HomeFront’s founder announces transition from CEO role

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Connie Mercer, HomeFront founder, has announced that she will transition from her role as CEO on Sept. 30. 

Mercer laid the groundwork for HomeFront’s mission with volunteers around her kitchen table 31 years ago, and in the years since has built an effective and important organization that stands today as a national model for how to effectively break the cycle of family poverty, according to information provided by HomeFront on March 23.

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Following this leadership transition, Mercer plans to focus her efforts on addressing the issue of homelessness more broadly at the state and national levels.

HomeFront’s Board of Trustees is working with Mercer to ensure a smooth transition and has engaged a national search firm to identify Mercer’s successor, according to the statement.    

“This is the right time,” Mercer said in the statement. “For decades, HomeFront has felt like my child and today I feel like a proud parent whose child has grown up into a capable, mature adult, ready to meet the future. Leading HomeFront through a pandemic during the last two years gave me the opportunity to observe the agency’s strength and resilience. HomeFront’s Board of Directors and experienced and dedicated staff are ready. We have a strong and vibrant infrastructure which will allow me to concentrate on the growing problem of homelessness throughout New Jersey and nationally.”

Mercer said moving forward, one of her key priorities is the Shelter Providers Consortium of New Jersey.

“This association of homeless shelters and advocacy groups has enormous potential to improve the futures of hundreds of thousands of people and I am deeply excited to be a part of that. By broadening my focus, I will also be supporting HomeFront by identifying strategic partnerships, collaborations, and other development and advocacy opportunities,” she said in the statement.

Last year, HomeFront answered 52,439 calls for help for shelter, homelessness prevention, permanent service-enriched housing, job training, children’s programming, food and other essentials. 

Further, HomeFront has become a national thought leader in the social service field.

Mercer has been honored at the White House during President Barack Obama’s administration, received an honorary doctorate from Princeton University, and was inducted in 2019 into the NJ Hall of Fame for Housing and Economic Development.

“Connie’s extraordinary vision and unflagging dedication has transformed the lives of thousands of homeless families,” Ruth Scott, chair of HomeFront’s Board of Trustees, said in the statement. “She has built HomeFront, in strong partnership, with the community, to provide the breadth of services needed to help families break the cycle of poverty. We look forward to celebrating Connie in the months to come and are excited to announce that we are establishing a Connie Mercer Fund at HomeFront in her honor to express our immeasurable thanks.”

“Connie was the first person to say that I could make it, that I was beautiful, that I was special,” former HomeFront client Stacey said in the statement. “I was 48 years old and felt like a failure because I lost my job and we were two weeks from being evicted. That was six years ago.” 

Today, Stacey and her family are thriving, she is happily employed, her children are college educated, and she still regularly paints and sews with HomeFront’s ArtSpace, according to the statement.

For information on how to participate in events celebrating Mercer, or how to honor her through a donation to the Connie Mercer Fund, email homefront@homefrontnj.org or visit www.homefrontnj.org.

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