BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Founder and President
As the founder and visionary for STEPS, I always wondered whether STEPS' mission would be supported and adolescent girls' lives changed. Now in our 10th year, I continue to realize the significance of our program. Professional women devote many hours to teaching adolescent girls life skills to enhance their wellness and the girls leave us with quotes such as "It is because of STEPS that I am still here." This is what keeps me committed to STEPS and the adolescent girls in our community.
Vivian Harrison is currently the Chairperson of the Board of Directors for S.T.E.P.S., Inc. responsible for facilitating monthly meetings. She has held different positions with S.T.E.P.S. since 2008 including president, secretary and fundraising coordinator. Vivian helps to interview key candidates to assist facilitating the girls' programs as well as acts as a stand-in assistant facilitator for some of the program sessions. She retired from Pfizer Inc. in 2015 after 33 years of service ending her career in the Business Technology Department as an Administrative Lead in Solutions Delivery. Vivian is the full time day care provider for her granddaughter, Jayla. She enjoys spending time with her family as well as travelling and bowling.
Deborah Evans, M.B.A., C.P.A.
Debbie Evans had a 32-year career in which she was a leader, change agent and mentor at Pfizer Inc. She spent the last 22 years of her career in Groton and New London, Connecticut, where she managed teams of up to a dozen colleagues and was in charge of the $6B-$7B global clinical trials budget, including financial approval and management. Over her career, she led many initiatives that improved Pfizer’s financial and operational processes and systems which made her Finance team and Pfizer much stronger organizations. In 2016, Debbie retired and became a S.T.E.P.S., Inc. Board Member (Treasurer). She brought with her a strong background in financial skills and energy to achieve the goals and mission of S.T.E.P.S., Inc. Debbie has always found the time to give back to her community. Apart from the many local charities she supports, Debbie has opened her home to many area underprivileged youth to give them a chance at living in a more stable and supportive environment. It is this combination of professional excellence and commitment to help the community that distinguishes Debbie as a leader.
Laura Quashnie, M.A. Education
Laura Quashnie has been the S.T.E.P.S.’ liaison for West Side Middle School since 2008. She currently serves as the Secretary of S.T.E.P.S. She has a Masters in Language and Literature for Secondary Education from the University of Saint Joseph in East Hartford, Connecticut. Laura is passionate about the work that S.T.E.P.S. is doing and strives to help the organization to improve as a member of the Board of Directors to help ensure the non-profit’s success in the community.
She is a member of the Board of Directors for the Groton Education Foundation, a non-profit organization which provides grant funds to local institutions who support innovative educational programming to children in Groton. She serves as chair of the Grant Committee. Laura was awarded the 40 under 40 Award through the Chamber of Commerce in 2016.
Jessica Bessette, B.A. Elementary Education
Jessica Bessette has been a member of S.T.E.P.S., Inc. since its inception in 2008. Starting as a Board Member, she soon moved into facilitating the afterschool program for the high schoolers. In 2013, Jessica took on the role of Lead Facilitator, overseeing all of the programs for middle and high school girls in the S.T.E.P.S. repertoire. In 2016, she stepped down from that position, however, she continued her work with the S.T.E.P.S. Board. She is currently in charge of the volunteer base of S.T.E.P.S. and oversees volunteers and tasks during community events. Jessica is a third grade teacher in the New London Public School District at C.B. Jennings Elementary School and resides in nearby Niantic, Connecticut. She was recently voted third place in the Best Teacher category for The Day's "Best of" contest this year.
Diane Villano is the proprietor of Lost Souls Curiosity Shoppe, an online boutique specializing in jewelry, books, and ephemera for those with a taste for the vintage and unusual. Prior to embarking on her current role as a solopreneur, Diane spent more than a decade in a global corporate environment in administrative and community-facing roles most recently managing community outreach programs. Diane also has experience in the manufacturing and public recreation industries. She has been a member of the S.T.E.P.S. Inc. Board of Directors since 2016. She has a strong passion and drive that keeps the mission moving forward and the program growing.