By Canopy Team on September 23, 2021
Christie Galitsky (she/her) joined the Canopy team on September 1, 2021 as senior director of programs. Christie grew up in Pennsylvania and, while earning her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, first visited the Bay Area for a student conference. She was quickly charmed by its natural beauty and opted to earn a master’s in chemical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley.
For the first part of her career, Christie worked as an engineer, where she focused on energy conservation and climate change issues and developing inexpensive technologies for communities in need across the global south. Not fully engaged as an engineer, she went back to school for ecology and conservation, earning a master’s degree from the University of Washington. The field “is more aligned with my interests and my heart,” she says. Most recently she served as conservation director in Madagascar for Blue Ventures, a social enterprise working with coastal communities to rebuild and manage tropical fisheries.
We asked Christie to tell us a little about her interests, experience, and why she has joined Canopy.
I spent four years there doing community based marine conservation with local fishing communities and managing all of our technical staff. My work included everything from working with fishers to better manage their fisheries and mangrove forests to setting up better health care access for the fishers to financial education and alternative livelihoods. It’s a poor country with nearly 90 percent of the population living on less than $2 a day, and the work felt very meaningful. The island (off the southeastern coast of Africa) is 1.5 times the size of California. I was based out of the capital, in the highlands in the middle of the country but traveled frequently to the coastal communities.
I was very lucky to have had the experience. I moved back to the U.S. last year because of COVID and walked around in a daze a bit, stunned at the wealth all around me and the privilege I experienced. In my first quite emotional trip to the grocery store, it took me three times to place my order at the deli counter. I had become relatively fluent in Malagasy (Madagascar’s national language), but I cried when looking at all of the options I had here in the USA and realized that I could just tell the deli guy what I wanted and he would understand me.
I love that the organization integrates equity and social justice into everything it does. We work with local communities and really think about social justice; I love that. It feels like home.
I’m managing six staff members who lead the tree, education, and advocacy programs while looking for ways to bring more community members into our work. We have fantastic, young staff, and I really hope I can mentor and shepherd them well through the early stages of their careers.
I am also super excited to increase our advocacy and outreach to increase our impact. As others have said well, you can plant a lot more trees with a pen than with a shovel.
Being outside is my happy place. I’ve done a lot of hiking during the pandemic, and I’m happy to see lots of other people hiking, too. In the evenings now (I live in Emeryville) I can go out my door and go for a paddle. I’m a rock climber, mountaineer, hiker, birder, backpacker. I also like nerdy board games like Terra Formars, Carcassonne, Dominion — games that take an hour or two and appeal to people with an engineering brain.
Trees give us the air we breathe, the shade to cool us, and the peace we seek. Trees help mitigate climate change and build community. As a kid, I used to climb up in our backyard oak tree and do my homework there.
Of the places I’ve lived, I loved the larch trees in Washington, Jeffrey pines here in California, and baobabs in Madagascar.
“What does he care if he hasn’t got any money; he doesn’t need money, all he needs is his rucksack with those little plastic bags of dried food and a good pair of shoes and off he goes and enjoys the privileges of a millionaire in surroundings like this.” — Jack Kerouac