Our Team

Kimberly Dupuis

Clinical Director

Kimberly Dupuis is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor in the state of North Carolina, who earned her Master’s of Science in Psychology and Counseling from Troy University. She has been a practicing therapist for more than 17 years and has worked with individuals and families facing a wide range of mental health and wellness issues.

Kimberly strives to provide specialized therapeutic care for her clients and understands and embraces the uniqueness of each person. She utilizes a strength based approach to healing and has undergone specialized training for Trauma, Depression, Anxiety, and Mindful Based Stress Reduction.

Kimberly works collaboratively with individuals on their treatment goals and partners with her clients to foster open communication regarding therapeutic techniques and approaches that work best for the client and their respective treatment needs. She provides a supportive, compassionate environment that will enable her clients to openly share in both times of struggle as well as times of achievement and progress.

In Kimberly’s personal time, she stays busy raising her two beautiful children and enjoys spending time with friends and family. You can catch her on a mountain bike trail or gardening in her yard on any given Saturday. Kimberly believes that having balance in life is essential to wellbeing and overall happiness.

Crystal Emerick

Founder and Executive Director

Crystal Emerick is the founder and executive director of Brave Step. As a survivor of sexual abuse and assault, Emerick found hope and healing through her own experience in therapy. After a long and healing journey, a passion for helping adult survivors find relief was born in June 2011.

At that time, the Eastern North Carolina native made a commitment to help survivors and their loved ones identify and receive quality trauma care and find connection with those who understand.  

Brave Step officially incorporated in 2014 with a mission of strengthening adults impacted by sexual abuse by providing meaningful steps on their healing journey.

As the founder, Emerick’s vision is to inspire individuals to take the brave step; educate the person, family and community on the effects of abuse; and provide personalized care that will help them live a life free from the constraints of abuse.

Prior to Brave Step, Emerick successfully started and managed ASPIRE Communications, a team of storytellers that specialized in public relations, marketing communications, digital communications and corporate social responsibility. Throughout the nearly 10-year run, the award-winning boutique firm delivered strategic development and execution for organizations and brands like Goody’s Powder, TUMS, DIRECTV, ServiceMaster Clean, NASCAR, and many others.

In her earlier career, Emerick also organized and executed a fully-integrated marketing and public relations campaign to support Sprint’s community initiatives; managed Victory Junction’s fundraising program that raised approximately $7.2 million over the course of seven months; and delivered business-impacting story placements in media outlets such as Time Magazine, USA Today, Miami Herald, ESPN, TNT, Motor Racing Network and many more

A University of North Carolina graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science, Emerick resides in Concord, N.C., with her husband, Danny, and son, Everett.

Dannielle Magno

Community Outreach Director (Volunteer)

Dannielle Magno grew up in rural Northwestern Illinois and graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale with a BA in Microbiology and a minor in Chemistry in 2002. After moving from Kansas to Georgia and back again, she ended up settling in Chicago to start her career as an Agriculture Specialist with Customs & Border Protection. In the market for a change of scenery, her journey brought her to Charlotte in 2011 after meeting her now husband, and Charlotte resident, Chris, through mutual friends. Fast forward five years to 2016, and she’s now a full-fledged Charlottean with a readymade family, complete with two amazing step-children, and a desire to make her community the best it can be.

A longtime supporter and sporadic participant in community service and various fundraising projects, Dannielle took the opportunity to attend graduate school to change her career focus to one centered on helping her community. She completed her Master’s in Public Health at Des Moines University in August 2016 and is excited to join forces with Brave Step in her first post-graduation, community focused endeavor. In her free time, Dannielle enjoys running, cooking, spending time with her family and two dogs, adventure vacations.

Kelsey Young

Social Media Director (Volunteer)

A native of Ashburn, Virginia, a Washington D.C. suburb, Kelsey now considers Charlotte home after living here for five years. Kelsey graduated from West Virginia University in 2013 with a degree in Sports Management and a minor in Advertising. Kelsey came to volunteer with Brave Step in September of 2017 after spending four years with the Charlotte Checkers as a Group Sales Coordinator and the Director of Charitable and Community Programs. This is where Kelsey’s love of community and the non-profit sector began. “I love Brave Step because the mission is so strongly believed in by those involved with the organization. It’s really an amazing group of people that Crystal has brought together” she says.

Kelsey enjoys spending time with her fiance and their Black Lab, Petty (named after the one and only Richard Petty), exploring Charlotte, being active in the community and attending (tailgating) sporting events. You can always find her passionately cheering for her WVU Mountaineers and her fiance’s NC State Wolfpack…only if they aren’t a threat to her Mountaineers. You can follow Brave Step on all social media platforms at @ABraveStep. You can also keep up with Kelsey on social media at @kelsey___young.

Heather Tucker

Volunteer Director (Volunteer)

“Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” Martin Luther King Jr.

A heart full of grace and a soul filled with love is an accurate synopsis of Heather Tucker, Brave Step’s volunteer director. A lifetime of service best describes her career and personal time.

Her career started with a four-year stint at Bahner & Medlin Attorneys at Law, where her attention to detail was put to the test as a legal secretary. But, her need to pour love into those healing changed her trajectory.

For the next nine years, Tucker worked at now Atrium Health as a bedside PSC1 RN. She then transitioned to Eye Surgery & Laser Center in Concord where she currently works as a pre-op RN.

Her desire to give back to the community began early. For 17 years, Tucker has been on various mission trips to Mexico, Honduras, Paraguay, China, Nicaragua and more on the horizon. Since 2014, the Oakboro-North Carolina native has volunteered with The Hope Project International. Her experience has included multiple trips to Nicaragua serving at various sites around the country providing food to children and elderly, construction labor, and more.

In addition to being a charter member of River Church of Stanly County and serving meals monthly at Community Inn Emergency Homeless Shelter, Tucker has been a loyal volunteer for Present Age Ministries for three years. As a lead advocate, she and the team bring awareness to the local community about the prevalence of human sex trafficking.

“My ambition in life is to leave things better than I found them and relieve the stress and demands of others around me so their yokes can be lighter,” said Tucker.

She and her husband of 19 years, Rick, reside in Oakboro with five children and four grandchildren to enjoy.

Latest In The News

As a survivor-led organization, our secret to success is understanding firsthand what it’s like and creating a place, both online and in person, where individuals are safe, understood and supported.

July 20: Wash Away the Wait List

Brave Step and River Church of Stanly County have teamed up to "wash away the wait list." We simply can’t keep pace with the growing demand for individual counseling that adult survivors and their loved ones deserve and need. With each car washed, we can chip away at...

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