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Welcoming Jessica Sanders as the Tree Foundation's new executive director

by Stephanie Robinson

November 12, 2020

We have exciting news! After two years of succession planning in preparation for Ray Tretheway’s retirement, and a comprehensive search and interview process with many talented local and national candidates, we are very happy to announce that Jessica Sanders has accepted the position of executive director of the Sacramento Tree Foundation.

Jessica brings years of in-depth experience in building and sustaining urban forests. Most recently, she served as the Director of Science and Policy at the Washington, DC-based nonprofit Casey Trees, where she led policy and advocacy strategy on city-wide urban forestry issues. In this role, Jessica built coalitions for the expansion of tree-filled public space, policies to protect trees from 5G and solar conflicts, and investment in healthy communities with nature as a central tenet. She also worked to secure municipal funds for trees and environmental education, created a community science program, and developed an Urban Forest Master Plan.

Jessica earned her Ph.D. in urban forestry from Rutgers University, where she also served as an instructor in arboriculture and published original research around issues facing urban trees and under-canopied neighborhoods.

Ray Tretheway is confident that his successor will continue the effort to grow the urban forest in under-canopied neighborhoods where it will make the most impact. “Jessica brings immense scientific knowledge and policy experience to Sacramento’s urban forest, but she also has a deep understanding of how to build civic engagement to ensure that we grow our canopy equitably throughout the region.”

“We are thrilled to welcome someone who so embodies the spirit of our work and the mission of our organization,” says Board President Allison Harris. “Jessica will be a tremendous advocate for our urban forest and for growing thriving communities, here in the City of Trees.”

Washington, DC is also known as a City of Trees, and for good reason. DC residents benefit from a robust 38% average tree canopy coverage. Jessica looks forward to making Sacramento her home and continuing to build on Ray's extraordinary legacy. “Ray’s impact is felt so deeply in this community. Thanks to him, we all benefit from over 1.5 million trees planted here during his career.” She continues, “Sacramentans might not realize how far his legacy travels beyond the region, but he spread awareness of the profound benefits of trees - not only to the Sacramento community, but throughout the world - helping to advance conversations about the ways that trees are essential for healthy neighborhoods.”

“For me, the urban forest isn’t a job — it is a belief system. I have dedicated my life to ensuring that enjoying nature isn’t reduced to something that happens on vacation. I strive to help everyone around me see the simple joys of nature throughout their everyday experience – whether it is a street tree on the way to their bus stop, a garden they pass on their bike commute, or the park they sit in to eat their lunch. I strive to increase our inherent connection with the natural world around us and I believe that together we can grow thriving communities through stewardship of the urban forest.”

Please join us in welcoming Jessica to the Sacramento Tree Foundation, and to her new home in California. We look forward to providing you with opportunities to meet and get to know her in the coming months.