Sheela Patel is the founder Director of the Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC), an NGO that has been working since 1984 to support community organizations of the urban poor in their efforts to access secure housing and basic amenities and seek their right to the city. She is also a founder member and Chair of the Board of Slum Dwellers International (SDI), an international network of poor people’s organizations and the NGOs that support them in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and is currently its Chairperson. She is widely recognized for seeking urgent attention to the issues of urban poverty, housing, and infrastructure onto the radar of governments, bilateral and international agencies, foundations and other organizations.
SPARC has been working in alliance with two Community Based Organizations – National Slum Dwellers Federation (NSDF) and Mahila Milan (women’s collectives in slums) that are active in 70 cities in different states of India. Since 1999, she has also been Secretary and Chief Executive of SPARC Samudaya Nirman Sahayak (SSNS), a non-profit company set up to assist slum communities take on construction projects in cities to provide slum dwellers to build homes and sanitation for themselves.