Pratt Center Director Adam Friedman stepping down, Lena Afridi appointed Interim Director

Adam Friedman will step down from his role as Director of Pratt Center for Community Development on December 15th, 2021 to become the Chief Strategy Officer at Pratt Institute. Lena Pervez Afridi, Pratt Center’s Director of Policy and Strategic Partnerships, will serve as Interim Director. In this capacity, she will both direct the organization and lead an advisory committee tasked with identifying a permanent executive director in the fall of 2022. Afridi will be the first South Asian American to lead Pratt Center in its 58 year history. 

Under Adam Friedman’s leadership, the Pratt Center has built on the legacy and strong foundations nurtured by Pratt Center’s previous Directors, Founding Director and Pratt Institute Emeritus Professor Ron Shiffman (Director 1964–2003) and newly elected New York City Comptroller Brad Lander (Director 2003–2009). Pratt Center advanced strategies to catalyze sustainable, equitable local economies anchored by a strong manufacturing sector. The Center’s research and advocacy was critical to new zoning and policies to protect the city’s industrial business zones, and the creation of a new fund to help mission-driven organizations purchase and manage manufacturing space. Pratt Center launched game changing programs and pilots such as Retrofit Block by Block and EnergyFit as a crucial part of long-term, equity-led climate change planning. Continuing a legacy of capacity building and technical assistance services to grassroots groups that reaches back to the 1960s, the Center has supported community-led organizations across New York City to shape development in their neighborhoods, build power against displacement, undo legacies of systemic racism in the built environment, hold the powerful accountable, and envision a city in which all New Yorkers can thrive. 

Interim Director Lena Afridi is well positioned to continue and expand this work. Born in Karachi, Pakistan and raised in Queens, she has devoted her career to fighting for good jobs, truly affordable housing, and equitable development shaped by and for low wealth communities of color and immigrant communities. Her work has spanned movements for over a decade and connects issues of race, labor, and city planning, all of which will both ground and connect Pratt Center to its historic priorities of addressing economic and racial inequities through rigorous research, data analysis, and advocacy. Lena previously served as Director of Policy and Strategic Partnerships at the Pratt Center. Prior to joining Pratt, she was the Director of Policy at the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development and served as Policy Director for Maya Wiley’s 2021 mayoral campaign. Lena is a Next City Vanguard Fellow and an Urban Design Forum Forefront Fellow.


11 Nov, 2021