By Lovanda Brown
Candida Flores has had an impressive and extensive 30+ year career as an educator, humanitarian and government official; nonetheless, after belting all of her experiences, she finds that her “heart stays in the community.” Currently serving as the Executive Director of Family Life Education in Hartford, CT, it is her belief that each person stands as separate representations of his or her own community, and that in order to find success as a society, we must first look to one another to both inspire and evoke change and hope.
Flores has also served as a lead figure for many Hispanic organizations, including The Village for Families and Children, La Casa de Puerto Rico, Caguas Downtown Development Corporation, the Connecticut Council of Family Service Agencies, and the Hispanic Health Council. After her brief move to Puerto Rico that led to her serving as the Executive Director for Caguas Downtown Development Corporation, Flores returned to Connecticut, where she landed a position as the Chief of Staff for the Mayor of New Haven. However, the role was “not what [she] wanted to do for the rest of [her] life”, which lead her to accept her current position at Family Life Education.
What led to your appointed role as Executive Director for Family Life Education?
I’ve been at Family Life for about five years and at the time the position was offered, I was looking for a small organization that would allow me to help others and [express] my vision. I’ve worked as many roles and I always come back to the community. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is that I am able to help—knowing that I touched a life and motivated someone to move forward and discover his own potential is what I love about my job.
What challenges did you have to overcome as a Latina working in government?
It’s difficult for Latina women to work for a city government because at that level, it tends to be more male dominated. I did take a lot from working with the Mayor. He was compassionate, good to work with, a good administrator, and he allowed me to work and help make changes on issues that required action.
What motivates you to extend your services to the Latino community?
I feel like I’m representing my community all of the time. I take pride in the fact that I’m a Latina. You have to go forward knowing that people maybe labeling you, so it’s important to be extremely careful in how you represent yourself. We have a responsibly as Latinas. Us Latinas, we have to prove ourselves three times more. My philosophy is to be a role model since I know some young Latinas of today look up to me for inspiration and encouragement.
Why is it so important to give back to the Latino community?
I feel obligated. We’re all in this together. We’re leaving people behind if we only fight for ourselves. I feel compelled to help in every way. Every day I wake up, I question what else can be done. Making life better for others is what makes life better for me.