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Who We Are

Youth advocates committed to social justice.


Candace M. Williams serves as Deputy Director of the Welcoming Project. She is a native of New Orleans who is committed and passionate about education, social justice, and advocacy. After graduating from Xavier University of Louisiana in 2006, Candace began her career as a school teacher.


To understand students more holistically and improve the overall outcome of students, Candace  earned a M.Ed. in Counseling from the University of New Orleans in 2010. Candace has served in various capacities in healthcare, nonprofit, and school settings. Driven to increase her knowledge and desire to be a `change agent in education and social justice, Candace enrolled in the Educational Leadership Doctorate program at Xavier University of Louisiana.


In 2018, Candace was a graduate of the first cohort of Xavier’s Ed.D. program. Her research focused on connecting counseling and education to increase student and school success. Candace is happy to be a part of the Welcoming Project. She enjoys laughing, music and entertainment, spending time with family and friends, and just having fun.

Deputy Director  

Candace Williams

Sophie Gavin is the Operations Manager for the Welcoming Project. She moved to New Orleans in 2007, and has called the city home ever since. While attending Tulane University for Latin American Studies, she became involved in the educational landscape of New Orleans through her sorority and their philanthropic focus on children's education. After volunteering at various schools and after-school programs, she realized that her true passion lay in helping young people thrive and achieve their dreams.


Before joining the Welcoming Project, Sophie spent 5 years with the Roots of Music, serving as the organization's Operations Manager and getting a crash course in the New Orleans marching band world. When she's not working, Sophie enjoys live music, a good Netflix-binge, and spending time outside- in the cooler months only, of course!

Operations Manager

Sophie Gavin


LLoyd Jackson II serves as a Tribe Coordinator for the Welcoming Project. He earned an undergraduate degree in Pastoral Ministry at SUM Bible College and Theological Seminary and a Master’s degree in Christian Apologetics at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. LLoyd has virtually a decade of experience in ministry, mentoring, and assisting youths and adults embroiled in the criminal justice system. He also has a heart for teaching.


At the Welcoming Project, LLoyd ensures that Fellows have the adequate support and guidance that are essential to attaining and maintaining success. He works in tandem with the Fellows’ families, Champions, and teachers to establish a community of adults who provide unwavering support.


LLoyd is from the Westbank of New Orleans but now resides in LaPlace, Louisiana, with his wife and children. He’s an autodidact carpenter, competitive chess and spades player, and a faithful husband and father.

Tribe Coordinator

LLoyd Jackson II


Corey Allen Sr. serves as Tribe Coordinator for the Welcoming Project.  Corey has a Bachelor of Science in Education from Southern University in Baton Rouge.  Corey is a certified teacher who has taught a variety of subjects over the years.  


Corey believes the youth are our future and wants them to know they can be anything as long as they put the time and effort in to it.  Corey is a devoted husband and father of 3 sons.

Tribe Coordinator

Cory Allen Sr.


Rebecca builds partnerships, coordinates volunteers and is the social media queen at the Welcoming Project.  She grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas and graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Geography from Middlebury College. Rebecca loves to bring energy into her communities.  After a few years of teaching place-based science and leadership to young people, she gravitated towards grassroots organizing and facilitation work. She believes in the power of community as a source of healing and systemic change.  Rebecca gets excited about trees, playing outside, and quality time with her Granny.

Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator

Rebecca Berry


Cathy Rice serves as our Workforce Development Coordinator. She works to connect young people with opportunities that align with their passions and hopes for the future. Cathy is from Atlanta, GA where she studied Social Work and Nonprofit Management at Oglethorpe University. She is passionate about walking alongside young people and believes in the transformative impact that restorative justice can have on individuals and communities. 


Before coming to New Orleans, Cathy lived in Clarkston, GA where she worked in youth educational programs and social services for families in the refugee community. When she heard about the important and unique work the Welcoming Project was doing she was eager to become a part. Cathy enjoys long walks by the river, writing poetry, and quality time with family & friends.

Workforce Development Coordinator

Cathy Rice