Kandace Thomas

Kandace Thomas, MPP, PhD, works to help individuals, programs and systems of care experience transformation by learning, doing and being. Currently, Kandace is the Executive Director of First 8 Memphis, an organization working to build Memphis and Shelby County Tennessee’s early care and education system. As the inaugural Executive Director, Kandace is building a $17 million start-up organization partnering with the government, philanthropists, and other community stakeholders to implement Memphis and Shelby County’s early childhood plan. Prior to joining First 8 Memphis, Kandace was a senior program officer at the Irving Harris Foundation where she worked with organizations integrating infant and early childhood mental health and early childhood development best practices for children from birth to age eight. Kandace led the creation of the Diversity-Informed Tenets for Work With Infants, Children and Families, a framework and approach to help organizations and systems integrate a diversity, equity and inclusion principles into their work. Kandace has research, policy and practice interests in contemplative self-care, intergenerational trauma, building power to influence public policy and diversity-informed practice.