January 2014

Power Couple Change Bayview, and the World, for the Better

Judee Shipman

A clever knack for business combined with a deep sense of social responsibility is the force that drives the busy lives of Arno and Nadine Burke-Harris. The hard working couple combine a devotion to family life—with three young children, including a toddler—with intense professional careers. According to an administrative staff member at her office, Dr. Burke-Harris even manages to squeeze occasional family vacations into the mix. 

Arno is a pioneer in the clean energy revolution, serving as the chief executive officer of Recurrent Energy, a company that develops solar powered generation. The business got its start more than a decade ago, when Arno installed solar panels on Pet Camp, a Bayview-based animal boarding facility co-owned by Mark Klaiman. According to Klaiman, Arno’s work was the largest photovoltaic system installed in Northern California at the time. After that, Arno’s company continued to install larger solar systems throughout the region, including a multi-megawatt project under contract with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. 

Arno is board chair of the Solar Energy Industry Association, and was named Best Clean Tech CEO of 2012 by the San Francisco Business Times. He won the Rising Star Award from Platt’s Global Energy in 2011. He’s a seasoned veteran of technology startups, having raised more than $200 million in financing over the past ten years. 

Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris is founder and chief executive office of the Center for Youth Wellness, a children’s health clinic located in Bayview, where she works full time as a pediatrician. Burke-Harris pioneered the theory that adverse childhood experiences are connected to adult-onset illnesses, like cancer and heart disease. She contends that early intervention for young children suffering neglect and malnutrition is key to reducing the nation’s health-related costs. District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen said that she’s “very proud” of Dr. Burke-Harris’ significant contributions to the field of youth wellness, and described the doctor’s work as “imperative.”

In addition to her clinical responsibilities, Dr. Burke-Harris works on many early-childhood care campaigns, including the Too Small to Fail initiative, a nationwide effort to help parents and companies take actions to improve and maintain the health and well-being of children from birth to age five. She was profiled in Paul Tough’s best-selling book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

From her clinical practice in Bayview, Dr. Burke-Harris focuses on serving communities where poverty and race can chip away at the benefits of conventional healthcare and early education. Her ultimate goal is to change the standard of pediatric healthcare throughout the United States, as a means to significantly reduce the incidence of chronic adult illnesses, and concomitant health care costs. Fewer illnesses would translate into a more productive work force, creating broad economic benefits. 

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