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Staff Spotlight – Kandace Kelly, Director of Outreach Services

With no HIV or AIDS background, Kandace was initially hesitant to accept a position with, what was in 1996, the AIDS Task Force.  She wasn’t concerned about the disease itself but rather wasn’t sure she could emotionally handle becoming close to clients and then losing them. A heart to heart conversation with her mother convinced her to take the volunteer coordinator’s position that had been offered to her. Her hesitation soon dissipated as she quickly came to love the job, the people she worked with, and most of all the clients.  She quickly worked her way up to Director of Outreach Services and into our hearts.  Learn more about Kandace and her past 22 years with the agency through an interview with Executive Director, Jeff Markley.

Jeff: What were your responsibilities when you first started working here?

Kandace:  “I was first hired as the volunteer coordinator. My first task was to organize an HIV and AIDS seminar in Wabash County. I guess I did okay with that because within a month I was promoted to Director of Education and Public Relations. In 1996 I was appointed the interim director of donor development which soon turned into the Director of Education and Public Relations and Interim Director of Development!  In 1998, Director Gregory Manifold consolidated my title to Director of Outreach – much easier to fit on a business card.”

Jeff: So what does your job entail at this point?

Kandace: “Well, I oversee the entire outreach and education department which includes a staff of 3 full-time staff and 1 part-time staff.  I love working with our agency partners in all of our 12 counties. I coordinate free HIV and now Hepatitis C testing sites as well as line up educational programs geared at preventing new HIV and Hep C infections from occurring. I also do the grant writing, grant reporting, and communicating with agency funders.”

Jeff: How many different grants and funders do you work with?

Kandace: “I work with over 20 funders consistently each year but I probably write about 30 grants each year.  It’s a job I enjoy very much. “

Jeff: How many different Executive Directors have you worked with at the agency?

Kandace: “I’ve worked with five since 1997”.

Jeff: What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the HIV/AIDS field over the last 20 years?

Kandace: “Definitely the medical advances. We’ve gone from so many people dying from the disease to now people being able to live a normal life span as long as they stay on their meds.  Unfortunately, HIV and AIDS stigma is still an issue that we run into all the time. The other big change is in the level of service we’re able to offer the community now. We’ve expanded access to HIV testing to 12 counties; offer HEP C testing; operate a specialty clinic; and offer a PrEP clinic. It’s just amazing.”

Jeff: What’s one of your favorite indulgences?

Kandace: “Besides my daily diet cokes I love Culver’s chocolate malts!”

Jeff: What’s still on your bucket list?

Kandace: “I’d love to go to Russia sometime. I’m fascinated with the culture and the history.  And Fiji – I’d love to go to Fiji sometime.

Kandace has been married to her husband, Sean, for over 20 years and they have a beautifully smart daughter, Taeler.  Outside of the office, Kandace throws herself into DIY home projects both inside the house and outside in the yard.  As for more than 20 years of service at the PRC, she says it doesn’t seem like that much time has passed at all.  “I love my job and all the great people I get to work with – the staff, clients, funders, and people in the community. I’m still here and it’s awesome!”