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Meet Dr. Candice Bledsoe of The Collective

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Candice Bledsoe.

Dr. Candice, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My story starts with my community, which consists of my parents, family, neighborhood friends, church, and community organizations. My community poured their time, love, and resources into my development.

The relationships with my grandmothers were not only special, but critical to my academic, leadership, and spiritual development. My maternal grandmother, the late Rebecca Bell, an accomplished entrepreneur who specialized in fashion and interior design stressed the importance of creativity, art, and being unique. My paternal grandmother, the late Johnnie Mae Lucas, who I called my M’Dear, was a passionate educator. She taught me many lessons that helped me excel in math, science, English, oratory, and storytelling. My community fueled my passion for education, entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I am reminded of James Baldwin’s quote, “”The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way…people look at their reality, then you can change it.” My father loved to read James Baldwin’s works.

Although I experience success and triumph, I’ve had struggles in life, too. My senior year of college at Baylor University, my father, the late Rev. Alvin Lucas, was diagnosed from cancer. After a long struggle, he later died. As you can imagine, whenever you lose a parent, it is extremely difficult. While it is true that he is no longer here with me, I definitely encouraged by his legacy of giving, leadership, and love.

The Collective – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Today, I am the executive director of the Action Research Center. We provide innovative programming to enhance equity in our communities. Our programs encourage student and community leadership development. We envision all stakeholders serving as change agents in their communities. We equip students, parents, teachers, and community leaders with the knowledge and skills to become change agents. In fact, 99% of CEYS students graduate with a HS diploma, and 90% CEYS students enroll in college.

Our Women of Collective shares the stories of minoritized women in America. Through thought-provoking and award-winning performances, we aim to lift up and create space for women of color to share their voices, especially as it relates to the intersection of race, gender, and class. Our vision is to create strong communities of color whose inherent value and dignity is experienced in all aspects of society. As the drum majors of justice, we bear witness. We carry our sisters’ stories with us and in us, giving birth to our shared truth.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I’ve experienced several proud moments in my career. It is difficult to share just one. I rejoiced when I completed all my academic degrees. I received my Doctorate in Education from University of Southern California. I also hold degrees from SMU and Baylor University.

The first Cutting Edge Youth Summit took place seven years ago at El Centro College-West. It has been a pleasure to see the growth and success of this program. Seven years later, we have helped students graduate from high school, enroll in college, volunteer in their communities, and develop leadership projects. We have provided them with the skills, education, and opportunities to be local and global youth leaders.

I am also extremely proud of the Collective. I believe the narratives of women of color are often left out. Our Collective is comprised of women of color who are artists, singers, activists, writers, scholars, and academics. These dynamic women tell the narratives of the underrepresented.

You can support our organization in the following ways:
a) giving a donation via,
b) schedule Dr. Bledsoe to speak to your organization, (
c) book the Collective for a presentation at your local college or university. (

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