By Michelle St. Onge | Photo by Jessica McCafferty
Hometowns: Hinesville, Georgia,
and San Bernardino, California
Family: Husband, Daniel, and two small children, Lia’Rose and Kason
Education: B.A., Psychology (University of California, Riverside); M.A., Educational Counseling (University of La Verne); Ph.D., Family Studies with a concentration in Health Promotion and Planning (Loma Linda University)
Occupation: Associate Professor & Chair, Department of Human Development & Family Relations at SUNY Plattsburgh, Certified Family Life Educator and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
Community Involvement: Volunteering with the MHAB Life Skills Center
When a young family relocates to the North Country from a distant part of the country, they’re most often treated to a special blend of admiration, curiosity and a warm welcome from the locals. Dr. Kincade experienced this phenomenon in what she has heard others affectionately refer to as “North Country nice” when she arrived to join the faculty of SUNY Plattsburgh with her family in August of 2022.
The eldest of four children, Kincade grew up in San Bernardino, California with big plans of going to college and advancing in the field of education. “When I told my high school counselor about my goal to pursue a college education and graduate school, I believe she saw me as this little Black girl, with all these big city dreams and told me she did not think I would do well in college,” Kincade recalled. Though initially crushed by the discouragement, Kincade found strength in her faith and family and pushed forward with her plans. She not only went to college, but earned three college degrees, including a Ph.D. without taking a break. Additionally, Kincade is credentialed in Pupil Personnel Services, certified in Family Life Education, and licensed in Professional Counseling.
Dr. Kincade began her career in college teaching as an adjunct faculty member at multiple universities in southern California. Her first full-time teaching position took her to a university near Birmingham, Alabama. During her tenure there, she determined that she eventually wanted to become a university president. Toward that end she began seeking professional development opportunities and administrative roles in higher education. During a nationwide job search, she applied for her current position at SUNY Plattsburgh. “Once I visited the campus, I knew this was the place I was meant to be for my next venture,” she recalled.
Dr. Kincade recently shared her insights with Strictly Business on a cold morning before the first week of Spring semester classes on campus.
SB: What important lessons did you learn early in your career?
LK: To not be discouraged by failure. I have experienced a lot of failure in my career, but those experiences helped me to develop the character that I needed to eventually succeed. I also had to learn to not internalize other people’s perspectives about what I am capable of accomplishing.
SB: Who was your most influential mentor?
LK: First, I would have to say my parents, who modeled their faith and their relentless work ethic. They were my first teachers, and they helped to shape my values, my character and who I am as a person. Professionally, I have a great mentor in Dr. Curtis Fox, the Chair from my doctoral program. I continue to keep in contact with him. He’s a sounding board, and an encourager.
SB: How have you inspired or mentored others?
LK: I’ve always enjoyed youth development and sought out activities that would allow me to connect with young people through nonprofit settings. I try to be a mentor to my students and build relationships with them outside of class. That’s probably what I enjoy most about education; the mentorship and opportunities to connect with students. I don’t think I really set out to be a mentor, but sometimes it just winds up that way.
SB: What was the best piece of advice you ever received?
LK: One of my high school math teachers said something that always stuck with me – ‘Don’t allow schooling to interfere with your education.’ In the inner city where I attended school, there were many factors that can get in the way of education. This quote motivated me to stay focused, and to make the best of the opportunity and privilege of getting a quality education.
SB: What is your favorite quote and how does it speak to you in your life?
LK: “Do not judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.” (Source unknown). In my role as an educator, I am constantly planting seeds. I don’t necessarily get to see those seeds come to fruition. But, if we’re constantly doing the best we can every day to be a positive force in the world, even if we don’t necessarily see the full results, it was a good day’s work.
SB: What advice would you offer to someone starting his or her business career?
LK: I encourage students to seek their purpose first, and then to align their career goals with their purpose. When we are clear about our purpose, it creates the passion and longevity that we need to excel in a career. I love to teach even on the days that I’m tired or a bit drained. I find my motivation when I step into the classroom or when I have an opportunity to engage with staff, faculty or students. That is because I am certain this is what I’m supposed to be doing. This is my divine purpose and calling. Once you have that, everything else falls into place.
SB: How did you find your purpose?
LK: I am a person of faith and I believe that God created each of us for a reason. Early in life my parents encouraged me to build a relationship with God for myself. So, I spend time in prayer, and I spend time talking to God about my crazy plans. I ask Him to lead me to the right opportunities and close the doors that aren’t meant for me. I think the best way we can determine our purpose is through exploration, seeking and asking questions.
SB: What inspires you?
LK: I am very much inspired by the foot soldiers of social advocacy, who are doing the work of creating change in our communities. I’m inspired by people who can overcome adversity, who come from really dark places and still have enough love in their hearts to serve and help others. Those are the kind of things that keep me going.
SB: Is there a local businessperson you admire?
LK: In the very brief opportunity that I’ve had to engage with Michael Carpenter in his role at MHAB, he was very kind and open. He has been welcoming not only to me, but to my family as well. I admire that he seems purposeful, connected to his work and genuine about the services that he provides.
SB: If you could have dinner and spend an evening with any well-known person, living or dead, who would you choose and why?
LK: I love the Obamas, and it’s not because of politics. They have made such an impact on the world, and they do it with so much class and integrity. They have not only been successful in their careers, but also as individuals and humans. They are the epitome of servant leadership and are really inspiring.
SB: How would you like to be remembered?
LK: I want to leave people better and happier. I want to be remembered as a person of strong faith, family and friendship. But I also want to be remembered as a change agent who made a positive impact on the world. I have just started to scratch the surface, but if I’m able to get there one day then I would realize that part of my personal and professional goal.
SB: What do you believe the North Country community should do today to ensure a prosperous future?
LK: In my observation during the short time, I have lived here, I think it would be helpful for the North Country to embrace diverse people, perceptions and cultures on a larger scale that would be reflected in our political landscape. There are disparities in education and access to resources. It is important to have people of color in positions of power, who can directly influence policy and legislation.