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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 provides advocacy on behalf of this most vulnerable population.

Work Experience

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) fellowship program mentoring fellows and teaching on the topics of cultural diversity and community engagement.  Karen co-founded the Family Care Curriculum (FCC) parenting training model and she serves on the APA Taskforce on Promoting Positive Parenting in the Context of Homelessness. She has presented at 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 city and 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, and the National Health Care for the Homeless Local Hero 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 advocating for children experiencing homelessness all across the US.  


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, Family Therapist, and Assistant Clinical Professor, 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. She has worked in inpatient settings, a children's partial hospital, an adolescent residential setting, a private counseling facility serving foster care and adopted children, and a family homeless shelter.   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, trainer, and organizer to serving as President of The Sheller Family Foundation where significant gifts are awarded annually to non-profit organizations.  

Work Experience

Sandy has over a decade of experience working with The Salvation Army, first as Art and Family Therapist in one of their family homeless shelters, then as Coordinator of Mental Health Training for their Greater Philadelphia Region, and finally in her present position as Clinical Director of Independent Projects.  Significant to her work at The Salvation Army was her involvement in the transformation towards more trauma-informed practices, programs, 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, now in its fifth year.  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-hosts a women’s forum bringing together a diverse group 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 parents residing in homeless shelters and other 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 and has published in another national peer-reviewed journal on art therapy.  Finally, Sandy serves on the Dean’s Advisory Committee of the College of Nursing and Health Professions at Drexel University (her alma mater) and is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Drexel, teaching, supervising, and serving as a thesis committee advisor for graduate students in the Creative Arts in Therapy Department of the College.  


In 2007, Sandy received from The Salvation Army their highest once-a-year citizen’s award, “The Others Award,” for her dedication, innovative approaches, and extraordinary influence in improving the lives of families experiencing homelessness and those that work with them.  That same year, the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Pennsylvania recognized her for her exemplary and dedicated services to the community.  In 2008, Sandy’s demonstrated exceptional leadership and work with this population led to her 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.  She was most recently selected for the Alumni of the Year, Alumni to Profession Award at Drexel University in recognition of her professional achievements and contributions to advancements within her field.
May, 2012


Staci Perlman, PhD
Assistant Professor of Social Work at Kutztown University

Dr. Staci Perlman, Assistant Professor of Social Work at Kutztown University, is working with the Family Care team to evaluate the preliminary effectiveness of the Family Care Curriculum.  Dr. Perlman earned her doctoral degree in Social Welfare and MSW from the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.  Her current work involves using community-based participatory research to identify strategies and interventions that promote the early development and well-being of young children experiencing homelessness. She is currently co-editing a book, Supporting Homeless Families: Current Practices and Future Directions; and was the lead author of a recently published manuscript, “Promoting Positive Parenting in the Context of Homelessness”. She is the co-chair of the APA Division 37 Task Force on Promoting Positive Parenting in the Context of Homelessness and was the 2011 recipient of the Child Maltreatment Section of the American Psychological Association’s Early Career Award for Outstanding Contributions to Practice in the Field of Child Maltreatment.