Kandace Thomas, MPP, PhD
Dr. Kandace Thomas is a changemaker and leader in children’s social emotional development and well-being, diversity-informed practice and mindfulness. Prior to joining First 8 Memphis, Dr. Thomas was a senior program officer at the Irving Harris Foundation. She provided vision and strategic direction for organizations integrating early childhood development and child trauma-informed best practices in order to help improve school and life outcomes for children from birth to age eight. Dr. Thomas led the creation and the current dissemination of the Diversity-Informed Tenets for Work With Infants, Children and Families. She is currently the Chair of the Tenets Advisory Council. Dr. Thomas is also a founder of Camp Sojourner, Girls’ Leadership Camp—an organization that promotes leadership development, creative arts and appreciation of nature for Philadelphia girls. Dr. Thomas has a PhD in Child Development from Erikson Institute/Loyola University of Chicago, a master’s of Public Policy degree from The University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy and a BA from Wesleyan University.
Ginny Renfroe, MS Ed
Ginny Renfroe started her career in education as the lead Pre-Kindergarten teacher for Lauderdale County’s Voluntary PreK program in 2005, where she continued teaching for 10 years. A lifelong Memphian, Ginny received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Memphis, where she majored in Integrated Studies, K-8. Later she earned a Master of Science from Walden University with a focus in Early Childhood Education, Leadership Management, and Administration. Recently, Ginny served as an education consultant for the Tennessee Department of Education overseeing the Preschool Development Grant for the Shelby County Consortium. She is married with two children.
LaDora Watkins, CAP
LaDora received a BA in psychology from the University of Memphis and began her career as a counselor with Youth Villages. She spent more than a decade in the corporate sector in various roles with Frito Lay, Inc (a division of PepsiCo). A native Memphian, LaDora’s love for the city of Memphis deepened through Nexus Leaders (c/o 2011). LaDora was well-positioned as a subject matter expert in her role as an HR and Sales Administrator, when she transitioned to the non-profit world in May 2016. LaDora has high regard for the unique ways collaboration and innovation support children and families, cradle to career. Supported with professional development through Seeding Success, LaDora received a designation of Certified Administrative Professional in May 2019. LaDora joined First 8 Memphis in August 2019 and feels favored to contribute to the good future of her hometown, starting with the youngest citizens.
LeAmber Hill, MS
A native of Nashville, TN LeAmber Hill moved to Memphis to attend the University of Memphis in 2005. After graduating from the University of Memphis, LeAmber began her career as a teacher counselor with Youth Villages, a non-profit organization serving at risk-youth. In 2016, LeAmber was able to receive her master’s degree at Capella University for Mental Health Counseling. Prior to her departure with Youth Villages, LeAmber worked in their corporate compliance department managing policies and procedures. She is married with two children.