Education committee.

C.T. Burton

Engagement Coordinator

C.T. is a firecracker visionary with a people-loving personality that lights up any room. She focused on hospitality and event management while studying at the College of Charleston, and was the recipient of the School of Business’ Outstanding Student of the Year Excel Award in 2011.
She has found great success in the event planning and management world in Charleston, through events like the Jewish Community Center’s KidsFair and the City of Charleston’s First Day Fest. C.T. also served as Market Manager for the Charleston Black Expo and as an event organizer for the 2017 Taste of Black Charleston Chef event that exceeded 1,300 attendees.
C.T. continues to connect local businesses here at Lowcountry Local First. As a small business owner, she understands the importance of relationships and having access to resources in this community.

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.

Kaylee Schuh

Bookkeeper and Administrative Assistant

Kaylee brings her love of numbers and organization to Lowcountry Local First with a background in nonprofit and small business bookkeeping. When not working hard to further the Local cause, she is completing her bachelors degree in accounting and finding time to enjoy Charleston’s beaches and booming food scene. Her life motto? “If you aren’t happy with your life, change things until you are. If you can’t change something, change your attitude about it.” Kaylee is the Joint Base Charleston nominee for the 2018 Air Force Association Joan Orr Air Force Spouse of the Year Award, recognizing her extensive work as a Key Spouse during two major emergency evacuations, her insistence upon helping to care for the squadron's fur children, and the work that she does for the entire community.

Board of Directors

Jennifer Murray

South State Bank

Nicki Root

Grassroots Wine Wholesalers
Vice Chair

Terri Thomas

Central Park Accounting

Dave Dawson

Urban Electric Company

Jessica Derrick

Lou Hammond Group

Ted Dombrowski

Ted’s Butcherblock

Stephanie Hall

Ruth’s House Event Rentals

“Mini” Mariana Hay

Croghan’s Jewel Box

Katherine Perrin

Perrin Woodworking

Meredith Siemens

South Carolina Federal Credit Union

Adam Steen

Steen Enterprises

Jean-Marc Villain

Medical University of South Carolina

Employment and Internship Opportunities


We’re almost 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.

Staff photos above provided by Susan Lloyd Photography.
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1630 Meeting Street Road, Building #2
Charleston, SC 29405