If you were to judge a person simply by the number of their awards and accolades, Iris Phillips would be at the top of that list. She is an outstanding leader, business owner, and community advocate. But she is so much more than meets the eye!
Just to recap Iris’ accomplishments look at this condensed list of just some of her recent personal and company accomplishments and awards:
Iris Phillips is a member of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Board of Advisors; NC MedAssist Board of Directors; Enterprising Women Advisory Board Member; the Women Presidents Organization; the Management Council Board of Defense Alliance of North Carolina; the UNC-Chapel Hill Patient Family Advisory Council; and a recipient of the 100 Women to KNOW in America Award and the 2022 Enterprising Women of the Year Award. Phillips was recently a panelist at the North Carolina Chamber 2022 Healthcare Conference discussing the importance of Health Equity.
Iris Phillips is the Founder, President & CEO of Grace Federal Solutions, LLC (GraceFed), a nationally recognized leader in healthcare and digital transformation.
Her company is a Woman-Owned Small Business, NC HUB (Historically Underutilized Business) Certified; a Minority Business Enterprise, Carolinas – Virginia and Minority Supplier Development Council-MBE; a Member of the VA Women’s Owned Cohort Program; a Premier Sponsor of the Medical, Biomedical and Biodefense Conference. Phillips and GraceFed were featured in the Triangle Business Journal Series “The Promise Of,” a series showcasing successful minority businesses, and the North Carolina Hubster Newsletter published by the North Carolina HUB Office. GraceFed was also awarded the 2022 Andrea Harris MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) Award by the North Carolina Department of Administration HUB (Historically Underutilized Business) Office.
However, if you were to meet Iris, you would not find a stuffy corporate executive resting on her “accomplishments.” You would find an outgoing, vivacious, people-friendly person who never met a stranger. She laughingly commented that if she goes into a room and everyone is quiet, she will start “talking with everyone” to get things moving and more engaged. She is also personally grateful for all her family and twin children, but “my granddaughter is my heart,” she exclaims. “Family is always important to me!”
She attributes a lot of her work ethic and “can-do+” attitude to her family “upbringin’”. “I love both my parents, but my dad had a huge influence on my life. He always worked two jobs, never complained, and even had his own business.” “In all his life, he never missed a day of work.” Her Dad was the initial influence on her values of hard work and accountability.
Today, she translates those values and her work experience into running and growing her own business, Grace Federal Solutions. “Education, Determination, Hard Work, and a Giving spirit were values instilled in me by my parents,” Iris Phillips says. “As a result of those values, I started Grace Federal Solutions over 10 years ago. With Grace Federal, I desired to merge those values with that of my healthcare background” and bring to the Healthcare table a company that would not only fulfill the immediate business needs of its clients but also create a business environment where GraceFed’s employees, clients, and vendors feel a part of a positive experience and would continue to carry that positive energy into the community at large. “Giving back to the community is an essential ingredient in my corporate and personal strategy. “ “I am extremely proud of the team at GraceFed, and I am grateful to the many mentors who have encouraged and motivated me throughout this endeavor.“
Iris Philips knows the importance of empowering and advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusivity. She inherently knows and has proven that companies and organizations that hire more diverse candidates get a broader range of ideas and perspectives. These companies, in turn, are more innovative and more productive.
Iris Philips took part in the inaugural session of “Courageous Conversations.” This was a Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity event that occurred in June and featured panelists including the CEO of Ben & Jerry’s and the Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter. Courageous Conversations empowered business owners like Iris to be a catalyst for change to ensure equity.
She lives diversity in her life and business but has some additional expectations. “We don’t hire a person just because they fit our diverse business culture…We hire first based on qualifications.” “Because we are a small business, everyone has to do their part and everyone, including me, needs the right skills and the right desire to work on our team. “ “Because there is a shortage of skilled workforce in today’s business environment, we have to work that more innovatively. We hire the best person for the job and then hold them accountable for making it happen.” “It’s all about having a vision for your company, then getting buy-in and performance from any each and every employee you hire.”
Iris is a recognized leader in business and her community. She says, “People will follow you if they trust you, believe you, and know you are going to be straight with them!” She went on to say that she holds her executive team accountable for the vision and mission of their company. She also expects them to hold the employees accountable for optimum results. She is a self-acclaimed hands-off manager to a point. She allows the people she leads to accomplish the shared vision. However, when correction is needed, she will jump in and coach or direct her employees to be successful…now!
Her latest leadership role is the anointment of chair for the Defense Alliance of North Carolina Women Business Leaders (DANC-WBL). She and Tammy Everett, Executive Director of DANC have combined visions and resources and will kick off this initiative with a launch event on Monday, August 21 in Wilmington NC. This will be a day of celebration to honor women entrepreneurs for their contributions as business leaders and mentors to young professionals.
We are thrilled to announce that the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Machelle Baker Sanders will be joining us as the keynote lunch speakers! Joining the Secretary is the Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer for the NC Department of Commerce, Betty Marrow-Taylor.
The mission of DANC-WBL is simple: EMPOWER Women Business Leaders in the Defense Industry with the following goals in mind:
- Be Intentional about the growth of our business
- Work on our business rather than in it.
- Sharpen our skills as business leaders.
- Look at the big picture and best business practices.
- Encourage each other.
- Elevate other women through our own connections.
- Create Networking opportunities and collaboration.
- Adapt creative sales and marketing strategies.
Event Sign Up
If you are interested in Defense Alliance of North Carolina Women Business Leaders (DANC-WBL), click on the link below to get more information and to sign up for the August 21 launch event.
Iris Phillips is an outgoing leader and business owner who live her values. From the value of hard work to the complexity of diversity in the workplace to a leader in her industry, Iris is never content with the status quo. She is always identifying and innovatively addressing the next challenge in her business and life. Here at DANC we welcome her ongoing commitment to our organization and to recognizing and developing leadership skills in women in their life and work. She wrapped up our interview with her message and counsel to leaders. “Always do what’s in your heart, what you feel is right.” “Always know and remember the importance of family.” “And always know that ALL things are possible!”
Iris Phillips, President/CEO
Grace Federal Solutions, LLC
8480 Honeycutt Road- Suite 200
Raleigh, NC 27615
If you would like to see what The Defense Alliance of North Carolina is doing and how you could become a member, visit us at https://defensealliancenc.org/membership.
By Van Carpenter