Sara C. Bronin is a Mexican-American architect, attorney, professor, and policymaker whose interdisciplinary work focuses on how law and policy can foster more equitable, sustainable, well-designed, and connected places. She serves as the 12th Chair of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, after confirmation by unanimous consent of the United States Senate. She was also appointed by President Biden to serve as a Trustee of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.
Bronin is currently on leave from her position as a Professor of the Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, an Associated Faculty Member of the Cornell Law School, the Director of the Legal Constructs Lab, and a Faculty Fellow of the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability. She is also a Professor in the Rubacha Department of Real Estate (joint with the College of Business and AAP) and a member of the Graduate Faculty in Architecture. Among other scholarly service, Bronin is an elected member of the American Law Institute and a past chair of the State & Local Government Section of the American Association of Law Schools.
In addition to her books and treatises on land use and historic preservation law, she has written over two dozen articles on renewable energy, climate change, housing, urban planning, transportation, real estate development, and federalism. She also serves as the lead author of the land use volume of the forthcoming Restatement (Fourth) of Property. Among other current projects, Bronin founded and directs the National Zoning Atlas, which aims to digitize, demystify, and democratize information about how zoning regulates housing in around 30,000 jurisdictions nationally. Her book, Key to the City, under contract with W.W. Norton Press, will explore how zoning shapes our lives.
Active in public service, Professor Bronin has served on the board of Latinos in Heritage Conservation and as an advisor for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Sustainable Development Code. In 2020, she founded DesegregateCT, a pro-homes grassroots coalition that successfully advanced the first major statewide zoning reforms in several decades. Previously, she chaired Preservation Connecticut, served on the city of Hartford historic preservation commission, and led Hartford’s nationally-recognized efforts to overhaul its zoning code.
Her research and advocacy has seen signifiant support from public and private philanthropic sources. Among many other grants, she has raised $2.1 million for the National Zoning Atlas, over $640,000 for Desegregate Connecticut, and $350,000 for City of Hartford sustainability efforts. She is a co-principal investigator for a $2 million National Science Foundation grant to advance “living” building materials.
Bronin won several design awards for the rehabilitation of her family’s National-Register-listed 1865 brownstone. She holds a J.D. from Yale Law School (Harry S Truman Scholarship), M.Sc. from the University of Oxford (Rhodes Scholarship), and B.Architecture/B.A. from the University of Texas. While in law school, she clerked for then-Judge Sonia Sotomayor on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. A seventh-generation Texan, Sara is a native Houstonian. She grew up working in her grandparents’ Mexican restaurant.