From the start, ISANS has been led by people who are dedicated, skilled, hard-working, compassionate and professional. In the beginning, their challenges were to manage with very limited resources, few partners and not much experience in the immigrant settlement field. These pioneers set the tone by focusing on clients, working respectfully and patiently to help them to participate fully in Canadian life.
They were supported by community-based Boards of Directors, who were very involved in the operations of the organization: helping to hire staff, mentoring clients and handing out certificates after programs were completed.
Nancy Tough, Gary Macdonald and Becky Mason were Executive Directors of Metropolitan Immigrant Settlement Association (MISA) in the 1980s. MaryAnne McKinnon led MISA from 1991-2001, with four maternity leaves filled respectively by Nancy O’Donnell, Mourad Farid and Claudette Legault (twice). Claudette then took on the role full-time beginning in 2001.
In 1988 Jennifer Acker and Kathy Burnett opened English Unlimited as a private English as a Second Language school in the Green Lantern Building on Barrington Street in Halifax with five students. In 1990 Gerry Mills became the Executive Director of the organization, which changed its name to Halifax Immigrant Learning Centre (HILC). When HILC and MISA merged in 2009, she and Claudette became co-directors of ISANS.
Today the directors face very different challenges – managing multiple contracts with different funders, 120 staff people and over 4000 clients per year. However, the focus and the heart of the organization remains client service.