Minutes: October 6, 2023


Board Members: Nancy Sappington, Emina Darakjy, Sarah Gaskin, Nick Harvey, Bob Blum, Emily Spillett Brownlee, Mona Cummings, Laura Burnett, Asha Jordan, Meha Sentil, Gordon Mann, & Laura Burnett.

Staff: Nancy Hughes.

CAL FIRE Representatives in Attendance: Rachel O’Leary & Walter Passmore.


10.08 AM – Meeting Called to Order

10:10 AM – Intro by Walter

10:12 AM – Approved to move agenda

10:13 AM– Emina welcome, intros of board members.
The board meeting adjourned and moved into a presentation format.

10:15 AM – Begin Presentation to CalFire

Emina presentation

  • Background, context, and purpose of presentation.
  • Transition updates of new Executive Director, how we plan to be successful.

Nancy Sappington presentation 

  • History of CaUFC and original vision and goals. Increase education, awareness, and public awareness about urban forestry.
  • CaUFC started in 1968. Regional council workshops and annual conference.

Emily Spillett Brownlee presentation 

  • Strategic plan overview. Our board plan.
  • Current Vision and mission.
  • 3 primary goals: Engage, stability, fundraising.
  • Desired Outcomes: Strengthen existing programs, more outreach and collaboration, and grow relationships with other non-profits.

Nancy Hughes presentation —

  • Partnerships overview. Key stakeholders and community-based groups
  • Objectives, Audiences, Key Messages, avenues of outreach
  • Program summary: Save our Shade; Trees, The Simple Solution; Healthy Tree; Healthy Me; Regional Council Support; My Tree & Me (mobile app).
  • Welcome CAL FIRE input. What is our plan to move forward? We want to align with our Forest Service Grant(s)

Gordon Mann presentation —

  • Challenge in urban forestry: People are making the solution too simple. You can’t just plant and not grow the tree to 15 years. How do we grow trees sustainably?
  • We need more public education out there. How to grow media presence?
  • How to have a no net canopy loss? Grow California’s canopy.
  • Rephrase Urban Forestry? To Community trees, Trees where people live, etc.
  • One way to grow the canopy coverage is to grow existing trees.
  • What is the Greenprint?
  • Grow the right tree in the right place for the right reason.
  • Importance of trees vs importance of planting trees
  • BHAG: Big Hairy Audacious Goal

11:00 – Presentation end

11:02 – Walter comments.

  • Commending of clever marketing and naming of programs.
  • Consistent messaging of goals and vision with CalFIRE
  • Agree with Gordon about maintaining trees and not just planting. Planting is the starting point. Most of the work is in managing trees and usually lifespan to provide benefits.
  • Clarity: no net loss of canopy is an easy message, but the goal is to increase.
  • The official position on canopy coverage: AB2251 – Requires a strategic plan that will provide a roadmap to increase canopy coverage by 10% in urban areas by 2025. Zero funding for the program. Went from $50M to $0.
  • What problems are we trying to solve? Where are the gaps in service?
    What is known versus what is actually happening?
  • Roles of other nonprofits – pay attention
  • Build partnerships with SMA, Tree City USA, Arbor Day Foundation
  • He specifically mentioned the cities that received IRA funding and that they would struggle – we should offer technical expertise


  • CaUFC hires someone to bridge the gap and assist regional councils.
  • PGE to big sponsor
  • Flyer: How trees with work with solar? Solar and trees are friends.
  • Targeting architects for education of trees.
  • Align goals with other things like housing, development, and solar goals.
  • Diversify the board: builders, city foresters, insurance, renewable energy.
  • The right message on Billboards. Out Front.
  • Trees in insurance. Risk benefits.
  • Trees on Zillow? Shows benefits add to estimate
  • Messaging – the intersection between climate and climate change – tailor it to what is in the news
  • Reach out to cities & staff who are writing general plans – who do we need to talk to to make the change?
  • Funding diversity

Other notes:

  • Walter founded SUFC
  • Propose new bills in legislature. When in state deficits then really hard. Urban Forestry looks like a “nice to have” rather than a “must have”.
  • What is the topics that cities will be receptive about? Heat islands?
  • Conflict of interest with legislative goals.
  • Municipal general plans, trees are an obstacle to housing goals. Same with solar. Goals aren’t aligned.
  • Where are the gaps in service? Housing and development in what drives their plan? Trees don’t mean they make less money on dev. Who in the municipality do you need to talk to make changes.
  • $2k per year for each council. Is it enough?


  • Board composition and representation. Considerations. Who is our board make up, we need to have our board make-up reflect those goals.
  • Need diverse funding. Huge priority.
  • How can we compliment other non-profit’s goals.
  • How to collaborate with Arborday foundation, Tree City USA, bigger well known ones.

What cities are you going after? Who is on that list and why. Prioritize.

Equity means, distribution of resources and funding. Representational equity. Who are the faces that make up the work.

Approach USFS with thoughts and direction , action on annual agreement to move on certain aspects of strategic plan, ask for money. Be specific, why and how much.

Rachel’s Comments:

  • She liked what she heard regarding CaUFC using the equity lens. How many cities will we go after and why? Over what period of time?
  • Distributional equity resources
  • Representative Equity
  • Flow of resources

Lunch Break

1:45 PM – Reconvene Board Meeting

  • Review of September Minutes – amended to read “Nancy Sappington volunteered to write a press release” rather than “expressed the need for two press releases.”
  • Consent Calendar Approved
  • Reviewed and approved Land Acknowledgement Statement – with one amendment being done by Emily for the November Board Meeting
  • Equity Statement (I have no notes on this). Please advise
  • Strategic Planning Brainstorming Session
    • Emily to send poll to board members not in attendance to choose a Strategy Committee
    • Each Committee needs to meet before the next Board meeting November 14, 2023
    • Do a SWOT analysis of committee tasks
  • Form a team of interested board members to capture their idea for the proposal., then Nancy H. to draft the proposal to submit to Walter & Miranda after board review.

3:30 PM – Adjourned – Emina

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