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Mayor Gray Showcases Living Womens History Among District Government Ranks

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To showcase the unique achievements of District employees during Women’s History Month, Mayor Vincent C. Gray today recognized a DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) staffer who is the nation’s only black female state forester.

At his weekly City Hall Press Briefing, Mayor Gray highlighted the achievements of Monica Lear, Ph.D., for her work at DDOT. Dr. Lear is the Deputy Associate Director and State Forester for DDOT's Urban Forestry Administration (UFA). Dr. Lear is the first plant pathologist to hold the position of Deputy Associate Director in UFA.

“Dr. Lear is an example of the excellent talent we have working for us in the District government,” said Mayor Gray. “She is an expert in her field, a trailblazer for African Americans in the field of forestry, and a role model for the youth of our city. Like Benjamin Banneker and Marie Maynard Daly and the other pioneers our children read about in their history books, Dr. Lear can inspire them to break new ground, challenge their minds and explore diverse career paths.”

Dr. Lear earned her Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in plant health and a B.S. degree in horticulture from Louisiana State University. Before coming to work at DDOT, she served as the Assistant Director of Horticulture and Quarantine Programs at the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and as an urban-horticulture extension agent for the Virginia Cooperative Extension in Arlington and the LSU AgCenter in New Orleans.

She is the first District of Columbia State Forester to represent state forestry agencies on the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council (NUCFAC). The Council serves in an advisory capacity to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack regarding the Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry National Program.

In addition, just last week, Dr. Lear was selected by USDA’s Forest Service to serve on a 24-member task force called Vibrant Cities and Urban Forests: a National Call to Action.

Dr. Lear joined DDOT in February 2007 and has helped Associate Director and Chief Arborist John Thomas mold UFA, also known as “d.Trees,” into a highly respected and successful administration. With a staff of 17 certified arborists, UFA cares for the approximately 140,000 street trees in the District, plants more than 4,000 trees a year and handles more than 11,000 service requests annually for tree removal, pruning and storm damage.

“I am fortunate to work with colleagues who love what they do and who maintain high standards of technical and applied knowledge as it relates to practicing urban forestry in a large, urban metropolitan area.” said Dr. Lear. “UFA has an innovative approach to urban tree care and we partner with citizens, non-profits, other District agencies, state and Federal partners and researchers to keep abreast of new science and industry based approaches, all with the goal of maintaining and expanding our tree canopy.”

UFA’s In-House Crew, under Dr. Lear’s leadership, was recognized recently by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). The ISA presented the In-House Crew with its Gold Leaf Award for outstanding Arbor Day activities in 2010.

For more information about the Urban Forestry Administration (d.Trees), visit