Phillips has committed her career to increasing educational opportunities for young people. Prior to joining the foundation, she was superintendent of Portland Public Schools in Portland, Ore. Before her move to Oregon, Phillipswas secretary of education and chief state school officer for the state of Pennsylvania and served as superintendent of the Lancaster, Pa., school district. She has worked with the U.S. Office of Education in Washington, D.C., and has been a middle and high school teacher.
Phillips earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in school psychology from Western Kentucky University. She also holds a doctorate in education from the University of Lincoln in England.