Rise Phillips, former president and CEO of T.H.E. (To Help Everyone) Health and Wellness Centers, died Tuesday in her Los Angeles home. She was 55.
Phillips joined T.H.E. in 2009, after having held key executive management positions in both public and private health care sectors. At the beginning of her career, Phillips supported the two largest lines of business at Blue Cross of California. Her work within the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services provided the statistical justification necessary to support housing and prevention interventions in the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
While heading the business development and public policy functions at the California Family Health Council, Phillips worked on major pieces of legislation in the U.S. Congress and at the California State Capital designed to safeguard and bring additional funding in support of women’s healthcare and reproductive rights. She served as project director for a biomedical support group actively engaged in worldwide HIV clinical trials research working with 255 researchers located in Africa, Thailand, India, Brazil, and multiple sites throughout the United States.
Phillips earned a masters degree in Public Health with a specialty in epidemiology and biostatistics and a masters degree in business administration from the University of California, Los Angeles, John Anderson School of Management. Soon after joining T.H.E. as the president and CEO, Phillips lead a remarkable turnaround of the organization, whose doors were on the verge of closing, growing T.H.E. from one site to six (including two dental sites) and 18,000 patients in just a few years’ time.
Phillips was recently honored during a ribbon cutting celebration for T.H.E.’s sixth site, T.H.E. La Brea, where she received recognition from the offices of the governor, mayor, Senator Diane Feinstein, as well as Senator Holly Mitchell, Congresswoman Karen Bass, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas.
Deeply committed to T.H.E.’s mission of bringing affordable, caring and culturally sensitive health care to underserved and under-resourced communities, Phillips was known for saying, “A person’s zip code should never determine their access to quality health care.” Her generosity of spirit as well as her care and concern for her staff and patients will be greatly missed and shall remain an inspiration for T.H.E.’s continued work in Los Angeles. Phillips is survived by her father, Calvin Phillips; her sister, Electra Kitchens; and her two nephews.