ELC Takes Strategic Steps with New Executive Director

Earth Law Center, a global leader in the “rights of nature” movement, has brought Darlene May Lee on board as its new Executive Director. A graduate of Cornell University with a degree in nutritional biochemistry, Ms. Lee brings more than 20 years of international business experience and 10 years of engagement with non-profit organizations.

“Ms. Lee is a visionary leader with an outstanding track record of success in building world class teams and growing businesses in Asia Pacific, Europe, and the United States,” said Diana Weynand, President of the Board of Directors. “Her business, marketing, and financial acumen combine with a record of pro bono community engagement to make her the right person to help Earth Law Center build the global rights of nature movement into a formidable force for change in our world.”

Earth Law Center was established in 2010 with a mission to transform the law to recognize and protect nature’s inherent rights to exist, thrive, and evolve.

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to work with an organization whose vision is nothing less than a future in which humans and nature flourish together,” said Ms. Lee.

“We are all inspired by the recent actions in India and New Zealand that gave their rivers—the Ganges and Yumana in India and the Whanganui in New Zealand—personhood rights,” Ms. Lee added. “ELC has already helped to create a rights of nature ordinance in Santa Monica, and we are currently helping other communities with similar laws. ELC will continue to advance legal rights for nature city by city, state by state—educating local community and government leaders and training new legal teams to take legal action to protect Mother Earth.”

“Advancing the rights of nature is not an easy task,” said Board President Weynand. “And like any rights-based movement, it will take a local to global effort to succeed. With Ms. Lee at the helm, ELC will become a major force in shifting the legal system to include nature’s rights.”

Ms. Lee will be building on and expanding the work of Earth Law Center, which has made significant contributions to the cause of rights of nature, including:

  • Coauthoring the first global experts report on Earth Jurisprudence for the United Nations.
  • Developing and releasing annual reports highlighting activities that violate both human rights and nature’s rights (“co-violations”). The report’s findings are updated annually in an interactive map on the Earth Law Center website.
  • Co-organizing with global leaders in the rights of nature movement three International Rights of Nature Tribunals, and serving as Co-Prosecutor at the Paris Tribunal in 2015.

Ms. Lee succeeds founding director Linda Sheehan, JD, who led the organization for six years before assuming a position as Executive Director of Planet Pledge.

Fluent in Mandarin as well as English, with basic French, German and Spanish, Ms. Lee has traveled widely, working in the United States, Europe, and Asia Pacific before calling New York City home. She has served as Managing Director of Penn Schoen Berland, New York; Country Manager of Ipsos, Hong Kong; Managing Director of Retail & Lifestyle Verticals for Greater China Synovate, Hong Kong; General Manager of LogicLab, New York; Vice President Strategic Initiatives, Experian (Simmons), New York; Managing Director, Net Value Limited, Hong Kong; and in various directorships for Taylor Nelson Sofres for Greater China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

In New York City, Ms. Lee has served as a member of the Board of Project EATS, as project team leader for New York Cares, and volunteer for Project Happy NYC. In Beijing, she has provided pro bono design services for World Wildlife Federation, The Philip Hayden Foundation, Children’s Village, and Asian Services & Projects. In Hong Kong, she served as a volunteer at the Battered Women’s Shelter. And, as founder of Art in Action, she raised funds through art events to fund charity projects in Hong Kong, China, Mongolia, and Taipei.

Ms. Lee assumed the leadership of Earth Law Center on April 19, 2017.