Meet the Board: Laura Martinez & Susan Rosenberg

By Canopy Team on August 17, 2018

This month, we’re thrilled to introduce two of Canopy’s board members: Laura Martinez, who joined the board in June 2018, and Susan Rosenberg, long-time board member and Canopy co-founder. Without further ado, read on for the interviews!

Laura Martinez 

Laura MartinezLaura became the first Latina council member to serve the City of East Palo Alto in 2008. In 2011, at the age of 27, she was elected the youngest serving, and first Latina mayor, in East Palo Alto’s history. She was selected by Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal as one of the “Top 100 Women of Influence” in 2012 and “40 Under 40” in 2015. Laura was appointed to the Sequoia Union High School District and served as a Trustee from March to December 2015. Currently she is the Assistant Director of Admission and Tuition Assistance at Castilleja School, supporting women’s education. Laura received a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, with a minor in Spanish, from Whittier College. She currently resides in East Palo Alto and is a longtime Canopy volunteer. 

Why did you join the Canopy board?

After graduating college I had the opportunity to serve as mayor for the City of East Palo Alto. As mayor, I volunteered at tree plantings with Canopy. I also worked as a Program Director for the East Palo Alto YMCA and East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy (6-12 grades). Working for these organizations allowed me to engage student volunteers in tree planting. I strongly believe that programs like Teen Urban Foresters and hands-on education lessons in K-12 schools are life changing for the communities like East Palo Alto. I joined the board because I am motivated by Canopy’s mission and strong partnership with the local community.

What inspires you most about Canopy’s work?

The work we do with our youth inspires me. I was invited to hear our Teen Urban Foresters present their research project about an opt-out system for watering trees in East Palo Alto. They did a wonderful job presenting and answering questions from the audience. 

What are you looking forward to working on as a new board member?

I’m looking forward to getting to know my fellow board members and using my skills and talents to compliment the great work Canopy does in our community. 

Why do you care about trees?

My love for plant and tree care started as a child growing up in East Palo Alto. As a family we would spend Saturday mornings volunteering in our local community garden. Some of my fondest memories also include attending Gamble Garden’s Spring Tours and helping my mom run the garden club at Duveneck Elementary School where I attended school. During my middle school years at Jordan my mother ran a part-time business employing local women in organic gardening. She later served on the Canopy board for a year. My mother instilled her passion for nature and community service in me. 

What is your favorite tree?

I love a good oak tree! During my childhood my father built a tree house on our oak tree. I spent many hours with neighborhood friends in that oak tree. I also really like Jacaranda trees. 

Thank you Laura!


Susan Rosenberg 

Susan RosenbergSusan grew up in a small town in the Salinas Valley that boasted more oak trees than people. She has been a Palo Alto resident since 1984, was co-chair for the Trees for El Camino Project, and has served on the Palo Alto Storm Drain Oversight Committee since 2006. Susan holds a BS in Psychology from Santa Clara University, and attended Conway School of Landscape Design. She also built and flew a Christen Eagle biplane. 

How did you get started with Canopy and how long have you been on the board?

Back in 1995, I couldn’t imagine anything more rewarding than figuring out how to protect Palo Alto’s oak trees and how to get more trees planted. I became one of Canopy’s co-founders.

Can you tell us about the advocacy work Canopy was doing when you first started and how that has evolved over the years?

Before Canopy came to be, there was the Tree Task Force, an ad hoc committee that was appointed by the City of Palo Alto. We were tasked with studying why Palo Alto was losing trees and making recommendations on how best to reverse the trend. The committee took two years to look at the issues thoroughly. We ultimately asked the City to do the following;

  • adopt a tree protection ordinance for the two species of native oaks,
  • hire an arborist for the Planning Department who would oversee the impact of development on trees,
  • write the Tree Technical Manual, and
  • provide seed funding for a new nonprofit organization.

Our mission has changed and over the years we’ve learned that Canopy can “plant more trees with a pen than a shovel”. We now advocate for expanding the urban forest across the Midpeninsula and have received grants from foundations, corporations and the State of California to expand the urban forests in East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, and Redwood City. Those grants have also provided funding for the development of urban forest master plans that codify trees in our communities.

What inspires you most about Canopy’s work?

I’ve been involved with Canopy for nearly twenty-five years and what inspires me most is the visible joy when our volunteers are planting trees.

Why do you care about trees?

Being a part of Canopy for so many years I have a million and one reasons to care about trees, but the simple answer is, I started caring when I was a kid and their awesomeness has never left me.

What is your favorite tree?

The one that provides me with shade from the sun at any given moment. 

Thank you Susan!

Stay tuned for next month to meet two more Canopy board members!



Sign up for local tree news, events, volunteer opportunities, and more.

Sign Up

Recent Posts