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Firm co-founder Marion Forsyth Werkheiser is an award-winning lawyer, nonprofit executive, and preservation advocate with a distinctive ability to convene diverse stakeholders to work together to solve tough problems and to scale solutions.
Marion has counseled more than eighty enterprises on organizational capacity-building projects, including government relations, strategic planning, board governance, program development, fundraising, and risk management. She helps clients make full use of protections for historic and cultural resources in domestic and international law. In 2014, the Register of Professional Archaeologists honored her with the John F. Seiberling Award for her significant and sustained efforts in the conservation of archaeological resources.
In addition to her role as managing member of Cultural Heritage Partners, Marion is a founding partner of the Heritas Group, a firm of big idea strategists for government, business, and social change institutions. Indeed, Marion brings to her work a deep commitment to social change. She cofounded and for five years codirected the Phoenix Project, a nationally recognized social enterprise focused on improving business practices and sustainability of social sector organizations and preparing the next generation of social entrepreneurs. Her work received the Virginia Governor’s Award for Community Service. The Phoenix Project has since merged to form the Center for Social Entrepreneurship at George Mason University.
Marion visits petroglyphs at Jubbah, Saudi Arabia.
A leader in cultural heritage law, Marion co-founded in 2004 the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation and served as its inaugural vice-president. For four years she taught a seminar on international and domestic cultural property law at the College of William and Mary Law School.
Marion has run grassroots and candidate political campaigns and maintains excellent relationships with legislators and staffers on Capitol Hill and in state houses across the country. She previously practiced corporate, regulatory, and international trade law in the Washington, DC office of Baker & Daniels. She also served as a legal fellow in the office of U.S. Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN).
Marion earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School and is licensed to practice law in California, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Indiana University, where she was a Wells Scholar and earned her B.A. degree in political science and classical civilization with an emphasis in art and archaeology. In 2014, Indiana University honored her with its Outstanding Young Alumni Award.
- Form and manage Leaders in Energy and Preservation, a nonprofit coalition of energy industry and preservation community leaders devising voluntary practices that manage risk and protect significant historic and cultural sites.
- Direct strategic planning and growth strategy for the American Cultural Resources Association, the trade association for the cultural management industry.
- Devise and execute government affairs strategy for the American Cultural Resources Association and the Society for Historical Archaeology, the largest scholarly group concerned with the archaeology of the modern world.
- Coordinate Preservation 50, the national celebration of the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act.
- Advise foreign government on efforts to protect cultural heritage sites at risk of looting.
- Advise tribal historic preservation office on protection of sacred sites and creative mitigation options.
- Represent consulting party in National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 process on advocacy efforts to preserve historic bridges impacted by transportation development.
- Negotiate creative mitigation settlement related to wind energy development on behalf of two preservation organizations pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
- Panelist, “Experts Roundtable: The Path Forward- Uniting the Efforts,” Cultural Property Under Threat: The Cultural, Economic & Security Impact of Antiquities Theft in the Middle East,” Cairo, Egypt, 2015.
- Presenter, “Integrating Cultural and Environmental Screening Tools for Energy Development,” NatureServe Conference, Traverse City, MI, 2015.
- Presenter, “Preservation 50: Our Legacy, Our Future,” National Preservation Conference, Savannah, GA, 2014.
- Presenter, “Bridging the GAPP: Protecting Historic Resources and Promoting Energy Development in Ohio,” Heritage Ohio Conference, Kent, OH, 2014.
- Plenary Speaker, “Making Historic Preservation Advocacy Count for Arizona,” Arizona Historic Preservation Conference, Rio Rico, AZ, 2014.
- Lecture, “The Fight Against Cultural Racketeering: Exposing the Global Black Market in Looted Art and Antiquities,” Indiana University Mathers Museum, Bloomington, IN, 2014.
- Moderator, “Bridging the GAPP: Protecting Archaeological Resources and Promoting Energy Development,” Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting, Austin, TX, 2014.
- Moderator, “Bridging the GAPP: Mapping a New Policy Agenda for Shale Gas Development and Historic Preservation,” National Preservation Conference, Indianapolis, IN, 2013.
- Panelist, “Developing Effective Strategies for Cultural Resources Compliance & Energy Development,” 19th Annual American Cultural Resources Association Conference, Washington, DC, 2013.
- Presenter, “Government Relations in the Cultural Resource Sector,” Society for California Archaeology Annual Meeting, Berkeley, CA, 2013.
- Panelist, “The Arts on Capitol Hill,” 5th Annual Art Litigation and Dispute Resolution Institute, New York County Lawyers’ Association, New York, NY, 2012.
- Program Co-Chair, Cultural Resources: Section 106, Historic Preservation & Traditional Cultural Properties, CLE International, Washington, DC, 2012.
- Keynote Address, “High Stakes for Cultural Resources in the 2012 Election,” 18th Annual American Cultural Resources Association Conference, Seattle, WA, 2012.
- “Preservation Law and Risk Management,” Preservation Virginia Statewide Conference, Leesburg, VA, 2012.
- “Organizational Creation and Compliance,” Social Innovation Program at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, 2012.
- Moderator, “Training the Next Generation of Social Enterpreneurs,” Accelerating Social Entrepreneurship in the Age of Austerity, Arlington, VA, 2011.
- “International Cultural Property Trusts,” US/ICOMOS World Bank Symposium, Washington, DC, 2010.
- Moderator, “A Fight for the Future: Art and Antiquities Crime,” Saving Antiquities for Everyone Beacon Awards, New York, NY, 2010.
- Expert Member, International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) Committee on Legal, Administrative and Financial Issues
- Associate Member, Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology (ACUA)
- State Bar of California
- Virginia State Bar
- District of Columbia Bar