Leadership at Project HOME
Since 1989, Project HOME has helped thousands of people break the cycle of homelessness and poverty by providing a continuum of services that includes street outreach, supportive housing and comprehensive services that focus on health care, education and employment through both adult and youth education and enrichment programs at the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs and community-based health care services at the Stephen Klein Wellness Center. Project HOME and its partners have pledged to end chronic street homelessness in Philadelphia, housing 2,200 people—1,000 people who have been long-term street homeless, 200 youth who are homeless and/or aging out of foster care, and 1,000 people who are homeless on the street and addicted but ready for recovery and work.
The leadership team at Project HOME is dedicated to empowering individuals to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness through affordable housing, employment, health care, and education.
Sister Mary Scullion
President and Executive Director
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 residential and support services for homeless, mentally ill women. In 1988, she founded the first Outreach Coordination Center in the nation, an innovative program coordinating private and public agencies doing outreach to chronically homeless persons living on the street.
In 1989, Sister Mary 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. Under their leadership, Project HOME has grown from an emergency winter shelter to over 800 units of housing and two businesses that provide employment to formerly homeless persons. Project HOME also prevents homelessness in a low-income neighborhood in North Philadelphia. This initiative includes economic development, homeownership for the working poor, and the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs – a 38,000 square foot, state-of-the-art technology center that offers comprehensive educational and occupational programming.
In 2015 Project HOME opened the Stephen Klein Wellness Center. The Stephen Klein Wellness Center is a model for integrated health care including primary care, behavioral health, dental, a YMCA, pharmacy and wellness services. It serves those that are homeless and is located in the second poorest zip code in Philadelphia.
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 honorary doctorates for her leadership in the City of Philadelphia. She was named 2011 Citizen of the Year by the Philadelphia Inquirer and selected by Time Magazine as one of the “World’s Most Influential People in 2009”. In addition, Sister Mary and Joan Dawson McConnon received the Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame in 2011. She was awarded the Eisenhower Fellowship in 2002 as well as the Distinguished Alumnus Eisenhower Award in 2010.
Sister Mary serves on the Board of Trustees of St. Joseph’s University and the Board of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation. She also chaired the Hunger and Homelessness Committee for Pope Francis’s visit to Philadelphia in 2015.
Joan Dawson McConnon
Associate Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer
As the Associate Executive Director/CFO of Project HOME Joan Dawson McConnon is responsible for the financial leadership of the organization and its related entities. In addition, Joan collaborates with the Executive Team Leaders driving our real estate development and asset management activities, our property management services, our IT initiatives and our Legal and Human Resources functions.
McConnon earned her B.S. degree in Accounting from Penn State University and her M.S. degree in Taxation from Drexel University. She co-founded Project HOME in 1989 after working in industry and the public accounting sector for eight years.
Vice President of Information Technology
As the Vice President of Information Technology, Mary Graham-Zak’s primary responsibility is to provide technology vision and leadership for Project HOME. Graham-Zak leads the development and implementation of technology (IT) and communications systems that support the strategic mission of the organization, including voice and data communication networks, information systems, business applications, and other related technologies as adopted by each department. And, she ensures the integration of the Strategic Plan of the organization with day-to-day operations.
Prior to her employment with Project HOME, Graham-Zak was the Chief Technology Officer for Lower Merion Township for over 15 years and prior to working for local government, Graham-Zak worked for over 20 years in information technology positions with various healthcare organizations in the Philadelphia area.
Graham-Zak has a B.S. from Drexel University and an MBA from St. Joseph’s University.
Vice President of Education and Workforce Development
As Vice President of Education and Workforce Development, Hadley leads Youth and Adult Education, Employment Services, and Social Enterprises. Hadley joined Project HOME from Maternity Care Coalition, where she designed and implemented the agency’s first program performance and evaluation system. She has focused on program development throughout her career, and has had operating experience in a variety of fields, including large-scale manufacturing, customer service, and technology start-up operations.
Prior to Maternity Care Coalition, she provided operations leadership in diverse settings with Technoserve in Accra, Ghana and Booz & Company in New York.
