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avatar for Sonam Velani

Sonam Velani

NYC Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development
Senior Advisor
Sonam Velani is a Senior Advisor to New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development. She develops strategic policies to increase affordable housing, build infrastructure, and promote economic development throughout NYC. Her signature projects include Women Entrepreneurs NYC, providing 5,000+ women access to capital, courses, and mentorship to start and scale their businesses; LifeSciNYC, a $500 million, 10-year plan to establish NYC as the global leader in Life Sciences research and innovation; the Brooklyn Queens Connector, a new $2.5 billion state-of-the-art streetcar system that connects transit-starved communities along the burgeoning East River waterfront; and the Sharing Cities Alliance, a coalition of 22 cities across the globe that collaborate on data and policies to effectively shape the sharing economy and enhance urban life. Previously, Sonam was an Urban Development Associate at the World Bank. She helped plan, finance, and implement infrastructure investments across South Asia, including mass transit systems in India, coastal protection structures in Bangladesh, and civic technology applications in Nepal. Sonam started her career at Goldman Sachs, where she financed over $10 billion of infrastructure projects for clients including the City of New York, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the Chicago Public Schools. Sonam has a BA in Economics, Government, and Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard University. She was born in Mumbai, India and moved to the U.S. as a young child. An undocumented immigrant for over two decades, Sonam has made it her mission to pay it forward. She founded MPower, a mentorship program for youth from immigrant communities, helping students navigate the college admissions process and increase enrollment in top-tier universities. Sonam is active in her community and enjoys traveling on a shoestring (50+ countries), museum hopping, and cooking in her free time.