Bernadette Baird-Zars

Bernadette brings years of senior project management and research leadership to Alarife’s work on urban land development, affordable housing, and municipal governance. Through public and entrepreneurial efforts to make cities more equitable, she has brought grounded expertise to successful plans for low-income housing, finance, and public-private collaborations for innovative land assembly and development. Her recent clients include the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, Habitat for Humanity International, Infonavit and Harvard GSD and local governments on projects across the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and SE Asia. Bernadette is committed to practical solutions and rapid action, as well as rigorous action-oriented research. Her current work based at Columbia University identifies new arenas for land development interventions under conditions of high risk and uncertainty, deploying satellite/spatial analyses, regression discontinuity designs, and institutional methodologies and visualizations.

Bernadette is committed to developing locally-relevant plans. She is fluent in Arabic, Spanish and English and enjoys working professionally ‘on the ground’ in all three. Prior to Alarife, Bernadette designed financial and business models for housing microfinance companies in India, Colombia and Egypt and social impact bonds as a Senior Project Manager for the Affordable Housing Institute. During her work for the Aga Khan Development Network in Syria on urban planning projects between 2006 and 2009, she co-launched the socioeconomic development program in Aleppo. With degrees from Swarthmore College, honors, and a Master in City Planning from MIT, Bernadette is a former Fulbright Fellow and Lang Scholar.