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Nikishka Iyengar: 2025 Loeb Fellow

Each year, the Loeb Fellowship at Harvard University invites ten distinguished professionals to a 10-month residency at Harvard’s Graduate School of design.

Fellows include civic leaders, architects, public artists, urban planners, and this year, The Guild’s founder and CEO, Nikishka.

The goal? To commit themselves to full-time learning, dreaming and exploring new possibilities of scaling their work.

This commitment requires stepping away for the academic year, which is a big step for our team. But we’re up for the challenge and excited for the opportunity to step into the work we’ve been doing over the past year to strengthen our roots, so that our branches can grow even stronger.

“As a founder who’s been nurturing The Guild for nearly a decade, stepping away to fully engage all that Harvard, MIT and the Loeb fellowship offer is life-giving at this stage.

My work plan through the fellowship is focused on bridging the gaps between community development and community organizing, rooting social entrepreneurship and economic development deep within social movements, and scaling community ownership of land, housing and real estate as a climate justice and resilience strategy. All this alongside my brilliant peers in this fellowship class — from Nigeria to Palestine.

I’m looking forward to bringing all the learning and growth back to scaling The Guild’s impact in meaningful ways.

When we became a worker-owned cooperative in 2022, we committed deeply to a democratized workplace and have continued to develop and flex those muscles since then. As we’ve built models and projects of community ownership externally, we’ve been building an organizational culture and foundation that allows us to live into the same values.

If you know me, you know how much I love ecological metaphors. As forests grow, ‘after a significant event where large openings occur, grasses and shrubs may initially populate the site and over a period of time, trees will begin to establish’.

I’m looking forward to the trees that will emerge as I step back and our team continues to step into their leadership even more.”