Meet our Staff!

Executive Director

Joan Steele, Executive Director

Joan’s career has been a series of different positions that have all led her to where she is today. Mother of three children, she was a stay-at-home mom who loved every minute of spending so much time with her kids. From this she learned love. She then volunteered with a hospice program where she sat with adults as they battled cancer and sometimes lost the fight. From this she learned compassion and understanding. From there, her career path has taken her through many phases, from owning her own business to working for a major event planning company where she organized major events for various companies. From these she learned how to run a successful business and how to organize great events. Then, working for a national non-profit as a Development Director for seven years, Joan learned how to raise funds for a mission that is dear to her heart. From this she learned the power of a dream for a child with a life-threatening illness.

Toby’s Dream Foundation was created by Joan in November 2009 with the help of caring individuals who also shared her dream of serving the children in Greater Hampton Roads. She feels all of her previous experience has contributed to the success of the organization, which has grown rapidly in spite of the bad economy in which it was created. To date, Toby’s Dream Foundation has served over 300 children.

Joan receives her inspiration from her three children and six grandchildren who are blessed with good health, and from the many children she serves at Toby’s Dream, who are battling their respective illnesses with courage beyond belief.

Joan truly believes that for the children she serves… Tomorrow begins with a dream.

Contact Joan at

Program Manager

Sarah Haggerty

A native of Virginia Beach and a Hokie, Sarah developed an interest in helping children while promoting an art display at a local museum, featuring the artwork of patients from a children’s cancer center. This resolve stuck with her while being at home with her two children, leading her to volunteer for several nonprofit groups involving children with illnesses. In her free time, you can find Sarah running through First Landing State Park or cheering on her two children on the sidelines of numerous sporting events.

AS Program Manager at Toby’s Dream Sarah does a great job of coordinating all of the logistics for making a dream come true. TDF is so fortunate to have such a dedicated Dream Maker!!

Contact Sarah at

Communications & Volunteer Manager

Jessica Van Nest

A native of Hampton Roads, Jessica came to Toby’s Dream Foundation, ready to re-enter the nonprofit world after spending a decade being a stay-at-home mom and military wife. During this time, she and her family did two tours in Europe, before settling back down in her hometown of Chesapeake. She decided to pursue a position that involves helping others after spending time volunteering with a local homeless organization and saw first-hand the magnitude of change giving back to others can create. When she saw the position at Toby’s Dream Foundation, she knew it was ‘the one’. 


Jessica has a B. A. in Communications from Old Dominion University. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, reading, cooking, and exercising with friends. 


As Communication & Volunteer Manager, Jessica manages all social media outlets, publishes the monthly newsletter, and is in charge of volunteers for special events and Dream Making. 

Contact Jessica at