Barbara Rahder is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. She came to Canada via Portland, Oregon where she earned a BSc in Psychology at Portland State University. She immigrated to Canada in 1974 and completed her MSc in 1977 and her PhD in 1985, both in Urban & Regional Planning at the University of Toronto. Her dissertation examined the origins of residential segregation by class in 19th century Toronto. Her professional interests have remained focused on issues of social equity and environmental justice throughout her career.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Barbara worked as the lead consultant on a number of community planning and social research projects in Toronto and surrounding areas. Rahder & Associates worked with the City of Toronto, the Province of Ontario, and an extensive array of non-profit organizations working with women, immigrants and refugees, Indigenous people, people with disabilities, seniors, and victims of violence and abuse. She also taught part-time at the University of Toronto, York, Ryerson and Queens Universities during this period.
In 1993, Barbara joined the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) at York University and in 1994 became the Coordinator of the Planning Programs there. She taught a variety of courses, most notably a Bioregional Planning Workshop and Planning Theory. Over the next nine years in this role, the program expanded from roughly 10-12 planning students per year to its current intake of around 40 MES planning students per year. In 2001, she became the Graduate Program Director in FES and helped lead a major reorganization and expansion of the MES program. In 2007, she was appointed Interim Dean of the Faculty, with appointment as Dean the following year. She served as Dean for 5 years. During her 20+ years at York she published more than 40 planning articles and reports, and supervised the research of more than 50 MES and PhD students.
Barbara has also taught Planning Theory at the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka where she has been a Visiting Professor three times in the Department of Town and Country Planning.
Barbara is also the coordinator for the Toronto chapter of Planners Network. In this capacity she was the lead organizer of the Planners Network conference held at Ryerson University in Toronto in June 2000. PN-Toronto chapter events are ongoing.