NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County’s long-time county attorney Wanda Copley has announced that she plans to retire on June 30, 2023. Copley has served as a county attorney for 38 years, starting in 1984 as an assistant county attorney and becoming the county attorney in 1992.
“Wanda has been a steady and consistent leader for New Hanover County for nearly four decades, and her positive impact will be felt for years to come,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Boseman. “This board and many boards before us have trusted her guidance and relied on her for advice, and she has always had the best interest of the people we serve at the forefront. My fellow Commissioners and I are so grateful to have her as our county attorney, and she will certainly be missed when she retires.”
Copley has served as county attorney through numerous impactful projects and initiatives, including the county’s purchase of Airlie Gardens to preserve it as a historical garden. She was instrumental in advising the county through many major hurricanes and other crises in the community, including executive orders and laws during the COVID-19 pandemic. She provided legal counsel during the sale of the hospital and the establishment of the New Hanover Community Endowment and county escrows, and led the county’s opioid litigation which has resulted in the county receiving more than $18 million in opioid settlement funds.
“Wanda’s commitment to her work and to New Hanover County is unmatched,” said County Manager Chris Coudriet. “She has provided sound counsel and advice and built a reputation of true respect and admiration with her colleagues and everyone in the community. She will be sorely missed, but I understand and appreciate her decision to step back and take time for herself and her family after giving so much to this county. Her historical knowledge, deep understanding of federal, state and local law requirements, and passion can never be replaced.”
As county attorney, Copley has also served as attorney for the ILM Airport Authority and ABC Board.
“Wanda has been a wonderful asset for New Hanover County and especially for ILM,” said Spruill Thompson, New Hanover County Airport Authority Chair. “She has provided invaluable guidance, insight, and representation to the Airport Authority. We will truly miss her as a friend and a voice of reason. We wish her all the happiness in the world as she embarks on the next chapter of her life.”
Bruce Shell, Chair of the ABC Board, also stated, “I have worked with Wanda for many years with New Hanover County and ABC. She is a true professional who has served with integrity and focus. Her knowledge of our community and its role in the service to our taxpayers is unmatched. She will be missed. We all wish her and Ron a blessed future.”
Copley’s work, providing advice and support to all county departments, management, and boards, will have a lasting impact on New Hanover County.
“I am proud of my time with New Hanover County. It has a been a true pleasure to serve with so many great people for 38 years, and to love what I do,” said Copley. “I plan to continue being involved in the community and will support the county in whatever way I can. I have been blessed to get to know so many people throughout the years who are dedicating their lives to make this county better, and it’s been an honor to serve alongside them. I appreciate the board’s continue confidence, and I know I will be leaving the county in very capable hands with the team we have built.”
The county will begin a search in the coming months to identify Copley’s replacement.