Green Career Series collage with diverse environmental professionals

Register Now for the Fall 2023 series!

Join Canopy virtual speaker series featuring a diverse group of professionals in the environmental sector.

This is a unique opportunity for high school students to hear from and ask questions of industry professionals about their careers as they begin to plan their own. A range of panelists will talk about their work in fields such as environmental justice advocacy, landscape architecture, materials recycling, research, and education. You will hear about their workdays, likes and dislikes of their field, and what steps they took to get to where they are today.

Geared toward Bay Area high school students interested in environmental careers as they prepare for their next steps in higher education and the job force.

This program is made possible by a generous grant from the CAL FIRE Urban & Community Forestry Program.

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Register Now

Panel discussions are held on Zoom each week starting October 11, 2023, from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. Students are encouraged to join each week. Sign up at the Zoom link below to join the conversation!

  • Wednesday, October 11: Careers in Environmental Justice
  • Wednesday, October 18: Careers in Environmental Nonprofits
  • Wednesday, October 25: Careers in Exploring the Outdoors
  • Thursday, November 2: Introduction to Canopy

Questions? Email Canopy’s Youth Programs Manager, Juanita Ibarra, at [email protected] with any questions.

Fall 2023 Speakers

Wednesday, October 11, 2023: Careers in Environmental Justice

Anna Gomes (she/her)

PhD Candidate, Earth System Science Stanford

Anna Gomes is a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Earth System Science Program. After completing a bachelor’s in agriculture at UC Davis, a master’s degree in Sustainability Science and Environmental Studies at Lund University in Sweden, researching farmer adoption of practices that mitigate GHGs from arable soils in the Netherlands at Wageningen University, she is now focused on soil biogeochemistry, cover crop decomposition, and circular nutrient cycling in CA’s Salinas Valley. Some of her favorite things include anything sustainable living, watching movies, enjoying cookies, running, biking, or swimming, and reading on her back patio surrounded by flowers.


Megan Nguyen (they/she)

Community Events Manager, Peninsula Open Space Trust

Hi! I’m Megan Nguyen (they/she) and I’m an Asian American daughter of Vietnamese refugee parents. Growing up in Sacramento, CA, I wasn’t exposed to nature until I attended a whitewater rafting field trip in college that sparked my outdoor journey. This experience inspired me to become a science communicator and rafting guide to teach people about rivers and nature. My work as a Climate Justice Organizer for the Sunrise Movement taught me how to use my skills as a community builder, educator, and organizer to share stories that reach people’s hearts and minds in order to build a just and livable future. I use my voice, creativity, and passion to fight for social, racial, and climate justice while building people and community power. In recognition of my work in activism and the environment, I was awarded the 2020 Emerging Leader Award from River Network. In my current role as Community Events Manager at the Peninsula Open Space Trust, I organize events that bring people to nature and nature to people. I envision creating inclusive spaces that bring together diverse groups and allow people of all backgrounds to engage with nature. My latest event was an LGBTQ+ affinity group birding event called Queers of a Feather.


Arlene Nuñez García (she/they/them)

Community Forestry Coordinator, Canopy

Arlene joined Canopy in summer 2021 to lead the Branching Out program in East Palo Alto, North Fair Oaks, and Belle Haven. Prior to Canopy, Arlene attended San Jose State University where she received a B.S. in Environmental Studies with a minor in Restoration. She grew up in Orange County but moved to Santa Clara and has been involved with environmental nonprofits all around the south bay since. Arlene’s experience helping with bio blitzes, creek cleanups, teaching watershed health and garden education to elementary students, and helping work on native landscape conversions solidified her passion for cultivating environmentally sustainable practices within culture and community.When she’s not busy working with our communities to protect our urban forests, Arlene enjoys hiking, camping, crocheting, family time, and laying under trees.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023: Careers in Environmental Nonprofits

Zeima Kassahun

Tree Planting Program Manager, Friends of the Urban Forest

Zeima is an arborist and ceramicist from Riverside, California. She received her Bachelors of Science from George Mason University and a Masters degree in Forestry. She has published two scientific articles detailing her research of bottomland hardwood species in the Southeastern United States. Zeima is currently the Community Tree Planting Program Manager at Friends of the Urban Forest where she is responsible for managing and supervising our Community Street Tree Planting program in San Francisco. She was previously a Tree Planting Manager and has been with the organization for 4 years. In her free time Zeima loves to cuddle her 2 cats, throw on the pottery wheel, and is a frequent customer at her neighborhood karaoke spot.


