Candace Vanderwater

Chief Operating Officer

Candace Vanderwater graduated from Illinois Benedictine College in Lisle, IL with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, minor in Social Work. She earned a Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Indiana University and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).

Candace is currently pursuing an additional master’s degree in business at The University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business, Executive Master of Science in Non-Profit Administration (EMNA), in South Bend, Indiana.

Candace has been in the field of Health and Human Services for over 26 years, starting in the field as an instructor for Little Friends, Inc. in Naperville, IL, a group home for children with autism. Currently, Candace serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Volunteers of America Chesapeake and Carolinas, a 42MM affiliate covering Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia and the Carolinas. She has been with the Chesapeake and Carolinas affiliate for over 9 years, starting as the Director for the Northern Virginia Intellectual Disabilities programs in 2011. In June 2014, she moved into the Vice President of Strategy and Organization Development role, responsible for driving the strategic planning process as well as developing growth and capacity building strategies and plans. Candace assumed executive oversight of the Homeless Services, Substance Use Disorder Services and Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities services lines for the state of Virginia. She was promoted into the COO role in March 2016. In her role as Chief Operating Officer, she oversees the program operations in the five state territory and the administrative operations to include Human Resources, Organizational Excellence (Quality Assurance and Accreditations) and Information Technology.

Candace has a passion for organizational development and leadership. She earned a Nonprofit Certificate of Education through a Nonprofit Leadership Program from The University of Notre Dame/Volunteers of America in 2016. Candace is a 2018 alumni of The Leadership Center for Excellence’s Regional Leadership Program in Arlington, Virginia. In addition, Candace is a certified practitioner for Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation-Behavior (FIRO-B and FIRO-Business) instruments.

As an advocate for resources for people with intellectual and development disabilities, Candace serves on the Board of Representatives for the American Network for Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), representing Virginia.

Prior to joining the Chesapeake team, Candace held several progressive leadership positions in a variety of settings. She worked as a Program Manager for the United States Marine Corps, Headquarters, Behavioral Health division, in which she was responsible for policy oversight and program development of the 17 USMC installations’ abuse and domestic violence prevention programs. In addition, Candace worked for Lutheran Social Services of Michigan in an executive role in which she managed operations and external relationships for 12 accredited and state licensed child and family programs, including both domestic and refugee foster care.

Candace also worked for the Madison Center and Hospital in Indiana, accredited by Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), for 6 years. She started as a psychotherapist and a Program Coordinator, responsible for the clinical operations of a 58 bed inpatient mental health program that included a sex offense treatment program. As her role expanded to the Director of Residential Services, where she managed 4 large state licensed programs, including an adolescent Psychiatric Rehabilitation Treatment Facility (PRTF). She then moved into the Regional Director position for regional/satellite clinics, managing operations for 6 mental health service lines in the clinics serving adults and children.

In addition, Candace worked as a child and family therapist for other faith based organizations and was a Program Coordinator with AmeriCorps, National Service. She also worked at Benedictine University in Illinois and the University of Toledo in Ohio in the Student Affairs division as an area director and collaterally assigned diversity trainer.

Candace is originally from Chicago, IL, the oldest of 6 children and a first generation college graduate. Her husband, Paul, is a retired USMC officer serving for 24 years. They have 3 daughters and live in Northern Virginia.

Candace loves her work at Volunteers of America and is very proud of the work we accomplish as a team. In 2019, Candace was commissioned as a Minister with the VOA church and looks forward to expanding her service to the organization and community.

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