Greg Werkheiser is an award-winning lawyer and social entrepreneur tackling complex challenges in the fields of cultural heritage preservation, economic development, leadership development, politics and government, and civil rights. He is a Founding Partner of the law and policy firm Cultural Heritage Partners, PLLC, and of its allied strategic advisory firm, The Heritas Group.
Greg’s passion for history was a childhood gift from his uncle, who led him on adventures into the deep woods and caves of the northeast United States to discover mysterious remnants of complex ancient cultures missing from his school textbooks. About a decade later Greg had just begun his career as a commercial litigator for what would become the world’s largest law firm when his uncle called and found him at his desk near midnight. Could Greg take on a case pro bono for an American Indian tribe seeking to protect from imminent destruction a sacred site with a 10,000 year archaeological record of human life? Oh, and could Greg appear for his client in fewer than 8 hours, 300 miles away, in a court in which he was not licensed to practice?
The battle to save the Black Creek Site lasted five years and involved 24 hearings, with Greg’s team prevailing in 23. The 40-acre site is now protected as a state park. And Greg was hooked. Fifteen years later Greg uses law, policy, and business strategy to help preserve the lessons of our diverse history for use by modern leaders in building a better shared future for us all.
Indeed, Greg has enjoyed a vibrant parallel career as a social entrepreneur designing new ways to prepare tomorrow’s leaders. Over two decades he founded and led four of the nation’s top leadership development centers:
- The Presidio Institute – launching a $200 million center for cross-sector leadership at historic Fort Scott overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge
- The Center for Social Entrepreneurship at George Mason University – modeling social innovation education strategies for universities globally
- The Phoenix Project – developing social entrepreneurs on the streets of America’s poorest communities to address joblessness, schools, health, and violence
- The University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership – building bipartisan public service academies for college and high school students (formerly the Virginia Citizenship Institute).
An estimated 1,000 graduates of the intensive programs Greg designed now help lead federal and state governments, innovative nonprofit organizations and social enterprises, and responsible corporations. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching explored the impacts of Greg’s work in the book Educating for Democracy: Preparing Undergraduates for Responsible Political Engagement (Jossey Bass). His worked garnered the Virginia Governor’s Award for Community Service.
While fostering leadership movements, Greg has himself held public service roles in federal and state government. He has written speeches at the White House and the U.S. Embassy in Paris, coordinated the U.S.’s participation in global meetings for the U.S. Information Agency, and increased the efficiency of Capitol Hill offices through the Congressional Management Foundation. Appointed by Governor Mark Warner, Greg chaired the Virginia Commission on National and Community Service. He co-founded the U.S. State Department-hosted Harriman Foreign Service Fellowships for students interested in diplomatic service.
As a narrowly unsuccessful candidate for the Virginia legislature against a 16-year incumbent, Greg secured the endorsement of The Washington Post and community papers, and greater financial support than any prior candidate for the Virginia House. Greg is a long-time advocate for the empowerment of racial and religious minorities, women and girls, and the LGBTQ community. He is a lifetime member of the NAACP.
Greg’s work in cultural heritage law and policy, leadership development, politics, and civil rights has appeared in more than 1,000 news items in 300+ media outlets.
He earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law and his B.A. degree in government from the College of William and Mary, where he served as student government president and chair of the statewide student coalition.
Greg lives with his wife and professional collaborator, Marion Forsyth Werkheiser, and daughter, Amelia, at Sutherland House, a Civil War era Virginia home which they restored and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.