Cheryl Miller profiles the 2015 Boomer & Shaker Honoree
A career consulting professional by trade, Laurie Phillips, 54, runs a nonprofit she co-founded with her son, Chris. The “Tech for Troops Project” provides computers to veterans so they can develop skills and have a way to connect with potential employers. This September, the Project received a Newman’s Own/Fisher House award of $30,000; these national grants are given to organizations for innovative programs to improve military quality of life. Phillips is hoping to eventually expand Tech for Troops Project to other cities.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO BE ABLE TO WORK WITH YOUR SON ON THE “TECH FOR TROOPS” PROJECT? WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM?
“Chris was a junior in business school at [Virginia Commonwealth University] with a concentration in entrepreneurship when a friend of his returned from two tours in Afghanistan as a Marine. His friend was having a hard time finding a job; his combat experience didn’t translate into the civilian work world. Chris asked me if we could do something to help, and from that came the idea for Tech For Troops Project.”
WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S SO IMPORTANT TO WORK TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN OUR COMMUNITY?
“I can choose to do nothing and not a thing will change. Or I can do something and maybe I’ll make someone smile, and maybe they’ll pass on that smile or gesture of help to another person they encounter that day. I think that some of the most rewarding moments come from quiet actions when there is absolutely nothing to gain personally.”
WHAT DOES SUCCESS MEAN TO YOU?
“I think of success as the measure of achievement of a specific goal rather than a subjective feeling of accomplishment. I used to reach a goal successfully and immediately raise the bar. I never let myself enjoy my successes when I was younger. But now I let myself appreciate the results of my work more.”
LOOKING BACK, DID YOU THINK YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS WERE POSSIBLE? WERE THEY EASIER/HARDER THAN YOU THOUGHT?
“Many of my achievements were launched by seeing and jumping at opportunities. Tech for Troops Project has been the exception. Opportunities keep finding me, and they’re bigger than I’ve ever imagined.”
WHAT ONE PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
“Be present. It’s not about the accomplishments; it’s about people.”
Cheryl Miller is celebrating her 31st year as news anchor at WTVR-CBS 6, and is co-host of Virginia This Morning, and hosts the Battle of the Brains high school academic quiz show.