TRURO – There are a lot of fresh faces at the Central Nova Women’s Resource Centre, including Tracey Dorrington-Skinner.
Dorrington-Skinner started as the executive director of the centre less than a month ago, and she can’t wait to delve deeper into the position.
“Some of the ladies were only here one to two weeks before I started, but what they’ve accomplished in that time amazes me,” she said. “There are some hard workers here and seeing that made me realize, ‘okay, step it up here, girl.’”
Born in Truro, Dorrington-Skinner was only six years old when she was sent to the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children, where she spent most of her childhood years. Throughout the years, Dorrington-Skinner was involved in advocacy, and was selected to be a spokesperson for the residential group from the Home for Colored Children seeking class action against the province.
She was also the vice-president for her student group, which she said “lent a hand” to her being a voice for many people.
“I would always seem to find myself in that advocacy position. I guess I got good at it,” she laughed.
Prior to joining the women’s resource centre, Dorrington-Skinner was a support worker with the local school board, assisting students, parents, and teachers when needed.
She originally applied for the women’s support worker at the centre, however throughout the interview process, the executive director role was brought to Dorrington-Skinner’s attention.
“They kept telling me all the requirements for the position,” she said. “I went home and looked at the job description.”
It was into the New Year when the centre’s board interviewed her for the position and made their decision.
“It’s a new board, almost all new staff – we’re starting with a clean slate. Everyone is starting on the same page and we can all learn in tandem,” Dorrington-Skinner said.
One of the things the new executive director hopes to do is strategize the centre’s leadership for a new way forward in how they do business.
“Everybody has a voice, but a lot of time when something needs to be done, we leave things to ‘this person’ or ‘this person’ because they’ve been in that role for a while,” she said, adding even the province in general is taking a turn of the corner in the restorative process. “It’s about assuring what matters is on the table – for you, for me – and to build off that relationship so we can move into the future and onto other projects.”
While she’s still new to the role, Dorrington-Skinner already knows those with the centre have a sense of humour.
“I believe in work hard and believe in play hard,” she admitted. “Once we’re all on the same page here, we can make room for fun and to allow that lightness to come in. I really believe ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’”
One of the main things Dorrington-Skinner will be doing in the very near future is forming a new strategic plan for the centre, including upcoming events such as International Women’s Day on March 8. She’ll also be focusing on partners – past and future – and the resources and programming they all supply so as to not duplicate the services the centre offers.
“We want to bring in programs in keeping with the need of the community,” she said, adding Oprah recently made reference to ‘phenomenal men.’
“We want to bring those ‘phenomenal men’ in our lives into the dialogue and to see where we can help each other – to bring their knowledge and support to the broader issues.”
Growing up as a black woman, and woman as a whole, Dorrington-Skinner knows the challenges females can face, and how society was taught to treat women. She wants to bring that issue to light.
“We need to bring awareness and understand how we perpetuate inequities. Once we are aware, we can act better,” she said, adding lobbying laws and government are also options.
“We can hopefully bring about significant change and understanding.”