Christopher Sawyer ’75 M.Div., Chair Emeritus

Over the past 35 years, Mr. Sawyer developed and pursued a national legal practice specializing in corporate, real estate, and environmental areas of law, ultimately specializing in counseling individuals, entities, and their Boards on institutional development, deal structures, strategic matters, and management of legal issues.  Through this period, he participated in or helped to manage over $4.5 billion of real estate and corporate transactions, more than $3.0 billion of conservation projects in almost every state, and over $15 billion of conservation financing programs.  At the end of 2012, he retired as a partner of Alston & Bird in Atlanta which he joined as an associate in 1978. He currently serves on the Board of NHP Foundation (NYC), having previously served on the Boards of IDI (Atlanta), RMI (Aspen, CO), and EDAW (San Francisco).  Among his non-profit engagements, he has also served as national Chairman of the Trust for Public Land (San Francisco; 1996-2003), on the global board of the Urban Land Institute (D.C.), on the national board of the Land Trust Alliance (D.C.), as Chairman of the National Real Estate Council of The Nature Conservancy (D.C.), as President of the West Hill Foundation for Nature (Jackson, WY; 1999-2009), as co-founder and Chairman of the Chattahoochee River Greenway Campaign (Atlanta; $160 plus million raised; 70 plus miles of river frontage acquired for parklands), and as President of the Atlanta Bar Association.  He currently serves as Chairman of the Yale Divinity School Dean’s Council, Chairman of the UNC-CH Institute for the Environment, member of the UGA Odum School of Ecology Advisory Board, and on various Boards of the Trust for Public Land both in Georgia and nationally.  He has just completed a term teaching at the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.  He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where he is married to Julie, and they have two children, Frances and Glenn.  He is a graduate of UNC-CH, Yale and Duke.