Happy Senior Citizens’ Day!

Chatham County, North Carolina based Gary Phillips wears many hats. He’s a nature writer, an environmental realtor, a former pastor, and a past Dogwood Alliance board member. We’re celebrating Senior Citizens’ Day by honoring his indispensable contributions to our organization!

Gary Phillips, Past Dogwood Alliance Board Member
Gary Phillips, Past Dogwood Alliance Board Member

Gary’s involvement with Dogwood Alliance began when he became fast friends with our Executive Director, Danna, at a radical environmental justice conference in Alabama. Soon after meeting him she asked him to join the Dogwood Board of Directors, and he ended up serving two terms on the Dogwood Board. The first time he served for about 6-8 years and the second time for about 3 years.

Gary’s favorite part of being involved with Dogwood Alliance was “the vitality of an extraordinary, strategic, woman-led organization.”  He calls the Dogwood Board of Directors “one of the most playful boards” he’s ever served on. His favorite memories with Dogwood range from the successful Staples campaign to Dogwood’s 15th Anniversary celebrations in 2011 to serving his handmade persimmon martinis to 250 people at a Dogwood event.

One of his major projects while on the Board was to transition Dogwood Alliance from being a startup organization to being an organization that protected its staff through benefits, a salary schedule, and a sabbatical program. He explains that it was challenging to implement these programs because some staff members wanted to use as much of the budget as possible for program work and not pay employees more than a minimal amount. However, Gary stood by his plan because he believes in “living the life we want to be”, and he succeeded in molding Dogwood into an organization where employees are taken care of and valued. He believes any Board of Directors should be “inclusive, interactive, fair, and supportive to everyone.”

Gary’s memorable and successful experiences with the organization, along with the personal bonds he formed along the way, contribute to his sentiment that, “I’ve been so proud of Dogwood Alliance and so honored to be a part of it.”  He continues to wish the best for the people he worked with during his time here, expressing, “I’ve been a major supporter of Danna and a major supporter of Scot.”

When asked what motivates him to dedicate his time to environmental work, he replies simply, “I would say love.”  He recently wrote a poem explaining this affection, called An Accidental Poem – answering the emcees questions.

To young people just entering the field of environmental work, Gary says:

“Community, compassion, courage – those are the secrets of a good life and that beats the hell out of money.”

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