Mission First Housing Group

Who We Are

Mission First Housing Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to ensure everyone has a safe, affordable place to call home.

Our Vision

Mission First Housing Group's vision is to be a premier partner in expanding affordable, equitable, safe, sustainable home options in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Mission Statement

Mission First Housing Group’s mission is to develop and manage affordable, equitable, safe, sustainable homes that support residents and strengthen communities.

Core Values

  • Inclusive Leadership

    We lead with a commitment to helping staff and residents feel that they belong and perform at their best.

  • Empowered Engagement

    We provide staff and residents with tools, resources, opportunities, and support to help them succeed.

  • Collaborative Creativity

    We invite every person to express their ideas, and we leverage our collective strengths in the ways we work, act, and solve problems.

  • Intentional Integrity

    We tell the truth. We conduct ourselves in the best interests of residents and communities and act to grow trust in carrying out our roles and responsibilities.

  • Objective Openness

    We promote transparency.

Brief History

What began more than 30 years ago as a joint venture between the City of Philadelphia, HUD and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has become a full-service, nonprofit affordable housing organization developing high-quality, green community assets across the Mid-Atlantic region. Mission First’s original purpose was to provide for the housing needs of adults living with chronic mental illness. In June 1989, Mission First acquired its first property – a South Philadelphia duplex. Our first resident moved in to an apartment there October 1, 1989 and lived there for 22 years.

Over the course of our history, Mission First employed a number of key strategies and innovative practices to support its expansion, including incorporating an affiliated nonprofit entity to lease, manage and maintain its properties and coordinate resident services; leveraging funding to acquire property; assembling complex financing sources; and developing a successful model for utilizing mergers, acquisitions and friendly take-overs to help stabilize troubled affordable housing projects and expand its portfolio.

Having developed a successful model for providing safe, quality, affordable housing for a particularly vulnerable population, Mission First sought to expand its model to new geographies and serve others in need. Mission First’s footprint is now the entire Mid-Atlantic region and it now serves a diverse resident population that includes families, veterans, survivors of domestic violence, seniors and individuals with disabilities.

Today Mission First provides safe, affordable, sustainable homes to more than 5,500 people in over 4,000 units.

Mission First’s family of organizations:

1260 Housing Development Corporation

Columbus Property Management

Mission First Housing Development Corporation

Making It Possible to End Homelessness

Mission First Senior Staff

  • Chip Darling Interim Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer
  • Mark Deitcher Acting Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President, Business Strategy
  • Robert H. Kwait, Esq. Corporate Counsel
  • Sarah Constant Senior Vice President, Real Estate Development
  • Sue McPhedran Director of Development, Philadelphia region
  • Elizabeth Askew Everhart Senior Development Manager (DC/MD/VA)
  • Moira Rooney Director of Philanthropy & Communication
  • Jessica S. Moore, HDFP® Director of Asset Management
  • John Bohn District Manager, Facilities (PA/NJ/DE)
  • Lisa A. DiBenedetto Director of Risk Management
  • Susan McMichael Director of Compliance

Chip Darling

Interim Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer

Chip Darling is the Interim Chief Executive Officer at Mission First. As Interim CEO, Chip provides leadership to a staff of more than 200 individuals, and reports to the Board of Directors and works collaboratively with Executive and Director-level staff members in each of the respective entities to ensure the organization consistently achieves its mission and financial objectives. While Interim CEO, Chip also continues the role of Chief Operating Officer and is responsible for managing the real estate operations of Mission First and oversight of the company’s real estate portfolio.  Chip also coordinates with the senior executive team to implement the strategic vision of the Board.

Chip previously held the position of Director of Development, Philadelphia Region at Mission First.  Prior to joining Mission First, Chip was Vice President of Developer Relations at Riverside Capital where he managed the company’s largest developer-client.  Mr. Darling began working in affordable housing over 20 years ago as a community and economic development consultant.

Chip holds a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

Mark Deitcher

Acting Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President, Business Strategy

Mark is responsible for identifying new development opportunities, expanding Mission First into new geographic markets, working with key local partners  and securing the necessary financing and local approvals necessary for these affordable housing  developments.  In his role, he also collaborates with the Director of Philanthropy & Communication on the development and implementation of the fundraising and communications strategy. Prior to joining Mission First, Mark worked for 19 years as a consultant for Fairmount Ventures where he assisted both for- and not-for-profit developers with the financing of affordable and special needs housing. He helped procure over $300 million in financing to help create 2,000 units of affordable housing. In addition, at Fairmount, he advised nonprofit and governmental agencies on a range of economic development and public policy issues. Mark has a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University. He currently serves on the boards of ACHIEVEability and the Hassel Foundation.

Robert H. Kwait, Esq.

Corporate Counsel

Rob provides in-house counsel on real estate development and financing, corporate structuring, landlord-tenant issues and general corporate oversight and communications. His responsibilities include oversight of all real estate, loan, low-income housing tax credit funding transactions, and related legal matters. Rob also serves as a corporate officer to Mission First Housing Group.   Prior to joining Mission First in 2003, Rob worked in private practice at Duane Morris, LLP and at Spector, Gadon & Rosen, P.C., concentrating in real estate, bankruptcy and reorganization and corporate law.   Rob holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Consumer Economics and Housing from Cornell University and a Juris Doctor from Cornell Law School. 

