People’s Emergency Center announced today that its longtime president, Gloria Guard, has resigned, effective July 1, 2010.
Guard’s letter of resignation was accepted by Sharmain Matlock-Turner, chair of the PEC board and president of the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition. “The board of PEC accepts Gloria’s decision with deep gratitude for her outstanding contributions over the past twenty-six years. “PEC and the homeless women and children that we serve have benefited enormously from her vision, compassion, leadership, and commitment,” said Matlock-Turner.
The board of PEC will also honor Guard’s years of service to the agency with the Imprint Award in May 2010.
Under Guard’s leadership PEC has become a nationally recognized model that serves more than 400 homeless women and children each year. It has implemented many historic firsts in Pennsylvania, including the first on-site parenting education program for homeless families and first homeownership program for formerly homeless families. Over 90 percent of PEC’s shelter and transitional housing residents remain self-sufficient after graduating from the agency’s programs. During her 26 years of leadership, she has helped obtain over $80 million in revenue, and PEC’s workforce has grown to include over 90 employees and dozens of volunteers.
She also oversaw PEC’s community development activities, which have produced almost 200 units of affordable and special-needs housing, helped establish 25 new businesses, eliminated 110 vacant lots, repaired dozens of basic systems and facades on residential homes, and distributed hundreds of computers to low-income families.
The PEC board has begun a nationwide search for Guard’s replacement.
“My priority in the coming months will be to pave the way for my successor, make certain that all of our programs continue to serve homeless women and their children, and that our neighborhood is one where families want to live, work and shop.” Guard said. “I look forward to working with our dedicated and compassionate staff, remarkable volunteers, and outstanding corporate and government supporters to ensure that we keep our eyes on what’s most important:
helping women and children to overcome the crisis of homelessness and continuing to revitalize our neighborhood.”
David Fryman, partner at Ballard Spahr and incoming chair of the board says “Gloria is one of the most respected champions of the under-served that the city of Philadelphia has ever seen. She has brought to PEC an extraordinary level of energy, an indefatigable pursuit of social justice, and a bottomless heart. She has forever changed the way we as a society look at homeless families.” The PEC Foundation board chair, Grant Rawdin, remarked “Though Gloria will be leaving us, her indominatable spirit, vast list of contributions, and amazing ethic of commitment will become a permanent part of PEC. Her legacy will be immense.”
Guard stated that “I am most proud of the hundreds of homeless families that we helped at PEC who today are independent, working, solid parents and engaged citizens– totally invisible and immersed in the mainstream. Formerly homeless children are succeeding in high school, and a number have gone on to college. I have been truly blessed to encounter so many good people who have overcome such extraordinarily difficult circumstances. They are an inspiration to all of us.”
She continued, “I also want to express my deep thanks to the PEC board, which is simply superb. It is diverse in expertise and background and includes all the elements of a hard working team. The leadership is sophisticated and informed. The directors are consistently committed, generous and focused. They have been exemplary and I know that my successor will derive a great deal of support from them as well.”
In addressing the timing of her departure Guard stated that “I’ve been with PEC for over a quarter of a century. At some point all organizations have to prepare for the next phase. PEC is in outstanding shape organizationally, financially, and in terms of the high quality of its board, staff, programs, and facilities. I feel good about going now. In addition, the board is undertaking its strategic plan for the next three years this January, so announcing my decision now gives the organization a chance to weave in the executive search.”
Guard said she will announce her future plans in early spring. “Today is about PEC and the future of PEC, not about Gloria Guard” she stated.
Guard’s work earned her the 2004 Philadelphia Award, an honor reserved for the city’s most notable philanthropists, artists, political visionaries, and social activists. She has also received the Sower’s Seed Award from Trinity Washington University (2009), the Gold Coin Award from Inglis Foundation (2008), and was named one of the 75 Greatest Living Philadelphians by the Philadelphia Eagles and Dunkin Donuts (2007) and Citizen Volunteer of the Year by the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania (2001). Other honors include the Community Champion Award of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (2005), the Philadelphia Bar Foundation’s Louis D. Apothaker Award (2000), and the Professional Women’s Roundtable award for 2009.
Guard is also an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels School of Government and College of General Studies. She chairs the Regional Housing Legal Services board, co-chairs the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition, and serves on a number of national, regional, and local boards, including One Economy, the Affordable Housing Advisory Council of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, and the Advisory Committee of the NELI Program at Bryn Mawr School of Social Work.
Guard holds two master’s degrees from Bryn Mawr College and received a Fannie Mae Fellowship to the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University (2001). She lives in the Philadelphia area and has two children and three grandsons.