Mary Nichols has devoted her entire career in public and nonprofit service to advocating for the environment and public health. In addition to her work at the Air Board, she has served as Assistant Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Air and Radiation program under President Clinton, Secretary for California's Resources Agency from 1999 to 2003 and Director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Her priorities as chair include moving ahead on the state's landmark climate change program (AB 32), steering the Board through numerous efforts to curb diesel pollution at ports and continuing to pass regulations aimed at providing cleaner air for Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley. She values innovation, partnerships and common-sense approaches to addressing the state's air issues.
In February 2009, she was awarded the Attorney of the Year award from California Lawyer Magazine (the CLAY award) for her contributions to environmental law. In 2013, she was named one of the most influential people in the world by TIME Magazine.
Nichols received her B.A. from Cornell University (1966) and her J.D. from Yale Law School (1971). After law school, she worked as an attorney for the Center for Law in the Public Interest in Los Angeles (1971-74) where she brought the first litigation under the then recently passed Clean Air Act.