Sarah Constant

Senior Vice President, Real Estate Development

Sarah is responsible for managing development projects, building client relationships and overseeing the company's day-to-day development operations. To date, she has closed more than $200 million worth of deals during her career and has numerous projects in development.

Prior to joining Mission First, Sarah spent two years working for the Community Banking Group at Fleet Bank in Boston. There, she originated more than $10 million in investor-owned real-estate transactions in targeted CRA markets, creating and preserving 600 units of affordable housing in the Boston market. Sarah also managed the City of Boston's multi-family rental and homeownership programs including HOME, CDBG and the Neighborhood Housing Trust.

Sarah holds a Master of Business Administration from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

Sue McPhedran

Director of Development, Philadelphia region

Sue manages projects in the Philadelphia region, coordinating the activities of internal and external members of the development team to ensure projects move through predevelopment and development to completion as smoothly as possible. Sue is involved in determining the feasibility of new opportunities, securing project financing, interacting with public sector representatives, obtaining approvals, closing with all funding sources, and working to ensure development is completed on schedule and on budget. Sue represents Mission First in various external forums including conferences, panels, and professional organizations.

Prior to joining Mission First, Sue was at an affordable housing development consulting firm where she supported a broad range of clients—nonprofit and for-profit—to conceptualize and implement affordable housing and other community development projects from start to finish. Sue also worked at a leading community development financial institution, where she managed the affordable housing group, oversaw technical assistance and consulting activities, served as a housing lender.

Sue is a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Elizabeth Askew Everhart

Senior Development Manager (DC/MD/VA)

As Senior Development Manager, Elizabeth oversees project feasibility, predevelopment, financing, and construction, as well as fulfills all project regulatory requirements for properties.

Prior to joining Mission First, Elizabeth worked in the environmental investigation and remediation field, aiding in the redevelopment of brownfield properties in the Chicago area. Elizabeth has also worked with the New Jersey Office of Management and Budget and the Oregon Department of Transportation, specializing in policy and performance analysis.

Elizabeth holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Policy from Duke University, and dual Masters’ degrees in Public Affairs and Urban and Regional Planning from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.

Moira Rooney

Director of Philanthropy & Communication

Moira is responsible for developing and overseeing implementation of Mission First’s fundraising strategy, seeking to broaden Mission First’s base of philanthropic support. She contributes to organizational strategic planning and oversees marketing and communications activities geared toward raising the organization’s profile and broadening its stakeholder network. Prior to joining Mission First, Moira worked for twelve years as a partner in a small business providing consulting to Philadelphia-area nonprofits in the areas of fundraising and organizational development. Moira graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin.

Jessica S. Moore, HDFP®

Director of Asset Management

Jessica is responsible developing and monitoring short and long-term strategies for assets owned and managed for Mission First. As the primary point of contact for investors and lenders of stabilized assets, she was responsible for key analysis and reporting of financial and operational metrics, budget variances, escrow and reserve account monitoring, energy consumption, real estate taxes, program compliance, and physical conditions.

Before joining Mission First, Jessica worked as a Senior Financial Analyst for both Fannie Mae and Vanguard, where she developed frameworks for Key Performance Indicators, performed strategic business case analysis, competitive analysis, as well as developed annual and long-term financial plans.

Jessica is a Certified Housing Development Finance Professional with the National Development Council, a Certified Property Manager candidate with the Institute of Real Estate Management, and a graduate of Vanguard’s Acceleration into Financial Leadership Program. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania in Political Science.

John Bohn

District Manager, Facilities (PA/NJ/DE)

John joined Mission First in June 2013. In his role, he is responsible for the daily maintenance operations for the district 1 section of the portfolio, this includes over 2000 units in PA, NJ, and DE.  John has over 30 years of experience in the construction and property maintenance fields.

John holds certifications with Temple University Real Estate Institute, The Pennsylvania-Delaware Affordable Housing Management Association, IREM Institute of Real Estate, and OSHA. He also is currently enrolled in The American Home Inspection Training Institute.

Lisa A. DiBenedetto

Director of Risk Management

Lisa is responsible for monitoring the performance of all owned and controlled properties from acquisition to construction, and stabilization. She interfaces with the property management department on all operational issues and deadlines, including annual budgets, payables, contracts, and maintenance issues. Lisa maintains completion schedules of capital improvements in conjunction with lender timelines and funding requirements and manages reserves.

Prior to joining Mission First in 1997, Lisa worked as an office coordinator for a design/build architecture firm in Philadelphia where she was responsible for zoning and permitting process, and coordination of projects under construction.

Lisa graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor of Science in Geography and Urban Studies.

Susan McMichael

Director of Compliance

Sue oversees the development, implementation, and use of technology throughout the organization, working closely with all departments to assess and address departmental and employee needs. Sue works closely with Mission First’s technology-related vendors and department heads to assess need and assure that the organization’s technology infrastructure is developed and refined to support ongoing growth.

Prior to joining Mission First, Susan was a Computer Administrator and Legal Secretary at Campbell Soup Company, where she reported directly to the Corporate Secretary and performed troubleshooting for the Legal Department. Susan also served as liaison to the Management Information Services Department, performed in-house employee training, and evaluated all proposed software.

Susan is certified by National Affordable Housing Management Association as Specialist in Housing Credit Management as well as Certified Professional of Occupancy. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and has Specialist in Housing Credit Management and Certified Professional of Occupancy certifications from NAHMA.

Board of Directors

Employment Opportunities Join the Mission First Housing Group Team