Lena P. Afridi

Lena P. Afridi is the policy coordinator for equitable economic development at the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD) in New York City. ANHD is a coalition of 100 community groups across the city that are working for affordable housing and vibrant, just communities.

In her position at ANHD, Afridi performs quantitative research, data gathering, and geographic analysis to inform the organization's policy agenda, and she represents the organization's member interests when negotiating with policy makers and city government. Informed by the reality that no housing is affordable without a job, ANHD's Equitable Economic Development Initiative (EqED) fosters inclusive change and creates opportunities to prosper for New York City's low- and moderate-income communities. EqED empowers communities and neighborhoods that face barriers to economic opportunity, in particular, low-income communities, communities of color, immigrants, and women.

Prior to joining ANHD, Afridi worked as a research analyst with the Center for Urban Research at the City University of New York Graduate Center, compiling analyses of the New York City labor market, particularly racial breakdowns within industry-wide staffing patterns. Additionally, she worked as a national analyst for UNITE HERE, the union for hospitality and food service workers, and she has acted as a consultant to numerous community groups by providing technical assistance and policy expertise on campaign issues ranging from worker justice to immigrant rights to voting rights.

Afridi's approach bridges grassroots activism, regional planning, data analysis, and strategic campaigning. Her work has been featured in Next City, Boston Globe, Crain's, and The Guardian. In addition to her role at ANHD, Afridi is a Forefront Fellow with the Urban Design Forum and a contributor to Al Jazeera.

While at Cornell, Afridi learned the inner workings of the planning process, from community needs assessments to land use considerations. Now, she is grateful to be able to act as a knowledgeable resource to others in her field.

"My Cornell education is invaluable for community advocates," says Afridi. "A framework of community participation shaped much of my coursework and continues to influence my career. Above all, six years later, I continue to be awed by my peers who fight to make their communities better each day."

Afridi holds a B.A. in politics from Mount Holyoke College and an M.R.P. from Cornell University. A lifelong New Yorker, Afridi currently lives in Brooklyn, but, she says, she will always be from Queens.