Belinda Magallon

Environmental Justice Fellow, Nuestra Casa

Belinda Magallon is a Bay Area local with a deep appreciation for our region’s natural beauty. Growing up in San Leandro, she couldn’t ignore the increasing impact of climate change on our communities, prompting her to take action. Belinda’s passion for equity and effective policies led her to pursue a Master of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. Her drive to address inequities motivates her transformative advocacy for positive change. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Government at California State University – East Bay. In her free time, Belinda enjoys soccer, tennis, hiking, and solo adventures.


Rosa Nelson

Water Justice Program Coordinator, Nuestra Casa

Rosa Nelson joins Nuestra Casa as the Water Justice Program Coordinator. Rosa started by leading a team of outreach workers to conduct tap water quality tests in homes throughout East Palo Alto. That work quickly led to a small program distributing water filters to community members. She is now working on longer-term solutions to drinking water equity including research into local water affordability and quality, community organizing, and policy advocacy. Says Rosa, “I am passionate about environmental justice, specifically water quality, because I firmly believe everyone deserves access to clean, safe drinking water. Safe drinking water is a basic human right, and I want to work to ensure sustainable water access for the community of EPA.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023: Careers in the Outdoors

Jen Fong

Green Teens Manager, Friends of the Urban Forest

Jen is the Green Teens Manager at Friends of the Urban Forest. With a Bachelor of Arts from San Francisco State University in Humanities and the Environment, and a background in climate organizing and youth development, Jen uniquely blends her special interests in social-emotional-learning and restorative justice into her work. Her greatest desire is to provide young people with an opportunity to be the courageous heroes they already are, make space for creativity and transformational learning to occur, and encourage a new generation of leaders to foster resilience in a world where we all belong. Jen is honored to be part of the panel on Careers in the Outdoors, aiming to inspire and guide young people towards fulfilling career paths. Her two favorite people are her 10-month-old baby, “Pea”, and her partner, “Bean”.


Jackie Garcia (she/her/ella)

Volunteer Coordinator, Yosemite National Park

Jackie is the Volunteer Coordinator at Yosemite National Park. She is originally from Los Angeles.She wasn’t exposed much to the outdoors growing up as I lived in the city and was raised by a single, hardworking mother of two. In high school, her mom and she went to the Angeles National Forest. That’s where she fell in love with nature, and decided she was going to pursue a career in the outdoors after that. Jackie attended the University of California Merced and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. While in college, she was a full-time student and a part-time park ranger through a partnership program between UC Merced and Yosemite. When Jaacie graduated UC Merced, she converted to a permanent position in Yosemite. Now as the Volunteer Coordinator, she plans volunteer projects during different times of the year and assigns interested volunteer groups a project that will benefit both the park and the volunteer group.


Sussan Garcia

Communications & Advocacy Manager, Justice Outside

Sussan (any pronouns) is a Central American born and raised in historical Lenape lands, otherwise known as Jamaica, Queens in New York City. Although she did not have much access to the outdoors and its activities growing up, she grew up with the stories of the Guatemalan highlands from her mother. Ever since her first visit to Guatemala in 2019, Sussan has been reconnecting with her ancestral lands through her family, their histories, and knowledge, shifting her relationship and understanding of “the outdoors.”

