Sheila Somashekhar joined the National Center for Smart Growth at the University of Maryland in 2020 as Director of the Purple Line Corridor Coalition. As Director, she mobilizes coalition partners to realize the vision of an equitable transit corridor. She brings over 15 years of experience in community organizing and engagement, specializing in economic strategy, social justice, affordable housing, neighborhood asset building and workforce development.
She most recently served as Director of Community Impact and Engagement for United Way of the National Capital Area. At United Way she oversaw multiple stakeholder collaboratives and established a new set of community-centered programs, including the launch of one-stop financial service centers across the Washington, D.C. area. She also helped raise over $1M in support of that work. Prior to that she spent six years in New York City, working on neighborhood planning and economic opportunity initiatives in nonprofit and public sector roles.
She holds a Master of Urban Planning and Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan, and a bachelor’s degree in biology from University of Maryland, College Park.