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. Patel is widely recognized – nationally and internationally – 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. She is a founder amongst many of Slum Dwellers International a transnational social movement of the urban poor, whose Board she Chairs presently.
Sheela Patel has contributed as an author to many articles on the work that the Alliance and SDI does, and participates in local national and international events on their behalf, occasionally serving on committees for policies on issues impacting the urban poor. In 2000, she received the United Nations Habitat Award, 2006 she received Outstanding Contribution towards Mumbai Vision 2015 by Observer Research Foundation. 2009, she received David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award, 2011; she was conferred with the prestigious award of Padmashree.
Sheela Patel was a Policy Fellow Resident at The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in 2016.