About Us


About Us


VANSDA’S mission is to improve the quality of life for African Nova Scotians and other citizens in the Annapolis Valley by creating Partnerships in Employment, Training and Economic Development. Our focus is on increasing employment opportunities for marginalized and other community members.


The organization is guided by a number of volunteer members that make up its’ Board of Directors. These individuals come from various parts of the Annapolis Valley, representing communities or organizations with an interest in the development and growth of the African Nova Scotian community. Each Board member plays a vital role as a contact person from the community to the organization.

2020-2021 Executive Members:
Chair- Dr. Geraldine Browning
Vice Chair – Mr. Devon Adams

Board of Directors Recruitment

The Valley African Nova Scotian Development Association- VANSDA is seeking highly skilled individuals to join our Board of Directors.

Are you interested in advancing community development opportunities in the Annapolis Valley for persons of African descent and other marginalized person?

Would you like to work with a dynamic team who are passionate about building a culturally diverse and welcoming community for all?

Are you able to volunteer to help ensure that our efforts supporting community members are successful and that we continue to provide a voice for residents across the region.

If you answered YES, please download and complete our Board of Directors Application Package by clicking on this link.

Community Development

By developing and implementing a wide range of programs and initiatives (including justice, tourism and education) along with providing access to the various employment programs, VANSDA continues to be a leader in the integration of African Canadians and other marginalized persons into all aspects of life in western Nova Scotia and beyond. The organization strives to develop the whole community by continuing in its efforts to break down barriers and by partnering with others ensure that a strong, welcoming and healthy communities throughout Nova Scotia exists.

Since its inception in 2000, the organization has grown and extended employment and accompanying services to the community in the areas of justice, health, education, community development, immigration, heritage/ tourism and more. All these initiatives and upcoming projects have had a wide ranging impact on the region.

Partnering with other organizations throughout Nova Scotia, VANSDA continues in its efforts to build relationships which will advance its mandate and transition marginalized community members into the labour force. This involves more than just developing skills and processes, it is a way of being and a way of thinking.

Our Staff

Robert Ffrench

Chief Executive Officer

Now in his 21st year leading the growth of the organization, while overseeing the day to day operation and staff. Under his guidance VANSDA has grown in prominence and continues to expand its services offered.
“From offering programs dealing with issues related to Employment, Justice, Immigration, Entrepreneurship, Education, Tourism and more, the organization continues to strive towards eliminating the challenges encountered by many seeking the security of stable meaningful employment. The real challenge remains however, to advance the community forward to a point where diversity becomes the norm.”

Lisa Diggs

Operations Manager/ Case Manager

Lisa has been part of the organization since its inception. As a certified NSCDA Career Practitioner, she is one of the most experienced employment professionals in the region and has developed strong working relationships throughout the Annapolis Valley. Lisa has become a fierce advocate for the smooth integration of visible minority immigrants whose numbers continue to grow in the region. These new community members are a welcome addition into the labour force throughout the region. Lisa’s role includes that of Operations Manager at the NS Works – VANSDA location in Kentville.

Tanya Berard

Information Resource Specialist

As the first point of client contact, Tanya serves a uniquely important role for the organization and client alike. As our Information Resource Specialist, she is responsible for assuring client service is both efficient and effective. Being the first contact person for community members, her role is to ensure that client needs and goals are evaluated accurately and that interventions, recommended by the Case Managers are maintained. Tanya has completed her NSCDA Career Practitioner Certification and is expanding her role to clients.. Now in her 9th year with the organization.

Cindy Robinson


As organization Comptroller she is accountable for the financial reporting; coordination of financial planning; budget processes; payable/receivable; payroll and other duties pertinent to the organizations’ finances. With over 30 years’ financial experience which includes the past 7 years with VANSDA she ensures that the Board of Directors and funding partners receive accurate financial results, ensuring they comply with generally accepted accounting principles.

Lynn Silver

Employer Engagement Specialist

In her role, Lynn exercises the passion necessary to ensure successful transition from unemployment to employment is attainable for many clients. As the contact for businesses, she provides a knowledgeable, committed advocate. Her position as Employer Engagement Specialist provides her a unique opportunity to navigate and match employment opportunities to job seekers. Lynn is a passionate resource for employers of all sizes.Now in her 11th year with the organization

Theresa Smith

Case Manager

The newest member of the VANSDA team, Theresa brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in delivering directed client services to those in need. Combining a background in First Nations service delivery and having built business relationships across the region, she adds another passionate voice for change to our organizations and has been the catalyst of numerous new partnerships being built.