Mary Nichols is currently serving as the chair of the California Air Resources Board.
Mary D. Nichols is a Professor in the UCLA Institiute of the Environment and holds a faculty appointment as Professor in Residence at the Law School as well as an appointment in the School of Public Affairs. She teaches a seminar in air and water law in the School of Law.
Before joining UCLA, she served as Secretary for California's Resources Agency, where she set policy for 27 departments, boards, commissions and conservancies, including Forestry and Fire Protection, Water Resources, Fish and Game, and State Parks, and led efforts to gain voter approval for four successful bond acts that raised over $10 billion for land and water programs. In a long career as an environmental lawyer and policymaker, Nichols has worked as a senior staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center for Law in the Public Interest, and headed the Environment Now Foundation as Executive Director. She also co-founded the first environmental justice working group, a multi-ethnic forum for leaders from traditional environmental and community-based organizations to address issues of environmental equity. She served as Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the Clinton Administration and was appointed Chair of the California Air Resources Board by Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
Her principal areas of interest are the role of science in environmental decision-making and the creation of new institutions for environmental governance.