Executive Director- Ashley Avery
Ashley joined the Coverdale team in 2015. Prior to that she worked in the Mental Health field in Toronto, ON and then in Halifax, NS in facilities supporting women experiencing homelessness and women transitioning from federal prison to the community. She holds an Honours Diploma in Social Service Work from Seneca College as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Women's Studies from Mount Saint Vincent University. Ashley has completed numerous trainings and certifications in the areas of Mental Health, Trauma Informed Practice and Counselling. She has closely studied the causes and consequences of breaching court orders for women in the criminal justice system in Nova Scotia and the experiences of 2SLGBTQ+ individuals in the Nova Scotia criminal justice system. In 2018 she took a brief hiatus from Coverdale to support the transformation of the Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia to the new Access to Justice & Law Reform Institute of Nova Scotia. She returned to Coverdale to serve as Executive Director in February 2019.
"I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
Cultural Pathways Coordinator- Bria Symonds she/her
Bria Symonds, B.A Women Studies/Family Studies (MSVU), BSW (Dalhousie),
is an African Nova Scotian community member and activist. Bria works on several community projects and is an advocate for transparency in the Black Canadian experience. She has conducted research around Black Feminism, racial factors around the Achievement Gap in education and the School-to-Prison pipeline impacting Nova Scotia schools. Bria is the president of ANSSA-Dal, and believes in making post secondary journeys equitable and successful. She currently works with young Black & Indigenous folks who have been impacted by the criminal justice system and incarceration. She has turned her pursuit of being a professional student into being a student of life.
Program Coordinator- Hilary Murphy they/them
Hilary Murphy joined the Coverdale team in 2018. They are a graduate from Saint Mary’s University with a background in Criminology and Sociology. During their undergrad, they were involved with OPtions Nova, through Enactus Saint Mary’s. They visited the federal women's facility each week facilitating workshops and preparing women for a supportive reintegration into society. Through this experience they became passionate about working with individuals who are navigating the criminal justice system. They are currently the Program Coordinator at Coverdale and deliver trauma and gender informed programming that is responsive to the experiences of women, trans, non-binary and Two-Spirit who are experiencing criminalization.
"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another." -Charles Dickens
Court Support Coordinator- Roberta Morrison she/her
Roberta Morrison joined the Coverdale team in 2020. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Political Science and History from Saint Mary’s University and has a certificate in Restorative Justice, a Paralegal Diploma, Safety Officer Certification, Certificate in Conflict Management, Alternative Dispute Resolution and numerous courses in negotiations and suicide intervention.
Roberta has worked as an Adjudicator with the Nova Scotia Workers’ Compensation Board, Human Rights Officer, with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, Safety Officer with Occupation Health Services and Paralegal with Nova Scotia Legal Aid.
Roberta has been involved with Injured worker’s groups, and mentored Women as business owners to become more proactive in establishing networking systems within their communities and government organizations. Roberta also served as a facilitator interviewing former abuse victims of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children as per the government legislated Restorative Inquiry. Roberta was also a member of the taskforce on Diversity with the Workers Compensation Board of Nova Scotia, addressing issues facing African Nova Scotians in the workplace.
Family Justice Coordinator- Mirinda Bray she/her
Mirinda Bray joined the Coverdale team in 2020. She holds a diploma in Criminal Justice and an undergrad degree from Saint Mary’s University in Criminology and Psychology. Mirinda strives to make a difference for women, mothers and LGBTQ+ in and out of the prison system. While she was completing her undergrad, she worked at various halfway houses and involved herself with the women’s federal institution’s gardening group. With her first-hand experience and theoretical knowledge of the Justice System she continues to learn new ways to make a positive difference in individuals lives, one good day at a time.
‘Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.’ – James Baldwin.
Peer Mentor - Sara Tessier she/her
Sara A. Tessier is a social justice advocate with lived experience who has spent the last 5 years working with and on behalf of some of the most marginalized, victimized, criminalized, and institutionalized men, women and youth in Canada. She has worked on the JEC project with John Howard, Elizabeth Fry Mainland Nova Scotia, and Coverdale Courtwork Society in supporting people exiting provincial jail during the Covid-19 pandemic. She is an advisor for African Nova Scotian Affairs Mobilizing Partnership Program, a committee member for YWCA's Trafficking & Exploitation Services System LGBTQ+ cultural group and sits on the CAEFS Lived Experience Committee. Sara will be attending law school at Dalhousie University in the near future.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Rev. Dr. Ida Armstrong-Whitehouse (Chair)
Valerie MacDonald (Vice-Chair)
Brittany Sutherland (Secretary)