Sheela Patel is Founder Director of the Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC), a Mumbai-based NGO that has been working on housing and infrastructure rights for the urban poor for since 1984. After getting her Masters in Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in 1974, Sheela Patel worked at a community centre called the Nagpada Neighbourhood House and then left to set up her own organisation. She has also been involved in founding and coordinating a number of national and international organisations such as Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP), an organisation what works with women’s collectives in over 600 villages in Maharashtra, the Asian Coalition of Housing Rights, and the Asian Women and Shelter Network. She also played a key role in the expansion of Mahila Milan, a federation of collectives of women living in slums across India. Patel is also the Chair of Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI), an international network of poor people’s organizations and supporting NGOs, active in Asia and Africa. In 2000, SPARC was awarded the United Nations Human Settlement Award. Patel has received the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award from the Synergos Institute in recognition of her extensive efforts to ameliorate urban poverty, and Padmashree a national award from the Indian government for her work on urban poverty issues.