Announcement OPR Commemorates Deputy Director Nuin-Tara Key’s Leadership and Contributions to Statewide Climate Adaptation and Resilience

Published: 6/9/2022

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) team is filled with gratitude for the leadership of Nuin-Tara Key, who today steps down after her tenure as Deputy Director of Climate Resilience at OPR and Chair of the Technical Advisory Council for the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program.

OPR Deputy Director of Climate Resilience Nuin-Tara Key joins Director Sam Assefa in a site tour showcasing extreme heat mitigation efforts in Los Angeles.

Nuin-Tara Key was appointed Deputy Director of Climate Resilience by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2019. From the enabling statute under Senate Bill 246 (Wieckowski, 2015), Nuin-Tara led the creation of the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program (ICARP) as the State of California’s flagship coordination hub for local, regional, and statewide climate adaptation and resilience.

As the team from the Office of Planning and Research bid farewell to Nuin-Tara, they share their thoughts on her legacy of leadership and public service to the state:

Nuin-Tara created a pioneering program for climate resilience that is a model not only for other states, but for federal governments as well in the effort to streamline, accelerate, and provide guidance on climate adaptation, and it is staffed with amazing people who will carry the mission forward. I have always appreciated Nuin-Tara's leadership and vision, but more importantly, her trust, open door policy, and collaborative spirit in working with her team and with others. Her thought partnership and leadership have allowed others to grow into their roles, and eventually find new roles – through this focus on mentorship-style management and program development, Nuin-Tara has grown and accelerated the leadership capacity for climate policy in California.

Leah Fisher, Office Chief for Air Quality & Climate Change at Caltrans; former Senior Research Advisor with SGC/OPR

Nuin-Tara has a way of bringing out the best of everyone around her! Her expertise and dedication are superhuman, while her kindness and honesty provide support and meaningful connections.

Sloane Viola, Council Program Manager, ICARP

Nuin-Tara's leadership has been inspiring to us all in many respects across OPR and SGC in the way that she has advocated for ongoing organizational and process improvements, advancing racial equity, and helping us all strive towards excellence in our work.

Erik de Kok, Deputy Director of Planning, OPR

Nuin-Tara is a visionary leader who built and shaped ICARP into the powerhouse that is known today in California and around the world. Above all, she is kind, genuine, collaborative, trustworthy, and resilient. I am immensely grateful to have worked alongside her for the past two years and while I am sad she is leaving, her legacy at ICARP will carry us forward.

Sarah Samdin, Associate Planner of Climate Resilience, ICARP

Nuin-Tara is exceptionally smart and thoughtful. She is effective because she is the most prepared and sees opportunities and connections that others do not. Her partnership and guidance to her colleagues across the state and California have been invaluable.

Clay Kerchof, Associate Planner of Wildfire Resilience and Recovery, ICARP

I met Nuin-Tara several years ago when ICARP was only a 2-person team! It has been inspiring to watch her evolve and grow as a leader--creating and implementing a much broader vision for how the State can respond to and prepare for the climate challenges to come.

Elea Becker Lowe, Senior Planner for Climate Science and Resilience, ICARP

Nuin-Tara has the extraordinary superpower of tapping into the very best of people, exuding a space that empowers others to do the most rewarding work of their careers. More than Nuin-Tara’s brilliance, she brings the rare, luminous positivity in a world of climate peril.

Mitchell Iwahiro, OPR Special Assistant

Nuin-Tara is everything you could wish for in a mentor and more. She is intelligent, intentional, kind, and collaborative, and I am grateful to have gotten to know Nuin-Tara this past year. Her work ethic and passion for climate resilience and adaptation is incredibly inspiring. It is leaders like Nuin-Tara that give me hope for our future and the drive to continue striving for a better California.

Ravneet Kaur, OPR Executive Fellow, ICARP

Nuin-Tara’s ability to both set ambitious, bold goals and map out the strategy, process, and infrastructure to accomplish them sets her apart as an effective and impactful leader and visionary. Above all, Nuin-Tara’s gift for ensuring everyone at the table feels listened to and heard has empowered many to step in as leaders. Her legacy is not only her programmatic successes, but the work and impact of the myriad of climate adaptation practitioners that she has uplifted along the way.

Taylor Carnevale, Assistant Planner for Climate Resilience, ICARP

Nuin-Tara is an icon of climate adaptation in California, and while she will be greatly missed, she leaves behind an ICARP legacy of partnership and integrity we can all be proud to be a part of.

Nikki Caravelli, Associate Planner of Climate Resilience, ICARP

California's state adaptation leadership would not exist if Nuin-Tara hadn't come to OPR. She single-handedly built a one-person appointment into a $400 million program with multiple staff across multiple agencies. Nuin-Tara epitomizes everything it means to be a public servant at the level of a Governor's appointee: tireless, persistent, patient, cordial, politically aware, and wicked smart; no one works harder or is more dedicated than Nuin-Tara Key.

Scott Morgan, Chief Deputy Director, OPR

Nuin-Tara is a leader of climate in the truest sense of what it represents: she has given incredible generosity toward the future by giving so much of her time, visionary leadership and brilliance to the present. I’ve only worked with her a short while, but she has made a significant impression on me, as I know she has with all the colleagues she has worked with.

Emily Breslin
Deputy Director of Climate Resilience Nuin-Tara Key travels to the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 to sign a memorandum of understanding between OPR and the European Institute of Technical Climate-KIC.

During her tenure at OPR, Nuin-Tara oversaw the creation and growth of OPR's $400 million climate resilience portfolio and helped coordinate all-of-government resilience initiatives – with several highlighted below:

  • Creation of California's Adaptation Clearinghouse, direct community investment programs, ICARP's Technical Advisory Council, and climate science and data tools such as the California Climate Change Assessment;
  • Development of two resilience grant programs, the Adaptation Planning Grants Program and the Regional Resilience Planning and Implementation Grants Program;
  • Led a collaborative process guiding the identification of climate-vulnerable communities and a statewide vulnerable communities definition;
  • Led cross-agency coordination to launch the 2022 Extreme Heat Action Plan, supported by an $800 million heat investment package, the 2021 update to the California Climate Adaptation Strategy, and the Fourth California Climate Change Assessment (2018).

Amidst worsening climate change impacts in California and calls for swift adaptation action by international scientists, Nuin-Tara's collaborative efforts have advanced California forward as a national leader in equitable climate adaptation and resilience. The OPR team is deeply grateful for Nuin-Tara and her incredible public service and commitment to communities across the state.