Mary Nichols

Chair, California Air Resources Board

2015 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Mary Nichols has devoted her entire career in public and nonprofit service to advocating for the environment and public health. She has served as Chair of the California Air Resources Board (ARB) since 2007, and she previously held the post from 1979 to 1983. At ARB, she is responsible for implementing California’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions legislation as well as setting air pollution standards for motor vehicles, fuels, and consumer products.

Nichols also served as California’s Secretary for Natural Resources from 1999 to 2003, and before returning to the ARB she was a Professor of Law and Director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to the ARB, she served as head of the Office of Air and Radiation at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where she was responsible for many regulatory breakthroughs, including the acid rain trading program and the first air quality standard for fine particles. She also practiced environmental law in Los Angeles, pursuing cases on behalf of environmental and public health organizations to enforce state and federal clean air legislation. She is a dedicated mentor and champion for women in the clean energy field. Nichols graduated from Cornell University and holds a JD from Yale Law School.