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Anji Phillips


Youth Services Work Group

140 W. Michigan Ave.
Battle Creek, Michigan 49017
Many vulnerable kids and their families need help, and Anji Phillips is dedicated to helping them. As executive director of the Coordinating Council of Calhoun County, Phillips leads with passion and fights for the rights of the underserved, the unseen, and the unrecognized with a team of strong child advocates beside her.
Michigan Nightlight: What is one concrete thing that could be done to improve the environment for social sector work in Michigan?
Executive Director of The Coordinating Council of Calhoun County and Youth Services Work Group Facilitator Anji Phillips: For me, it is all about collective impact: the commitment of a group of important people from different sectors working toward a common agenda for solving specific social problems. Communities can have many networks, collaboratives, and partnerships, but a collective impact initiative has a centralized infrastructure and a process that leads to a common agenda. Individual agencies are often very skilled in their area of specialization, but to adopt large-scale social change, we must stop duplicating services and have cross-sector coordination. No single organization is responsible for any major social problem, nor can any single organization cure it.

How do you know you’re making progress?
When I, as a leader, can be a part of changes in systems and policies -- changes that make things better for Calhoun County children and their families -- I see progress. When we are helping them be successful, I see progress. That’s what we’re
No single organization is responsible for any major social problem, nor can any single organization cure it.

What are you most proud of?
I am very proud of the wrap-around programs that we offer to families in Calhoun County: the individualized plans that wrap resources and support around families to help them be successful. I have a fantastic team. They work together to produce an annual community report card, which is a complete analysis that shows the public exactly where we are in terms of social and economic indicators. That report card spurs action, and without my amazing team, it would not happen.

What does being a leader mean to you?
Being a leader means being willing to take risks – really going outside of convention or traditional systems to make things work for the people we serve. Personally, I do not take “no” for an answer. There is a solution for every problem.

What is your dream for kids?
My dream is for kids to succeed and have the opportunity to do so no matter what that means for them. Whether it’s
There is a tendency to write people off if they are poor. The perception is that people who have less want less because of their socio-economic status.
graduating high school and going into a trade, aspiring toward a college career, or anything in between. I dream that they all have access to the educational and financial resources that they need to do that and that they have people in their lives that advocate for them and support them.

Do false perceptions or influences create significant barriers that keep Michigan citizens from engaging in helping children that you work with and others like them?
Definitely. There is a tendency to write people off if they are poor. The perception is that people who have less want less because of their socio-economic status. Some people believe that if you live in poverty, you do not have the same values that other people do: that you don’t love your children as much as you should, don’t have the right goals for them, and don’t care about their education. They sometimes think that you are bad parents because you live in poverty. Or, even, that your kids are “bad” kids who have very little potential. These are perceptions create barriers and they are absolutely ludicrous. 
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Program Profile


  • The Coordinating Council of Calhoun County
    The mission of The Coordinating Council of Calhoun County is to achieve optimum health of all people in Calhoun County by supporting economic self-sufficiency, healthy family and social relationships, and community connectedness.


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