Dawn's house - A Home For Dawn

About Us

Since 2009, Dawn’s Place has been a pioneer in offering a safe and caring residential setting for survivors of commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) or sex trafficking. Our vision is to provide a new beginning for survivors through our residential program which can accommodate eight women in private bedrooms. Dawn’s Place offers an opportunity for women to pursue healing and a purpose in life. The comprehensive, individualized program at Dawn’s Place recognizes the trauma that trafficked women have endured and attempts to deal specifically with the issue of CSE. We also attend to the myriad of other issues related to CSE that have impacted women’s lives, i.e. substance abuse and mental health disorders, legal and educational concerns, future occupation, housing and the reunification of families, where possible.


The mission of Dawn’s Place is to proactively support women affected by CSE and its abuse by providing direct services to women, raising awareness through education and generating prevention, public policy reform and community collaboration.


Dawn’s Place utilizes survivor input into the on-going development of our program and has hired two Dawn’s Place graduates as key day staff members who work with residents. One graduate is the Resident Coordinator and the other is her assistant. Even though research supporting the treatment of CSE survivors is a relatively new area, we have incorporated current recommendations for best practices. The in-house therapist provides trauma-informed counseling both individually and in group sessions.

Dawn’s Place provides a safe, non-judgmental environment to up to eight women affected by CSE. We offer a year-long residential program. Each resident works with a social worker to develop a plan for recovery, moving through the program in phases designed to methodically and simultaneously increase responsibility for themselves, their future, and the community which enables them to build a sense of freedom and empowerment. Our holistic program includes trauma-informed therapy, peer mentor support, art and music therapy, mindfulness instruction, access to health care, education, legal assistance, life and social skills coaching, career training, finding housing, and access to a fitness area. We connect residents dealing with addiction or mental health issues with off-site intensive outpatient programs. As women progress through the program, the skills they acquire become self-sustaining, allowing them to become drug-free, sober, employed and able to live independently.


Women who complete the residential program are offered up to six months additional housing in our transition house if needed. It provides more independence while they find a sustainable job and affordable housing. Continued services are available for any of our graduates through our After-Care Program. The skills that women acquire at Dawn’s Place allow them to become independent, return to society and succeed.

Our Staff

Kathleen Coll, SSJ, Executive Director
Our Executive Director is a Sister of St. Joseph of Philadelphia with a background in teaching in Philadelphia and Washington inner cities schools as well as working with teens in Philadelphia and Baltimore. She worked at Trinity Health, Newtown Square, PA as the Administrator of Shareholder Advocacy where she addressed companies on human trafficking, human rights, and other social and environmental issues. Before joining Trinity Health, she was the Social Justice Coordinator for the Sisters of St. Joseph where she directed the congregation's social justice efforts and shareholder advocacy program. She along with four other women founded Dawn's Place, served on the Board and volunteered at Dawn's Place monthly. She is also a member of the steering committee for US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking which provides educational materials and training on ways to counter human trafficking. Her formation includes a degree in education and a Master's degree in Religious Studies. Kathleen has had training in trauma and its affects on victims.

Mary Shay, Program Director/Trauma Therapist
A graduate of the University of Scranton and Temple University, Mary has 10 years of experience in Trauma work. She has worked in the fields of behavioral disorders, childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence, and human trafficking, with a focus on treating Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She holds her a Pennsylvania Social Work license and is currently studying to become a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner.

Ann Marie Jones, Residential Coordinator
Former resident and graduate of Dawn’s Place brings a unique perspective from the wisdom she has gained through her journey of transformation from victim to healer. Anne Marie, who is now a peer recovery specialist, initiated and developed a Twelve Step sexual exploitation recovery group. Because of her life experience, Anne Marie has expertise that professional training cannot replicate. She is able to assist the residents to articulate their goals for recovery and healing, and support them in advocating for themselves to obtain effective services.

Brendale McAfee, Assistant Residential Coordinator
Brendale McAfee was a resident at Dawn's Place, who began working part-time to help the residents, and is now working full-time as Assistant Residential Coordinator. Her invaluable life experience helps her work with other women who have been commercially sexually exploited. She works with women who have mental health issues, as well as with women who have a history of substance abuse. Brendale offers her assistance to the Residential Coordinator in upholding the Mission of Dawn's Place and its policies. She is also responsible to ensure the execution of the clients' weekly schedules, keep track of house needs, and other tasks. She is very skilled at interacting with the residents in a supportive and positive fashion.

Joanna Fulginiti, Grant Writer
A graduate of Temple University, Joanna has over 10 years of experience as a fundraiser and advocate for survivors of Commercial Sexual Exploitation. She previously worked for nonprofits that support the arts, senior communities, and at-risk youth. As a grant writer, she is passionate about sharing the inspiring stories of courage of the women living at Dawn’s Place. She is also an artist and has directed two community art advocacy projects to promote awareness of the injustice of sex trafficking – The Ragdoll Project, which travelled across the US and to China, and The Face of Dawn’s Place, which promoted the work of Dawn’s Place in the Philadelphia region. Outside of the office, Joanna’s pursues her interests in art and healing, and spends much time in nature, hiking, camping, and building community. She can be reached at dawnsplacejf@gmail.com.

