Haley will step away from Lowcountry Local First at the end of the year | Provided

Jamee Haley, co-founder and 15-year executive director of local nonprofit advocacy group Lowcountry Local First (LLF) is stepping down from her position, and the organization will soon launch a nationwide search for someone to fill her shoes.

Lauren Gellatly, the group’s current director of operations, will serve as the interim director until a candidate is selected. The move was announced in an email to LLF followers on Monday.

“There was no better person to launch, sustain and grow Lowcountry Local First from an idea to a thriving movement, way of life and changemaker organization,” Gellatly said. “Jamee’s leadership made Lowcountry Local First what it is today and laid the groundwork for all of us to take it to the next phase.”

Haley’s final day is slated to be Dec. 31, when she will move into a consultant role to support fundraising efforts and help to smoothen the transition for LLF as they onboard a new director.

“I believe that the organization is at a pivotal juncture in developing a vision for the future,” Haley said in a letter. “I am excited to see what fresh eyes and a new perspective can bring to the mission, particularly during a time of heightened understanding of the value that local businesses bring to our community and the need to create an inclusive economy.”

LLF’s goal to cultivate an economy anchored in locally owned businesses has taken on a new meaning in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. In recent months, it has helped hundreds of local businesses access to federal funds, created workshops resources to share support and advocated in Washington on behalf of small businesses.