The Board of Directors of Harford Family House announces the retirement of CEO Joyce Duffy on June 10, 2016 and the appointment of Duffy’s successor, Robin Tomechko, who started in April as the new executive director.
Duffy has been the face of the non-profit since she came on board in September of 2008, and under her direction Harford Family House has increased its ability to serve homeless families in the community while maintaining a $25 per night cost to house a homeless mother, father or child. Duffy credits much of the success the organization has experienced under her leadership to increasing volunteerism, in-kind donations and keeping a tight hold on expenses. She says, “We grow our infrastructure as we grow in the number of people we can serve at a time.”
Duffy has also increased Harford Family House’s visibility and reputation as the largest provider of services to homeless families in Harford County. With a success rate that reaches 70-80 percent annually, Harford Family House programs help families develop the skills they need to become and remain independent. “I don’t know of another CEO who has presided over such growth and has a skill set so broad. Joyce outworks everyone, and does so with an eye to helping others as the families we serve can testify to,” says Scott Elliott, Immediate Past President of the Harford Family House Board of Directors.
Harford Family House has grown from 25 to 40 residences during Duffy’s tenure, and from a staff of three full time and one part time employee to nine full time and three part time staff members. Along with completing a $1.3 million capital campaign to renovate the Delle Grove Apartment building, Harford Family House’s primary location, Duffy has worked to remove the barriers to client success by adding a mentoring program for their children; creating the Wheels for Work program that transports clients from Anna’s House, Harford Family House and SARC to work while helping them work toward car ownership; and starting a child care support program funded by a grant from the Dresher Foundation.
Duffy also created or facilitated many strategic and successful fundraising events for Harford Family House including the Hope in Handbags Purse Auction, Harford’s Most Beautiful Baby Contest, Home Runs for the Homeless and a Preakness-themed 25th Anniversary Gala which raised the organization’s single largest donation amount of $103,000 in one night. Under her direction, Harford Family House recently expanded its services into Cecil County – with its first privately and exclusively Cecil County-funded Housing First Model – housing a homeless family for a year.
Harford Family House has won numerous awards under Duffy’s leadership, including the Harford Award for non-profits in 2015, The William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award in 2013 and the Housing for Everyone Award from the TD Bank Foundation in 2010. Duffy herself was a finalist in the Harford County Athena awards in 2013, a non-profit winner of Maryland’s Smart CEO Brava Award in 2014, and chosen as one of the Maryland Daily Record’s Top 100 Women in 2016. Duffy launched her career in Harford County by attending the 2009 Harford Leadership Academy, where she says she met many of the people who have supported and encouraged her during her time at Harford Family House.
“I love the mission of Harford Family House and will remain involved,” assures Duffy. “It has been such a blessing to watch so many families transition from hopelessness and homelessness to hope and independence. Looking ahead, my goal is to do consulting work, thereby helping many businesses and non-profits to grow and thrive.”
New Executive Director Robin Tomechko is a seasoned non-profit executive and Harford County resident who spent nearly 30 years with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake. Tomechko started as a case manager before working her way up to president and CEO of the $2.5 million youth mentoring organization, working collaboratively with the Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, children and their families, donors and community leaders. Among her accomplishments were the expansion of agency services and revenues, the successful launch of two new pilot program initiatives in Baltimore and leading the organization through two affiliate mergers. She also served as chair of the Maryland State Association of Big Brother Big Sister Organizations as well as a Big Sister Mentor.
Recognized and supported by the community as an outstanding non-profit leader, Tomechko was named The Maryland Daily Record’s Most Admired CEO in September 2012, recognized by Baltimore’s Smart CEO magazine as a Brava Award Winner in July 2012, and inducted by The Maryland Daily Record into its Top 100 Women’s Circle of Excellence in 2007 after winning the award for three years. Tomechko holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Towson University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from West Virginia University.
Tomechko, a resident of Forest Hill for almost 28 years, is enthusiastic about her new position, saying “It’s not every day you get the chance to serve in a role that fulfills your passion for service to vulnerable children and families right in your own backyard.” Tomechko adds, “I am excited to work side by side with Joyce during this transitional period. We all wish her well in the next chapter of her life, but hope she knows that she will always have a special place in our Harford Family House hearts. ”
Outgoing CEO Duffy couldn’t be more enthusiastic about her successor, saying “I am so excited to be turning the leadership of Harford Family House over to a person as experienced, accomplished and passionate about serving as Robin. I know the future of Harford Family House is bright in Robin’s capable and caring hands.”