Samia Byrd to Lead Community Planning Housing and Development

Published on November 29, 2023

Samia Byrd headshot

Samia Byrd has been named Arlington County's next Director of Community Planning, Housing and Development (CPHD), beginning on Jan. 3, 2024. In this new role, she will provide vision and leadership for the next generation of land use regulations, plans, development policies and practices, housing, and community and neighborhood planning programs.

Samia will succeed Claude Williamson who is retiring at the end of the year after a 26-year career with the County in CPHD, including having served as the CPHD Director since 2017.

"Samia is an incredible leader with decades of experience in planning and housing," said County Manager Mark Schwartz. "She will bring her depth of knowledge and insights around equity to ensure it is fully integrated into our housing and community development initiatives. Samia also has a keen understanding of the challenges we face in our office market and will work closely with Arlington Economic Development, the County Board, and the community on addressing the need for commercial market resiliency. I am thrilled to have Samia continue with Arlington County in this new leadership role."

Prior to this appointment, Samia served as the first Chief Race and Equity Officer for Arlington County, leading the County’s work to ensure the development and management of strategies to advance racial equity across all areas of the organization and within the community.

"My passion for housing affordability, neighborhood revitalization, the social aspects of planning and the intersection of place, race and equity, as well as my long-term commitment and dedication to Arlington County government and the community, converge in this new role as Director of Community Planning Housing and Development," said Samia Byrd. "I have a unique opportunity to bring vision and leadership in all of these areas, building on the deep roots and strong foundation in place today. The strength of our planning over several decades has brought us to this point. With an opportunity now to directly focus on advancing equity in housing, land use and development that centers people in place, I look forward to guiding the future Arlington to becoming a high opportunity community where all people can advance and thrive."

Since joining the County in 2007, Samia has served as a Principal Planner and Planning Coordinator in CPHD and as a Deputy County Manager providing guidance towards the County’s vision, goals, and actions relevant to land use, planning and development.

Prior to joining the County, Ms. Byrd served with Quadel Consulting, a firm specializing in affordable housing management. She has also served as Director of State Fiscal Analysis and Policy for the National Council of Nonprofit Associations, a Research Associate with the Urban Land Institute, and an Information Specialist for Community Connections at Aspen Systems Corporation, previously contracted to HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development.

A native of Hampton, VA, Samia earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree from Georgia Tech in city planning. She received a Certification in Strategic Management Performance Systems (SMPS) and a Certification of Public Management (CPM), both from The George Washington University, Center for Excellence in Public Leadership.

Ms. Byrd is an alumnus of the Leadership Center for Excellence, Leadership Arlington. She is a member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and is an alumnus of the ULI Washington Regional Land Use Leadership Institute. She currently serves on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Chief Equity Officers Committee, the Government Alliance for Race and Equity’s Housing Land Development Network, ULI-Washington Advisory Board, Urban Plan Steering Committee, and participated in ULI-Washington’s Pathways to Inclusion Program in 2019. She is also a member of ICMA (International City/County Management Association) and the National Forum of Black Public Administrators.

Ms. Byrd serves on the Board of Directors for the Local Motion Project, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Planning Committee in Alexandria, and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated serving in the Northern Virginia Alumnae Chapter.

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