Season 7 | Community of the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program (SFLR) | Episode 3

#102 | It’s all about relationships when there is a history of abuse

March 13, 2019 | Dr. Jennie Stephens

Dr. Jennie L. Stephens has been the Executive Director of the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation since its inception in 2005. At the Center, she is responsible for overall strategic planning, revenue generation, financial & staff management, and program operations. Dr. Stephens has dedicated more than 25 years in the non-profit industry and is very passionate about building relationships with people who have experienced a history of abuse when it comes to their land and their rights. Jennie holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the College of Charleston, a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Charleston/University of South Carolina, and a PhD in Organizational Leadership from Regent University. “Landowners are skeptical (and rightfully so) to work with organizations,” she says. “It takes time to build a good reputation.” Find out more about her important role in the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention community and her advice for others on this week’s episode!

Key Take Aways:

[1:40] A message from Leadership Nature.

[2:25] A quick intro about Dr. Stephens’s background.

[4:20] How did the Center For Heirs Property Preservation first get started?

[7:45] How has the Center evolved since its creation in 2005?

[12:00] The Center was one of the first three to be funded. We are now up to eight new legal centers throughout the U.S.

[14:10] How does the Center for Heirs Property Preservation help their clients?

[15:50] What kind of barriers do clients typically face that prevent them from moving forward?

[17:55] A lot of times, you’re asking heirs to make a business decision when they don’t even know who the other shareholders are.

[19:35] Dr. Stephens shares a couple of examples of how they were able to get over hurdles and build a strong reputation.

[21:50] Dr. Stephens and her team have resolved over 216 legal cases since the creation of the Center.

[23:25] When land is lost, it doesn’t just impact the family, it impacts the community.

[24:40] Dr. Stephens shares both a legal and a forestry case that was resolved at the Center.

[29:35] What kinds of partners have supported and helped the Center?

[34:30] What advice does Dr. Stephens have to include more diversity within the forestry community?

[37:20] Dr. Stephens shares some final words of wisdom about land retention.

Mentioned in this Episode:


U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities

Dr. Stephens on LinkedIn




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