Mary Nichols

Chair, California Air Resources Board (2007–2020) — Secretary for Natural Resources (1999–2003)

Mary Nichols is the former Chair of the California Air Resources Board, where she occupied the attorney seat. In December 2020, Nichols completed her tenure as chair, a position she held since 2007 when she was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. She has served on the Board under Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. (1975–82 and 2010–18), Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (2007–2010), and Governor Gavin Newsom (2019–2020).

Nichols served as the California Secretary for Resources (1979-2003), appointed by Governor Gray Davis. She was responsible for the state’s activities relating to the management, preservation, and enhancement of its natural resources, and for the oversight of the state’s scenic, cultural, and recreational resources.

When not working for the State of California, Mary was a senior staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council; Assistant Administrator for U.S. EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, in the administration of President William Jefferson Clinton; and headed the Institute of Environment and Sustainability at UCLA.

Nichols is Distinguished Counsel for the UCLA School of Law Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. In February 2009, Nichols was awarded the Attorney of the Year award from California Lawyer Magazine (the CLAY award) for her contributions to environmental law.

Over a career as an environmental lawyer spanning over 45 years, Mary Nichols has played a key role in California and the nation’s progress toward healthy air. She has also led the Board in crafting California’s internationally recognized climate action plan.