Our Team

The Second Step family includes our dedicated staff, generous supporters, tireless volunteers, and the many brave families who make their way out of violence to build new lives.

Who We Are

We are a team of advocates, educators, and youth workers. We are clinicians, development professionals, and administrators. We are attorneys, paraprofessionals, and academics. But above all else, we are dedicated to providing survivors of DV with the supports and concrete services necessary to achieve lasting safety, stability, and well-being.

Residential Programs

Our Residential Programs ensure safe and secure housing and comprehensive services for the 58 survivors who live in our two residences. Staff include residential advocates, therapeutic after-school teachers, facilitates managers, and program director Ashley Shoares.

Community Programs

Our Community Programs work with survivors throughout our community, regardless of whether they are currently in danger or are years away from the abuse. We serve approximately 300 adults and 500 children each year through these programs, whose staff include our community advocates, a manager of trauma-informed care, volunteer mentors, clinical interns, and program director Carole Thompson.

Youth and Prevention

Our Youth and Prevention Programs work with youth survivors of domestic violence across all of our other programs, as well as with young people in the community to prevent future relationship violence. Staff include our youth programs facilitators, mentors, therapeutic after-school teachers, and program director Matthew Swoveland.

Steps to Justice

Steps to Justice provides free legal services to survivors of domestic violence, regardless of the complexity of their needs. When we are not able to provide specific services in-house, we collaborate closely with a strong network of legal service agencies and private pro-bono attorneys. Our staff include full-time attorneys as well as volunteer pro-bono attorneys, led by program director Susan Ross.

Our Team Members

Matthew Swoveland


Executive Director, Director of Youth and Prevention Programs

In addition to managing day-to-day operations at The Second Step, Matthew leads innovative new programming to reach young survivors of domestic abuse, build their resiliency, and create bright futures. He comes to this work from a background in crisis counseling, youth work, and education for high risk and formerly incarcerated youth and victims of violence.

Follow him on Twitter: @mswoveland.

Ashley Shoares


Director, Residential Programs

Ashley began her career with The Second Step in the Therapeutic Afterschool program, after completing her Master’s Degree in Women’s Health from Suffolk University in 2010.

While at Suffolk, Ashley focused on supporting survivors of family and intimate partner violence. During her studies, Ashley interned with the Program on Domestic & Sexual Violence at Newton-Wellesley Hospital Newton Wellesley Hospital, where she first learned about the work of The Second Step.

Prior to working at The Second Step Ashley worked as a field canvasser for Save the Children and as a Volunteer Coordinator for Jump Start in the Boston area. It has been Ashley’s life-long passion to work with and on behalf of those who have been marginalized  and oppressed.

Carole Thompson


Director, Community Programs

Carole has been with The Second Step since 1999. She holds an MS in Counseling Psychology, with a focus on college student development, from Northeastern University, a Certificate in Trauma Stress Studies from HRI (the Trauma Center), and has completed the life coach curriculum through The Coaches Training Institute. Prior to her work in the field of domestic violence, she served as Associate Dean for Student Life at Pine Manor College.


Susan Ross


Director, Steps to Justice

With over 15 years of experience as a lawyer, counselor, and advocate, Sue oversees the Steps to Justice legal services program.

Along with our staff attorney and a group of talented, dedicated pro bono attorneys, she provides direct representation and consultation to  our clients facing a wide range of legal issues, including restraining orders, divorce, custody, immigration, and housing matters.

To contact us, please feel free to reach out via the contact links above, or call us at 617-965-3999.

We believe you. And we are here to help.