Your Impact: Philanthropy Gets Personal
Where do you work or volunteer?
I am CEO of The Family Place, which is the largest provider of family violence services in Texas working to build brighter futures for survivors. The Family Place supports women, men, and children fleeing abusive situations through emergency shelter, transitional housing, medical and dental care, counseling, and skills development that support independence. In 2022, The Family Place provided services to 19,038 unduplicated individuals, including 64,324 emergency shelter days, 24,019 transitional housing days, 18,752 counseling hours and 2,228 case management sessions for survivors, and 7,808 hours of court-ordered group sessions for batterers.
In my personal time, I am also the Chair of Friends of Solar Prep – the volunteer, fundraising organization supporting two single gender Dallas-based public schools: Solar Prep for Girls and Solar Prep for Boys. Our mission is to empower all scholars to reach their full potential through STEAM and SEL.
What is it about the mission of the organization(s) that resonate(s) with you and why?
One in three Texans will experience domestic violence during their lifetime, which is one of the highest rates in the country. While staggering, this statistic is only one of many data points that show the intense need for domestic violence services in Texas and beyond. I have become very passionate about leading a legacy of major community impact in the domestic violence space by making lives in our community better.
Additionally, servant leadership has been a core part of me since youth. The motto of my high school, Phillips Academy, is non sibi (not for oneself), and this has really stuck with me throughout my career—especially through the opportunity to serve survivors of domestic violence and underserved youth as I am today. I’m the happiest when I am serving others and have found truly meaningful work in my role with The Family Place and at Friends of Solar Prep.
How do you feel your unique skills, experience and perspective further the organization’s cause?
My career started in public relations, first through a college level study abroad program in Italy and continued with internships at Missoni and Donna Karan. (One important sidenote - I believe I got my first job at Hermès due to my French skills honed at SYA in Rennes!) Later, I spent 15 years in New York City as a communications and public relations professional before moving to Dallas in 2014 to serve as head of public relations, communications, events, and philanthropy at Neiman Marcus Group. My role evolved to leading corporate culture and corporate responsibility before further expanding to include diversity, equity, and belonging and inclusion (DEBI) and environmental social governance (ESG). I also oversaw the Neiman Marcus Foundation, which supported local and national nonprofits.
In September of 2021, I became the CEO of The Family Place. This role really brings together my recent foundation work as well as my corporate culture, belonging, and communications work in a meaningful way. When I joined, my hope was to build on The Family Place’s solid foundation and lean into my roles as fundraiser and community ambassador to deepen relationships in Dallas and beyond, and I feel confident about the progress I have made and the potential for continued growth in the future.
What have you learned or gained, personally and/or professionally, through your work and/or volunteer experience?
I am learning every single day. I think one of the most important and constant lessons is the necessity of surrounding yourself with good people, which includes a solid support system at home, a community that encourages and motivates you, and employees that share a passion for the mission of your organization. I can be successful at work because I have great support at home filled with lots of love from my husband, our three children, and my mom (who lives with us). At work, our 200 dedicated staff members are the heart and soul of The Family Place. Their dedication to our mission of helping survivors of domestic violence progress from fear to safety inspires me daily. And the educators and administrators at Solar Prep who passionately pour into every scholar serve as a constant inspiration.
What advice would you give to someone interested in building their career in the nonprofit sector or volunteering for an organization that resonates with their philanthropic priorities?
There is nothing better than being able to align your skills with a cause you are passionate about. I highly encourage anyone feeling a tug in that direction to explore it further, whether professionally or voluntarily. If you’re going the professional route, a mentor can make a tremendous difference in guiding you. I’ve been lucky to have several throughout each stage of my career and can’t imagine where I’d be without them.
Did your experience at SYA play a role in your endeavors? If so, how?
I have had the opportunity to live on three continents and travel through more than 40 countries, and I absolutely credit SYA for being the genesis of this curiosity and drive. These combined experiences have allowed me to develop a unique background that provides the ability to find authentic connection with people from all walks of life and has given me so much perspective to my role as a servant leader. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have participated in SYA, and I strongly encourage all who are interested to apply.
During a trip to Paris earlier this year, Mimi revisited some favorite locations in Paris with her daughter Veva and niece Maddie. In addition to Château de Chenonceau, Château de Chambord and Montmartre, a highlight was the Catacombs — a favorite during her year with SYA France.