Mary Nichols

Distinguished Counsel, Emmett Center at the UCLA School of Law

Mary Nichols is the former Chair of the California Air Resources Board, where she occupied the attorney seat. She 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). She also served as California’s Secretary for Natural Resources (1999–2003), appointed by Gov. Gray Davis.

Mary Nichols had over a 40-year career dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. During which she led the development of dozens of climate and clean air, energy and transportation programs that have been replicated across the country and world. Based in Los Angeles, she pioneered innovative technologies, including electric vehicles, to improve air quality, while bringing together diverse groups of stakeholders. As a regulator she was recognized for collaborative approach to problem solving based on science, economics, and data. 

Since stepping down as Chair of the California Air Resource Board, in January 2021, Mary has been a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Columbia Global Energy Policy Center and a faculty member at the Emmett Climate Center of UCLA Law School. She is Vice Chair of the California-China Climate Institute and a founding board member of The Climate Registry.