Trees for Life announces new president, vice presidents

Balbir Mathur is the founder of Trees for Life, which has planted about 200 million Moringa trees in poor countries.
Balbir Mathur is the founder of Trees for Life, which has planted about 200 million Moringa trees in poor countries. The Wichita Eagle

Wichita-based Trees for Life has announced a change in leadership.

Simmi Dalla has been named the new president effective Jan. 1, succeeding Balbir Mathur, who founded the nonprofit international movement three decades ago. Mathur turned 80 in December.

Dalla started at Trees for Life last year as a volunteer.

“No one replaces Balbir Mathur; he is a legend,” Dalla was quoted as saying in a prepared statement released last week by Trees for Life. “He will be leaving us with a very strong platform to carry forward and develop further. All of us here remain deeply committed to continue serving the world in the same spirit as we always have.”

When contacted on Sunday, Dalla said she was moved to play a more active role in the organization when she traveled with Mathur to India last February.

“I met the people and saw the people we were going to be serving; that’s when it hit home for me,” she said. “The need was so great. The power of this was endless once we get it out there and what it can do.”

Dalla, 47, grew up in Baltimore and attended the University of Maryland, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in computer science. She and her husband, Kumar, moved to Wichita in 2001 with their two children, Shiv, 19, and Shreeya, 17.

As a grassroots nonprofit organization, Trees for Life has helped the poorest of the poor throughout the world in planting more than 200 million Moringa trees since the mid-1980s. It is now set to begin educating those people.

Last fall, the organization launched “Teach for Life.” The premise is to provide teachers who have limited training with basic video lessons through the Internet. At first, there will be 150 lessons for teachers of children ranging in age from 4 to 6 years. Trees for Life is partnering with USD 259, Wichita State University, Wichita Collegiate, Friends University and McPherson College in creating the videos.

Mathur was quoted in the news release as saying, “Our focus remains the same – it’s all about empowerment. It’s important for new, younger minds to shape the exciting future of this movement. I’m extremely proud of our team.”

Mathur will continue to serve as the organization’s board chairman, where he will focus on worldwide external relations for Trees for Life. His wife, Treva, will continue in her current position until she retires later this year.

Joining Dalla will be Jeffrey Faus and Scott Garvey, both named as vice presidents of Trees for Life. Both have served in the organization for more than two decades.

Beccy Tanner: 316-268-6336, @beccytanner