Nisha Patel is the Director of the Office of Family Assistance, which administers federal grant programs that foster family economic security, including the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and the Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF) program, Native Employment Works, Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood, and Health Profession Opportunity Grants.
Ms. Patel has nearly two decades of experience developing, managing, and implementing initiatives to increase economic opportunities for low-income families in the U.S. She was most recently deputy director of Ascend at the Aspen Institute, where she played a key role in national efforts to expand two-generation approaches to improve outcomes for children and their parents. At the Aspen Institute, Ms. Patel directed the Ascend Fund and Ascend Network of 58 organizations in 24 states and the District of Columbia, working together to create innovative two-generation policy and practice solutions.
Prior to the Aspen Institute, Ms. Patel was a program officer in the U.S. Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she managed a $40 million portfolio focused on reducing inequity and increasing postsecondary success through community partnerships and policy development. She 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, where she co-authored numerous publications and provided technical assistance to states and communities focused on welfare reform, workforce development, and work supports for low-income families. Earlier, Ms. Patel worked at the National Legal Aid and Defender Association. She has also served as an adjunct professor at the George Washington University.
Ms. Patel is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and holds an M.S.W. with a concentration in Social and Economic Development from Washington University in St. Louis.