Debbie Phillips: Getting women fired up
If Debbie Phillips does her job, the Edgartown Fire Department should be on high alert Tuesday evening, May 19, when she takes the podium to ignite what is projected to be a large and receptive gathering of Martha's Vineyard Women's Network (MVWN) members and guests.
Ms. Philips, a pioneer in executive and life coaching, has been called a "nurturer of sparks," "life-altering," and a "Merlin in pearls," among other accolades. She will be the guest speaker at the MVWN's final meeting of the season, scheduled for 7 pm at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown.
Jan Pogue, co-chair of the MVWN programming committee, proposed Ms. Phillips as the guest speaker for the season's final meeting. "I'd heard about her work and thought she sounded terrific. She's touched a lot of women's lives and is an expert at bringing women together to create transformative experiences."
Author of the newly published "Women on Fire: 20 Inspiring Women Share Their Life Stories (and Save You Years of Struggle!)," Ms. Phillips is also the founder of the national and soon-to-be international membership organization Women on Fire. It is an extension of the approach she's developed to help women achieve their goals through what she calls "inspiration, strategies and support." Women across the U.S. have been introduced to Women on Fire through Ms. Phillips's signature tea parties, coaching groups, and retreats held in many locations, including Boston, New York, and Los Angeles.
Trained as a journalist, Ms. Philips came to executive and life coaching after stints as a reporter; deputy press secretary to former U.S. Senator John Glenn during his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination; press secretary to former Ohio Governor Richard F. Celeste; and as a television production company executive. In 1995 she created her practice, becoming one of the first wave of trained coaches in the world.
"I felt that each job moved me toward something else," she explained. "The common thread was helping people become their very best." In addition to Women on Fire, Ms. Philips is the co-creator of Vision Day, a strategic planning day offered across the country that enables people to, as she puts it, "live the lives they've dreamed of."
Today, Ms. Phillips and her husband and collaborator Rob Berkley divide their time between homes in West Tisbury and Naples, Fla. A native of a small town in Ohio, her own rise from a reporter to a successful entrepreneur is filled with what she calls "twists and turns," including the traumatic loss of two influential women in her life and a divorce.