A little bit about me

My Story

Darla hails from a long line of strong, determined, amazing women, dating back over 100 years ago when her Great Grandmother Ella left Nebraska with a train full of cattle and headed for the wilds of Central Florida where she purchased a couple thousand acres of land. Today, there are only 10 acres of the original property still in the family, and alas, most of the beach-front property was sold off when it was still undesirable mosquito-infested swampland. The family home, in which Darla spent many of her formative years, still stands and continues to be filled with generation after generation of family members and memories. In fact, Darla recently moved back to New Smyrna Beach – again.

Darla and Chris, her husband of over 3 decades, have been together since the day they met as sophomores at the University of Florida, and primarily due to his career in Commercial Construction, have zig-zagged across the lower half of the country, following the work, living in Houston, St. Louis, and all over the state of Florida. In 2001, after relocating back to South Florida, Darla, Chris and their 3 children (ages, 4, 9 and 13) were visiting Darla’s family home for Christmas. Sadly, a relative passed away unexpectedly during that time, leaving four children, all under the age of 9. A few weeks later, those four young children were adopted into the Lipke family, and in one day, the family almost doubled in size. With Chris handling a huge project in the southern part of the state, Darla decided to remain with the four girls and three boys (all born within 10 years of each other), in New Smyrna Beach with her mother.

A few years later, they were off again on a new adventure in a new state. With 6 kids, 2 dogs and her mom, Darla and Chris headed to the Midwest, so Chris could help build hospitals. Still surprised at how much she loved St. Louis, Darla describes it as a “small-big town.” It has all four seasons, something she had never experienced before, and lots of arts and cultural opportunities which they took full advantage of. Even though they are all huge Florida Gator’s fans, they easily assimilated into the “shut down the city for Opening Day” ritual for Cardinal’s fans. For the first time ever, they had snow on Christmas Eve, the kids could sled in the backyard (cue the deer), and their house even had a basement (people from Florida don’t know what a basement is). After deciding to relocate once again to South Florida in 2013, Darla says she almost felt like she was “leaving home.”

Despite planning to become a lawyer, Darla’s career has followed a very different path, one that has given her opportunities to continue her life-long passion of learning and growing and has also allowed her to make a difference in the world and work with people that she respects. An only child who recalls spending many weekends and summers in the library reading, Darla ended up completing a Master’s Degree Public Administration after which she worked as intern for State of Florida. However, she soon left government work and headed to construction-heavy Houston with Chris where she started her career in Human Resources. For 10 years, first in the Oil and Gas industry and later in Banking, Darla worked in all aspects of HR. Always curious about what else is out there, Darla attended a conference and attended an Organizational Sculpting workshop, which led her away from Human Resources and into a “dream job” for her. With the FAA, Darla spent 7 years as part of a 100-person staff that worked in beautiful Palm Coast, Florida, at a residential training facility that was not only near the beach, but also offered an outdoor high and low ropes course in the woods on the property. In addition to being able to attend every class she wanted to as a student, Darla also was able to customize and deliver a wide variety of leadership and team development programs at the training center, as well as all over the United States. With such a rigorous travel schedule, she finally decided after child number 3 was born, that she had to move on.

Instead of slowing down, Darla started her own consulting business, and her first client was, of course, the FAA. To this day, she still attends reunions with a core group of former instructors. Darla is someone who makes strong personal connections wherever she goes, as can be witnessed on Wednesday mornings now in New Smyrna Beach. Darla does yoga with the same group that she attended classes with almost 9 years ago. It started as a very needed respite, after suddenly becoming a mother of seven kids. Now, with only 2 high-schoolers at home, Darla is also able to enjoy early morning and sunset walks on the white sandy beaches she loves so much. And despite describing herself as “the world’s most uncoordinated person,” she can really throw a Frisbee! Darla is also a pretty good snow skier, something she and Chris learned to do in North Carolina, of all places.

In 2013, Weston, Florida near Fort Lauderdale became home for a while, and that is where Darla first heard about Personify Leadership through the local ODN (Organization Development Network) where co-founder Angela Sebaly was scheduled to speak. She couldn’t attend the event, so the two met for coffee, and Angela invited Darla to attend the next Personify Open Enrollment workshop in Denver. During their conversation, Darla had mentioned to Angela that she was interviewing with a large company in the area, and she did end up getting the job with Citrix (the organization behind GoTo Meeting) soon after her return from Colorado. Unbeknownst to either woman at the time, Darla’s future boss was already on a list to attend a future Personify program in Florida. Angela had been consulting for a while with a different division within Citrix.

After a few years at Citrix, where she delivered dozens of Personify Leadership workshops to hundreds of Citrix employees all over the world, Darla has made her way back to the family homestead and started her next professional adventure, as Director of Client Engagement for Personify.

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