Sarah Steward will become the next CEO of the Lawrence Township-based nonprofit group HomeFront, officials said.
Steward, who currently serves as HomeFront’s chief operating officer (COO) and whose office is next door to the office of retiring CEO Connie Mercer, was chosen after a nationwide search for Mercer’s successor, officials said. She will take over the top administrative post Oct. 1.
Mercer, who founded HomeFront in 1991, is stepping down Sept. 30 after 31 years as its CEO.
Ruth Scott, the president of HomeFront’s Board of Trustees, said the board agreed that Steward was the best candidate from among a field of applicants. Steward joined HomeFront in 2016 as its COO.
“Sarah brings a vast array of skills and experiences to this role. The nationwide search we conducted was a confirmation that Sarah is the right person for the job,” Scott said.
Mercer praised Steward, who has worked beside her for the past seven years. Mercer said she was pleased to hand over leadership of the nonprofit group to Steward.
Steward said the opportunity to lead HomeFront is “the honor of a lifetime.”
“I am humbled that Connie and the board have placed their trust in me to lead this work in service of local families. Not everyone gets a chance to do important, meaningful work in collaboration with tremendous colleagues and partners,” she said.
Steward holds a bachelor’s degree in government and psychology from Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pa., and a master’s degree in public administration from Rutgers University.
She previously served as deputy chief of staff and district director for former U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-12). She has served in Mercer County government and serves as president on the Ewing Township Council.
HomeFront helps the homeless and the working poor. It is organized around four pillars of support for its families – providing safe and secure housing; providing families with the tools they need to become self-sufficient; offering a resource network; and providing support for the children, according to its website.
At its Family Preservation Center in Ewing, clients learn everything from job training to formal life skills. There are programs for children that range from summer camp to pre-school and after-school programs.
HomeFront offers permanent, affordable and supportive housing in apartments scattered throughout Mercer County.
The nonprofit also offers a food pantry, furniture for clients’ apartments and a store where they can find clothing and other necessities for free.