Hadley has a B.S. in Engineering from M.I.T., an MBA from Stanford University and an M.S. in Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania.
Vice President of Property Management Services
As Vice President of Property Management Services, Hill leads a team responsible for the day to day property management activities such as leasing, recertifications and maintenance at the residential and commercial locations. The property management services team is also responsible for ensuring the process incorporates a mission driven approach to property management, while maintaining compliance with applicable regulatory programs and funding entities.
Prior to joining Project HOME, she worked for 15 years in the affordable housing industry, helping to establish policies, operational procedures and compliance programs. Cheryl has a B.A. from San Francisco State University and a MBA from Georgia State university. She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional (CCEP) and has a number of housing industry certifications.
Vice President of Development and Communications
As Vice President of Development and Communications, Annette Jeffrey leads a talented team of fundraising and communications professionals seeking to grow financial resources for Project HOME. In this role, Jeffrey works closely with Project HOME’s philanthropic partners and oversees annual and capital giving, individual and institutional giving programs, donor events, volunteer and in-kind gifts, and Project HOME communications.
Jeffrey has over 18 years of development experience providing leadership at United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music, and the Philadelphia Orchestra and Academy of Music.
Jeffrey has B. M. and M. M. degrees from Oberlin College Conservatory of Music.
Monica Medina McCurdy, PA-C
Vice President of Healthcare Services
McCurdy oversees an expanding healthcare services department. She successfully led a team to obtain Federally Qualified Health Center status in 2013 that focuses on serving individuals and families who are homeless and low-income. The FQHC will be moving into a newly constructed 28,000-square-foot facility in January 2015 located in North Philadelphia that will house medical, behavioral health, dental, pharmacy, wellness classes, physical therapy, as well as a YMCA-operated fitness center.
McCurdy has 11 years of experience working with underserved individuals and families as a primary care provider, university instructor, and health center administrator. Her prior experience includes working full-time at Drexel University (2002-2006), at a private family practice in Delaware County (2006-2008) and at two free medical clinics (2006-2008) in Philadelphia serving non-English speaking immigrants from Southeast Asia. McCurdy is a nationally-certified physician assistant, has an M.A. in Advanced Physician Assistant Studies from Drexel University, and B.A. in Government from the College of St. Benedict.
Vice President of Outreach and Special Initiatives
As the Vice President of Outreach and Special Initiatives, Player leads the Outreach Programs to ensure quality services and meaningful engagement with people experiencing homelessness with a focus on securing housing. In this role, Player also provides leadership to Project HOME’s work in Kensington, in conjunction with the real estate, property management, residential, education, and healthcare teams.
Prior to joining Project HOME, Candice Player was an Associate Professor of Law at Northwestern Law School, where she taught classes on health law, tort law, and bioethics. Player holds an A.B. from Harvard College, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and a Ph.D. in Ethics and Health Policy from Harvard University. In 2003, Player received an M.Phil. in Criminology from the University of Cambridge.
Marianne T. Schuster
Marianne Schuster joined Project HOME in December 1983 as the Controller. She is responsible for overseeing the Accounting department and for the budget and financial reporting for Project HOME. In her role, she ensures the implementation of policies and procedures that protect assets and provide for a strong level of internal control.
Prior to her employment at Project HOME, Schuster was vice president of accounting for two years and vice president and controller for 14 years for LEAF Financial Corporation in Philadelphia where she managed both the Accounting and Investor Relations departments. She was an accounting manager for Fidelity Equities Corporation, a real estate syndication company. She began her career in public accounting attaining the level of senior accountant with Arthur Andersen and Company.
Schuster earned her B.S. in Accounting from Villanova University and achieved her Certified Public Accountant designation in Pennsylvania. She is a member of both the PICPA and the AICPA.
Vice President of Residential and Homeless Services
Sue Smith serves as Vice President of Residential and Homeless Services. In this role, she provides oversight to 14 supportive housing programs, the Outreach Coordination Center that helps chronic homeless individuals access services and housing, the Philadelphia Supportive Services for Veteran Families (PASSVF) program and our employment program providing job training and competitive employment opportunities.
