WBENC Executive Leadership, Board of Directors, Staff and the entire WBENC network mourn the loss of our dear friend, colleague, and CEO Candace Ayles Waterman. Candace passed away suddenly on May 19, 2023, leaving behind a legacy of exceptional leadership and dedication to the advancement of women in business. Candace is a very important part of the legacy of WBENC and will be terribly missed.

Recently celebrating five years in her role as CEO of WIPP, Candace was a trailblazer and champion for women entrepreneurs, making significant strides in economic equity, procurement inclusion and access to the global marketplace for over 12 million women-owned companies in the U.S. Her advocacy and service across the public and private sectors touched the lives of women-owned businesses and all of those who had the privilege of working with her. Her impact extended beyond WIPP, as she served as a U.S. Delegate of the W20, amplifying her influence as a global thought leader.

Before her time at WIPP, Candace held key positions at the WBENC, where she led groundbreaking initiatives and successfully digitized the national WBENC Certification program, including the creation of the proprietary WBENC Certification and database platform. Today the WBENC Certification program, led by 14 Regional Partner Organizations, is the gold standard in women’s business enterprise certification.

Another immensely impactful part of Candace’s legacy at WBENC, with effects that extend throughout and beyond the network, is the WBENC Women of Color program. She, together with key WBENC Corporate Member leadership, recognized the critical need for a dedicated outreach program and community support for Women of Color. Candace played a leadership role in the vision, strategy and initial implementation of the Women of Color program, which today is a major component of WBENC professional development, programming, networking and outreach, with monthly education sessions and WBE highlights.

“We will forever miss my friend and colleague Candace’s leadership, energy and dedication. Anyone who knew Candace, personally or professionally, held deep affection for her, and drew inspiration from her. I am incredibly grateful for everything that Candace led and contributed to the powerful impact and growth WBENC and the WBENC network have experienced. WBENC will continue to take inspiration from her vision in our work to fuel women’s entrepreneurship.” WBENC President & CEO Pamela Prince-Eason

Candace’s unwavering commitment to diversity, inclusion and operational excellence earned her numerous prestigious awards. We are forever grateful for her tireless advocacy on behalf of women entrepreneurs around the globe. Candace’s passion and leadership will continue to inspire and empower women entrepreneurs for generations.

“‘Be a servant leader.’ That is the core value Candace taught me, to always be of service to others. Candace was an atmosphere changer. Her light shined so bright everywhere she went. She lived life to the fullest and accomplished feats some of us only dream of. She exuded Black Girl Magic. She was the best boss, my mentor, my sister, but most of all, my friend. Her presence will be immensely missed.” WBENC Vice President of Certification LaKesha White

Her passing leaves a profound void in the small business ecosystem and is especially felt among those of us working on behalf of women entrepreneurs. Throughout her career, Candace’s impact was widely known, and her legacy as a leader and voice for women business owners will be carried on not only by WIPP and WBENC, but by the entire women’s business community.

View the WIPP communication “Honoring WIPP President & CEO Candace Waterman.”

Celebrating Candace's Light
Contribute to a Fund in Candace's Honor

In lieu of flowers and in honor and memory of Candace’s impact and legacy, you may contribute funds to the establishment of “The Candace Ayles Waterman Scholarship Fund for the Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs.”

(Please note that the Washington National Cathedral does not accept outside floral arrangements to be used during services.)

To contribute to the fund, use the link below or mail a check to WIPP, with “In Memory of Candace Ayles Waterman” on the memo line of the check or in an enclosed letter.


Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) Mailing Address

1120 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036

Questions can be submitted through this email address link.

Additional details to follow.

Memorial Service for Candace Ayles Waterman
Together with her family, Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) will host a memorial service to honor and celebrate our friend and colleague, Candace Ayles Waterman, on Thursday, June 29th, from 11:00 AM ET until 12:30 PM ET at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC.

The memorial service is an opportunity to celebrate the immense impact her life had on us all and on global women’s entrepreneurship. Anyone who was touched by Candace in her time on this earth is welcome to join us at the Memorial Service to celebrate, honor and remember Candace’s life and legacy.

Thursday, June 29th, 2023
11:00 AM until 12:30 PM ET

Washington National Cathedral
3101 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016