Grist for the MILL

Marianne Paley Nadel '85
Brian Klotz
Marianne Paley Nadel '85

Marianne Paley Nadel ’85 is a connector.

In fact, the trait runs in her family. Like her father and grandfathers before her, she’s focused on accelerating opportunity and building communities. That’s why she’s turning a section of the historic Everett Mills complex, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, into a common space that will foster opportunities for collaboration and mentorship.

Inspired by the idea of “maker spaces,” Paley Nadel has joined with community organizer Jennifer Hilton to create a space to share resources, including a motion-capture studio, a 3-D printing lab, and woodworking and textile tools, with new generations of Lawrence entrepreneurs.

The Maker Innovation Lab Lawrence (MILL) will open this summer. Established businesses and startups as well as individual artists and craftspeople will be encouraged to join, says Paley Nadel.

“I see the MILL as a steppingstone for local entrepreneurs, as well as a source of business growth and workforce development,” she says.

In 1981, her father, Bert Paley, purchased the Everett Mills, which, when it housed textile factories, employed hundreds of immigrant workers, including his Russian-born mother. A successful outerwear manufacturer, Paley recognized the complex could be a formidable economic engine. Soon, he was attracting job-creating tenants such as Ralph Lauren to the site.

Paley Nadel became the owner/manager of the Everett Mills — which today provides space for a wide range of tenants, including high-tech businesses and health providers — after her father died in 2008. “My dad loved hearing about people’s businesses and providing any help he could,” she says. “I’ve come to appreciate what he did, and I try to honor that now.”

The family’s interest in community building extends back to both of Paley Nadel’s grandfathers, who played a role in Brandeis’ early days: Henry Cohen was a benefactor; Morris Palefsky was the contractor who built the Bernstein-Marcus Administration Center. (Other Brandeis alums in the family include Paley Nadel’s brother, Rabbi Michael Paley ’75, and niece Lindsey Freedman ’03.)

Even as an undergrad, Paley Nadel, an English major who minored in urban studies, thought about how property and buildings can contribute to community development. “I was lucky to study with professors who were looking at the urban experience through literature,” she says, citing English department faculty members Philip Fisher and Allen Grossman, PhD’60, P’99, as particularly strong influences.

Later, Paley Nadel earned a master’s in urban planning at MIT. She became the first executive director of Groundwork Lawrence, a community-based nonprofit aimed at improving open spaces, environmental education and access to healthy food.

Unemployment in Lawrence has dropped over the past four years. Paley Nadel is happy to be playing a role in the city’s revitalization.

“Lawrence is vibrant, and filled with opportunity and amazing, creative people,” she says. “It makes me love coming to work every day.”

— Brian Klotz