Prior to coming to Project HOME, she worked for nearly 30 years in NYC where she developed and managed services in over 1,000 units of supportive housing, developed a nationally recognized system for accessing housing and behavioral health services for mentally ill individuals being released from NYS prisons and administered a NYC wide Single Point of Access system for referrals to NYC’s supportive housing, ACT and Case Management programs.
Smith has a B.S. from New York University and M.S. from Columbia University School of Social Work.
Vice President of Real Estate Development and Asset Management
Janet is responsible for leading the real estate team at Project HOME. Real estate development and asset management at Project HOME are shaped by our mission and projects range from building an ongoing pipeline of new supportive housing developments financed under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program to a new wellness center financed under the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program, as well as the preservation of the existing affordable housing in our portfolio and ongoing major capital projects to improve existing properties.
Janet has almost 30 years of experience in working on affordable housing and real estate development related projects and issues. As a lawyer, her practice focused on housing and related permitting and financing matters, which over time led her to concentrate her professional and volunteer efforts increasingly to serve nonprofits and to focus on ending homelessness.
In addition to her JD, she has a M.S. in Public Policy and Public Administration. Janet practiced law in Boston and was a principal in a housing consulting firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts, prior to entering the nonprofit sector as in-house counsel and director of real estate for an organization in the Boston area. Janet moved with her family to the Philadelphia area in 2011 and is grateful to be a part of the Project HOME community.
Vice President for Public Affairs and Strategic Initiatives
Laura Weinbaum is responsible for focusing organizational efforts and communicating with stakeholders to implement a $300 million multi-year effort to end and prevent chronic street homelessness.
Prior to joining the staff of Project HOME, Weinbaum worked as a technology consultant with two organizations – Liberty Net and TechRocks – that helped nonprofits use new media tools in advocacy, recruitment, and fundraising to further their missions. Weinbaum previously worked as Assistant Director of Philadelphia’s Redevelopment Authority, at the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, and as Research Director of the Committee of Seventy.
Weinbaum has a B.A. in Urban Studies from Columbia University and an M.A. in Governmental Administration from the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently on the Board of the Homeless Advocacy Project and an Adjunct Fellow at the Penn Center for Public Health Initiatives, among other community activities.
Lara Carson Weinstein
The Resident Advisory Board currently has 14 regular members out of 25 members who come occasionally to represent Project HOME permanent housing sites and alumni. Along with the Board of Trustees and the Executive Team, the Resident Advisory Board is a main leadership body at Project HOME.
The Resident Advisory Board’s three main roles are to:
- Play a strategic role in helping Project HOME live out our vision: “None of us are home until all of us are home”
- Advise Project HOME’s Executive Management team on the development and implementation of our Strategic Plan
- Ensure that resident concerns are resolved at the appropriate level
- Formalize and strengthen the Resident Advisory Board
- Develop a process to keep board focus on Mission, Advocacy and the Strategic Plan
- Assist in the development and support of tenant councils
With a transformational leadership gift from Leigh and John Middleton, Project HOME created a public/private initiative to end and prevent chronic street homelessness in Philadelphia. The Middleton Partnership comprises visionary leaders who have joined with Leigh and John Middleton to ensure that together we realize this bold goal.
Since 2011, Project HOME and its community partners have created a new strategic and collaborative approach to provide housing, healthcare, education, and employment. Under Project HOME’s lead, the Partnership has identified the longest-term and most vulnerable people living on the streets and developed a comprehensive program of permanent housing (with services designed to break the cycle of homelessness) and also the necessary capacity to prevent chronic street homelessness in the future.
In addition, the Partnership will pilot evidence-based practices in drug- and alcohol-free housing coupled with employment, leading to greater economic independence for people struggling with addiction and chronic street homelessness. To prevent future homelessness, the Partnership will create new permanent supportive housing with strong education and employment opportunities targeted to youth aging out of foster care or who are experiencing homelessness.
