Director of Development
Debi Alexander is passionate about PHILLIPS Programs commitment to youth with behavioral health needs. Her parents were Harvard educated intellectuals and she has vivid memories of growing up in Northern Virginia visiting the tent city in DC, her mother sobbing at Bobby Kennedy’s funeral, the complexities surrounding a military family during the Vietnam war and being put to work stuffing envelopes for political campaigns at an early age. The family dinner table conversation revolved around economics and social justice. Her mom was one of the original ten faculty at Northern Virginia Community College and she was always assisting English as a New Language students in her economics class refine their writing skills in addition to learning micro and macro-economics. The whole family would sit around the dining room table editing hundreds of blue books at exam time. The corrections did not impact their grades, but gave them feedback for stronger writing skills. The daughter of immigrant parents her mother was literally born on the boat as it arrived from China in the port of Seattle and instilled in her children her story that revolved around the importance of education and her journey that brought her to Radcliffe on a full scholarship. Education was the key to climbing out of poverty.
Parents often say, of their PHILLIPS experience, that our program gave their family HOPE for the very first time. It is such an honor and a privilege to work for the families who bring their children to us. The youth we serve have complex needs, and advocating for their families fuels Debi’s determination to promote our services. A defining moment came about as a young teen, attending summer camp out in the Virginia countryside. Her bunk mate was a girl who suffered from bi-polar disorder. She was only 13, yet the camp punished her bunk mate for hiding all of the salt shakers from the dining room in an unusually punitive manner utilizing public shaming. Their treatment wasn’t fair because it undermined her friend’s dignity. One of the core values at PHILLIPS is our compassionate, non-judgmental approach to our youth. The Career Partners program is rooted in the belief that earning a livable wage is tied directly to human dignity. Defining dignity as a human right is a mission critical value of the human services non-profit sector and what draws the business community to join in our journey to uplift the lives of our youth.
Most people feel queasy and ill at the mention of fundraising. They would rather face a root canal than ask for a donation. But it’s something that is second nature to Debi. She is fiercely passionate about issues involving invisible people who are easy to ignore in our wealthy community. She is genuine in her compassionate sharing of stories with eloquence and intellect, unlocking the value proposition that people can easily understand and relate to on a personal level. This drive was evident when a small all - volunteer kitchen-table board hired her to build and run a therapeutic riding center in Haymarket, Virginia. Armed with a 30 year license agreement on 50 acres of county- owned densely wooded land and a dream nurtured by generations of families, in seven short years a fully developed $3.8 million dollar center now serves people with ALL abilities through equine-assisted activities. When touring the Center one hot summer day with a prospective donor and her daughter, Debi lovingly shared, “This Center is like my third child.” “Her favorite child!” quipped Ashley, who along with her older brother Alex grew up volunteering for every charity their mom supported.
Debi brings 30 years of public relations, marketing, community relations and fundraising experience for both local and federal government, associations and private foundations and a therapeutic riding center. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from George Mason University and a JD from the Antonin Scalia School of Law-GMU. When not at work Debi loves to cook, garden, hike and sail. Her favorite book is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and having worked during college as a DJ at the iconic Abbey Road in DC and Jaspers in Greenbelt, Maryland she loves music of every genre as long as it speaks to your soul and keeps the dance floor packed!