Nisha G. Patel, MSW

Managing Director, Narrative Change & National Initiatives, Robin Hood

Nisha Patel is Managing Director of Narrative Change & National Initiatives at Robin Hood, a New York City-based foundation focused on fighting poverty. She has more than two decades of experience leading and implementing initiatives to increase economic opportunities for low-income families. She was most recently executive director of the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty at the Urban Institute. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Partnership assembled 24 leading voices to identify ideas for investment to dramatically increase mobility from poverty.

Patel served in the Obama administration as director of the Office of Family Assistance within the US Department of Health and Human Services, overseeing a $17 billion annual portfolio of federal grants that foster family economic security, including the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. She was previously deputy director of Ascend at the Aspen Institute, where she led national efforts to expand two-generation approaches to improve outcomes for children and their parents. Prior to that, Patel was a program officer in the US Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she managed a portfolio focused on increasing postsecondary success through community partnerships and policy development, as well as special initiatives.

Patel previously held positions as director of programs at Washington Area Women’s Foundation and senior policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy. She has also been an adjunct professor at the George Washington University. Her recent work has been featured on NPR’s 1A and in the Atlantic’s Citylab, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and Inside Philanthropy.

Patel is a summa cum laude graduate of Vanderbilt University, where she was a Chancellor’s Scholar. She holds an MSW with a concentration in social and economic development from Washington University in St. Louis, where she was a Bettie Schroth Johnson Scholar. Patel was selected as a National Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute Fellow and a Washington University in St. Louis Brown School Distinguished Alumna. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Alumni Network.