We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Ilene Harper and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Dr. Ilene, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I wanted to make a difference in the lives of students and families who may not have access to opportunities to achieve their dreams and desired goals in life.

What should our readers know about your business?
I am the Executive Director of the Family Life and Community Resource Center. Our mission is to Build Better Communities by Building Stronger Families. Crime victim services, youth leadership and parent engagement programs are our key focus areas. Starting this organization is probably the most difficult thing I have done in my life thus far. Just when I think I am getting the hang of things, I discover how much I still have to learn. The biggest challenge I overcame was putting in 50 to 60 hours a week with no salary. The most powerful lesson I learned was that I have to invest in myself. Knowing that I was not motivated by money but recognizing the need for a sound financial plan was a big lesson learned. It’s okay to work from your passion; however, a sound business plan must be connected for long-term sustainability. I want the world to know that we are committed to helping victims of crime and empowering youth from vulnerable populations to achieve a safe and healthy life. What is unique about us is that we remove the stigma and barriers that oftentimes interfere with individuals getting the help that is needed.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
On First Day, I would start off by cooking some of my best meals, sharing family photos and definitely would visit my church. Day Two, we would probably visit the Theater District to see Jones Hall, the Aquarium and maybe catch a show at The Ensemble Theatre. Day Three, we would do some shopping at the Galleria and maybe dinner at Fogo De Chao. Fourth Day, we would visit the Emancipation Park, Discovery Green and eat at the Spindletop Houston restaurant. On Day Five, we would visit the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, ride the light rails, visit the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum and eat dinner at The Turkey Leg Hut. On Day Six, we would eat at the Breakfast Club, visit the Houston Zoo and maybe Space Center Houston. On Day Seven, we would visit Lakewood Church, Rice University and University of Houston.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First and foremost, I give credit to my heavenly father for the blessings and wisdom he has given to me. Second, my late grandmother, Hildred Jones-Drain was the biggest role model in my life. She was the kindest, most generous and spiritual person I’ve have ever known. She died 29 years ago; however, I still live my life to emulate her character. In 2017, we named a scholarship in her honor, the Hildred Jones-Drain Community Scholarship Award. Finally, my family (husband, children, mother and siblings) has been the rock that held the foundation together. As I labored through my Ph.D. program and committed to full implementation of the Family Life and Community Resource Center nonprofit my husband, Eric Harper, was my biggest supporter.

Website: http://familylifecrc.org/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/flcrc.richmond/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/flcrc
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FLCRCRichmond/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1lc1ZAp8HyQys_oL-5Vajg

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