In 1989, Sister Mary Scullion and Joan Dawson McConnon co-founded Project HOME, a nationally recognized organization that provides supportive housing, employment, education and health care to enable chronically homeless and low-income persons to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty.
Project HOME co-founders Sr. Mary Scullion, left, and Joan Dawson McConnon
Under their leadership, Project HOME has grown from an emergency winter shelter into an
organization ending homelessness with 535 units of affordable housing, employment services, and two
social enterprise businesses that provide employment. Project HOME also prevents homelessness
in a low-income neighborhood in North Central Philadelphia. This initiative includes greening vacant lots,
economic development, home ownership for the working poor, a free medical clinic, and the Honickman Learning
Center and Comcast Technology Labs-a 38,000 square foot, state-of-the-art center that offers comprehensive
educational and occupational programming, including an independent K-5 school.
Project HOME is now an international model for alleviating homelessness and poverty on a large scale, and is consistently rated at the highest levels for its fiscal management. Project HOME has won numerous awards, including:
- National Alliance to End Homelessness Nonprofit Sector Achievement Award (2005)
- National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty's STAR Award for constructive, creative, innovative and replicable approaches to ending homelessness
- Charity Navigator 4-star rating for sound fiscal management (2004-2008, 2011-2012)
- CBS National News recognition as a national model to end homelessness (2006)
- The San Francisco Chronicle recognition as a national model to end homelessness (2004)
- The Denver Post recognition as a national model to end homelessness (2004)
- The New York Times recognition as a national model to end homelessness (2003)
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recognition as one of the "100 Best Practices" (2000)
- Philanthropy Roundtable recognition as one of the "16 most efficient and innovative charities we know of anywhere" (2000)
Sister Mary Scullion, Executive Director and President
Sister Mary Scullion has been involved in service work and advocacy for homeless and mentally ill persons since 1978. She was a co-founder in 1985 of Woman of Hope, which provides permanent residences and support services for homeless mentally ill women. In 1988 she helped to found the Outreach Coordination Center, an innovative program coordinating private and public agencies doing outreach to chronically homeless persons in Center City Philadelphia. In 1989, she co-founded Project HOME, along with Joan Dawson McConnon, which has become a nationally recognized program providing solutions to homelessness and poverty.
Sister Mary is also a powerful voice on political issues affecting homelessness and mentally ill persons. Her advocacy efforts resulted in the right of homeless persons to vote as well as a landmark federal court decision that affects the fair housing rights of persons with disabilities.
Sister Mary has received numerous awards and honorary doctorates for her leadership in the City of Philadelphia, including the 1992 Philadelphia Award. In 2002, Sister Mary was awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship, and that same year, she and Joan were national awardees of the Ford Foundation's prestigious "Leadership for a Changing World Award." In 2009, she was named by TIME Magazine's as one of "The World's 100 Most Influential People". In 2012, the Philadelphia Inquirer selected Sister Mary as their Citizen of the Year.
Sister Mary serves on the Board of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation and of CeaseFire PA.
Joan Dawson McConnon, Associate Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer
Upon graduation from O'Hara High School, Joan Dawson continued her education at Penn State University, receiving a Bachelors of Science Degree in Accounting. After graduation from Penn State, Joan received a Master's Degree in Taxation from Drexel University, becoming a CPA in 1983.
Joan worked at both GTE and Corning Glass as an Accountant for 6 years. While volunteering in the various cities where she worked, Joan witnessed the suffering of women, men and children who were forced to live on the streets. When she returned to Philadelphia in 1987, Joan began volunteering at Mercy Hospice and doing outreach work with the Philadelphia Committee for the Homeless. In 1989 she decided to change the direction of her professional life, and began working with others to find permanent solutions to end homelessness. That year, along with Sister Mary Scullion, Joan founded Project HOME In 2011, Joan and Sister Mary were jointly awarded the University of Notre Dame's Laetare Medal, the oldest and most prestigious honor given to American Catholics.
Joan is the recipient of Drexel University's Service to Community Award, the Spirit of Philadelphia and the Catherine McAuley Spirit of Mercy awards.
Joan is a member of the Board of Directors of Regional Housing Legal Services.