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Ayodele Kinchen was born and raised in East Palo Alto and grew up in a Pan-African home and community circle. She attended an independent, K-8th grade African-Centered school in EPA and was immersed in Afrocentric cultural academia, leadership development, and rights of passage programs created and coordinated in part by her mother. She is a graduate of Howard University (Washington, DC) where she received her BA in Business Administration-Management (1999), and graduate of START-Up (2002) - a business incubator and training program for entrepreneurs.
Ayodele is a founding member and former Director of the Leadership Training Academy (LTA) - an East Palo Alto youth leadership and personal development program established by the Community Development Institute to develop grassroots leaders of color equipped with the tools, experience, skills, and compassion to lead within their community and abroad. She designed LTA’s comprehensive approach utilizing five key components including Academic Success, Health and Wellness, Cultural Enrichment, Leadership, and Community Service, and facilitated weekly training workshops, cultural enrichment activities, and their Annual Summer City Government camp for high school students at Stanford University. Her position in youth services led her to numerous board and civic opportunities. As a keyboard and committee member of One East Palo Alto (OEPA) - a youth - focus community-based intermediary in EPA, she played an integral role in developing a strategic plan for community-wide improvement and development of youth service programs. She further demonstrated an unwavering commitment to improving the lives of EPA’s young people by running for a seat on East Palo Alto's City Council in 2000, with a platform designed to address the needs of at-risk and underserved youth.
In addition to her full-time work, Ayodele was an entrepreneur and professional dancer. She began making jewelry and handbags and officially launched her business, Duafe Designs in 2004. She worked her business during off-hours weekends and managed to perform as a primary dancer for Fua Dia Congo - a Congolese African dance company where she studied under the renowned Malonga Casquelourde. Her dance career extended to teaching youth Congolese dance, drum, history, and songs as a part-time resident artist for the ALICE program (Arts & Literacy in Children's Education, Oakland - 2004 - 2008) and VALA (Visual Arts Language Arts, a Tide Program, Oakland 2008 - 2013). Her resident artist work introduce her to EnCompass Academy Elementary in Oakland where she accepted the position as the Director of After School Program (2013 - 2016).
Ayodele worked full-time at EnCompass Academy and part-time as a business entrepreneur until her 3rd child was born. Her growing family needs and increased demand for her products did not function in tandem with her full-time job. Ayodele too long desired to be 100% self-employed. thus in 2016, she resigned from her Director post to further invest in her growing business and create a better work-life balance for herself and her family. As a gifted visionary, designer, and owner behind DUAFE Designs, Ayodele specializes in one-of-a-kind waist beads, natural shell jewelry, fashion accessories, and eclectic handbags. She is a self-taught artist with a keen eye and talent for her design, and finds joy in creating wearable art that transforms the everyday woman into a Queen, and young girls into empowered Princesses. She builds awareness of African culture, tradition, and holistic wellness through her services that include waist bead parties, facilitating sister circles, youth workshops, a rite of passage program for youth 7 to 17, and consulting. Ayodele Uses her art as a medium for empowering young girls and women by designing pieces that heal, encourage, honor, and beautify the mind, body, and spirit. Her products can be found on her website www.duafedesigns.com.