Pegasus Project gets new executive director

Paula Murphy, executive director of the Pegasus Project, in the organization’s Kingston Road thrift store. PHOTO: Jon Muldoon

Paula Murphy has known Marie Perrotta for more than a decade, so she knew she had the proverbial big shoes to fill when Murphy became the new executive director of the Pegasus Community Project upon Perrotta’s retirement a few weeks ago.

“She’s really built this wonderful connection with the community,” said Murphy of one of the many reason she said she’s excited to step into her new role at Pegasus.

“My main goal is to keep the essence of Pegasus, always remembering how it started, where it came from, while moving it into the future.”

Perrotta and a group of four other women, all parents of children with developmental disabilities or professionals working in that field, started Pegasus in 1994. The organization was created to support adults who finished school at age 21, in order to keep them connected to community life.

Pegasus operates out of four East End community centres five days a week, supporting more than 40 people almost year-round.

Murphy is looking forward to spending her working days in a neighbourhood that has a strong sense of community, and that has always made room for Pegasus participants.

“I used to live in this area many years ago,” she said. “It’s quite incredible to be back.”

That sense of community and acceptance is what she finds so refreshing about Pegasus and is the key to the organization’s success, she said.

“It’s unique in its connection to the community,” said Murphy, including the program’s physical homes, what she describes as a group of “incredibly welcoming community centres.”

Most recently, Murphy worked with New Visions Toronto. That organization runs 15 group homes, most in the St. Lawrence area, for children and adults with complex developmental and physical disabilities. Some of her clients there used Pegasus, though Murphy had occasion to cross paths with Perrotta during other jobs over the past 15 years.

Murphy graduated from Ryerson with a degree in disability studies, but even before graduating, she said, she’s known since her first job at a group home during that time that she was meant to help people of all abilities live meaningful lives. “It’s just what I’m supposed to do,” she said.

The Pegasus thrift store at 931 Kingston Rd. always welcomes donations and volunteers.

Find out about Pegasus, its programs, and the store at

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