A Conversation with Gail Church

Current Position:Executive Director, Tree Musketeers

What is/was your relationship to ReLeaf?

1991 – present, Network group. I was on a steering committee for a National urban forest conference when I met Geni Cross and she recruited us to join the ReLeaf network.

I was on the Network Advisory Council when this work dovetailed with ReLeaf’s separation from the Trust for Public Lands. I was on the committee that negotiated the move to National Tree Trust and then on to incorporating ReLeaf as a stand-alone nonprofit organization where I was a founding board member. I am still on the ReLeaf board today.

What did/does California ReLeaf mean to you?

As a result of my extensive participation in all of the phases of ReLeaf’s life, the organization feels like one of my children. I definitely have a deep personal attachment to California ReLeaf and am extremely proud of its success in representing and delivering services to the Network groups.

Best memory or event of California ReLeaf?

When it became clear that ReLeaf would never reach its full potential if it remained a program of another organization, there was unanimous agreement that the time had come for it to stand on its own as an independent nonprofit organization. The small group of people acting as architects for the new ReLeaf was diverse. Even so, the organizational structure came together seamlessly and in short order. On this topic, we were of a single mind. It was incredible that this group was so unified in a vision for the California ReLeaf of the future.

Why is it important that California ReLeaf continue its Mission?

California ReLeaf provides a presence and a unifying voice for urban and community forestry well beyond what individual groups could create. This plus the resources ReLeaf delivers to Network groups allows them to focus the bulk of organizational energy on their unique missions. In sum, the quality of life in the state is vastly improved because California ReLeaf exists.