Gullah Geechee Corridor seeks executive director

  • Posted: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 12:15 a.m.
AP Photo/Bruce Smith, file
A Gullah sweetgrass basket stand is seen next to a construction zone along busy U.S. 17 in Mount Pleasant. The Gullah Geechee culture of slave descendants along the coasts of four southeastern states is threatened by rapid development.
AP Photo/Bruce Smith, file A Gullah sweetgrass basket stand is seen next to a construction zone along busy U.S. 17 in Mount Pleasant. The Gullah Geechee culture of slave descendants along the coasts of four southeastern states is threatened by rapid development.

CHARLESTON — The commission working to preserve the culture of slave descendants on the sea islands in four southeastern states is looking for its first executive director.

The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission announced in May that it would be seeking an executive director and this week formally opened a national search, working with Millbrooke Human Resource Consulting to fill the position.

“We’re thrilled to be at this point. A great deal of work was accomplished, and we are ready to find the right person to run the day-to-day operation,” Althea Sumpter, the vice chairwoman of the commission who is heading the search committee, said in a statement. “The success of the Gullah Geechee Corridor will be partly dependent on the commission finding the right candidate for this position.”

The qualifications for the executive director include, among other things, knowledge of the Gullah Geechee culture, experience in fundraising and experience in strategic planning.

A 272-page management plan for the corridor including parts of the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida was more than a dozen years in the making and received final approval from the U.S. Department of the Interior in May.

The culture is known as Gullah in the Carolinas and Geechee in Georgia and Florida. The corridor reaches along the coast from Jacksonville, N.C., to just south of Jacksonville, Fla.

The culture survived for decades because of the relative isolation of the area’s sea islands but now is threated by rapid coastal development.

The management plan focuses on educating people about the culture, documenting sites important to it and developing economic opportunities for those who live there. In developing the plan, public meetings were held in all four states, and more than 1,000 sites significant to the culture were identified.

The executive director will be required to help oversee the implementation of the management plan. The last day to apply is Aug. 29.

The effort to preserve the corridor began in 2000 when U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the first black congressman from South Carolina since Reconstruction, asked for a study of Gullah resources.

Congress approved the corridor in 2006 and then the work on developing the management plan began in earnest.

The commission earlier this year opened its own office in Charleston.

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