Firm co-founder and chief executive Marion Forsyth Werkheiser is an award-winning lawyer and internationally recognized trailblazer in the cultural heritage field. Her well-established practice is firmly rooted at the intersection of preservation and development. She has a proven track record of convening diverse stakeholders to identify shared values, solve tough problems, and scale solutions.
Marion advocates for increased support for the national historic preservation program at the federal level, including common sense improvements to make the federal permitting process established in Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act more efficient and effective. Marion also advocates on the federal and state level for the rights of Indian tribes and other underrepresented communities.
Marion helps her clients navigate the Section 106 process at the project level. She negotiates on behalf of tribes, project proponents, local governments, and other consulting parties to achieve creative, win-win outcomes that appropriately balance preservation values and development needs.
Marion serves as general counsel to multiple federally recognized tribes, handling a wide array of issues including governance, economic development, federal funding compliance, sacred site protection, and child welfare. She represents tribes in consultations with federal and state agencies, negotiates avoidance and mitigation for cultural heritage impacts, and advises tribes on developing their own consultation and engagement protocols. Marion also seeks opportunities to incorporate principles of free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) into U.S. law.
Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)
A natural extension of Marion’s work for her Section 106 clients in the United States, she leads the ESG practice area of the firm. She works with investors, financial institutions, and companies to conduct due diligence, assess project risk, and improve internal governance to reduce the impact of infrastructure and other projects on indigenous peoples and cultural heritage worldwide.
An experienced practitioner on ESG aspects related specifically to cultural heritage and indigenous peoples, Marion leverages her experience and knowledge to help clients and their legal teams develop policies, provide training, and draft reporting language consistent with the Equator Principles, the IFC Standards, and other investor requirements. For American Indian tribes, she advises on developing their own consultation and engagement protocols to promote free, prior, and informed consideration of project impacts.
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.
The Register of Professional Archaeologists honored Marion with the John F. Seiberling Award for her significant and sustained efforts in the conservation of archaeological resources, and she is a recipient of the 2023 Albert Simons Medal of Excellence in Historic Preservation.