Karen M. Hudson, MSW, LSW
Homeless Healthcare Advocate

Executive Profile

Karen M. Hudson, MSW, LSW, is recognized locally and nationally for being a strong and passionate advocate dedicated to eliminating health disparities among children and families experiencing homelessness. Also recognized for being a mentor to these families as well as a teacher to healthcare providers in training, Karen serves full-time as  Program Leader of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Homeless Health Initiative (CHOP/HHI), an award-winning, volunteer health outreach/health promotion program that provides access to free health services, health education to families and staff in homeless shelters, enhancement of healthcare professionals’ knowledge of and exposure to homelessness and its impact on children’s lives and their health, and lastly provides advocacy on behalf of this most vulnerable population.


Karen has over twenty-five years of experience working at CHOP with children, families and communities; helping to empower them and to connect them to needed services and resources. She enthusiastically and conscientiously is building community partnerships that promote health equity and reduce health disparities in children and families experiencing homelessness. She has a genuine love for teaching; currently serving as Adjunct Professor of Social Work at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice; her alma mater. Also at CHOP, she is a faculty member of the Maternal Child Health Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental & Related Disabilities (CHOP/LEND) program teaching on the topics of cultural diversity and community engagement.  Karen has presented at numerous local, regional, national and international conferences on the topics of homelessness and healthcare, health disparities, parenting, and child abuse and neglect of children with disabilities. She provides local program consultation and has been invited to assist colleagues across the nation as they seek to learn from and enhance their service to this population through replication of the Homeless Health Initiative.  


Karen is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Health at Walden University.  A pioneer and trailblazer, Karen is a graduate of the inaugural class of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s, CHOP INSIGHTS Forum, a minority leadership training program; followed by her co-teaching this training program.  Her demonstrated exceptional leadership has resulted in her nomination as a National Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leader and to her being the recipient of numerous awards, including the University of Pennsylvania Women of Color Faculty/Staff Outstanding Achievement Award, the American Red Cross Cornerstone Award, the National Health Care for the Homeless Local Hero Award and the Kermit B. Nash Social Work Leadership Award. She is a member of many professional organizations including the Association of Black Social Workers, American Public Health Association, and the National Healthcare for the Homeless Council which advocates on behalf of children that are experiencing homelessness all across the nation.   



Sandy Sheller, MA, ATR-BC, LPC
Clinical Director, Art & Family Therapist, Foundation President

Executive Profile

Sandy Sheller, a Licensed Professional Counselor, Board Certified Art Therapist, and Family Therapist, has spent most of her career seeking to improve the lives of traumatized and marginalized families and children; educating professionals and paraprofessional staff members on trauma, attachment, and mental health issues; and assisting with the transformation of behavioral health systems towards more culturally-sensitive trauma-informed organizations. Nationally and locally recognized for her expertise in homelessness, trauma, domestic violence, childhood abuse, and attachment; her sphere of influence extends past professional roles of therapist, professor at Drexel University (her alma mater), trainer, and organizer to serving as President of The Sheller Family Foundation where significant gifts are awarded to non-profit organizations.  

Work Experience

Sandy has over 15 years of experience: working with The Salvation Army as Art and Family Therapist in one of their family homeless shelters, as Coordinator of Mental Health Training for The Army’s Greater Philadelphia Region, and now as an independent Clinical Director.  Significant to her work at The Salvation Army was her involvement in the transformation towards more trauma-informed practices and services at all their social service programs in the Greater Philadelphia Area.  Her sphere of influence captured the attention of the city of Philadelphia’s Office of Supportive Housing and Deputy Mayor of Health and Opportunity who then went on to support a program she co-founded- a trauma-informed network group for social service employees and constituent agencies serving the homeless.  This is one of a number of civic and community activities and programs Sandy has developed that addresses economic, cultural, and social disparity.  She co-developed a women’s forum bringing together diverse groups of women to break down cultural and class barriers, and empower women dealing with adversity.  Sandy has also co-founded the Family Care Curriculum parenting training model lending her expertise on attachment theory to meet the needs of vulnerable parents.  Sandy has presented at numerous local, national, and international conferences on the topics of homelessness, art therapy, attachment, family therapy, domestic violence, and trauma.  She has served as a peer reviewer for a national journal, published in another national peer-reviewed journal on art therapy, and is a coauthor in a book chapter on parenting in the context of homelessness.  Finally, Sandy serves on the Board of The Girl Scouts, The Salvation Army,  Women Against Abuse, and is on the community engagement committee of the Philadelphia Opera.


In 2007, Sandy received from The Salvation Army their highest citizen’s award, “The Others Award,” for her dedication, innovative approaches, and extraordinary influence in improving the lives of families experiencing homelessness.  She has been recognized by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia for her exemplary and dedicated services to the community.  In 2008, Sandy’s demonstrated exceptional leadership leading her to being asked to serve as an expert panel member in charge of developing effective practices in the homelessness field for the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration (SAMSHA).  Her outstanding work with trauma resulted in her being selected to be a founding fellow and serve on the Advisory Committee of the Center for Non-Violence and Social Justice of the School of Public Health of Drexel University.  In 2012, she was awarded Alumni of the Year at Drexel University in recognition of her professional achievements and contributions to advancements within her field. Temple University honored her with the Russell H. Conwell Award, the highest award for non-alumni service to the community. In 2015, Women Against Abuse awarded her as Woman of the Year for her work and support of vulnerable families and children. That same year, Drexel University inducted her into the Drexel 100 Hall of Fame for making a significant difference in the world and bringing honor to Drexel.

March 2016





Staci Perlman, PhD

Assistant Professor, University of Delaware

Visiting Scholar, People’s Emergency Center

Dr. Staci Perlman, an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies with a joint appointment in the Delaware Education Research & Development Center at the University of Delaware, worked with the Family Care team to evaluate the effectiveness of the Family Care Curriculum.  Dr. Perlman was also a Visiting Scholar at People’s Emergency Center (PEC) in Philadelphia. She received her PhD in Social Welfare and MSW from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice. Her research interests were focused on using partnership

-based research approaches to promote the development and well-being of vulnerable children, youth and families. Dr. Perlman conducted research on early childhood interventions targeting young children in the child welfare and emergency housing systems and on adolescents who have experienced homelessness. In addition to ongoing collaborative work with PEC, she worked with the Philadelphia Department of Human Services as an external evaluator for a project targeting increased access to early childhood education and early intervention among young children involved with the child welfare system. Dr. Perlman co-chaired the APA Task Force for Promoting Positive Parenting Among Families Experiencing Homelessness. She co-edited the book, Supporting Families Experiencing Homelessness: Current Practices and Promising Directions in which she, Sandy Sheller, Karen Hudson, and C. Leigh Wilson authored a chapter entitled, “Parenting in the Face of Homelessness.”  Dr. Perlman was an integral part of the Family Care Curriculum team until she passed away in 2015.


March, 2016