Spotlight Exclusives

Nisha Patel Set to Lead New Partnership on Mobility from Poverty

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Ever since the early February announcement that the Urban Institute had secured $3.7 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to establish the U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty, anti-poverty advocates have been wondering who will be drafted to lead the initiative. David Ellwood of Harvard (and a former Clinton Administration official) is the chair of the 24-member partnership that convenes experts from a range of political perspectives to explore which interventions best tackle persistent poverty. The question has now been put to rest, with the selection of Nisha Patel as executive director of the partnership.

Patel is no stranger to the Gates Foundation. As a former program officer she managed a $40 million portfolio focused on reducing inequity and increasing postsecondary success through community partnerships and policy development. Patel comes to Urban from the Administration for Children and Families division of the Department of Health & Human Services, where she served as director of the Office of Family Assistance (OFA).  Among OFA’s accomplishments during her directorship was the development of a ground-breaking TANF budget proposal and the launch of the Systems to Family Stability Policy Academy.

Prior to her government post, Patel was the deputy director of Ascend at the Aspen Institute (which is focused on two-generation approaches to improving outcomes for children); director of programs at the Washington Area Women’s Foundation; and a senior policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) where she focused on welfare reform, workforce development, and work supports for low income families.

The announcement of the partnership sets a high bar for what could get accomplished and the selection of Patel creates even higher expectations for the initiative.

The Spotlight Team


Here at Out of the Spotlight, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at the latest news and information essential to anyone working to fight poverty. From key political appointees to clashes over policy, we cover the news that doesn’t always make the evening news. Check out Out of the Spotlight for our take on the twists and turns of the latest political developments and their impact on poverty reduction. Topics and ideas are welcome! Just contact or

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