When we officially launched PRPOSE at our party in September, we asked friends, family, and colleagues to nominate an individual they knew personally who demonstrates a commitment to making a difference in their community.

We like to call them Impact Warriors.

Our next two blog posts will feature two of their stories.

First up is Vivian Phillips, a community leader who is paving the way for women and people of color to make their mark in the world.  Phillips is an independent arts and communications consultant and sits on the board of various committees and organizations throughout the region, most of which are arts-centered. She is also co-founder of The Hansberry Project, an organization that aims to celebrate, support and present the work of black theatre artists.

From 2009-2012, Phillips was an adjunct professor at Seattle University teaching persuasive communications in the MFA Arts Leadership program and chaired the Seattle University College of Arts and Sciences Leadership Council. She was also director of marketing and communications for the Seattle Theatre Group, overseeing communication for the Neptune, Paramount, and Moore Theatres, until January 2017.

Community work that Phillips’ had done gained attention and resulted in her recruitment to work on the team that would eventually implement over $32 million dollars of restoration to the Paramount Theatre. Her involvement in restoring historic places stemmed from her love for creating spaces where art could be seen, felt, experienced and made.

“When I started in this field, outside of ethnically focused art organizations, there were only a few people of color and certainly no people of color in management that I could turn to for local mentorship or support,” recalls Phillips.

With female mentors and colleagues on the east coast, Phillips walked mostly alone in Seattle to find her way in the arts, often working more than one job as she earned significantly less than her male counter parts. But the arts were too important and she was resolute to pave the path for more women and people of color so that their stories would have a place in the arts discourse.

Phillips now provides mentorship to other people of color who are pursuing their passion for the arts and encourages them to see the arts as a viable career path. Her mentorship mostly takes the form of one-on-one interactions and includes individuals from all backgrounds and persuasions.  She also regularly hosts dinners in her home with small groups of young women to create a safe space to vent, explore solutions and share ideas.

“It’s important to be available and responsive. The greatest reward I receive is from young women and men who take the opportunity to tell me they appreciate that I see them or encouraged them in some way,” states Phillips.

Driving the marketing and communication strategy behind countless concerts, fine art, Broadway, and education events, she hopes that her mentees will see that the arts happen both on and off the stage.

“The beauty of this arts life is that there is always something different and new to regenerate me. My exhaustion fades and new ideas are stimulated,” added Phillips.

Vivian Phillips is proud to be a woman of color who fought for her place in the arts and who has committed her life to making the arts accessible and possible for all. Her life inspires us, and we think will inspire others.

For additional resources on how you can get involved in the arts, Phillips recommends visiting Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture.