Our Team

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.

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.

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, son and dog.

Yenting Liu

Program Manager

Yenting Liu is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with significant experience in case management. She has worked with a number of nonprofits in Boston, Los Angeles, and DC including working directly with survivors of  trauma such as domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.  Yenting is drawn to helping others to navigate hardships and obstacles in order to reach their goals and potential. She utilizes individualized strengths-based approach when working with clients.

Yenting has a Masters in Social Work from the University of Southern California with a concentration in community organizing, planning and administration.  She also has B.A in Psychology and B.S in Elementary Education from Boston University. 

Yenting recently moved to Charlotte and has been getting to know the vibrant Queen City with her family.  She is excited to establish roots in Charlotte with her husband, daughter and dog. 

Kelsey Young

Social Media Director (Volunteer)

A native of Ashburn, Virginia, a Washington D.C. suburb, Kelsey now considers Charlotte home after moving here in 2013. Kelsey graduated from West Virginia University 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’s day job is working as the Special Events Director for the Humane Society of Charlotte.

Kelsey enjoys spending time with her husband and their Black Lab mix, Petty (named after the one and only Richard Petty) and their Rottweiler mix, Tally (named after Talladega Speedway). You can always find her passionately cheering for her WVU Mountaineers and her husband’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___ruocco.

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.

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Changemaker Training: Consent and the Five Body Safety Rules with Jayneen SandersSept. 28 at 7 p.m. ET  Virtual  On Sept. 28 at 7 p.m., author and advocate Jayneen Sanders will empower parents, caregivers, and loved ones with knowledge for their children on the...

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Better Money Habits

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The Inspiring Janet Ganoung Shares on the Francene Marie Show

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The Francene Marie Show caught up with Janet Ganoung, one of Charlotte, North Carolinas volunteer favorites. So many years have come and gone, but her admiration for one of our most treasured non-profits, BRAVE STEP. still remains. We are so grateful for Francene and...

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