Deb Phillips is dedicated to understanding and improving the interpersonal implications of change within the organizational context, and on the importance of the mind/body connection for one’s health and happiness. Deb’s focus is on helping people engage in mindful thinking, decision-making, and health, working with individuals and groups at all levels in organizational contexts to understand and re-define how they work, manage and lead teams, departments, and organizations. At the institutional level, her senior executive management roles in the philanthropic and corporate sectors has focused on removing barriers to and redefining initiatives in the interplay between interpersonal effectiveness and strategic organizational planning.
Prior to rejoining academia, Deb’s experience was in large foundations, multinational for-profit companies and consulting firms. Most recently she served as Executive Vice President of the Atlantic Philanthropies, a $5 billion foundation founded by duty-free creator and entrepreneur Chuck Feeney that focuses on developing the non-profit capacity for social justice advocacy for marginalized groups. As EVP and COO, she was responsible for oversight of the internal operating units, leading the creation of interfacing systems, processes and departments that were considered essential to Atlantic’s maturation as one of the world’s largest and most respected philanthropies. She developed the communications department, led strategic learning, and joined them with finance, legal, human resources and IT into a Group Services unit, introducing to the foundation world the concept of a fully integrated infrastructure with the program planning units. She also oversaw the Aging Program, and was the key senior management member to oversee board governance for the CEO. Her role through Atlantic’s earlier years is captured in Tony Proscio’s “Winding Down the Atlantic Philanthropies, The First Eight Years: 2001-2008” (Duke University, School of Public Policy, July, 2010).
Deb is currently on the faculty of the Langer Mindfulness Institute and is a Research Associate in Psychology at Harvard University, where her work in Dr. Ellen Langer’s Mindfulness Research Lab focuses on learning-based cognitive methodologies primarily in organizational and health applications. Her research is aimed at bringing Ellen Langer’s socio-cognitive mindfulness into various institutional environments as well as enriching the lives of individuals. She is presently engaged in research to identify potential areas for innovation in the individual and group contexts, understanding the critical role of mindfulness in chronic illness, senior executive management and interpersonal engagement across industries and organizations.
Deb received her Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She currently sits on the Boards of the Partnership for Palliative Care in New York, and Opportunity Project, a New Jersey-based non-profit committed to improving the lives of brain-injured adults.