Elizabeth R. Friel

Elizabeth, originally from Maryland, grew up in Virginia Beach and Hampton. Her family spent time hiking, birdwatching, and sailing throughout Hampton Roads. This early exposure to the natural world led her to a career in conservation.  She has previously served as Executive Director for the Coastal Virgina Conservancy and the Northern Neck Land Conservancy. Early in her conservation career, Elizabeth was an HVLC employee, Board member, and Volunteer of the Year award winner. Prior to her land conservation work, she worked in urban planning both in Virginia and Maryland, serving as Planning Director for the City of Falls Church for 9 years. Elizabeth began her planning career in James City County. Throughout her career, her focus has been on conservation, community planning, innovation, environmental planning, and historic preservation. 

Elizabeth holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in urban planning and historic preservation from East Carolina University. She is a graduate of the local Chamber of Commerce LEAD Program, alongside many other professional accolades. She was recently selected for the Land Trust Alliance’s Wentworth Leadership Institute, one of twenty-five conservation leaders selected from the United States. 

Elizabeth has been a Board member of the Virginia United Land Trusts and past President of the Virgnia American Planning Association Board. Elizabeth has been an active volunteer with James City County’s Comprehensive Plan committee, Walsingham Academy, Windsor Forest Homeowner’s Association, Susan G. Komen Foundation, and a member of the Kiwanis Club of Williamsburg.  In her free time Elizabeth enjoys travel, hiking, reading, and gardening and spending time with her husband Patrick Friel and their adult daughter Eliza –Morgan Friel, who lives in Richmond. The family recently welcomed Birdie, a rescue border collie mix, who also enjoys travel and hiking.