When Mimi Crume Sterling left behind her well-heeled executive lifestyle in New York City to plant her feet in Dallas, working for a nonprofit, she felt she had been given “a gift.”
Sterling is the CEO of The Family Place, an organization founded in 1978 dedicated to providing support and resources to victims of domestic violence in North Texas. The nonprofit is the largest family violence service provider in the state.
Sterling’s journey to that eventual “gift” was a lengthy one. She was raised in Boston, New York, and Indianapolis.
She later lived abroad in Paris, Morocco, and Milan before settling in New York City to begin building her career.
Sterling served as the Vice President of Environmental Social Governance for luxury retailer Neiman Marcus for 15 years, working in luxury fashion and lifestyle PR, branding, and marketing in New York City.
Then a friend called Sterling’s attention to The Family Place in Dallas, citing it as an “amazing opportunity” where she was needed. Sterling explained that she considers the position “a gift,” as she did not directly pursue it and at first felt unqualified. She was told, however, “You can learn it. We just need your passion.”
In 2014, Sterling and her family relocated from New York to Dallas, Texas, despite knowing only one person in the city. She took over the position of CEO of The Family Place from Paige Flink, who was retiring after working with the organization for 30 years.
Sterling described in an interview with The Dallas Express her deep admiration for Flink and her work in the community. Sterling wanted to preserve her legacy.
“Coming into the job, I was hoping to build on the incredible foundation that she built along with her team,” Sterling said. She continues to keep in contact with Flink to this day.
Sterling also admires the city of Dallas and all it has to offer. She commented on how the Dallas arts community particularly resonated with her family.
“That’s something personally in our family that’s really important to us. We have found that Dallas has a ton to offer through incredible restaurants, entertainment, and sporting activities. And it’s just a nice, lovely, clean, easy city,” Sterling said.
“Then we had a third child, and so raising our family here has been, I believe, a true gift.” Sterling considers Dallas to be the family’s “forever home.”
Concerning her work at The Family Place, Sterling said, “Being given the opportunity to step into a nonprofit, to me, is a gift. I feel an incredible sense of responsibility to lead this organization, not only because of the 10,000 plus clients that we serve every year and their families that depend on our services, but the employees whose livelihoods and careers depend on our success. The greater Dallas community has a very high regard for The Family Place.”
She noted that while working at Neiman Marcus, the focus was on goods and services; now, the focus is on providing “life-saving services, education, awareness.” She also acknowledged the dedication and passion of the nonprofit’s employees.
“I think a lot of times what I’m learning is in nonprofits, employees are here for the mission and are incredibly passionate about the work,” Sterling said.
She commented on how her previous work experience has helped her in her as CEO of The Family Place. “In my last role at Neiman Marcus, I was very focused on company culture, employee engagement, employee appreciation, and retention. And so those are a few of the elements that … I have been very focused on [with] our employees.”
Of course, that is “in addition to community engagement and fundraising and driving our mission of supporting survivors of domestic violence.”
Sterling explained that solving the problem of domestic violence in Texas is a “daunting” task, but she intends to focus on youth education as a solution.
“My biggest goal in terms of The Family Place is to grow our educational services. So we have a program that serves middle and high school students, and … we know that through education and prevention, we can break the cycle of domestic violence.”
Sterling explained her excitement in her role as CEO and her drive to continue the advancement of The Family Place in Dallas. “I hope to leave behind a legacy of authentic and true dedication for our clients and our employees. And a commitment to hard work and a fierce focus on combatting domestic violence in our community.”