Interview with FCE’s Marcia Page
On Friday September 1 of this year, Marcia Page was named President and CEO of the Foundation for Community Empowerment. The Foundation seeks to revitalize "low-income" areas of Dallas. I recently wrote about the Annual Conference the group (and it's research the Williams Institute) held where they focused on disparities in the city of Dallas.
Marcia Page was gracious enough to answer a few questions I had about her position as CEO and other projects the foundation is working on.
DSB: Marcia, I was very excited when I saw the press release announcing that you had been named President and CEO of the Foundation for Community Empowerment (FCE). What was your initial reaction to your appointment?
MP: I was both surprised and excited about the new opportunity. I have spent all of my life working in a for-profit, corporate environment, so just the thought that I might have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of so many gave me a sense of peace and a rush all at the same time.
DSB: How long have you been working with FCE and how did you begin your work there?
MP: I became an executive on loan from Texas Instruments to FCE about 18 months ago. The goal was for me to create and implement a program that focused on principal-centered leadership and campuses that use data and best practices to drive decisions. There were 26 schools in the project from South and West Dallas. This education initiative was as a result of a $350m revitalization project that is taking place in the South Dallas/Fair Par4k area.
One of the key planks in ensuring that the revitalization project will be successful is good schools. The initiative has had great results and has become the basis for the new Dallas ISD’s major reform effort called Dallas Achieves.
DSB: What are some of the short-term and long-tem goals that you have laid out for FCE?
MP: FCE is about helping to make Dallas whole, where the Southern sector mirrors the Northern sector. We define mirror as thriving communities that have affordable housing, jobs, services, good schools, healthy people and low crime. The strategy we use and will continue to use is engaging and building capacity in the community, educating and informing our different constituents and facilitating institutional and systemic change.
In the long term we are already in the middle of four major initiatives: Dallas Achieves (the transformation of DISD), Frazier Revitalization (the $350m transformation of 1124 acres in the South Dallas/Fair Park area), Building social capital in South Dallas and the launching of the J. McDonald Williams Institute. In the short term, we are taking all the appropriate steps to ensure that these complex initiatives are successfully completed.
DSB: On Monday, October 16, 2006, The Dallas Morning News featured the South Dallas Community Action Coalition in its Viewpoints section. What role do you see this group playing in the revitalization of South Dallas?
MP: Community transformation starts from the inside out, not from the outside in. What we were able to do with the people that make up the coalition is to facilitate the discussions, provide the necessary research and expertise to empower them to develop solutions and start implementation. Over time, it is our hope that this group will grow in number and mature in capacity, to the point where they will be able to play a significant role in the entire revitalization effort.
DSB: What will be the function of FCE in the success of the coalition?
MP: Our role is to help them achieve their vision in whatever capacity they deem necessary, short of doing it for them. We will also function as their accountability partner, in other words hold them accountable for what they say they are going to do.
DSB: Finally, what were your thoughts after the J. McDonald Williams Institute’s 2nd Annual Conference held October 23 at the Hilton Anatole?
MP: The conference was awesome. Its intent was to unveil a new tool called the Wholeness Index that would generate in depth dialog and provide a call to action for the citizens of Dallas to start taking action. So far, it seems to have accomplished those goals. Stay tuned…