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Clean City

May/03/2024 / by Team Seema

The woman bringing new perspectives to the City of Brotherly Love

From one of the birthplaces of the United States to the heart of urban revival, Philadelphia is a city where history and progress intersect. No one exemplifies that more than Prema Katari Gupta, the new head of the Center City District (CCD) in Philadelphia. As a Penn graduate and mother of two, Gupta brings a unique perspective to her role, combining her love for the city with a data-driven approach to urban development.

Gupta joined the CCD in 2020, just six days before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, she remains hopeful about the future of Philadelphia and the role the CCD can play in its recovery. Her predecessor laid the groundwork for a resilient and diversified downtown, and Gupta is determined to build on that foundation.

One of her primary focuses is public safety and cleanliness. She believes that by addressing these issues, the CCD can help change the perception of downtown Philadelphia and encourage more people to live, work, and visit the area. Gupta is also a strong advocate for the benefits of in-person work, arguing that being together fosters efficiency, rapport, and a sense of community. 

“Being together makes work more efficient, but it’s also just nice,” she recently told Philadelphia magazine. “I’m great friends with the women I worked with in my first job, at Yale, from 2000 until 2003. These are women who taught me how to work in an office and be a grown-up. Being in-person can be fun.” 

As a self-proclaimed nerd, Gupta is obsessed with data and trash-management systems, always on the lookout for new ways to improve the cleanliness of the CCD. “I have photos of trash bins from my travels all over the world,” she says. “Really. I’ll be on an anniversary trip with my husband, snapping photos of trash-collection systems.” 

Gupta is also a firm believer in the power of shared, collective experiences that cities provide, from dining on 13th Street to attending Phillies games and Taylor Swift concerts. Looking ahead to 2026, with the World Cup, and All-Star Game on the horizon, Gupta is excited about the opportunity to showcase Philadelphia to the world. 

Seema

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