She graduated in May 2020 at New York University Abu Dhabi with a BA in Arab Crossroads Studies and a minor in Political Science. This year, she experienced her first overnight camping and hiking trip through the Peruvian Andes, followed up with more hikes in Patagonia. Despite the discomfort and growing pains, Sussan hopes to reconnect with the outdoors through such challenging, thought-provoking, and spiritual experiences.


Annika Peterson

Tree Care Program Manager, Friends of the Urban Forest

Annika is the Tree Care Program Manager at Friends of the Urban Forest, is a double major graduate from UC Davis in Sustainable Environmental Design and Spanish. Her passion for urban forestry was ignited during her college years when she volunteered at the UC Davis Arboretum to prune young trees. With a keen eye for the built environment, Annika finds inspiration in every interesting facade, the creativity of resident green spaces, and the tiny havens that echo the ecological or cultural heritage of urban locales. In addition to her academic and professional pursuits, Annika is a dedicated martial artist and teacher, emphasizing that mental strength often defines our limits more than physical prowess. Whether tending to trees or training in martial arts, Annika embodies a holistic approach, intertwining mind and body in her life’s work.


Kendall You Mak (they/them)

Kendall You Mak (they/them) began their career in the outdoors as an adventure sports instructor in 2018. Since then, they have guided and instructed in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. Kendall strives to help make outdoor adventure more accessible. Their more recent work has focused on facilitating spaces for people that have been (historically) marginalized from the industry, and adaptive experiences for folx with disabilities. This past summer, Kendall was a raft guide for the nonprofit Environmental Traveling Companions and this winter they will be instructing adaptive snowsports with Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra. Kendall is excited to continue working in these spaces and connecting with other like-minded people who are doing important work for climate justice and outdoor equity.

Thursday, November 2, 2023: Introduction to Canopy

Image of Paul LaVallee, Canopy's environmental educator, standing in front of a tree

Paul LaVallee (he/him)

Canopy Environmental Educator

Paul (he/him) joined Canopy in May 2022 as an Environmental Educator working with K-12 students. He holds a degree in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and prior to joining Canopy, he worked at Claire Lilienthal Elementary School as their Environmental Educator for grades 3-5. There he ran a garden class composed of environmental education curriculum, garden skills lessons, and connecting students to the natural world. Before Claire Lilienthal, Paul worked with an outdoor environmental education camp in Palo Alto and a coastal restoration nonprofit in Santa Barbara.


Adrian Maciel

Former Canopy Teen Urban Forester

Adrian joined the Teen Urban Forester team in fall of 2019. He joined Canopy because it looked like a fun program, and he wanted to learn how to plant trees. Adrian is a recent graduate of Oxford Day Academy in East Palo Alto.


Indira Selvakumaraswamy (she/her)

Canopy Volunteer Engagement Manager

Indira (she/her) joined the team in August 2020 to oversee Canopy’s communications and volunteer engagement. She is a marketing and advertising professional with fifteen years of experience working with non-profits, social marketing firms, and with various clients from different industries, for their marketing communication needs. She also has extensive experience interacting, working with and managing people both in the non-profit and the for-profit sectors.

She holds an MBA from Bharathidasan Institute of Management (India) in Marketing & Personnel Management and a Certificate in Strategic Marketing from the University of California, Berkeley.


Smiling woman wearing bucket hat stands in front of treesKarina Soria Mendoza (she/her/ella)

Canopy Operations Manager

Karina (she/her/ella) joined the Canopy team in January 2023 as Operations Manager overseeing office environment and systems, providing administrative support to Canopy’s Executive Director and Board, and providing program administrative support. Her professional career began in 2016 at College Track as a recruiter before being promoted to academic coach and later operations coordinator. Afterward, she interned as a policy and community intern with Elemental Excelerator before joining full-time as a Portfolio Fellow. Karina attended East Palo Alto Academy and College Track and studied some engineering and business classes at San Francisco State University. Karina is thrilled to bring her nonprofit administration experience to the Canopy team and to continue working in the environmental space.

Event Archives

Don’t worry if you missed the live panel. Watch the recorded sessions on our YouTube playlist!

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