Catherine Martineau announces her retirement from Canopy

By Canopy Team on November 14, 2022

Two women smile at the camera. One is wearing traditional African clothing.

Wangari Maathai and Catherine Martineau at Canopy's 2006 gala event.

A special update for the Canopy community from Executive Director Catherine Martineau and Board Chair Laura Martinez

headshot of smiling woman standing in front of tree trunk
Catherine Martineau

Dear Friends,

I write to share that I’ve made the difficult decision to retire from Canopy in early 2023.

I’m truly sad to say goodbye, but what I feel most is profound gratitude for all those who have made my job so fascinating and rewarding for the last eighteen years. Together, we’ve answered the call of Midpeninsula communities to grow urban tree canopy and prepare the next generation of environmental leaders.

While my decision is motivated by my need to travel to France more frequently to visit my family, I also believe that, for Canopy, the time is right for this transition.

Our 25th anniversary this year provided an opportunity to reflect on Canopy’s work and future. To me, Canopy is like a beautiful native valley oak: deeply rooted in the community, strong and resilient, extending its branches to provide benefits to more neighborhoods, and ready to grow in the next 25 years and beyond. Canopy’s Board of Directors is fantastic, dynamic, and diverse; our staff is highly skilled, passionate, and dedicated. Our 2023-2025 strategic plan charts a visionary path to continue increasing our impact, and then there’s you—our amazing community of volunteers, supporters, funders, clients, partners, advisors, and friends. You make it all possible!

When I started at Canopy in 2004, I quickly learned that the benefits of urban trees are crucial to the health and well-being of all residents. I was struck by the difference in tree canopy from one neighborhood to the next and determined to help address it.

Today, there’s more understanding than ever of the fundamental role that trees play in healing environmental injustice and creating healthy, climate-resilient cities. I’m particularly proud of the work Canopy has done to bridge the “green gap” and bring nature into neighborhoods where it’s needed the most, and I’m grateful for the ways that Canopy has enabled me to learn and grow.

During my last months before retirement, I hope I’ll have the chance to thank each of you for the important role that you’ve played and continue to play in Canopy’s growing impact. Thanks to your enduring partnership, I am confident in a bright future for Canopy and for our urban forests!

With utmost gratitude,

Catherine Martineau
Executive Director

Smiling dark haired woman in front of green bushes
Laura Martinez

Dear Canopy Community,

I first met Catherine in 2006 at an unforgettable event that Canopy hosted in my East Palo Alto neighborhood. This was only two years after Catherine had become Canopy’s Executive Director, and I was so impressed that she had boldly invited Wangari Maathai, renowned Kenyan environmental activist and Nobel Peace Laureate, to be the keynote speaker. It was such an honor to hear from Wangari and to gather with like-minded people to talk about the power and importance of trees. I was hooked and became a Canopy regular from then on.

Hosting Wangari Maathai is just one of many feats that Catherine has achieved in her 18 years at the helm of Canopy. Throughout her tenure, Catherine has been unwavering in her commitment to advocate for our urban forests, to connect and inspire residents, and to work towards a day when everyone enjoys the critical benefits that trees provide. The Board and I are deeply grateful for her fearless leadership, far-reaching vision, and long-lasting impact at Canopy.

Catherine’s retirement will be a significant transition for the organization, no question. Yet we know that Canopy’s work to grow local urban forests and strengthen climate resilience is more important than ever, and that it’s much bigger than one person—even someone as amazing as Catherine! Thanks to Catherine, the incredible team she’s built, and to you, our community, Canopy has never been more ready to deliver on the promise and opportunity that the future holds.

To ensure that our work continues seamlessly after Catherine’s departure, the Canopy Board has convened an Executive Director Transition Task Force to shepherd the organization through this important process. The Task Force plans to appoint an interim executive team soon while we begin the search for a permanent Executive Director.

I’m pleased that Catherine will remain a loyal and engaged advocate and advisor to Canopy. Meanwhile, we look forward to celebrating her accomplishments and legacy and sending her into retirement in true Canopy style. Stay tuned for details and we hope you’ll join us. In the months ahead, we will update you regularly and I welcome any questions you may have. Together, we will continue to plant, tend, and advocate for trees where they are needed the most.

Thank you so much for being part of Canopy’s work and community!

In partnership,

Laura Martinez
Board Chair

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