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.”
Morgan Dunn, Youth Engagement Coordinator
Morgan has lived in Digby for much of her life. She graduated from Acadia University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Community Development. Morgan has worked with many communities both locally and internationally throughout her undergraduate degree. She has had the opportunity to travel to Ghana, Ecuador, Honduras and Peru working with and learning from local residents during these volunteer experiences. One of the highlights of her trip to Peru, in addition to working with local people, was getting to hike the Inca Trail at Machu Picchu.
Morgan has gained experience in facilitation and leadership from her time as president of the Acadia Community Development Council, and from directing and planning summer camps in Digby and Kings County.
Morgan has a passion for working with youth and young adults. During her six week professional placement with Turning the Tide it became evident that there was a need for youth engagement. Morgan is happy to serve the youth of Digby in this capacity as part of her role with Turning the Tide.
Darlene Lawrence, Evaluation Lead
Darlene Lawrence has recently joined the team as the Evaluation Lead, Turning the Tides. Darlene is a lifelong learner. She specializes in culturally responsive programs and services. She possesses extensive experience in developing programs embedded in evaluation frameworks. Darlene brings over 15-years of evaluation experience. She has developed evaluation frameworks for local, regional and provincial initiatives. Darlene has volunteered on various boards and organizations in the not-for-profit sector and government agencies. Her educational background is a blend of an undergraduate degree in psychology and a graduate degree in education specializing in lifelong learning. Darlene has dedicated herself to the promotion of social change that facilitates social justice. As a social justice activist, she has spent many years in the volunteer sector working with diverse communities. This has afforded her a unique lens in which to understand how community social change is based upon partnerships, collaborations and on-going engagement. Coupled to this, Darlene is dedicated to ensuring culturally appropriate services and programs for the communities being served.
I am very excited about this wonderful opportunity. I believe that evaluations are a lifelong learning process. They help us understand the programs, its components and their activities. Evaluations brings a systematic and critical analysis of why we do what we do; and documents data that can be utilized for similar initiatives. One of my professional goals is to become a credential evaluator. I look forward to working and leaning from all staff. The diversity of lived experiences that staff bring to this learning journey will only broaden my lens of understanding. For this I am excited about!
Brittany Daubs, Operations Coordinator – Digby Site
Brittany comes to us from the small Village of Bear River. She is the Operations Coordinator for our Digby site, Turning the Tide. She grew up in the Digby area, only migrating west for a short period of time where she realized home is where the heart is. Brittany spent her late adolescence and early adulthood raising her two wonderful children. While doing this, she received her Grade 12 diploma from NSCC. While there, she received the first SH!FT award through NSCC for Business Innovation & Leadership. The following year, Brittany proudly graduated with honors from the Continuing Care Assistant program. In this field of work she touched the lives of many, working solely within the community. Building a great rapport with many people throughout her life journey is something that Brittany takes pride in. Within her goals, she hopes to be able to build trusting community relationships within her role as the Operations Coordinator, as well as maintain growth and leadership to make a difference in the lives of others.
Jesselyn Nesbitt, Rural Youth Project Coordinator
Jesselyn spent most of her childhood growing up in the rural community of Digby, Nova Scotia. These years provided her with unique experiences allowing her to fully understand and engage in the needs of youth through various employment and volunteer opportunities.
Jesselyn further developed her skill set in this position to become the Aquatic Director for the past four years. Through this position she has certified herself in many areas, including National Lifeguard, Swim Instructor, Life Saving Instructor (Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross). She has also attained her National Lifeguard Instructor and Emergency and Standard First Aid Instructor.
Jesselyn has a passion for youth. She understands the struggles and needs that rural communities face and has a strong network of connections and relationships that she brings to Inspiring Communities. Jesselyn is excited to develop her new position as the Rural Youth Project Coordinator and looks forward to building a strong community for our youth in the Digby area and surrounding communities.