Mardie was born in Austin, Texas, to Melvin and Pat Winter Oakes, both teachers. Her father was a professor of physics at the University of Texas and her mother was a language arts and social studies teacher in the Austin School System and at St. Andrew's Episcopal School. Mardie has two sister, Elizabeth Alden, a violist and faculty member at the University of Iowa, and Sarah Hartley Oakes, a chemistry teacher at the St. Stephen's-St. Agnes in Alexandria, VA.
Mardie attend Austin schools, graduating in 1990. She entered the five year architecture program at Rice University. Following graduation in 1996, she worked in the Fifth Ward in Houston, TX. After five years there, she was accepted to the MBS program at Harvard. Following graduation she worked in Boston for Boston Community Capital, a national CDFI for one year doing community development. In 2003, Mardie moved to the Bay Area to be the Director of Real Estate Lending for Opportunity Fund, making investments in affordable housing and community facilities throughout Silicon Valley. There she founded Hallmark Community Solutions. She was selected as an Echoing Green Fellow in 2004. She formed her nonprofit company, Hello Housing in 2005.
In 2011, the book, "Work on Purpose" , by Lara Galinsky was published. Mardie was one of five Echoing Green Fellows featured in the book.
Below are articles which have been written about Mardie's work.