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Empowering people to care for themselves and advocating on behalf of the defenseless have been lifelong passions for Stuart and Robin Phillips. These themes have shaped their career paths and continue to fuel the work they do in their church and community, and for World Vision.
The Phillips are based in Michigan and can speak together or individually.
Empowering people to care for themselves and advocating on behalf of the defenseless have been lifelong passions for Stuart and Robin Phillips. These themes have shaped their career paths and continue to fuel the work they do in their church and community — and for World Vision.
When their two sons were growing up, Stuart and Robin looked for opportunities to introduce them to the realities of poverty in the wider world. They began sponsoring children through World Vision in 1982 and spent eight weeks in 2002 volunteering as a family with Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica. In 2003, Stuart and Robin began working with World Vision to organize service trips for high school and college students from their church to one of World Vision’s project areas in Tijuana, Mexico. The church now sends two groups of students and adults each year to participate in World Vision’s work and to build relationships with community members.
These annual trips opened the door for Stuart and Robin to become even more deeply engaged with World Vision’s work. Since 2010, Stuart and Robin have been working with other donors to increase awareness about the For Every Child campaign, which aims to raise $500 million by October 2015 to make fullness of life possible for a generation of children by addressing needs in a number of sectors. Stuart shares that, as co-chairs for the economic development sector, he and Robin help people “see the power of economic development, validate that [power] through their own business experience, and determine whether and how God wants them to personally engage.”
Stuart’s interest in economic development is tied to his own experience running a business, and he believes in its capacity to equip people living in poverty to support themselves in a sustainable way. “Economic development empowers parents to provide the things we all seek to give to our children — education, healthcare, and opportunities for the future,” he explains.
Robin is especially passionate about the long-term benefits of empowering women. “Economic development is so powerful for women,” she says. “Research has shown over and over that even the smallest amount of money in a woman’s hand translates directly to better health and education for her children. If a woman participates in a savings group or receives a microloan, her enterprise has been empowered. Her children are more likely to be healthier and get an education, and her grandchildren are more likely to do the same.”
Stuart and Robin have been married since 1973 and live in Chelsea, Michigan. They have two sons, Jordan and Stephen, and a daughter-in-law, Morgan (Jordan’s wife). In 2008, Stuart retired as chairman of the board and principal owner of a neurologic rehabilitation center that he started in 1993. He has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from Murray State University, and a Ph.D. in rehabilitation services from Florida State University. Robin is a retired trusts and estate planning lawyer. She has a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from Murray State University and a J.D. from Southern Illinois University.