Mercy Center for Women Executive Director Discusses Call to Lead, Empowerment


Today, women leaders are powerhouses in the business community, inspiring not just their employees and the people around them, but also other women and the next generation of female leaders. Here, Jennie Hagerty, executive director of the Mercy Center for Women (MCW), shares her thoughts on leadership and empowering others ahead of her presentation at the MBA’s fifth annual Women in Leadership IMPACT Luncheon on March 14 at the MBA Conference Center in Erie.

Please share a little about your leader- ship journey and how you came to be executive director of the Mercy Center for Women.

My leadership journey began at Hamot Medical Center as a practice manager for several years. The opportunity of serving as an advancement director for a local school and parish became available and my journey took a different turn. In 2017, the Sisters of Mercy provided me with my true calling in serving women and families in our community.

The Mercy Center has a unique history as a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Mercy. Tell us a little more about the history from that first knock on the door.

The Sisters of Mercy purchased a small home on the lower west side in 1986. The Sisters aware of the need to house women and children fleeing abusive relationships and homelessness expanded their mission. As the housing urgency increased throughout the years the Sisters invested in a former convent to expand housing, programming, and hope in 1994. Today, we have a campus to serve all individuals at MCW and MACC.

You’ve now been at the Mercy Center for seven years. Tell us about the Center, the services it provides today and the “empowerment” it is giving so many women (many with children) who have faced homelessness and/or are recovering from addiction or abuse.

The Mercy Center for Women provides a hopeful journey to our families. Our transitional housing program provides women with housing, education, financial literacy, job readiness skills, parenting classes and more. MCW celebrating its 30th anniversary has embraced over 1,000 women throughout the years. It takes a village to fight addiction. Partnerships are critical and relationship building with excellent Drug and Alcohol rehabilitation programs and drug treatment court is essential.

Tell us about the outpouring of support for the renovations at former Holy Rosary School.

The 2020 Vision Capital Campaign soared, exceeding the goal of $2.5 million. We raised $5 million with zero debt to carry forward. We hit the ground running and the MCW donors wrapped their hearts around our vision and drove the result. The partnerships with Second Harvest Food Bank, Dress for Success Erie, GECAC, AHN, Sarah Reed, and additional programming provided supporters with a vision. Building relationships and services to wrap around individuals living in poverty, addiction, and abuse is a win for the community.

You are a strong advocate of empowerment and collaboration. Tell us about the importance of collaboration when it comes to the nonprofit world, especially here in NWPA.

Partnership is a part of my everyday strategy. Together, we fight homelessness and the critical concerns surrounding it. There is no simple solution for any agency or housing program. By collaboration, we walk as one to fight. Empowering individuals to power through adversity and hold their heads high is a victory. Including our partners in this victory is success!

How valuable is the support you get from area businesses and business leaders? Why does “getting involved” matter?

Business involvement is critical. However, as a nonprofit, a clearly articulated vision is essential. The value of a partnership, gift or volunteer opportunity benefits the nonprofit. The Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) builds sustainable relationships with the business community. I respect the business community implementing volunteers into their mission. The Mercy Center for Women works hand in hand with many of these businesses. Their relationships with the nonprofit community builds relationships and awareness for both parties.

To learn more about the Mercy Center for Women, visit