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Sister Kathleen Coll, SSJ

It was hot the day that I met Sr. Kathleen Coll, SSJ. She came to my office in August 2006 with two other religious sisters from different orders, Sr. Teresita Hinnegan and Sister Terry Shields. She came to do something about human sex trafficking in Philadelphia, that was going under the radar as “prostitution”. Their visit was the only response I received when I asked over twenty different social service agencies, and law enforcement divisions, for help for women arrested for prostitution in Philadelphia.

Sr. Kathleen spoke quietly and calmly. It would be easy to underestimate her steely determination. Now, over 15 years later, those of us who have worked with her, first on the Board of Dawn’s Place, and later, as Executive Director, are not in any danger of underestimating either her resolve or her ability.

Sr. Kathleen took over the helm of Dawn’s Place at a tumultuous time. She dealt calmly and capably with a funding shortfall, a giant tree crashing through a ceiling, and an unprecedented pandemic, to name just three of many crises. Through it all, she never lost sight of her goal: to protect and help the women of Dawn’s Place. She protected the women, and guided the staff, and she did it while still speaking quietly and calmly. She did it from the wellspring of her caring heart.

Dawn’s Place now welcomes our new Executive Director, Sr. Meaghan Patterson, SSJ. Dawn’s Place has now had four Directors. Hopefully, over the years, Dawn’s Place will continue with many more. Regardless of how many directors Dawn’s Place will ultimately have, it will never have a director more capable, more committed, or more caring than Sr. Kathleen Coll. It has been my great privilege to work with her and call her my friend.

Mary DeFusco

Co-Founder & President of the Board,

Dawn’s Place


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