Sister Mary Scullion and Joan Dawson McConnon, speaking to one another. Scullion is an elderly white woman with red hair and a blue button shirt, while McConnon has white hair and a purple button up shirt.
Sister Mary Scullion (left) and Joan Dawson McConnon (right). Photo courtesy of Project HOME.

Project HOME founders announce resignation from the homelessness nonprofit

After three decades, its founders Sister Mary Scullion and Joan Dawson McConnon, announce a transition of leadership.


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Sister Mary Scullion, co-founder of the nationally recognized anti-homelessness nonprofit Project HOME and advocate, recently announced her departure from the role of president and executive director of the organization.

Co-founder and associate executive director Joan Dawson McConnon has also announced her resignation.

Scullion will remain in her role through Dec. 31, 2024, assisting with the transition of leadership through June 30, 2025. McConnon will hold her position through June 30, 2024, and work as a consultant through the end of 2024.

Founded in Philadelphia in 1989, Project HOME has provided housing resources to the city’s homeless population, alongside helping them gain education, improve their health, and gain employment.

Over the course of the organization's 34-year history, the two founders have grown Project HOME from a South Philadelphian winter shelter, to holding the capacity for 1,000 housing units across 19 residences within the city.

Notably, Project HOME has expanded to wield a $52 million operating budget, which funds dozens of programs, their staff of 450, and maintains over one million square feet of real estate as they help thousands find homes, get jobs, become educated, and improve their health.

The two women met each other in 1988, at Mercy Hospice in Center City, where McConnon volunteered to aid women experiencing homelessness and Scullion visited friends in hospice.

From there, the two would develop a working dynamic where McConnon chose to focus on background work, giving room for Scullion to take the helm of their public responsibilities and addressing those in the media, politicians, and philanthropists, notably including popular musician Jon Bon Jovi.

Renowned across the nation, Scullion has even been named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in 2009, with other recognitions including the University of Notre Dame's Laetare Medal, the highest honor in American Catholicism.

Scullion graduated from St. Joseph's University in 1976, and Temple University's School of Social Work in 1987. 

As a nun, she is a part of the Roman Catholic order, known as Sisters of Mercy, and has taken the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience all nuns take, though she has taken it a step further and taken a fourth vow of service.

“We’ve done the best we can. It’s time for someone else to come in,” said Scullion, in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer. “The work has been such a blessing.”

“We’ve had a unique relationship, but we both realize it’s really time to move aside,” McCannon concluded.


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