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Who We Are

Youth advocates committed to social justice.

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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

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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.

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Audie Cerrato serves as a Tribe Coordinator for the Welcoming Project. He earned a Bachelor's in Psychology from Loyola University of New Orleans.

 

His mother and his father instilled at an early age a motto, which is to give to those who did not have. Ever since, Audie's goal in life is to give his heart to those in need because if you give something that valuable then change will come.

 

Prior to working at the Welcoming Project, Audie worked for catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans as a bilingual Case Manager for Immigration/Refugee Services, for Peace Corps - Ecuador as a Youth Development Specialist, and as a Youth Counselor at St. Joseph's Home for Children in Minneapolis, MN, where he learned quick that he does not like bone-chilling cold weather. He enjoys watching and playing soccer (ARSENAL!), talking walks/runs with his wife and dogs, and looking for new plant-based restaurants in New Orleans.

Tribe Coordinator

Audie Cerrato

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Mark Wilson serves as the Volunteer and Community Resource Coordinator for the Welcoming Project. He earned an undergraduate degree in Studio Photography at the University of New Orleans. After graduating he started working in the non-profit world where he pursued his Masters in Social Work from Louisiana State University.


Mark believes that relationships are vital for kids to feel empowered to make healthy decisions for the future. At the Welcoming Project, Mark works with volunteers to better their impact with our fellow. He creates opportunities for connection while establishing relationships with community resources.


Mark is from Baton Rouge, LA and has lived in Mid City, New Orleans for the past decade. He is a lover of all things music, rock climbing, and motorcycles.

Volunteer and Community Resource Coordinator

Mark Wilson

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Natalie serves as the Administrative Assistant for the Welcoming Project. She earned an undergraduate degree in Political Science and English at Tulane University, where she became involved in local advocacy networks for criminal justice and immigration reform here in New Orleans. In addition to her position with the Welcoming Project, Natalie also serves as Program Coordinator for the Safety and Justice Challenge’s Community Advisory Group (CAG). CAG is a volunteer-led coalition that was assembled in order to assist and monitor the implementation of city-wide policies to reduce the New Orleans jail population. 

 

Natalie’s mission in this collaborative role between the Welcoming Project and CAG is to combine inclusive, forward-thinking community organizing with sustained, energetic support for our fellows in order to ensure that all young people in New Orleans are given the opportunity to grow and succeed. 

 

Originally from Seattle, Washington, Natalie’s passions include re-connecting with her Northwest roots in the great outdoors, going to see live music, and road trips.

Administrative Assistant

Natalie Sharp