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.
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.
Our Transitional Living Programs ensure safe and secure housing and comprehensive services for the adult and child survivors living in our two residences. Staff include residential advocates, a housing specialist, facilities managers, and program director Nikia Bodden.
Our Prevention, Intervention, and Education Program work with survivors throughout our community, regardless of whether they are currently in danger or are removed from the abuse. We serve approximately 300 adults and 500 children each year through these programs. We work with key partners to provide awareness and education about domestic violence and teen dating violence. The Second Step also offers support groups for young men and women who have been exposed to DV and are at heightened risk of repeating violent and controlling behaviors.
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 Amy Hamill.
With 25 years of experience as a lawyer, counselor, and advocate, Susan Ross, Esq. brings a wealth of leadership experience to our dynamic team. After a clerkship with the US District Court, Sue served in the Middlesex District Attorney’s domestic violence unit, seeing first-hand the limits of the legal system alone to solve the complex problems interfering with victims’ long-term safety and stability. As a staff attorney and Director of Steps to Justice, Sue developed a legal services program integrated with wrap-around supportive services to improve outcomes. In 2021 Sue was appointed Interim Executive Director and then ED in 2022.
Over the past 9 years, Kaitlyn has worked with numerous vulnerable populations including homeless women and children; homeless youth; and domestic violence survivors. Beginning her work with The Second Step in 2017, Kaitlyn has always had a passion for working with, and advocating for, survivors. Through the launch of the TSS Housing Program to the development of relationships with community partners and funders alike, Kaitlyn has worked diligently to streamline services and supports for survivors accessing the various programs offered by The Second Step. In 2022, Kaitlyn was promoted to the role of Assistant Executive Director where she focuses on operations, logistics, and systems to support the programs and their staff more effectively as they work tirelessly to advocate and empower survivors.
Nikia Bodden has over 12 years of experience serving homeless survivors of domestic and sexual violence. A survivor, life coach, and advocate for change, Nikia finds joy in uplifting others and helping them overcome challenges. As the Director of TLP, Nikia oversees the transitional living program, rapid rehousing, and housing search services. Recognized locally as an expert in the field of housing for survivors, she is sought out as a speaker and a mentor for people new to the field. Nikia is a finalist for the MA Women of Color Network 2023 Outstanding Leader award. She is fluent in Spanish.
In 2021, Amy Hamill was named Director of Steps to Justice, the legal services division of The Second Step. She initially joined TSS in 2016 as a Staff Attorney. A graduate of Columbia College and the Fordham University School of Law, Amy has worked in government and public interest sectors providing direct services to clients throughout her more than twenty-year career. She began as an Assistant District Attorney in the Appeals Bureau of the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office before moving to California where she worked as a Deputy Public Defender in the Marin County Office of the Public Defender. Amy lived in Hong Kong for five years and initially worked at Helpers for Domestic Helpers, advocating on behalf of immigrant domestic helpers abused or mistreated by their employers. She next worked at the Hong Kong Refugee Advice Centre, representing asylum seekers applying to the U.N.H.C.R. for refugee status. Returning to Massachusetts, Amy trained as a mediator and mediated small claims disputes in District Court before joining the Civil Rights Division of the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, working under both the Coakley and Healey administrations. In her capacity as Director of STJ, Amy continues to provide direct services to clients, advocating zealously on their behalf both inside and outside of the courtroom, while supervising the team of talented and passionate of STJ attorneys.
Gabriela has worked in a diverse field of complex trauma for 5 years. With a master’s in social work and a LCSW, she brings a clinical and social justice lens to her work with survivors. Gabriela’s passion is in both direct service and preventative education. She works closely with survivors to obtain safety and stability in their lives, while also leading community trainings, panels, and forums. Gabriela also developed our 9-week interpersonal skills support group, which has run successfully for over 8 installments, centers around healing from trauma and gaining skills such as self-esteem, boundaries, and self-advocacy. She is driven by her hope to reduce stigma, increase access to resources, and create systemic change in survivor-support. She is fluent in Spanish.
Suzanne Wakefield has been an integral part of The Second Step’s Development Team for nearly a decade, taking the lead on special events, growing corporate and foundation support, building new partnerships and forging stronger relationships with funders and partners. Suzanne’s expertise includes individual giving, special events, corporate and foundation relations, and database management. A graduate of University of Chicago’s School of Social Work, Policy and Practice with a concentration in Social Administration, Suzanne has a strong background in the nonprofit sector. Suzanne gained a passion for working in the domestic violence field early in her career as a Housing Advocate working with survivors and furthered her interest in this field during her Social Work Field Placement at the Illinois Attorney General’s Violence Against Women Unit. Suzanne channels her passion for supporting survivors while leading The Second Step’s talented Development Team, advancing the mission of the organization through philanthropy, volunteerism, and community awareness.