We had the good fortune of connecting with Colleen Dippel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Colleen, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
Families Empowered is a Texas-based non-profit with a vision that one day, all families will have access to schools and learning environments that work for them. We are one of the pioneers of “demand-side” parent engagement strategies within education and we have an impeccable 12-year track record of serving over 110,000 parents across Texas—all of whom are actively seeking great schools. We listen with compassion and provide service and solutions, without judgment, so that families might find a learning environment that is right for them. We are the largest parent service organization in the educational choice space, and the only organization of our kind in the state of Texas. We are extremely proud of the public good we provide to, and for, parents.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am an unexpected leader. I didnt set out to be a social entrepreneur. I founded Families Empowered to solve a very specific local problem. I did not start Families Empowered with an over-engineered business plan. In fact, there were zero benchmarks for us to develop a business plan or financial models back in 2009. We always agreed that we would let the market determine our relevance and focused exclusively on creating value for the families we serve. It was not always easy. Initially, funders, other not for profits, and schools wanted to define our purpose and wanted us to work for them.
Once we defined that our core customers are parents, not schools or funders, things really took off. We have been able to articulate our vision and value proposition in the context of our core customers. This makes setting KPI’s and achieving big goals more attainable. We were also able to reorient our entire free bilingual service model around PARENTS which liberated our staff and made the work so much more fun.
I’ve learned that investing in data infrastructure, defining your core customers, and focusing on value creation is critically important in the not for profit space.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Mostly I would focus on food…so this would be my itinerary: – Breakfast at the Breakfast Klub or Common Bond
– Lunch at Goode Co BBQ or Ragin Cajun
– Dinner at Uchi or Le Colonial (or if there is live music Armadillo Palace)
– for good Mexican I would offer up El Tiempo or the original NInfa’s
I would also take them to the following places:
– Silver Street Art Studios
– The Menil Collection
– Rothko Chapel
– If there is an Astro’s game I would take them to Minute Maid Park
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to give a shout out to my mentor, co-founder, and Board Chair Leo Linbeck. Leo is a creative, solutions oriented person who believes in maximizing human potential. He also believes deeply that every person deserves dignity. He’s helped me develop critical leadership skills like: listening, patience, seeking diverse perspectives, avoiding confirmation bias, and knowing when to walk away. He has also been uniquely qualified to mentor me as a woman because he deeply values his own family and has modeled, for me, that leaders can and should have families and that having children of your own only makes you a better leader.