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Community Tree Program

In an effort to improve equitable, community-focused urban forestry outcomes, City Council passed ongoing funding for a Community Tree Program in 2022. Following the budget adoption, the City of Tacoma solicited proposals for a partnership program between the City’s Urban Forestry Program and a local nonprofit. The goal of this Program is to enhance community engagement, education, growth, and stewardship of Tacoma’s urban forest by reducing barriers and expanding programming to underserved and overburdened neighborhoods throughout Tacoma.


Through a competitive bidding process, the Tacoma Tree Foundation was awarded the contract for the Community Tree Program.


Critical components to the Community Tree Program include:

  • Community-centered Approach: authentic relationship building with diverse audiences is critical to develop equitable engagement strategies that will allows us to reach, involve, and engage underrepresented and overburdened communities.
  • Trainings and Workshops: will aim to expand knowledge and enhance the technical skills of individuals involved in community greening efforts such as planning, tree selection, planting, care, and maintenance of Tacoma’s urban forest.
  • “Full Service” Tree Programs: Green Blocks and Branch Out will be annual programs offered through this partnership.
  • Volunteer Engagement: a robust number of volunteers and tree stewards are needed to facilitate the preservation, planting, and care of Tacoma’s urban forest.
  • Community Outreach and Feedback: generating interest in current and new programming along with conducting surveys will allow us to update approach and service delivery to address community feedback.
  • Community Appreciation: Celebration of our community and taking time to reflect on achievements throughout the year is critical for continued engagement.

If you are a community member and would like to get involved in the Community Tree Program, either as a volunteer or to see what programs are available to you, check out our partners at the Tacoma Tree Foundation to see what opportunities are available in your neighborhood.


tree planting with adults and youth      Volunteers posing in front of planted tree

Meet the Team

JaalaJaala Smith (they/she)

Planting Coordinator, Tacoma Tree Foundation

Role in the Program: Facilitates collaboration between the community, volunteers and the program, co-creates and organizes community events and training, and collects and analyzes program data as well as community feedback.

Bio: Born and raised in Tacoma and an Evergreen State College graduate, Jaala has spent their life serving as an educator and community organizer throughout the Puget sound area. Jaala believes that everyone knows how to best cultivate safe and healthy spaces for their community to grow and play and that listening is the first step to building climate resilience.

Favorite Tree(s): Quercus alba (White oak) for the classic oak leaf shape and acorn hats but also its symbol of endurance and resilience.



Lisa Kenny (she/her)
Community Trees Program Coordinator, City of Tacoma

Role in the Program: Oversees program execution, co-creates community events and trainings, collaborates on outreach strategies, manages budget and resources, and ensures the feedback of underserved neighborhoods are integrated into program planning.

Bio: Proudly born in the Philippines, raised in Chicago, and now living in the Pacific Northwest since 2016. Lisa is a certified ISA Arborist with a background in conservation, habitat restoration, community engagement, and even mushroom cultivation. Lisa is passionate about uplifting the voices of people of color in the larger environmental movement, as we will experience climate impacts first and worst. Lisa believes our communities hold innovative solutions needed to transform this narrative.

Favorite Tree(s): Magnolias and Oaks! Magnolia × soulangeana (saucer magnolia) reminds her of her late grandmother and Quercus frainetto 'Schmidt', a more recent favorite.



AaronAaron Yang (he/him)
Community Engagement Coordinator, Tacoma Tree Foundation

Role in the Program: leads community engagement and outreach activities, builds relationships with community members and organizations to ensure we reach the program's intended audience.

Bio: Aaron is a global citizen, who was previously a science teacher and researcher. He is passionate about the negotiations between city and nature, committed to the urban forestry by exploring the complex urban landscape in ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance).

Favorite Tree(s): All trees are beautiful!



RyanRyan Hebert (he/him)
Urban Forestry Analyst, City of Tacoma

Role in the Program: Supporting role as a program advisor, offering technical expertise as well as on-the-ground support for community events.

Bio: Originally hailing from northern Wisconsin, Ryan arrived in Tacoma in early 2020 after years of community development and reforestation work in Detroit. Ryan is an ISA certified Arborist and holds an MS in Applied Community & Economic Development. He loves biking around Tacoma in search of its biggest trees.

Favorite Tree(s): Pinus strobus (Eastern white pine)



LowellLowell Wyse (he/him)
Executive Director, Tacoma Tree Foundation

Role in the Program: High-level support and direction, addresses any major challenges to program timeline and provides expertise on long-term community engagement strategies for the success of the program.

Bio: A former English professor turned urban forest advocate, Lowell loves telling the story of how the people who love Tacoma are coming together to create a greener and more resilient urban area after enduring generations of environmental harm. He is deeply motivated by the values of community, justice, stewardship, resilience, storytelling, and placemaking.

Favorite Tree(s): London plane tree (Platanus x acerifolia)



MikeMike Carey (he/him)
Urban Forestry Program Manager, City of Tacoma

Role in the Program: High-level support and direction, addresses any major challenges to accomplish overall program goals, ensures alignment with city policies, and oversees long-term strategy and success of the program.

Bio: Mike has been the City's Urban Forester since 2015 and is a certified ISA Arborist. He is responsible for directing programs and developing policy that enhances the City’s tree canopy cover, in support of the City’s Urban Forest Management Plan. Mike is grateful to support our connection to our environment, and to have a positive impact on community health outcomes.

Favorite tree(s): Metasequoia glyptostroboides (dawn redwood) because dinosaurs; Quercus garryana (Garry oak) because local ecology; Aesculus hippocastanum (European horse-chestnut) because of smart co-evolution with pollinating insects.

City of Tacoma Urban Forestry
(253) 502-2138