Shevaun Brannigan, Director of Development
Shevaun Brannigan is a graduate of University of Maryland (BA) as well as Bennington College (MFA), and has worked at various nonprofits from local to international levels for more than a decade. Her enthusiasm for fundraising works in tandem with her desire to help create a more just world for marginalized communities. In addition to advocating for survivors of Commercial Sexual Exploitation, her interests include animal welfare, vintage clothing, and writing poetry. She can be reached at dawnsplacesb@gmail.com, and loves talking to the people who make Dawn's Place vital work possible.


The Board of Dawn's Place includes a number of professionals who collectively have more than 30 years of experience in helping women trapped in CSE. They come from diverse backgrounds including psychiatric, nursing, social work, public policy fields, and criminal justice. All of these individuals have made a commitment to helping women out of CSE and informing the public of the unsuspected evils of CSE to women.

Board of Directors:
President, Mary DeFusco, Esq.
Defender Association of Philadelphia

Vice-President, Katina Sawyer, PhD
Assistant Professor Management
George Washington University

Secretary, Shea M. Rhodes, Esq.
Director, Villanova Law Institute to Address
Sexual Exploitation

Treasurer, Thomas Geddes Gilchrist, CPA, ACMA, CGMA
Finance Committee

Ann McCain Brown M.A.R.

Sr. Maureen Erdlen, SSJ, LSW, MBA, JD/MPP
General Counsel

Everett Gillison, Esquire
Defender Association of Philadelphia

Gerry Givnish
Neighborhood Representative

Mary Ellen Marzullo
Development Committee Co-chair

Tambora Reaves
Women Survivor Advocate, Independent Artist

Elizabeth Turner M.D.
Development Committee Co-chair

Deborah J. Wojno, M.A.


Dawn’s Place was the first residential treatment program for victims/survivors of CSE in the tristate region, serving women both American and foreign nationals. Since its opening more than ten years ago, Dawn’s Place has admitted more than 110 women of which 18 are foreign nationals. While evolving, Dawn’s Place is a national model, offering long term care for women with complex physical and emotional needs, giving them a way out. Dawn’s Place is the only organization in the city of Philadelphia, PA that offers a 12-month residential program in an environment of safety and trust whose focus is to treat adult women affected by CSE. Since its opening, Dawn’s Place has received women from Homeland Security, FBI, the courts, prisons and other social service agencies.


In 2004 Catholic Social Services formed the Philadelphia Anti-Trafficking Coalition (PATC), an organization made up of members from more than 20 groups: local religious communities, social services organizations, and law enforcement agencies. In July of 2007 two local public defenders attended a meeting of the PATC and spoke out regarding the needs of their clients charged with prostitution. As a result of this meeting, Sr. Teresita Hinnegan, MMS, a member of the Coalition, and Mary DeFusco, Esq., one of the attending defenders, begin discussing the feasibility of providing a residential program for women who had been internationally or locally trafficked for commercial sex work. None of the organizations involved in the PATC provided a residential program where women could have long term healing and rehabilitative services that were specifically related to having been exploited for commercial sex work.

Sr. Teresita and Mary were joined by Sisters Terry Shields, MSHR, Kathleen Coll, SSJ, and Marissa Bluestine, Esq., to found Dawn’s Place in Philadelphia in 2007, as a non-profit organization and residential program. It was named in honor of a prostituted woman who was murdered in Camden, New Jersey. Our name was created from the hope of a new day “dawning” for women who had been victimized for Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE).

Shortly after Dawn’s Place was formed, the above women began an intensive search for a house. This search coincided with the closing of a residence for women in Philadelphia. The Sisters of the Good Shepherd had worked for over 100 years to help women who had been victims of abuse and other misfortunes. Unable to continue this ministry, the Sisters were happy to donate the house to be used as a residential program for trafficked, pimped, and prostituted women.

The law firm of Ballard Spahr, LLP provided pro bono legal services to enable the incorporation of the entity, the acquisition of the property, and the proper zoning for the program. Other resources were donated to rehabilitate the house to meet code standards and create an attractive, comfortable home for women where they could receive therapeutic and other services, restore their dignity, and prepare to return as productive members to society. Congregations of Religious Women have been an enormous resource, both through financial donations and many hours of volunteer service at the residence. Referrals of women come from a variety of sources including: Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Department of State, and the FBI for international women. Domestic women are referred through the criminal justice system, self-referral, or through other human services agencies.


  • We value the whole person of the women we serve: body, mind, soul and spirit. We believe women need healing in all aspects.
  • We value the individuality of women and recognize each woman’s story is different and path to healing will be unique.
  • We value helping women become self-sufficient, achieving the dignity that comes from becoming self-supporting. We value teaching women skills they can use to earn a living.
  • We value the power of simple love. If all we are able to offer a woman is love, we believe that is a measure of success.
  • We value the dignity of women and believe that women suffer from being prostituted and should be treated as victims and survivors rather than as criminals.
  • We value justice and believe that CSE is a crime against women.
  • We value working together in collaboration with other likeminded organizations and sectors of society that treat women as survivors rather than criminals.
  • We value walking with the women during their stay at Dawn’s Place and their journey after they graduate.
  • We value being a voice of education and advocacy against CSE to society at large.
P.O.Box 48253
PA, 19144
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