Carrie Ernst

Executive Director

Carrie joined the Independent Living Nova Scotia staff in March 2015.

With over 20 years’ experience working within an environment that has given no clear blueprint for success, only a clear guarantee of change, it has been her ambitious nature and ability to adjust the course as necessary that has allowed her to find success. These successes have been made possible by a willingness to work and collaborate with others and work towards common goals. With a diverse background in senior management, programming development, adult education and case/disability management, all exclusively within non-profit settings, Carrie is a versatile and analytical thinker with strong interpersonal skills. She also has extensive experience in working successfully with a wide variety of stakeholders in an extensive range of services and capacities. Having exercised an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, exhibiting an uncommon level of personal responsibility for projects, programming and community initiatives, and determinedly pursuing outcomes for each of the organization’s, she has worked to position them as experts in delivery of service.

“For as long as I can remember, I have been passionately engaged in the promotion of full inclusion for persons with disabilities. My understanding, respect and empathy for the needs and abilities of these individuals and their families mirrors the values expressed in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. My reputation for the promotion and support of PWDs embraces the belief that all persons are entitled to be fully engaged in community life regardless of abilities, location and personal resources. It is the empowerment of these individuals and families that has instilled in me a desire to spend my career seeking the opportunity to work toward an inclusive, accessible society that embraces each person’s ability, their right for independent choices and equal opportunities.”

Kaitlyn Phillips

Executive Assistant & Program Specialist

Kaitlyn joined the ILNS team in May 2018 to support consumers in attaining and maintaining their own independence. Kaitlyn is a strong communicator with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations from Mount Saint Vincent University, but more importantly, she is a passionate aid for anyone who chooses to positively better themselves. Most recently, Kaitlyn has co-facilitated ILNS’ newest pre-employment program, In Motion and Momentum Plus (IM&M+) along with her colleague Pierre. Kaitlyn also provides information and navigational support to Nova Scotians with disabilities and their families around the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) process as well as providing strategic and administrative support to Carrie Ernst, ILNS’ Executive Director. 

Kayla Cavanaugh

Program Manager

Kayla recently joined the team at ILNS as the Program Manager for our Reaching for Inclusive, Successful Education and Employment (RISE) program for youth with disabilities. Kayla completed a diploma in social services and counseling skills with a focus in mental health and addictions. Kayla has experience in several sectors of the human services field including shelters, and family resource centers. She has also spent the last eight years supporting people with disabilities in various roles. Kayla is also a member of the Eastern Shore Community Health Board. Kayla is passionate about helping others and being involved in the community.

Kathleen Odell

Director of Direct Services

Kathleen joined ILNS following her departure from the role of Program Manager of the Attendant Service Application Centre (ASAC) at the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT). Kathleen has an advanced understanding of the barriers encountered by people with disabilities negotiating housing and attendant services. She understands attendant services as not only a job but a passion. She has supported consumers to obtain nurturing and parenting assistance and to find appropriate attendant services and realize dreams of attending post-secondary school. Kathleen grounds her professional practice in an anti-oppressive framework that recognizes the importance of personal autonomy while promoting the Independent Living philosophy in a cross-disability context. Kathleen is a strong proponent for autonomy and choice for all people with disabilities and has been serving as a volunteer Director on the Independent Living Canada Board of Directors since 2019.

Pierre Gascon

Job Developer

Pierre joined the ILNS team in October 2020 as a Job Developer with our RISE Program. With more than 30 years working in the wholesale industry, his experience is a useful benefit in helping program participants find job placements. In turn, these placements will provide the participants with the resources they require to live independent lives. Pierre finds fulfilment in showing employers that providing work opportunities to participants will mutually benefit and enrich everyone involved.

Tina Gascon

Finance Officer

Tina joined the ILNS team in July 2019, with more than 35 years experience in accounting, payroll and facilitating.  She began her career with a local accounting firm teaching businesses, through a variety of accounting programs, how to create and operate their own bookkeeping and payroll.  She also managed the accounts for numerous businesses that preferred to have someone do the work.  After 25 years of working for others, Tina chose to branch off and open her own business.

"ILNS is everything I love and exactly where I wanted to be at this stage of my career.  Helping others, in a positive way, through accounting.  Programming here has grown in so many positive directions and I am always excited to see where we will help next. The team is extremely collaborative, very high energy and I enjoy the opportunities offered to me to grow and expand."

Meaghan Ernst

Administrative & Social Media Support

Meaghan officially joined the ILNS team in June of 2021 as one of the Summer Event Co-Coordinators. She has now transitioned into the role of Administrative and Social Media Support. Meaghan is currently working on her Bachelor of Science in Biology at Mount Allison University. Before working for ILNS Meaghan had volunteered at ILNS's Art of Disability Festival for three summers. She is passionate about helping others and working with her community.

Supporting persons with disabilities live independently in the community

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