RAWK Spotlight: Dr. Kandace Lavender

Kandace smiles at the camera with a yellow background behind her. She is a Black woman with long locs. She wears a black blazer with an orange blouse underneath.

For the month of March, we are shining the RAWK Spotlight on

Dr. Kandace Lavender

Kandace smiles at the camera with a yellow background behind her. She is a Black woman with long locs. She wears a black blazer with an orange blouse underneath.

The RAWK Spotlight is a monthly series that celebrates folx who embody and serve the mission of empowering youth voices. Folx in the RAWK Spotlight can be anyone from staff, to volunteers, to Board Members, to community partners. They are chosen by the RAWK staff team by merit of their passion, dedication, and enthusiasm for serving local youth and their community!

Keep reading to hear from our community members and RAWK staff team about her work at RAWK!

Kandace smiles at the camera with a yellow background behind her. She is a Black woman with long locs. She wears a black blazer with an orange blouse underneath.

Hear what our community members have to say about Kandace:

Dr. Lavender is a creative leader with a heart for uplifting young people in our community. She has a thirst for knowledge and wants to understand things she does not know. This passion is contagious and picked up by the youth she encounters.

Andy Vorbich, Attorney, RAWK Board Member

Dr. Kandace Lavender is for the Culture and the Kalamazoo Community. Her work with the Youth of Kalamazoo is remarkable. She cares for the youth and will work with them at any capacity. Dr. Lavender is making Kalamazoo a better community through her outreach. Thank you, Dr. Lavender! You RAWK!!

Aaron Mason

I am so grateful for the good Dr. Kandace Lavender! She leads and inspires all of us with her clear vision and dedication to young people in Kalamazoo! Highly creative and knowledgable, Kandace exudes a quiet confidence and humility that draws people to her. She excels at inviting people of ALL backgrounds, identities and ages to partner with her in building a community culture of equity that prioritizes YOUTH VOICE. Thank you, Dr. Lavender!

Jen Stroven, Board Member, Talking is Teaching Campaign Manager

I’m so excited to lift up Kandace and all that she has done to help RAWK grow and move forward in our work. She approaches our team and our work with the strength of compassion and truly holds space for us to bring our whole selves to the work and to serve our community with love and humanity. Her ability to live into and communicate our mission has created so many opportunities for us to grow and support our team and thus grow our impact in the community. The future of RAWK looks so bright with this RAWKstar at the helm. Thank you, Kandace, for sharing your heart with us!


I cannot say enough about Kandace and her commitment to storytelling, community, and youth development. She is an incredible and selfless leader who truly understands how to uplift others and make them shine in their own ways. It is a gift to know her and a privilege to work with her. Love you Kandace.

Ynika Yuag

Kandace is an amazing individual! I’m so glad we have someone like her that can direct and organize our youth council.

Masha Canfield

Dr. Kandace Lavender is TOP TIER. She deserves this spotlight, because she makes an positive impact on me, my students, and those around me through music, poetry, and many other forms of expression. Thanks for all you do for our youth in the Zoo.

Tatiyana Murray, Board Member

There is no better person than Dr. Kandace to lead the work of RAWK in this season. Her ability to authentically connect to the kiddos helps uncover possibility and confidence. Kandace leads with head, heart, and intention. She is making a long lasting difference in people’s lives. I am a huge fan and thankful for her.

Monica Lloyd, Board Member

Kandace is an absolutely amazing human. Since the beginning of my time at RAWK she has encouraged me and held so much space for me not just professionally but personally and has completely changed the way I think about work. She is always thinking about the well being of everyone around her, inspiring others, creating spaces for connection and reminding us to take care of ourselves through it all. The way she thinks about the workplace and moves through the world is revolutionary. I honestly have never had a better boss/leader, Dr. Lavender deserves all her flowers!!! Thank you for everything you do, Kandace.

JaMeelah Williams, Program Coordinator 

Dr. Kandace Lavender is an undeniable leader in our organization and the greater Kalamazoo community. She is a passionate, creative, force to be reckoned with that adds soul and artistry to the work of RAWK. As a skilled connector, she has bridged partnerships amongst a number of youth serving organizations, adding depth and breadth to the mission of Read and Write Kalamazoo. I am honored to work alongside this amazing educator, change agent, and phenomenal woman. She is so deserving of this public recognition and spotlight.

Dionna Roberts

Kandace has an expansive heart! In difficult situations, she leads with calm, resolve and compassion. I’m inspired to work with Kandace! Her vision for RAWK understands our personal & collective creativity and work towards equity is integral for empowering youth to share their stories.

Caitlin DeLano, Facilitator at Northeastern 

Dr. Kandace Lavender has gifted the community with her talent and voice for many years as an advocate for youth voices. Being an employee of Dr. Kandace Lavender I’m inspired by her work with RAWK.

Amy Hall, Program Coordinator at Northeastern