Candace L. Strother
Director of Diversity and Inclusion
Education: Bachelor of Science, business administration (concentration, marketing, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Company Name: Vortex Companies
Industry: Trenchless Infrastructure
Company CEO: Michael Vellano
Company Headquarters Location: Houston, Texas
Number of Employees: 360
Words you live by: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” –Martin Luther King Jr.; Self-love is the belief that we are worthy, self-care is the action we take to prioritize that belief. –Unknown
Who is your personal hero? God and my mother
What book are you reading? The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
What was your first job? Mortgage Loan Officer for Wells Fargo
Favorite charity: QueenLyfe Inc. and The Star of Hope Mission (Houston, Texas)
Interests: International travel, attending live music concerts, mentoring middle school students, and hiking in Arizona and Colorado.
Family: Single, no children; just 4 energetic nephews that I love spending time with.
Building Equity by Embracing Diversity
What Ignites My Professional Passion
Building community and equitable treatment for humanity is what ignites my professional passion. I have been in spaces where I did not feel seen or heard, which stifled my creativity and drive to unleash my full potential. I personally understand how a sense of belonging is essential to human flourishing. We have an opportunity to build equity by embracing diversity.
The current state of civil unrest reminds us all that there is more work to be done. I understand that diversity conjures up different meanings for different people. As the director of diversity & inclusion for Vortex Companies, my vision is to restore communities through the diversity of our people, meaningful partnerships, and the innovative solutions we provide. Our CEO, Michael Vellano, a committed champion of transformation, along with a highly engaged diversity committee, creates an opportunity for us to disrupt the status quo in an industry that is open, but has been slow to change.
Learning to overcome moments of adversity led to meaningful pathways. Prior to accepting the position, I founded QueenLyfe, a nonprofit organization that promotes health and wellness, financial responsibility and mentorship for women of all ages through social-emotional programming. The L.Y.F.E. acronym, stands for Love Yourself First Everyday. It affirms the importance of self-love and self-confidence. Through QueenLyfe, thousands of young women have been empowered to find comfort in their identity, build meaningful connections, and cultivate a powerful foundation for success.
The One Thing I Hope to See Change
One thing I would love to see change in the world is that more of us would learn how to first love ourselves. The way we treat others is a reflection on how we feel about ourselves. The way we view ourselves has a huge impact on our ability to influence change and make a positive impact in the communities where we live, work, and serve.
The One Trait I Consider Essential to My Success
One trait I consider essential to my success is allowing myself to be fully human and, as a diversity leader, to create safe spaces for others to do the same. Not only does it make for a better workplace, it will lead to a better world. People want to feel included and connected to something meaningful. Many people feel voiceless and isolated in the workplace because a sense of community is missing.