David Phillips and his wife, Liane, are co-founders of Cincinnati Works Inc., which helps people in poverty become self-sufficient by overcoming the barriers to stable, long-term employment. After retiring in 1994 as partner with Arthur Anderson for 32 years, he served as the CEO of Downtown Cincinnati Inc., a nonprofit group dedicated to downtown revitalization.
The Story - God has been awful good to us. We just believe we were sort of the pawns in his hands. We're the ones who did what he told us to do.
My name is Dave Phillips, and I am the co-founder of Cincinnati Works — and retired. Throughout my entire professional career at Arthur Anderson, the firm encouraged us to be involved in the communities. And that, (coupled) with the background at UD, set a really deep feeling about leaving something behind — making the place better than it was for us, for our children and grandchildren.
Liane and I knew all along that we wanted to do something together. We had had separate careers. I'm moving around the world, running businesses and consulting with clients, and Liane is teaching. We wanted to bring those skills together. We wanted to work together, build something together. The idea of poverty-to-work was never there, but the idea of helping people, who are not as privileged as we have been, be everything that they could be was there in both of us. And we were searching for something, and that something ended up being Cincinnati Works, which has proven to be a fantastic organization that helps more than 700 families a year go to work and stay at work.
We thought when we started, God willing, we probably had 20 years to do this, and we thought maybe we'd get a couple thousand people employed and that would be pretty good. About six years ago we realized it was much much bigger than that. We had developed a new model. We had developed a new way to do work force development, and then we realized that we had to get out of the way so that it would go on beyond us.
Cincinnati Works is changing lives, and Liane and I are very, very humbled and proud of that. It's turned out to be much more than we ever expected.
More about Dave:
A board member or trustee for more than 50 community and civic organizations, Phillips took a leadership role in the merger of the Cincinnati Natural History Museum and Historical Society, in the process saving Union Terminal, one of the last remaining Art Deco railroad terminals in the United States. He chaired Cincinnati's Chamber of Commerce, the first accountant to do so.
He has been a perennial servant-leader at his alma mater, serving on the board of trustees, including a three-year term as chair. The Harvard Business Review in December 2006 hailed Cincinnati Works, noting, "Since its inception in 1996, the organization has greatly reduced turnover for many companies — in some cases, by more than half — by placing 4,000 working poor and chronically unemployed people in jobs and then providing services that help keep them there." The couple has made a similar commitment to the University of Dayton, where the David C. and L. Liane Phillips Endowed Scholarship Fund "assists young people caught in the trap of poverty, helps them get on their feet and get the breaks I had," he says.
In 2007, the University of Dayton's National Alumni Association gave him its Distinguished Alumnus Award. He earned a bachelor's degree in accounting in 1962.
More about Liane:
Liane Phillips currently serves as interim president of the award-winning Cincinnati Works, which she co-founded along with her husband of fifty years, Dave Phillips, former managing partner at Arthur Anderson. A 2009 Manhattan Institute Social Entrepreneurship Initiative award, 2005 Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and that same year, a Best Practices Back-to-Work Program from The American Institute for Full Employment, are just a few of the accolades their non-profit has received. A lifelong humanitarian, Liane has led the way in drug and child abuse prevention, and in literacy, self-sufficiency, and career development programs. Liane is also the author of the inspiring book “Why Don’t They Just Get a Job?”
Liane and Dave currently reside in Cincinnati, Ohio.
About the book:
Why Don't They Just Get a Job? describes the journey and the incredible results of Dave and Liane Phillips' efforts to help those in poverty find their way to self sufficiency. Under the premise that existing job-readiness programs only focus on job placement and not retention, Dave and Liane Phillips created a poverty to economic self-sufficiency program with an 80 percent one-year employment retention rate. In the past three years this organization, Cincinnati Works, has brought $25 million in wages locally to over 1500 families. The not-for-profit offers a complete spectrum of free, lifetime employment services for the entry-level job-seeker to sustain and advance in today s work climate. The model is a winner of the 2009 Manhattan Institute Social Entrepreneur Award. Following its success, Dave Phillips is now volunteering as a consultant for similar programs in other cities.
If you know someone who could benefit from Cincinnati Works' programs or if you would like to use our program model in your community, please contact us at 513.744.WORK (9675).
To make a tax deductible contribution to Cincinnati Works, visit our Donate page for more information.