The financial leverage and collaborative impact of the Middleton Partnership allows Project HOME to greatly expand its housing and services, including building six new residential programs with a total of 500 additional housing units – doubling overall housing capacity – and a new wellness center offering integrated health care services including primary, behavioral health, and dental care, together with wellness programs. Not only does the Middleton Partnership help Project HOME carry out its mission of ending homelessness, it generates economic and fiscal impacts throughout the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
On a daily basis, we witness the tremendous strength and courage of men and women who have overcome homelessness. And daily, we experience what happens when a community with a shared vision comes together – what Jon Bon Jovi calls “The Power of We.” Together, we can seize this opportunity and make the ambitious hope of ending chronic street homelessness in Philadelphia a reality. We invite every sector of society to join us in this hope – and help make Philadelphia the first major City in our nation to end and prevent chronic street homelessness.
Sheila and John Connors
Gloria and John Drosdick
Pam Estadt and Ira Lubert
Janet and John Haas
The Honickman Family
JBJ Soul Foundation
Thomas Jefferson University and Hospitals
Peggy and Harold Katz
Stephen B. Klein
Leigh and John Middleton
Elizabeth R. Moran
Neubauer Family Foundation
Raynier Institute and Foundation
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc.
Our Advocacy and Public Policy team won a landmark case in the Third Circuit Federal Appeals Court, which established a legal precedent ensuring fair housing practices for homeless persons with special needs. For nearly 25 years, Project HOME has worked with a variety of coalitions on the city, state, and national levels to impact public policies, educate elected officials and maximize resources for housing and services
Teams from our Outreach Coordination Center, in partnership with the City of Philadelphia, Hall Mercer, Horizon House, the Mental Health Association of SEPA, and SEPTA, canvass the streets of Center City and surrounding areas around the clock to link homeless individuals with shelter, supportive housing, medical care, mental health care and substance abuse treatment
Project HOME has developed 802 units of affordable and supportive housing for persons who have experienced homelessness and low-income persons at-risk of homelessness in the City of Philadelphia; there are an additional 30 units under construction, 42 units in predevelopment and 170 units in the pipeline. Our goal is to complete 1,000 total units of affordable housing in the near future
James Widener Ray Homes opened in 2012, a completely renovated, 53-unit building in the Tioga section of Philadelphia, the first development of the Middleton Housing Partnership, made possible through a transformational leadership gift from Leigh and John Middleton
JBJ Soul Homes, a four-story, mixed-use development that will bring retail space and 55 apartments for formerly homeless and low-income men, women, and children to the Francisville neighborhood, opened in April 2014
Francis House of Peace, a 94-unit, mixed-use development that will provide affordable housing to both a special-needs population (formerly homeless men and women and young adults) and to individuals living on low incomes, opened in May 2016
Opened Ruth Williams House at the Gene & Marlene Epstein Building, an 88-unit mixed use building in North Philadelphia, in April 2018
Broke ground on Gloria Casarez Residence, which will include 30 one-bedroom units of affordable housing targeted to young adults (age 18-23) who are homeless, have experienced homelessness, or are at risk of homelessness (including those aging out of foster care), and will be LBGTQ-friendly, in December 2017
In partnership with SEPTA and the City of Philadelphia, expanded the Hub of Hope into a permanent location in Suburban Station to offer year-round services
Opportunities for Employment
Our Employment Services program works with over 200 residents and alumni each year on educational assistance, job search, job coaching, resume writing and budgeting. We make employment referrals and maintain relationships with community partners including Fresh Direct, The Fresh Grocer, Loews Hotel, PA CareerLink, Morgan Lewis & Bockius and ShopRite
The Social Enterprise program was recently created to operate an increased number of social enterprises that provide employment opportunities and workplace skill development for formerly homeless individuals. The HOME Page Café and the Library Restroom Attendant Program in partnership with the Free Library of Philadelphia, Starbucks and Metropolitan Bakery, HOME Spun Resale Boutique, and HOME Made number among the initiatives
