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Rhonda Atwell

Clinical Manager, Partnerships and Community Engagement


Rhonda is the Manager of Partnerships and Community Engagement, a new role within IWK Health’s Mental Health and Addictions Program (MHAP).  In this capacity, Rhonda will lead the engagement and partnership work for both MHAP and Integrated Youth Services-Nova Scotia (IYS-NS), working roughly half-time with each area. Rhonda brings to this role many years of experience working with communities, community-based organizations, and Nova Scotia Health (NSH) and developing strong relationships with equity-deserving communities. In addition to community engagement, Rhonda’s other areas of expertise include equity, diversity, inclusion, anti-racism, health promotion, health equity, transformational psychology, and wholistic wellness.

Rhonda is a seventh generation African Nova Scotian from the Preston Township, where she lives, works, plays, and le­arns. Rhonda is passionate about social justice, addressing health inequities, and improving the well-being of diverse Nova Scotia families, youth and communities. This passion began at a young age, watching her mother advocate for African Nova Scotian communities, systemic change, and redress. In 1998, Rhonda’s mother became the first African Nova Scotian woman elected to the Nova Scotia legislature. This monumental achievement affected Rhonda profoundly, instilling in her a commitment to work with communities and to be a strong voice for equity and justice.

Rhonda’s passion for youth, family, and community well-being led her to study Midwifery at Toronto Metropolitan University and Health Promotion at Dalhousie, and to become a trained facilitator in three traditions (Dialogue for Peaceful Change, IAP2, and the ASPIRE model of adult education & program design). She is also trained in restorative practices and The Art of Community Building.

Since age 14, Rhonda has worked and volunteered in a range of roles, from birth doula to consultant on workplace diversity and human resources. She worked as a Mental Health & Addictions Health Promotion Specialist with newcomer families from the continent of Africa (through the African Diaspora Association of the Maritimes) and with Nova Scotia Health’s (Mental Health and Additions Health Promotion Team).  Rhonda was also a community liaison and group facilitator for a study on stigma and help-seeking behaviors among African Nova Scotian youth experiencing psychosis. She is a former Co-Chair and current Board member of the Health Association of African Canadians (HAAC).

In 2020, Rhonda took on the role of Nova Scotia Health’s first-ever African Nova Scotian Services Consultant. Despite the dual challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic and being brand new in the role, Rhonda was able to influence system change and strengthen NSH’s relationships and partnerships with African Nova Scotian communities across the province.

In recognition of her leadership and advocacy regarding equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism, Rhonda received the 2020 Public Health Champion award from the Public Health Association of Nova Scotia (PHANS), the 2022 Making Waves award from Nova Scotia Health, and the 2024 Excellence in Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Accessibility (IDEA) award from Nova Scotia Health, recognizing her commitment to providing inclusive, culturally appropriate care and her efforts to address current gaps in education, assessment tools, and support for healthcare providers.

 As the parent of three children who fall within IYS’ age range, Rhonda is immersed in the issues facing young people today. She is looking forward to engaging with community-based organizations to facilitate the transformation of youth services in Nova Scotia (and, having worked as a youth employment specialist at the Community Y in North-End Halifax many years ago, she’s delighted to re-engage with the Community Y as one of the IYS-NS lead agencies – a full-circle experience). 

In Rhonda’s spare time, she loves reading a good book, traveling, and spending time with family, where she spends many hours on the basketball court and the soccer and rugby fields.


Rhonda Atwell 2024