Dan Jurman

Dan Jurman

The CEO of Lancaster County’s largest anti-poverty organization is leaving to head a new state office tasked with reforming the way Pennsylvania provides care for vulnerable populations.

Dan Jurman, 49, will start work Dec. 16 as executive director of the state Office of Advocacy and Reform.

Gov. Tom Wolf established the office by an executive order earlier this year. Part of a package of reforms, it is tasked with identifying shortcomings in Pennsylvania’s social services and developing improvements.

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Wolf said the systems that serve Pennsylvania’s elderly, at-risk children and people with mental illness are “outdated, rigid (and) convoluted,” and vowed to change them.

The issue has acquired urgency due to a number of recent scandals — in particular, the case of Glen Mills Schools, a Delaware County reform school which was shut down this year after its history of endemic abuse and violence against its students came to light through reporting by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“We’ve heard and seen the horror stories,” Wolf said. State government, he said has been “too eager to serve the needs of institutions and too reluctant to serve the needs of people.”

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Large nonprofit

Since 2015, Jurman has been executive director of the nonprofit Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County.

CAP has 305 employees and a budget of about $35 million. It serves 40,000 individuals yearly with programs in four categories: education and child development; health and nutrition; household stability; and safety and empowerment.

Under Jurman, CAP launched CAPital Workforce, a job training and building rehab program, and added Crispus Attucks Community Center to its programs.

He chaired the commission that developed the One Good Job plan to cut Lancaster poverty in half by 2032.

CAP’s board hasn’t yet made any decisions about a successor, said Kristin Heller, executive committee president.

J.J. Abbott, Wolf’s spokesman, said the administration got to know Jurman through his work on a state-level steering committee. He said Jurman was chosen to lead the new office because of his passion, dedication and extensive experience helping at-risk populations.

The office will incorporate the state’s long-term care ombudsman and a new child advocate position. Apart from that, staffing and budget decisions have not been finalized, nor has Jurman’s salary, the state said.

Jurman said he’s excited to take on the new challenge, but he isn’t leaving Lancaster behind.

He intends to remain involved in the coalition implementing the One Good Job plan. He’ll continue to live in the area.

He also plans to remain on the project committee at Lancaster Equity, which focuses on affordable housing and economic development.

Lancaster Equity’s highest-profile project is the upcoming renovation of Southern Market Center into a food hall. Its partner and financial backer is Willow Valley Communities, which plans to build a high-rise senior living “urban campus” across the street.

The Southern Market project will continue “uninterrupted,” and Willow Valley looks forward to Jurman’s continued involvement, said John Swanson, CEO of Willow Valley Living, the management company for Willow Valley Communities.

Besides the Office of Advocacy and Reform, Wolf’s executive order established a Council on Reform, which began meeting immediately and submitted a report Nov. 1. It’s now in the middle of a 45-day public comment period.

Once that wraps up, the Office of Advocacy and Reform will finalize its priorities and get to work, Jurman said.

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