About ReLeaf

About ReLeaf

Mission & Goals

California ReLeaf was founded in 1989 and incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2004. Our mission is to empower grassroots efforts and build strategic partnerships that preserve, protect, and enhance California’s urban and community forests.

California ReLeaf works statewide to promote alliances among community-based groups, individuals, industry, and government agencies, encouraging each to contribute to the livability of our cities and the protection of our environment by planting and caring for trees. California ReLeaf also serves as the State’s volunteer coordinator for urban forestry in partnership with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Our goals include:

  • Expanding delivery of services and resources to California ReLeaf Network groups.
  • Broadening funding opportunities for urban and community forestry projects.
  • Fostering involvement within the urban forestry movement throughout California’s diverse communities.
  • Improving legislative outreach and advocacy efforts on a state and federal level.

See our latest Annual Report here.

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The 2019 California Arbor Week Celebration Program is sponsored by Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Edison International, Southern California Gas, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Northrop Grumman and supported by the USDA Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The generous support of the sponsors is providing $75,000 in pass-through funding for 2019 Arbor Week celebration and education events. Events honoring California Arbor Week will take place throughout the year. Visit our ReLeaf Grants page to learn more.

California ReLeaf’s ongoing programs are possible because of strong support from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the USDA Forest Service.


Cindy Blain, Executive Director

Since joining ReLeaf in 2014, Cindy has prioritized urban forest grant programs that best support under-resourced urban communities, where trees are needed most. The goal is to build capacity and ensure that all California communities are deeply involved in planting and stewarding urban forest projects.

This capacity building focus has led to supporting new community partnerships, providing more webinars, and one-on-one support of grant applicants and awardees. A complementary program for community development through trees is ReLeaf’s work on an educational initiative via community colleges to provide outreach and accessible training for professional tree care jobs. The tree care industry is facing a significant urban workforce shortage.

Cindy currently serves on the Sustainable Urban Forest Council’s Research Committee, the Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation (ARRCA) and CAL FIRE’s Community and Urban Forest Advisory Committee (CUFAC). Her previous experience includes 6 years at Sacramento Tree Foundation, 10 years at Tandem Computers as well as various community volunteer positions related to children, schools, and art. She has a BA from Rice University and an MBA from Georgia State University.

Amelia Oliver, Network & Operations Program Manager

Amelia joined the California ReLeaf staff in February 2014 as Interim Executive Director but has been affiliated with ReLeaf since 1995. She was a member of the board of directors, 2007-2014, holding positions as President and Treasurer. From 1995 to 2008 Amelia worked as Director of the Roseville Urban Forest Foundation, a ReLeaf Network member. During that time she served on the Network Advisory, representing the small, volunteer-based nonprofit.

As the current Network & Operations Program Manager, she oversees the logistics and finances of the organization. She also helps maintain the network database and leads logistics of the annual Network Member retreat.

Amelia is an ISA certified arborist with B.A. degrees in International Economics and Spanish from UC Davis and an M.S. in Natural Resource Economics from University of Missouri, and is a Fulbright alumnus. She provides an interesting perspective to ReLeaf through her arboricultural expertise, experience in the small urban forest nonprofit sector, and passion for the ReLeaf network.

Mariela Ruacho, Policy & Education Strategy Program Manager

As an Earth and Environmental Sciences major at the University of California, Irvine, Mariela worked as a lab assistant, concentrating on carbon isotope analysis of terrestrial, air and bone samples. She graduated in May 2016 from University of San Francisco with a Master of Science in Environmental Management. Her graduate work focused on fracking, the cap and trade program, and renewable energy.

Mariela’s passion for the environment began where she grew up in South Central Los Angeles. She worked for the Audubon Society, a nonprofit working in her local community where she helped restore and remove invasive species at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook.

South Central LA is one of the many areas in California where we need to focus our canopy efforts and reach out to diverse cultural communities. Mariela is very excited about the opportunity to make a positive impact on California’s urban and community forests. In addition, Mariela is particularly interested in helping disadvantaged communities to improve air quality in order to reduce asthma and other health issues.

Chuck Mills, Public Policy & Grants Director

Chuck has been an integral part of California ReLeaf for over 20 years, and was a founding Board Member for the organization when it incorporated as a nonprofit in 2004. He served on the Board of Directors from January 2005 to July 2010, including terms as Treasurer and President. He brings a wealth of knowledge and 28 years of experience in natural resource conservation to the organization. Currently, he manages California ReLeaf’s grants program and public policy portfolio.

Prior to joining the California ReLeaf staff in August 2010, Chuck spent 3½ years with the California Council of Land Trusts and 12 years at the Trust for Public Land in program management and advocacy.

Chuck holds varying degrees of degrees in communications, Canadian Studies, journalism, and government.

Sarah Dillon, Communications & Grants Program Manager

Sarah graduated from UC San Diego with a bachelors in Urban Studies & Planning. Sarah received a Masters from Marylhurst University in Food Systems and Society, studying food justice and social change. Her passion for green spaces was cultivated by growing up around Sacramento’s tree canopy, summers spent working at a camp in Sonoma county, and a college internship in Balboa Park.

Sarah joins the ReLeaf team after working with grassroots organizations focused on urban greening, health, and food access. She brings experience in fundraising, communications, and political field organizing. 

Board of Directors

Desirée Backman

Board President
California Department of Health Care Services
Sacramento, CA

Igor Lacan, PhD

UC Cooperative Extension
Half Moon Bay, CA

Catherine Martineau

Board Treasurer
Palo Alto, CA

Haydi Danielson

Boething Treeland Farms
Portola Valley, CA

Greg Muscarella

Palo Alto, CA

Ray Tretheway

Sacramento Tree Foundation
Sacramento, CA

Andy Trotter

West Coast Arborists
Anaheim, CA

Kat Superfisky

Studio MLA & Grown In LA
Los Angeles, CA

Mario J. Becerra

A Cleaner Greener East LA
Los Angeles, CA

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