Meet the Board: Maria Chai

By Canopy Team on October 2, 2020

We are thrilled to introduce you to our new enthusiastic Board member –  Maria Chai.

Maria Chai (she/her) discovered the joy of tree care when she started gardening with her son. She’s a graduate of Canopy’s Community Forestry School and joined Canopy as a board member in 2020. A tech and marketing veteran, Maria led various marketing organizations for some of the biggest global brands, most recently at Google and YouTube. She has a BSE in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan and started her career in silicon valley as a semiconductor fabrication engineer.

Maria lives in Mountain View with her husband and her son. She enjoys dreaming about the next renovation project for her Eichler home, and when she’s not out walking her three dogs, you can find her watching her favorite classic films on repeat or playing the piano.

We asked Maria a few questions to get to know her better:


Q: Why do you care about trees?

Maria: It sounds like such a cliché, but trees really do give us so much. They provide us with shade and clean air to breathe, they help you feel more connected to nature, and they’re just beautiful to look at. With the ongoing fires and scorching heatwave, I’ve never appreciated them so much.

Q: What drew you to Canopy? How and why did you want to get involved specifically with Canopy?

Maria: I first learned about Canopy through their Community Forestry School last fall. Learning about the importance of urban trees helped me realize how I’ve been taking trees for granted. Access to trees and their benefits feels like such a fundamental need for people. And yet unsurprisingly, there is a huge gap in who can access depending on the income level and the race of your neighborhood. Canopy’s mission of bringing trees to those that need them the most and their work towards greater environmental equity really inspired and motivated me. I’m so happy to be able to contribute in a small way by working with them.

Flowering Southern Magnolia


Q: What do you like most about Canopy’s work and what inspires you the most?

Maria: Our Teen Urban Foresters program! Working with our Teen Foresters and seeing their passion for caring for trees have been a huge source of inspiration for me.


Q: How do you envision Canopy’s growth in the years ahead?

Maria: Caring for our urban trees and the environment has never been more important. Canopy provides so many ways that people can take immediate actions to care for trees, and I’m excited for Canopy’s role in getting more people to care and inspiring them to take action.

Q: What is your favorite tree and why?

Maria: It constantly changes depending on the season and where I am. Southern magnolia is my current favorite tree. It’s such an elegant tree and I love how deeply green and shiny its foliage is. There is a giant southern magnolia tree in our neighborhood and I love seeing it whenever I walk our three dogs.


Thanks, Maria! Keep an eye out for her at Canopy events or under a tree near you!


Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

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