Thank You Margaret MacNiven! Good Luck in Your Next Adventure!

After 17 years of volunteer service, first on our board of directors and then on the advisory board, Margaret MacNiven is leaving to start an exciting new chapter in January 2023 as one of two new members of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District Board of Directors.

Green Foothills board member Matthew Burrows says, “I’ve always been impressed with Margaret’s dedication to Green Foothills, which included many years as our Board President during challenging times. Her diligence showed in the consistent preparation she gave to our meetings and issues. She always gave informed, gentle opinions and advice that helped us move forward for many years. Margaret achieved all this as a volunteer who was also running one of the busiest restaurants on the Peninsula!”

A Passion to Give Back

Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Margaret graduated from Oxford University in England with a degree in Zoology, and from the University of Manchester with a PhD in Biochemistry. In 1976, she and her husband, Jamis, moved to the Bay Area and shortly after bought property in the South Skyline area and started a family. In 1991, Margaret and Jamis established Buck’s Restaurant in Woodside, which they personally operated until the pandemic struck. When COVID restrictions were lifted, Buck’s reopened, with their three sons at the helm.

Service has always been a core value of Margaret’s and she has served in many community leadership roles since the early 1990s. That passion to give back – especially around open space conservation – she has passed on to her children. Her son Tyler MacNiven says, “Seeing my Mom connect with nature is like seeing Snow White singing to forest creatures as they all gather around her, nuzzling up to her feet and landing on her shoulder. She acknowledges the smallest of shrubs and the tallest of trees. She is as compassionate to the busy insects as she is to the magical mountain lions. She recognizes individual bird songs and knows what they whistle to each other. She is connected to her natural environment with a depth and compassion I haven’t seen in anyone else, and I truly believe the love she has for her world is reciprocated.”

Building a Legacy

In 2005, Margaret joined the Green Foothills board of directors. “When Hertha Harrington, a longtime Green Foothills board member told me about her involvement with Green Foothills’ work, I realized immediately that it was not an accident that the beautiful natural spaces on Skyline -where I live and which I had been taking for granted- were not there by accident. For 40 years dedicated environmentalists like Hertha had been working hard to protect them. I told her I would be honored to join,” Margaret told us.

After terming off the board of directors in 2013, Margaret joined the search committee to find our next Executive Director, leading to the hiring of Megan Fluke. “A few weeks after I started, I invited Margaret to take a walk with me along the bay and asked if she might consider sticking around as the chair of our Development Committee. Little did either of us know she would serve in this role for the next eight years! Fundraising can be hard and unromantic work and I am forever grateful for Margaret’s persistence, mentorship, and positive attitude. She’s just a delight to be around and I am a better person having had the chance to work with her,” Megan said.

Margaret participated in the Green Foothills Leadership Program class of 2015-16, where she increased her knowledge of advocacy and local land use issues. “I signed up for the first class and wasn’t sure what to expect, but I learned a lot about advocacy and land use issues, particularly the steps developers take to move their projects along from inception through planning review to council approval. It made me understand how very, very knowledgeable our advocates are to be able to work effectively through the process,” Margaret said.

We owe Margaret a debt of gratitude for her dedication, contributions, and efforts for nearly 20 years to ensure Green Foothills fulfills its mission. She has truly left her mark on this organization and the community. And she joins an illustrious group of Green Foothills board members who have gone on to serve on Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District’s board.

“Margaret’s high spirits, devotion to our natural world, and extensive community connections and leadership have been invaluable assets for Green Foothills,” said longtime Green Foothills Legislative Advocate Lennie Roberts. “We look forward to seeing her in action in her new position as a Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District Director.”

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