Dr. Joseph Lagana


Joseph Lagana is the Founder of the Homeless Children’s Education Fund, a 501(c)3 not for profit organization whose mission is to advance the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness, guiding them to be productive, empowered citizens. As a national model for addressing the educational needs of unstably-housed children and youth, HCEF leads a collaborative effort among regional partners by providing educational programs and services in Allegheny County and advocating for policy and system improvement. Joe’s vision, and so also HCEF’s vision, is that all children and youth experiencing homelessness will receive the necessary educational resources, guidance, and opportunities to launch them on a path of success in school and in life.

In his long career as an educator in the Penn Hills and North Allegheny school districts Joe was a classroom teacher, counselor, and administrator before becoming superintendent of the Northgate School District. From 1992-1999 he was Executive Director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit comprised of forty-two school districts. Upon his retirement from the AIU he was named Executive Director Emeritus.

Dr. Lagana has been a community activist and a volunteer in several community organizations and agencies, including serving on the boards of Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the Three Rivers Regatta, Leadership Pittsburgh, the National Commission for Certifying Physician Assistants Foundation, and is serving on a Community Trust Building Taskforce.

Among his honors are a 2006 Jefferson Community Service Award, the 2007 League of Women Voters Good Government Award, the 2007 Sandra Neese Lifetime Achievement Award – National Association for Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY), the 2009 Lewis Hine Volunteer Award – National Child Labor Committee, the 2010 ACHIEVA Sattler Humanitarian Award, the 2012 Sojourner House Pearl of Hope Award, the 2013 Champion of Spirit Award – Muscular Dystrophy Association, the 2015 YWCA Racial Justice Award in Education, the 2016 PSEA Human and Civil Rights Award as a Community Leader, and the 2017 Black History Achievement Award from the Church of God in Christ.