This topic will discuss how to create, embrace and maintain an inclusive work place environment that values all employees and their unique differences; Disability and Implicit Bias; and going beyond compliance to true accessibility.
Candis L. Welch has lived through more than most would even imagine. Born and raised throughout Los Angeles and its surrounding areas, she grew up with an unparalleled drive and determination. Being diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of 18 months she knew that her life would be challenging, but she never let that stop her from achieving her goals and living life on her terms.
Upon graduating from high school, Candis moved out and into the world on her own. She enrolled at Santa Monica College to study Journalism, joining an externship program with the Los Angeles Times. Fueled by her desire to earn a higher level degree and to show others that face similar obstacles that it is possible, she then transferred to California State University, Northridge and went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations.
Candis began her career in entertainment publicity, interning and working for various boutique firms, as well as freelancing for her own clients. During this time, she was offered an Executive Assistant position with Issa Rae Productions where she had a hand in coordinating Issa Rae’s many business ventures and projects and became an integral part of the team.
While working with Issa Rae Productions, she decided to pivot into the government sector in 2013 and began working for the County of Los Angeles simultaneously. While working both gigs, she enrolled back at California State University, Northridge to earn her Master’s in Public Administration. After graduating in 2016 with a 4.0 GPA Candis joined the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority (LAHSA) as a Procurement Analyst where she aided in developing programs to provide shelter and all-inclusive care for the homeless population of Los Angeles County.
As a disabled Black woman, Candis’ passion for advocacy led her to join the Government Alliance for Racial Equity (GARE) which would be her introduction to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion space. Upon completing multiple trainings and workshops, she joined LAHSA’s Equity Committee in 2019 to begin working on changing the internal culture.
This led to her next opportunity as LAHSA’s Internal DEI Coordinator. Since beginning this role, Candis has created and implemented several organization-wide equitable initiatives, planned and facilitated monthly culturally diverse events, and is continuing her professional development in the DEI space. Candis lives a full life despite the everyday adversities she faces dealing with a disability and being in a wheelchair with limited mobility. She chooses to persevere and prove people’s stereotypes wrong, wishing to set an example and provide hope for others in her situation.
Candis hopes to change the perception of those that are disabled and/or using mobility devices, helping to advocate for their rights to equal access in public and private spaces, transportation, and general accommodation to a group of people that deserve to live life just as anyone else would.