Project HOME Co-Founders to Transition Out of Day-to-Day Roles in 2024

Project HOME
Sister Mary Scullion and Joan Dawson-McConnon

Since founding Project HOME in 1989, S. Mary Scullion and Joan McConnon have grown the organization into a nationally recognized leader in addressing homelessness

Today, Project HOME announced that it will begin executing its long-term leadership succession plan, which will conclude with co-founders S. Mary Scullion, Executive Director, and Joan McConnon, Associate Executive Director, transitioning out of their day-to-day roles by December 31, 2024.

Scullion and McConnon have worked with unsheltered people for more than 45 years and founded Project HOME together in 1989. They’ve dedicated their lives to the fight against homelessness in Philadelphia. Under their leadership, the organization has grown from an emergency winter shelter to over 1,000 units of affordable housing across 19 residences and four program sites including three small businesses that provide employment to formerly homeless persons. Over the past 34 years, Project HOME has helped thousands of people break the cycle of homelessness and poverty by providing a continuum of services including street outreach, supportive housing, and comprehensive services focused on healthcare, education, and employment.

A Message From Sister Mary And Joan

“What an extraordinary blessing it has been to work with such a transformational community to fulfill our mission of ‘None of us are home until all of us are home,’” said Scullion. “I’m so proud of the progress we’ve made in ending and preventing chronic street homelessness in Philadelphia. While there is more work to be done, I have unshakeable faith in the Project HOME community of staff and residents and our many partners – trustees, donors, committee members, volunteers and more – to move our mission forward.”

“Project HOME is extremely well-positioned for future success and will continue to drive change and create opportunities for those who are struggling to find their way home,” said McConnon. “Together, Mary and I believe the time is right to start this transition, which we’re certain is the beginning of an incredibly positive next chapter in the story of Project HOME. I’m so deeply appreciative for all this community has given to me and my family and I cannot imagine spending my career doing anything else. It has been life-changing in the very best way.”

Over the past three decades, Scullion and McConnon have grown Project HOME into a nationally recognized leader in addressing the root causes of homelessness and empowering individuals to break the cycle of homelessness. Key achievements under their leadership include:

  • Receiving the largest gift of its time to a homeless organization from Leigh and John Middleton, enabling the creation of MPOWER, which has leveraged $30 million into more than $250 million in less than a decade
  • Developing 1,030 units of affordable and supportive housing at 19 residences for persons who have experienced homelessness; and 144 units of recovery-focused, permanent, supportive housing have been developed in response to the opioid crisis
  • Coordinating the city of Philadelphia’s street outreach efforts, facilitating thousands to break the cycle of homelessness
  • Expanding the Hub of Hope homeless engagement center into a permanent location in Suburban Station to offer year-round services
  • Building the Stephen Klein Wellness Center to provide community-based integrated health and wellness services to those in need, including Medication Assisted Treatment for opioid use disorder
  • Opening the Honickman Learning Center Comcast Technology Labs to offer critical educational and workforce development programs for adults, children, teens, and their families
  • Establishing the Estadt-Lubert Collaborative for Housing and Recovery to change the way the opioid epidemic is addressed for individuals experiencing homelessness

As two of Philadelphia’s most revered nonprofit leaders, Scullion and McConnon have been honored by local and national institutions for their philanthropic work. Scullion was named one of the “World’s Most Influential People in 2009” by TIME Magazine and “Citizen of the Year” by The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2011. McConnon was awarded Penn State’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the University’s highest honor for an individual, in 2012.

Project HOME will be moving to a more traditional, single executive director organizational model. The associate executive director position – currently held by McConnon – will not be replaced. The responsibilities of that role have been strategically delegated to three key members of the organization’s executive team over the past several years.

Project HOME’s board of trustees has established a search committee, chaired by Joyce Wilkerson, which will oversee a national search for a new Executive Director. It has retained McCormack + Kristel, a national provider of executive search consulting services for nonprofit and philanthropic organizations.

“On behalf of the Project HOME Board of Trustees, we are profoundly grateful for all S. Mary and Joan have given to Project HOME,” said Wilkerson. “While their roles may be evolving, we’re certain that their dedication to this organization’s critical work will not change. We look forward to launching the search for an executive director who displays an unwavering commitment to and resounding excitement about finishing what they’ve started.”

Scullion will remain in her role through December 31, 2024 and will be assisting with the leadership transition through June 30, 2025. McConnon will stay on through June 30, 2024 and then will consult in her capacity as outgoing Associate Executive Director through December 31, 2024. After that, both Scullion and McConnon will remain involved in an advisory capacity through 2028 to consult on the newly announced Estadt-Lubert Collaborative for Housing and Recovery project.

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None of us are home until all of us are home®