The Oakland Peace Center is a community of artists, activists, cultural workers, educators and non-profits collaborating to bring about a city of hope, justice, nonviolence and compassion. We provide needed space, host collaborative events and trainings, and create a network of emotional and spiritual support for the 35+ Oakland-rooted organizations who partner in with us. Together, we pursue access, opportunity, justice, and inner peace throughout the Bay Area each. Read more about us and our mission.
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by Jean Jeffress, OPC volunteer
Greetings friends, fans, and lovers of the Oakland Peace Center. Some of you may remember a couple of years ago I interviewed, and then wrote articles highlighting staff members of the Oakland Peace Center. Okay, even if you don’t remember, we’re doing it again for this edition of the OPC newsletter. I interviewed and had a fantastic conversation with Alexandra Candia, who has been the operations manager at OPC since last December.
Alexandra became connected to the OPC through her friend, Kristy Higares, the former operations manager at OPC. Alexandra said she was not necessarily looking for a job when Kristy sent her the information about the operations manager position that she would soon be leaving, but Alexandra thought that the position played to her strengths as an organizer. The organization itself—its work, mission, and values—appealed to and interested Alexandra.
The Oakland Peace Center has so many different member organizations and so many pieces to the work it does as a collective. Alexandra says she’s
helping to bring it all together in a cohesive way, in a way that helps us further our mission and share our values, and proceed further by achieving more grants and being able to do more of the work we do. I feel really comfortable in helping to bring all of those pieces together in a cohesive way even it that translates to spreadsheets and budgets and things like that.
Oakland Peace Center is in very capable hands with Alexandra at the operational helm—balancing budgets and providing support at a systems-level to help OPC function more smoothly and sustainably into the future.
And, OPC is lucky that Alexandra chooses to spend her time with them, because she is a person who does not need any more things to do. As she said, “that could be its own interview what I do outside of here.” Alexandra’s skillset is not limited to managing the operations of a multi-faceted non-profit. She is a dance instructor and has been dancing and teaching dance in the Bay Area and the Brazilian dance community here for over 15 years. She currently teaches dance to adults in the Mission District of San Francisco and to children in grades 3 to 8 at Melrose Leadership Academy here in Oakland. She also is also one of the directors of a group of dancers who have participated in San Francisco’s Carnava every year for the past 30 years. This dance company Fogo na Roupa—Portuguese for “Fire in the Clothes”—provides free dance and percussion classes throughout the Spring and raises money for costumes so that the youth Alexandra teaches can participate in Carnava. Carnava is at the end of May, so Alexandra is very busy right now.
In addition to dance, the other big and very important piece of Alexandra’s life is costume design. She owns and operates Candia Designs Costumes and is currently in the middle of designing 150–200 original dance costumes for dancers and dance groups. Even outside of the Carnival season, she does freelance costume design all throughout the year for dancers nationally and internationally. And, on top of all that, she does marketing and accounting for Tiny Elephants Event Production, a boutique event planning company. She is a person of remarkable talent and focus.
At the heart of all that Alexandra does is a desire to make a positive impact on the lives of people in the communities in which she lives, works, and cares about. The work she does with children has a long-lasting force for good on their lives. She says,
“I see the impact. [There are] kids that are in college that I taught when they were 6 years old and I have kids in 8th grade [who] have already participated in Carnival for 7 years. So, it’s really special. And there are people in their mid-20s who I knew when they were teens [and] they’re still with us.
She goes on to say about her work at OPC,
to be able to be behind the scenes and helping [with] these other individuals like Sandhya or OPC’s programming and events and the things that they do, helping those go further and making an impact with various populations of people; that was important to me.
Alexandra enjoys her growing relationships with the OPC staff and while she is on the OPC campus 2 days a week, she is also able to work remotely which is good for her given her busy life. She is getting to know Sandhya better and values the one on one time they spend together just about every week.
Alexandra is a wonderful and valuable addition to the staff at the Oakland Peace Center. Be sure and say hello to her when you get the chance.
You can reach Alexandra at firstname.lastname@example.org.