The Board of Directors of T.H.E. (To Help Everyone) Health and Wellness Centers announced the sudden passing of Ms. Risë K. Phillips, MPH, MBA, CEO and President. Ms. Phillips, who passed away at her home on February 10, had been CEO and President of T.H.E. since November 2009. The Board, staff, volunteers, patients and community are truly saddened by this loss. Memorial services are pending and will be announced as they are formalized.
Under Ms. Phillips’ leadership, the organization grew to serve more than 18,000 patients per year across Los Angeles County. T.H.E Health and Wellness Centers are nationally recognized Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) and committed to bringing high quality, low cost, compassionate healthcare to the underserved with a focus on South and Southwestern Los Angeles. There are six medical facilities, including one in Lennox at 10223 Firmona Ave., and the newest facility at 3721 S. La Brea in Los Angeles.
Ms. Phillips led a complete organizational turnaround, raising revenues from $5.4 million to more than $7 million in addition to restructuring internal operations and external relationships in less than 18 months. “Six years ago the doors were about to close. She lead a remarkable turn around of the organization and today it is thriving,” said T.H.E.’s Communication Representative, Melissa Franklin.
Today, T.H.E. enjoys the support of more than 15 key foundations including the Ahmanson, Parsons, S. Mark Taper, Weingart, California Community Foundation, California Endowment, California Wellness, Blue Shield, Aetna, Gilead, Good Works, Wal-Mart, Susan G. Komen, and others of key importance to the organization’s aggressive new growth strategy.
During her career, Ms. Phillips held key executive management positions in both the private and public sectors of health care. In the private sector, Risë Phillips supported Blue Cross of California’s two largest lines of business—the individual and government subsidiaries—totaling nearly $5 billion in revenues. Her work within the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services helped to structure and raise in excess of $145 million over five years to support medical, housing and prevention funding in the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic helping countless low income individuals to live productive lives despite the ravages of the infection. Ms. Phillips’ keen public policy ability was used to help propel more than fifteen major pieces of legislation in the U.S. Congress and at the California State Capital pertaining to the safeguarding of and bringing additional funding to support healthcare and reproductive rights. She was actively involved in HIV/AIDS clinical trials research, directing activities for a $300 million biomedical support operations center, assisting the activities of 255 researchers located in Africa, Thailand, India, Brazil, and cities throughout the United States.
On February 6, just days before Phillips’ passing, T.H.E. celebrated the opening of its sixth facility in South Los Angeles where federal, state and locally elected officials laudedMs. Phillips for her visionary leadership, innovation in health care and dedication to the community.
“We were all excited to be celebrating her accomplishments. On the Friday before her death, she, along with T.H.E., was recognized by the mayor (Eric Garcetti), the governor (Jerry Brown), and (Supervisor) Mark Ridley-Thomas. She was just an awesome, awesome woman,” Franklin said.
Known for her passion, style and ability to bring together diverse groups and organizations, Ms. Phillips will be greatly missed. The organization remains steadfastly committed to its mission of serving the underserved and to the legacy that Ms. Phillips leaves. During this transition, day-to-day operations will be led by Clifford Shiepe, Chief Administrative Officer. All inquiries should be directed to Shiepe at 323-730-1920 x3011. Ms. Phillips’ family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to: http://tohelpeveryone.org/donate-to-the-rise-k-phillips-fund/.