Jill Balser, Project Lead

Jill was born and raised in Digby. After spending several years away, attending the University of New Brunswick Saint John and George Brown College in Toronto, Jill found her way back home in June of 2014. She quickly became involved with the Fundy YMCA as a member, volunteer and fitness instructor. Jill’s role at the YMCA then took on new responsibilities as the YREACH Immigrant Settlement Staff Member. In this role Jill supported immigrant and refugee families settle in the area by referring the needed services, such as language, employment and school settlement for youth. Before her return, Jill travelled the world fulfilling a life-long dream of long-term travel and spent time in Bali, Japan, England, France, Portugal and Spain where she successfully hiked the Camino de Santiago.

Jill brings over eight years of marketing experience and community development to the Digby area, along with a positive determination to contribute to the betterment of her home community. Jill’s true ambition is to be a part of something greater than herself and hopes to be lucky enough to inspire through her experiences.

Michael Carty, Community Coordinator

Michael and his family have lived in the Digby area for generations.  He has always had an interest in social engineering, psychology, storytelling and is an internationally published professional photographer and instructor.

Part of his education and experience includes a diploma in Professional Photography with highest honors from the International Career School (ICS) in Quebec, holding executive positions on the Digby & Area Board of Trade (DABT), where he received a Business Excellence Award (Rising Star 2016), he was one of the three founders of the Digby issue focused collective Defining Communities and he also instructs for the Digby Area Learning Association as the Technical Help Facilitator.

Michael believes a community is more than just a place; it’s the people that make it up and how they work together that make or break them.  His mantra for this work is,“When we all do well; we all do well.”

Susanna Steinitz, Research Lead

Susanna Steinitz grew up in Antigonish, NS and lived in many places across Canada and Europe before settling near Digby over 15 years ago. She chose to move to and stay in this area because of the natural beauty, slow paced rural lifestyle and, most of all, because of the many wonderful people who call this area home. Susanna lives with her partner, son and furry family members near beautiful Bear River.

Susanna continues to work part time as a social worker with people with disabilities. She also makes pottery and runs a small business together with her husband, as well as working part time for Inspiring Communities. Susanna brings with her over 25 years experience as a social worker and a researcher in various areas of the social service field. She is passionate about social justice issues. Through her many years as a social worker, Susanna has realized that listening to people’s ideas about what they need in their lives, while instilling hope and creating opportunities for positive change, can lead to success for individuals, families and communities. She is optimistic about the beneficial impact that working collaboratively can have on a community.