James Sullivan was born in 1947, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents sent him to St. Thomas More High School which was formerly at 47th Street and Wyalusing Avenue, in Philadelphia. His parents, members of the Roman Catholic Church, were influences on James Sullivan’s later development as a community organizer. Sullivan served with distinction in the United States Army. After he graduated in 1966 from St. Thomas More HS, where he played baseball, basketball, hockey, and football, he again demonstrated a toughness that would be a hallmark of his youth organizing career with Van Stone Productions (VSP) Foundation, Inc.
By the 1980s James Sullivan worked as Community Activist with solid background in education and social work. Skilled in developing programs and services that directly address seniors, housing, drugs and alcohol, community leaders, and government agencies Sullivan began to successfully implement youth programs for VSP Foundation. He helped train and coach youth who lived in South Philadelphia and West Philadelphia to become better students although most were at risk children.
Experienced in energy and construction organizing and trained in counseling, James Sullivan, from 1985 through 1993, inspired grassroots movements as a means to an end of combating government bureaucracies or businesses or other powers unresponsive to local concerns. He inspired local communities to action, helped to identify leaders who could direct the group organizations, so that communities themselves can truly determine their own direction eliminating drugs and guns in Philadelphia. He is the director of The St. Tommy More HS Youth Greening Club.
Interestingly, from 1993 thru 1994, James himself fell victim to the disease of drug use. He still believes that local communities themselves can address their problems of social injustice and hard work until true democracy is realized. Being an alumni of Saint Thomas More Catholic Boys High School helped.
In 1994 he made that belief a reality for himself by overcoming drugs and at the same time intertwining VSP Foundation with a drug and alcohol group for the community called Why Are We Here. 17 years later, today he has been clean practicing no drug use.
In 2005, James successfully organized the neighborhood project residents successfully fight for major civic improvements and business stands as a landmark of energy success.
From 2005 to 20011 Sullivan managed neighborhood offices, which provides educational services and works to improve living conditions for 2,000 of city's poorest citizens.
He watched over smooth client housing transition into an exiting program. James helped plan and supervise variety of educational and job-training programs for adults and teens.