WANDA TAYLOR – ACTING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
As the newest addition to the Stepping Stone family, Wanda Taylor brings over two decades of experience in human service and social justice work. As an author, social worker and advocate, Wanda has dedicated her career to giving a voice to the voiceless while serving on the front lines in child protection, with homeless and at-risk populations, and in underserved communities in Ontario, Nova Scotia and the US. Wanda is currently the Site Facilitator for the Women Unlimited Program at NSCC’s IT Campus – for women desiring to enter into trades and technology fields. She holds a Master’s degree in Education and three Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, Journalism, and Early Childhood Education. In her ‘un-busy time’ Wanda is an active multi-disciplinary artist. In 2011 she was chosen by the province to serve as the NS Manager and mentor for the 2011 Canada Games National Artists Program. She is also a filmmaker and former CBC Television producer. Wanda constantly seeks out ways to bring arts and culture into her work. After three years of research on resiliency in people who have experienced childhood trauma, Wanda travelled across provinces to interview adult survivors and subsequently published her latest literary work – The Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children: the Hurt, the Hope and the Healing (Nimbus, 2015), chronicling the decades-long history of abuse suffered by children at the NS Home. Wanda is a recipient of the prestigious Progress Club Women of Excellence Award for Arts and Culture. But she strongly feels that it’s not awards or accolades that make a person great, it’s their willingness to put in the work even when no one else is watching. She believes that every human being has ‘something incredible’ to offer, and part of our job in the field is to help them find their ‘incredible something’ and share it with the world.
LINDA GRANDY – COURT SUPPORT AND CORRECTIONS WORKER
With over 15 years of experience at Stepping Stone, Linda is our longest standing staff member. The fact is, you’ve probably met her if you have been in HRM for more than 5 minutes. Linda can be found on outreach, the bus, the court house, jail, just about everywhere. But you’ll have to move quickly to keep up with her as she’s always busy.
A relentless advocate for the Program Users, Linda is not afraid to speak her mind, and she speaks from experience. Linda is an advocate in the North end of Halifax and knows everything to know about every organization in the city. Linda is outspoken and articulate and has a soft side doing what she can for any of the Program Users in need.
Linda officially splits her time between the court houses and the correctional centre. As our Court Support and Corrections Worker, Linda is there from start to finish throughout the court process, supporting and offering resources to Program Users facing the legal system. She also is the first to welcome the Program Users back, assisting in discharge planning from corrections, and ensuring a web of support is available. Official staff mom to Reggie, she provides the majority of his food and treats, a comfy chair, and an open window for him to find a way in and out of any weather.
KATHLEEN PYKE – DROP-IN CENTRE COORDINATOR
Kathleen (Kass) is the heart of Stepping Stone, running the Drop-In Centre since 2008. The Drop-In is open Monday to Friday from 9-1pm, and is known as a safe place to obtain help from a harm reduction approach. This includes; basic needs supplies, groceries, peer support and community referrals.
Kathleen supervises the front line crisis management and peer support, when not doling out the daily goods from the food truck. A simple side glance from Kathleen can quickly stop any conflict, and she is known throughout the community as the person to go to if you are in need. This keeps the phones consistently ringing at the Drop-In Centre and Program Users accessing the Drop-In know they can find assistance and support whenever they call.
A strong advocate for equality and basic human and employment rights, Kathleen has acted as the conduit for our networks with other similar agencies across Canada as well as our online outreach. Kathleen does not answer to Reggie….most days.
CARRIE MACINNIS – TRANSITION PROGRAM COORDINATOR
EQUAL ACCESS FOR SEX WORKERS PROGRAM
As a recent graduate from the Dalhousie School of Social Work, Carrie brings a critical lens to the Stepping Stone team. She started out as our social work student placement and has now committed to a six-month contract. She shared her time as a student between Stepping Stone and Coverdale Courtwork Society. Therefore, she has experience with the criminal justice system and offering court support. She has an undergraduate degree from Saint Mary’s University with a major in criminology and sociology and a minor in psychology. She is a huge advocate for social justice and is passionate in the fields of mental health, suicide prevention and addiction. She spent last summer working at a camp for youth in the United States. Carrie is excited to take on her new role at Stepping Stone and work to deliver programs and workshops to our program-users. She is a young, outgoing asset to our team. As she has already learned ‘the ropes’ of Stepping Stone through her placement and has built great rapport with program- users, we are happy to now have her as a staff member.
GIULIA DIG – TRANSITION SUPPORT WORKER
EQUAL ACCESS FOR SEX WORKERS PROGRAM
First and foremost a proud peer educator & advocate, Giulia is a tireless supporter of survivors of childhood abuse & trauma; her belief in our responsibility to support people at their stage of recovery and healing is rooted in her own vast life and work experience. Giulia wakes up grateful for each new day and tries to practise what she preaches by paying attention to the health of her body mind and spirit…if life was as easy as riding her bike, she’d be all set, but she’s pretty good at taking being knocked down and getting back up again. Having worked on the Dartmouth Community Health Board of Directors, as well as being a member of Books Beyond Bars, and the International Network of People Who Use Drugs, she is excited to share her knowledge as our new part-time Transitional Support Worker. She especially aims to raise awareness regarding the connection between past trauma and abuse, addiction, and the criminalization of sex workers and people who use drugs. The stigma surrounding these issues and the need to develop better services and support for those struggling is paramount to healing our community and reducing the harm and further suffering. Giulia looks forward to helping Wanda deliver the new programs being offered at Stepping Stone, helping people work toward developing portfolios, and in whatever other areas she can be of assistance. Her work as an instructor in Cape Breton with The Adult Learner’s Association and at Cape Breton University in the ESL Dept. as well as at the AIDS Coalition as Educator/Support Worker helped her to develop skills and experience needed to know what help people need to reach their goals. Most of you will recognize her from driving around with Oscar doing outreach on Wednesday and Sunday each week, if you aren’t already familiar with her and her Nunu’s otherwise known as Brian and Little Nunu.
OSCAR FRANCIS – OUTREACH WORKER
Oscar has worked Outreach for Stepping Stone on and off for over 10 years! Affectionately called “Uncle Oscar” by all, he provides the comedic relief on the Stroll as well as access to food, snacks, harm reduction supplies and any other type of support needed. He is tasked with making sure our workers on the street are taken care of and know what supports are available to them. This bridge is invaluable to those Program Users who are unable to access the Drop-In Center.
NANCY ANNINGSON – BOOKKEEPER
Nancy Anningson of ImPROVE Impact Strategic Consulting is delighted to be working with The Stepping Stone Association to provide bookkeeping and financial management expertise. ImPROVE Impact helps non-profits and charities strengthen their organizations, improve their initiatives and prove their value to funders.
REGINALD “REGGIE” EDWIN
Reggie’s background is in Outreach in the Gottingen St area. He spends nights at his “home away from home” (his actual owner’s house, the Mi’kmaw Child Development Centre) but looks after the drop-in during the day. Reggie sets his own hours, choosing to come to work, leave, and come back to work, whenever he wants and can often be quite demanding at the door or upstairs window. Such are the perks of management.
Reggie’s current role is as the supervisor of our drop-in but he also works in the pet therapy department. His non-judgemental and harm reduction approach, combined with his calm demeanour, is our most effective tool for crisis management.
Reggie is also a big fan of self-care, and demands a consistent daily dose of fancy feast, temptation treats, and belly rubs. When not busy at his other tasks, he often acts as pest management for the backyard.