Sister Mary Scullion, R.S.M. ’76, is president and executive director of Project HOME, a nationally recognized organization in Philadelphia 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. The 1976 graduate of Saint Joseph’s University was selected to chair the Hunger and Homelessness Committee for the week-long World Meeting of Families held in Philadelphia in September 2015, which featured Pope Francis’s first visit to the United States.
Sr. Mary 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 and mentally ill women. In 1988, she created the first Outreach Coordination Center in the nation, an innovative program coordinating private and public agencies doing outreach to chronically homeless persons.
In 1989, Sr. Mary and Joan Dawson McConnon co-founded Project HOME, which has grown from an emergency winter shelter to over 600 units of housing and three businesses that provide employment to formerly homeless persons. Project HOME also works to prevent 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, a model for integrated health care including primary care, behavioral health, dental care, a YMCA, a pharmacy and wellness services. It serves those who are homeless and is located in the second poorest zip code in Philadelphia.
Sr. Mary is also a powerful voice on political issues affecting homelessness and mentally ill persons. Her advocacy efforts have resulted in homeless persons receiving the right to vote, as well as a landmark federal court decision that affects the fair housing rights of persons with disabilities.
Sr. Mary has received numerous honorary doctorates for her leadership in the City of Philadelphia, including an honorary Doctor of Human Relations from Saint Joseph’s University in 1988. She was selected by TIME magazine as one of the “World’s Most Influential People” in 2009 and named 2011 Citizen of the Year by The Philadelphia Inquirer. In addition, Sr. Mary and Joan Dawson McConnon received the Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame in 2011.
Sr. Mary serves on the Board of Trustees of Saint Joseph’s University and the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation Board.