Press Releases Nisha Patel Joins Urban Institute as Executive Director of the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty
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Lionel Foster, (202) 261-5690

WASHINGTON, DC, April 25, 2016 – After leading public- and private-sector efforts to create economic opportunities for children and families, Nisha Patel is now executive director of a national initiative to combat poverty.

Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and housed at the Urban Institute, the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty is a collection of some of the most respected scholars and practitioners working on poverty and economic opportunity. Their charge is to develop and promote big ideas to improve the life chances of millions of Americans.

Before joining the Urban Institute, Patel was director of the Office of Family Assistance within the US Department of Health and Human Services, where she administered the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, Health Profession Opportunity Grants, Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood grants, and tribal programs. She was previously a deputy director at the Aspen Institute, where she helped expand the use of two-generation approaches to supporting children and families across the country; a program officer within the US Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and director of programs at the Washington Area Women’s Foundation.

"We want the most important ideas drawn from a rich variety of perspectives,” says David Ellwood, professor of political economy at the Harvard Kennedy School and chair of the Partnership.  “Our goal is not to create some mythical perfect plan but rather to find a variety of strategies, even competing strategies, that hold significant potential for dramatically increasing mobility from poverty.  We will benefit enormously from Nisha’s rich set of experiences, her ability to listen to and collaborate with people of diverse personal and intellectual backgrounds, and her capacity to weave those insights into powerful, pragmatic programs.”

 “A key word in our title is ‘partnership,’” says Patel. “We’re asking for input from a wide range of experts—program designers, researchers, and people who’ve experienced poverty.  I’m thrilled at the opportunity to help spark these conversations and surface new, and perhaps unconventional, solutions.”

Anyone interested in offering suggestions or model programs for the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty to consider can submit them at

The nonprofit Urban Institute is dedicated to elevating the debate on social and economic policy. For nearly five decades, Urban scholars have conducted research and offered evidence-based solutions that improve lives and strengthen communities across a rapidly urbanizing world. Their objective research helps expand opportunities for all, reduce hardship among the most vulnerable, and strengthen the effectiveness of the public sector.