Our Adult Learning and Workforce Development Program at the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs, serves more than 1,200 annually, thanks to generous funders like the Raynier Foundation and Citizens Bank.. The program provides employment services to formerly homeless residents and community members, including: Adult Basic Education/GED Preparation; Computers and Technology; Job Readiness; Resume Workshops; Career Tracks Programs; Workforce Development Workshops; and Career Fairs. We also partner with the Urban League of Philadelphia to provide free customer service training and placement support
The Harold A. Honickman Young Entrepreneur Program provides teens the opportunity to create and run small businesses. This competitive program provides students with business mentors, workshops and start-up funding for business projects proposed by them
In partnership with the Exelon Veterans Training & Employment Program and Independence Blue Cross, we place formerly homeless veterans and other residents in paid internship positions at partner organizations across the city. Through this initiative, formerly homeless men and women have access to paid work experience for a period of three to six months
Our Community Health Initiative, a partnership with the Thomas Jefferson University Department of Family & Community Medicine, makes approximately 2,000 contacts with patients annually, providing community-based, high-quality health care and health education services to the St. Elizabeth’s/Diamond Street neighborhood in North Philadelphia. We work to ensure our residents obtain health insurance and link them to preventive health care services
Partnerships with Council for Relationships and House of Hope and Peace enable neighbors to access behavioral health services - including individual, child, couple and family therapy, as well as workshops on stress management, anger management, parenting, building family and community resilience, coping with anxiety and depression, and empowering the self and others to address violence in the community
Opened the Stephen Klein Wellness Center (SKWC), a Federally Qualified Health Clinic where Project HOME, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, and other partners will provide community-based, uniquely integrated health and wellness services targeted to the needs of the North Central Philadelphia Community. Recently opened a pharmacy inside the SKWC, in partnership with the AmerisourceBergen Foundation and Good Neighbor Pharmacy
In partnership with the Einstein Healthcare Network, began offering free root canal treatment at the Stephen Klein Wellness Center
Our Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs (HLCCTL), a state-of-the-art, 38,000-square-foot technology center in North Central Philadelphia, provides critical educational and workforce development programs for neighborhood children and their families. The North Philly Footstompers Drill Team allows 25 youth to compete in local and national competitions, and offers opportunities that change and enlarge their world perspective while building their self-esteem, leadership and discipline
Awards and Recognitions
Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations (PACDC) Blue Ribbon winner for Francis House of Peace (2017)
Project HOME won the inaugural Willard G. “Bill” Rouse III Award for Excellence from the Urban Land Institute Philadelphia for the design of JBJ Soul Homes (2014)
Philadelphia City Council recognized Project HOME for "achieving 25 years of providing exceptional services to the homeless population in the City of Philadelphia" (2014)
Sister Mary Scullion and Joan Dawson McConnon awarded University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Urban Research's 10th annual Urban Leadership Award, which honors urban visionaries for their transformative leadership for sustainable and inclusive cities (2014)
Sister Mary Scullion received the 2013 James Cardinal Gibbons Medal from The Catholic University of America Alumni Association (2013)
Joan Dawson McConnon awarded Penn State’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the University's highest award for an individual (2012)
Sister Mary Scullion named 2011 Citizen of the Year by the Philadelphia Inquirer (2012)
Sister Mary Scullion and Joan Dawson McConnon receive the University of Notre Dame Laetare Award (2011)
Sister Mary Scullion is selected by MORE Magazine as one of the “50 Strongest Women” (2011)
Sister Mary Scullion is selected by Time Magazine as one of the “World’s Most Influential People in 2009” (2009)
Sister Mary Scullion and Joan Dawson McConnon are selected by Dunkin’ Donuts and the Philadelphia Eagles as two of the “75 Greatest Living Philadelphians” (2007)
Project HOME receives the National Alliance to End Homelessness Nonprofit Sector Achievement Award (2005)
Project HOME receives the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty’s STAR Award for constructive, creative, innovative and replicable approaches to ending homelessness (2004)
Project HOME recognized by The New York Times as a national model to end homelessness (2003)
Project HOME receives the Ford Foundation’s national “Leadership for a Changing World Award” (2002)
Project HOME recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as one of the “100 Best Practices” (2000)
Project HOME recognized by Philanthropy Roundtable as one of the “16 most efficient and innovative charities we know of anywhere” (2000)