Presently, Cari Varner is Program Manager of the Finger Lakes Institute - Community Design Center and the Sustainable Community Development Program at Hobart & William Smith Colleges. She is also Instructor in the Department of Art and Architecture. Her research interests and professional expertise includes human-environment relations, community design, urban design and sustainable development. In 2009, Cari began her doctoral studies in Urban and Regional Planning and Design at the University of Maryland. Presently, Cari is ABD and is continuing her dissertation research focuses on the latent meanings about culture and identity communicated through architecture and the built environment, with Professor Willow Lung-Amam.
Her work and research has been presented and published at several national and international planning and design conferences, featured extensively by local media and has been exhibited at the National Building Museum, the Architecture Biennale and the Maryland Institute College of Art. In 2009, she was selected by the Design Futures Council as an Emerging Leader in Sustainable Design. In the past, she has been recognized by the Small Town and Rural Planning division of American Planning Association, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues and has received an Edna Bailey Sussman Internship Award, among others.
From 2007 - 2010, Cari served as Assistant Director of the Carl Small Town Center (CSTC) at Mississippi State University's School of Architecture. While at the CSTC, Cari lead student design team efforts working throughout the state of Mississippi with various community organizations and municipalities on downtown revitalization, urban design and planning efforts. Cari also taught architecture studio and community design electives within the School of Architecture. Her professional experience includes tenures with private architecture and planning firms, as well as experience with public outreach at the Great Lakes and Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, MI and research at Cornell University, University of Michigan, University of Maryland’s Center for the Use of Sustainable Practices (CUSP), Morgan State University and the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR).
In 2001, Cari Varner received a Bachelor of Science with Highest Honors in Design and Environmental Analysis from Cornell University. For her graduate work, she attended the University of Michigan where she graduated in 2005 with a M.S. in Resource Policy and Behavior from the School of Natural Resources and Environment and a Masters of Urban Planning with a focus on community development. Cari's thesis work at UM was on the impact of further industrial development on an Arab-American community's health and well-being in Dearborn, Michigan, and their efforts for environmental justice.