This week’s #WomanCrushWednesday goes out to Candace Avalos, proud “Blacktina”, kickball enthusiast, and Coordinator of Student Government Relations and Greek Life Advisor at Portland State University. Busy Candace is also the chair of the Portland Independent Police Review’s Citizen Review Committee and she volunteers with the Black Resilience Fund.
Candace Avalos is a first-generation American. Her mom emigrated from Guatemala, along with her grandparents. She was born and raised in Virginia and didn’t learn English until she went to school. Rather coincidentally, she started her career as a high school ESL teacher, before returning to school to earn a Master of Education degree in College Student Personnel Administration from James Madison University.
She moved to Portland for her job at PSU, where she helps students navigate systems of university and government bureaucracy. The world runs on systems; Candace wants to make sure students understand them before they can change them – she helps them articulate and identify their ideas, then put them into action. She herself was involved in student government, so she can relate! She loves helping students identify their passions and improve the world through their own unique viewpoints. Candace herself is passionate about nurturing young female leadership – she ran for office and now she shares what she learned from that experience with young leaders. Her duties at PSU also involve helping allocate student fees. As you can probably imagine, it’s an especially challenging job during a global pandemic! She figures out how to give back to students who are struggling financially – even if it’s a small amount, it means a lot to those who are struggling.
Candace is the chair of the Citizen Review Committee, appointed by the city council, which works with the Independent Police Review. The goal of the 11 member committee is to keep the public informed and to instill trust and confidence in law enforcement – a particularly topical goal in today’s world. The work she did with the CRC led her to join Emerge Oregon, a nonprofit that recruits, trains and inspires Democratic women to run for office. She loves seeing women harness their power and put it into action. Candace was especially inspired by a recent quote from Barack Obama, during his eulogy to John Lewis – “We don’t have to choose between protest and politics, it is not an either-or situation, it is a both-and situation.” She hopes people take away from this, that leaders are just regular people. They’re not superheroes – they’re not necessarily extraordinary. (They may be doing extraordinary things, however!) So trust yourself – you know more than you think you do and you are capable of MORE than you think you are!