Director and Staff

Advisory Board
Board of Directors

Urban Releaf is an urban forestry/environmental non-profit 501(c)3 organization that was established in 1999 in the City of Oakland, California to address the needs of communities that have little greenery. Urban Releaf is committed to the revitalization of our communities through tree planting, garden projects and environmental education. Tree lined streets have been proven to be a viable necessity in most neighborhood planning and development efforts. Studies have shown that increasing the number of trees in an area improves the psychological well being of the residents. Urban Releaf understands that tree planting is an important service in continuing the effort to beautify our communities. To this end, Urban Releaf seeks to empower our residents including children and youth to beautify their neighborhoods. We believe that rehabilitation through tree planting and environmental awareness will revitalize our core urban areas.

Secondly, we concentrate on working with At Risk Youth organizations to promote and sustain community beautification projects. Our programs also expose youth to the various fields of arboriculture, biology, and advanced plant sciences.

In January 2005 Richmond Releaf combined with Oakland Releaf to become Urban Releaf, an organization dedicated to planting trees primarily in low to moderate-income communities that have little or no tree canopy cover. The goal is to revitalize these communities by planting trees, providing environmental awareness education and on-the-job training for at-risk youth and hard-to-employ adults.

Kemba Shakur founded Urban Releaf in July of 1998 as an environmental tree planting organization, one of the few urban forestry groups of its kind in the nation. Her main responsibilities include program administration, creation of core curriculum and planting methods, coordination of youth team and community volunteers, and ad hoc representative to the Board of Directors.

Gregory Tarver, Jr. is the Director of Urban Forest Education and an ISA Certified Arborist. Gregory coordinates all urban forestry, arboricultural, and environmental educational activities for Urban Releaf. His focus is to create green job opportunities and training for youth and young adults, and build community-based stewardship of urban natural resources. He is a doctoral candidate in the Nature & Society Geography Program at University of California, Davis. Since 1992, Gregory has worked in various natural resource management positions throughout the U.S. and world. He received a B.S. degree in Natural Resource Conservation from the University of Montana in 1998, and a M.S. in Urban Forestry from Southern University and A & M College in Louisiana in 2005.

Jane Wardani is a Project Manager. Jane brings to Urban Releaf ten years of experience in urban environmental planning. She has worked in multicultural settings across development topics, including tourism development in Thailand and neighborhood planning in diverse communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2008, she graduated from the concurrent Master of City Planning, Master of Landscape Architecture program at UC Berkeley, completing her thesis on urban creek and watershed stewardship and justice. She has lived in Indonesia, France, and Singapore and is a language enthusiast.

Jamal Davis is our Tree Planting Manager. His main responsibilities include management of our tree planting program, maintaining GIS/GPS database, and training youth interns and volunteers in proper tree planting technique.

Jamila Chandler administers the daily operations of the Urban Releaf office. Jamila is a student in the City of Oakland’s Fire Department Training. Jamila is an avid reader, swimmer (she’s a certified lifeguard), and enjoys mentoring youth. Her favorite tree is a coastal redwood.

Akeem Davis is our Tree Maintenance Manager. His main responsibilities include the management of our tree maintenance program, and training youth interns and volunteers in maintenance activities. As tree planting/maintenance manager he direct volunteers, supervises during tree planting events, and conducts tree care/maintenance on trees by watering, pruning, re-staking, and cleaning the areas around trees.

Armahn Chandler is a Tree Planter and maintenance Attendant I’ve been working for Urban ReLeaf on and off for the past 15 years. My main responsibilities are planting and caring for trees through maintenance activities. Since working for UR, I have been learning about the variety of trees and what they do for the planet. This has been exciting work. I’m currently in school to sharpen my skills and perform a variety of jobs: construction, bartending, and cooking.

Kwame Davis is a Tree Mapping Specialist. I’ve been with Urban ReLeaf since it started about 12 years ago. My primary responsibilities are determining areas that need trees, contacting residents to plant street trees, and processing tree request forms. My other responsibilities are to plant trees, conduct tree care/maintenance, and supervise volunteers during tree planting events. My professional goal is to become a Marine Biologist.

Rukeya Harris is our Office Assistant. She is currently attending Clark Atlanta University, and has maintained a 3.0 GPA. She also volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club in Atlanta. Rukeya has worked with Urban Releaf for over eight years.

Advisory Board

Dr. Richard Bailey
Director of Lake Merritt Institute

Gaye Plair Cobb
Director of Private Industry Council

Richard Register
Founder & President of Ecocity Builders

Aleka Skouras Eisentraut
Attorney, Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP

Gaye Plair Cobb
Attorney, Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP

Joshua Levine
Financial Officer, UBS Financial

Ken Ott

David Ralston
Planner, City of Oakland Community and Economic Development Agency

David Roach
President, Mo’Better Food

Kemba Shakur
President and Urban Releaf Executive Director

Nancy Sidebotham
Tax Consultant

Bret Walburg
Presidio School of Management

Pamela Wallace
Energy Resource Analyst, Siemens AG

Rose Penelope Yee
Financial Officer, Cathedral Financial