Vanessa Peter completed her graduation in history in 2003 and continued her education in Stella Maris for post graduation. She completed her post graduation in International Studies, Vanessa was particularly interested in the development sector and joined an international NGO in 2005. Soon after the Tsunami hit the southern part of the country in December 2004, Vanessa commenced her work with coastal communities in Tamil Nadu for their relief and rehabilitation.
While so, she also started working for informal settlements (slums and the urban homeless) across the State. Having been associated with the office of the Advisor to the Supreme Court, Vanessa was monitoring the implementation of 'Shelter for the Urban Homeless' programme. As a result of her lobbying and advocacy, there are nearly 200 shelters across all the Corporations and major Municipalities across Tamil Nadu. She was also instrumental in the designing and implementation of 'Shelter for Urban Homeless' for the Greater Chennai Corporation. Presently, she is a member of the Shelter Advisory Committee to monitor the programme.
Vanessa is also the member of the State-level Project Sanctioning Committee, constituted by government of Tamil Nadu to clear proposals and to ensure the quality of the programme. Currently, she is the member of the Supreme Court appointed state-level committee to monitor the functioning of the Shelter for urban homeless in Tamil Nadu.
Through her policy research and social audits, Vanessa has been striving to bring about pro-poor policies by the government of Tamil Nadu. In 2013, Vanessa started the 'Information and Resource Centre for Deprived Urban Communities' - a social initiative that seeks to address the disconnect between the poor, policy and the policy makers. Vanessa continues to be a policy researcher and a social activist since 2005.