Meet the Founder
Candies Kotchapaw is a community builder and networker, holding Master and Bachelor degrees in Social Work from York University and a diploma in Child and Youth Work from George Brown College. While completing the Master program, Candies encountered systemic conditions that tried to prevent her from successfully completing the program. These forces included feelings of isolation in education, financial blocks, lack of mentorship and a sense that striving for greater was pointless. Candies found support in one faculty member who invested time and effort in developing her Major Research Project entitled, ‘The Politics of Social Work: Do Racialized Social Workers belong in the Practice Space of Public Policy Development?’
From this Major Research Paper, in 2016 Candies was invited to present her findings at graduate student conferences at York University at the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, The Global Labour Research Centre and the School of Social Work’s graduate symposium. Further, Candies was a panel presenter in Seattle, Washington at the Institute for Research on Labour and Employment (IRLE). As the only black female presenter at this conference, Candies began to interrogate how to make spaces of influence in education and the broader society more accessible for the black community. It was here that the idea of creating a program that combined mentorship with capacity building began to develop. Following completion of the Master of Social Work program, Candies founded the project called ‘Developing Young Leaders of Tomorrow, Today’ (DYLOTT).
This program serves the purpose of connecting participants of the program with strong mentors within the black community and non-racialized allies who have been successful at navigating systemic structures and creating access to available opportunities for marginalized people. As DYLOTT continues to evolve into a unique leadership skills development program, Candies continues to inform the program through her research into precarious work and its effects, specifically on the black community. Candies has travelled to the United Kingdom, Latvia, and South Korea to present her findings on precarious work to further structure DYLOTT to open career paths for the black community that has been otherwise inaccessible.
Candies is always willing to talk about her experiences and the necessity of supporting a unique program such as DYLOTT.