After only half a decade out of school, East Sider Prutha Patel has accomplished an incredible amount in both her career and off-work pursuits. This month, she retires from her year as Miss New England, a platform she has used to promote lupus awareness. The Boston University graduate is a VP for Orange Leaf Yogurt and manages 40 commercial and residential units in her hometown of East Greenwich, Warwick and here on the East Side for a related private investment group. The position developed after Patel purchased her own four-unit house off Benefit Street in 2013.
“When a few of the Orange Leaf partners wanted to start diversifying their portfolio, they asked me to manage it,” Patel recalls. “I knew nothing about real estate management, but I was buying my first house and thought, ‘Okay, I’ll just learn as I go.’”
Patel finds new challenges energizing. “I’ve always taken a lot on my plate; that’s just how I thrive,” she says. “The more I do, the better I am. I love interacting with others and team efforts.” In her free time, she chairs the board of The Lady Project, the Providence nonprofit which “connects, inspires and showcases awesome women doing amazing things in our community,” in
“I’m a one-woman office, and I don’t have other females to bounce stuff off of; I wanted a sounding board,” Patel continues. At the Lady Project, “I felt like I had a like-minded family outside of my work that understood me. We empower one another and build each other up.”
Another inspiring nonprofit experience came through Leadership Rhode Island, an initiative that offers strengths-based training and education to its participants. Patel connected with the other women in her class so much that they decided to create a Leadership RI Women’s networking group; she serves on the steering committee.
When she was diagnosed with lupus in June 2015, Patel was forced to slow down her busy pace and rest for months. “I just hit a wall – I physically couldn’t keep going,” she says. She discovered there was no support group for those with the disease in Rhode Island, so she decided to start one; it met for the first time in September 2016. Lupus is “my main cause that I feel passionate about,” she says. Patel is grateful that her diagnosis was mild enough that she could continue to advocate for awareness, and that her health has recovered since. “I never thought that I would be back to who I was, but I can honestly say that I feel better than I’ve ever felt now.”