Project for Public Spaces is pleased to announce the internal appointment of Nidhi Gulati and Kelly Verel as our new Senior Directors of Programs & Projects. In their new roles, Kelly and Nidhi will lead us into the next phase of Project for Public Spaces, focusing on increasing the impact of our key program areas and building a strong team culture through management and professional development. As our staff continues to adjust to a new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognize how privileged we are to be able to work from the safety of our homes. Now more than ever, we’re grateful to have Nidhi and Kelly on board in this new capacity to help facilitate our work together as a remote office over the coming months.
Over the years, both Kelly and Nidhi have gained extensive experience in their specialties––Public Markets and Streets as Places, respectively. Prior to her current role, Nidhi Gulati worked as a Program Manager at LivableStreets Alliance, where she managed all aspects of the Emerald Network initiative. A graduate of Texas A&M University with a M.S. in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Sciences, Nidhi was drawn to Project for Public Spaces’ mission to create community-powered public spaces around the world. She started as a Transportation Associate in May 2013, and later served as a Program Manager on the Streets and Transportation team. Throughout her career, she has worked diligently to connect people and places by developing initiatives like Portals to Places, which focuses on placemaking around transit stops and stations, and serving as a thought leader on placemaking and transportation, both on our blog and in countless speaking engagements. “I have worked on almost every type of assignment within the organization,” says Nidhi. “What keeps me here is the incredible audience for our work and the still untapped potential of placemaking as a field to tackle social challenges that afflict our communities,” she noted.
Kelly Verel began her career as an apprentice farmer, selling produce at a semi-weekly farmers market in Boston, MA. She holds an M.Sc. in Communications Studies from Boston University and also worked on the administrative team at Greenmarket, one of the country’s largest farmers market networks. In 2006, Kelly joined Project for Public Spaces as an Associate on the Public Markets team. She helped administer a $3 million grant program, jointly funded by the W. K. Kellogg and Ford Foundations, that provided technical assistance to over 40 national farmers markets. “I loved getting a chance to work with many markets across the country,” she recalled, “And I was also interested in the larger mission and work of Project for Public Spaces.” Most recently, Kelly served as Vice President and managed the launch of our Market Cities Initiative. She noted, “I've done it all here, from organizing travel and writing reports to planning big events like the 10th International Public Markets Conference in London last year. I know the organization extremely well and care deeply for all of our key program areas.”
As Project for Public Spaces embraces this new wave of leadership, Kelly and Nidhi are optimistic about what they can accomplish together in the coming months. “I’m most excited to work with Nidhi to create a space for our staff to develop their own programs and projects. We bring very different skill sets and perspectives to this shared role,” Kelly said. “I believe we’ll challenge each other to succeed and stay focused on our mission as an organization on the people who make Project for Public Spaces what it is.” She hopes to establish a strong internal structure that will provide staff with the support they need to best engage a diversity of stakeholders in different settings. Nidhi echoed Kelly’s excitement, saying, “I look forward to addressing large-scale challenges that our cities and public spaces are well-positioned to take on, such as climate change and generations of inequity in access and investment.”
“It is such an important time to be advocating for public space and helping public space managers adapt to COVID-19,” concludes Kelly. “While some public spaces are closed, others like public markets need our support now more than ever. It hasn't been easy to juggle remote working while also being there for my family, but I am grateful that the work that I do contributes to helping our communities cope, get access to essential services, and become better positioned to heal and come back together when this is over."
“We now see that we’re all connected in more ways than we realized,” adds Nidhi. “Project for Public Spaces is very much open for business, conversations, and partnerships with fellow change makers, so don’t hesitate to reach out.”