About our Founder, Neil Phillips
More about Neil
1989 Athlete of the Year,
Athletic Director and
Assistant Headmaster/Head of the Upper School, Landon School
Interim Upper School Headmaster/ The Out of Door Academy
Aspen Institute Fellow 2012
Echoing Green/Open Society Foundation, Black Male Achievement Fellow 2012
Neil Phillips has a rare ability to connect with youth and adults from diverse backgrounds and situations. He is one of the most dynamic and effective speakers I have had the privilege to see in action. He is also a truly good person. You simply can not go wrong putting Neil in front of any audience involved with youth development, including the toughest kids you can find. He will win them over and leave them with a message that will enhance their lives.
Jim Thompson, Executive Director
Neil Phillips is passionate about the character development of young people. “Our most important job is to help children grow into young adults with integrity, self-worth, and respect for others,” he believes.Neil moved from Jamaica to America with his parents when he was three years old and was heavily influenced by his parent’s values, attitudes and work ethic. “My parents bought into the American dream, and they passed that on to us,” Neil reveals. “We were taught to believe that, as long as we were good citizens who stayed positive and worked hard, we would achieve.” Both of Neil’s parents worked by day, and Neil’s father went to night school to earn his bachelor’s degree.
While Neil excelled in sports throughout high school and college, he wasn’t satisfied to strive for a career as a professional athlete as his crowning achievement. “While I really enjoyed sports, I grew up with a taste of how good it felt to perform well beyond the athletic field, to contribute to the world around me in any way I could,” Neil recalls. “I came to be convinced that the people who are most fulfilled in their lives are those who serve others and who have a strong sense of self.” After graduating from Harvard in1989, Neil played basketball professionally in Australia and for the Jamaican National Team.
Neil has a long personal and professional history of working to improve the lives of young people. “Self-actualization in young people doesn’t just happen,” Neil asserts. “We all need to experience some successes throughout our lives, however small, to feel like we’re capable of achieving and contributing. I believe our most important job as adults is to put young people in positions to see and feel success, so that they’ll want more and develop the skills to get more. Once a young person believes in themselves, their world expands and their options become limitless.”
Neil has a tremendous amount of gratitude to those people, particularly African-American men, who paved the path to success. “A lot of people before me did some very hard work to create the opportunities that I’ve had. I am grateful for that, and I feel obligated to honor their efforts. The best way I know to do that is to help others on their paths to achievement.”
Today, Neil is committed to empowering and inspiring young black boys by exposing them to role models who can help them see and realize their potential. “I grew up with a sense of worthiness and purpose that caused me to expect success” Neil observes. “I’m dedicated to sharing what I’ve learned about success with young people, especially black boys, and the urgency has grown since I’ve had two sons of my own,” Neil explains. “Each day, I’m more committed to helping to create a better world for our young black boys.”