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Let’s Hear From An Expert: Debbie Phillips, Founder of Women on Fire®

Published on 04/04/2016

debbie FLTC 130-2In your work with women in midlife and beyond, what challenges do you see that are unique to these women?

Many! But the most detrimental challenge I see is a woman who does not believe in herself or embrace her unique gifts, strengths, and talents to share with the world. Once a woman truly believes in herself, creates a plan, receives support, and puts herself out there, magic happens!

What opportunities have you found exist for these women?

The sky is the limit! Every single day I see women who embrace opportunities, which often starts with them believing that they can create the life they want.

Take Women on Fire member Laurie Forster. She worked in software sales for years when she discovered her true passion was wine, connecting people, and laughter. Step by step, she crafted a career she loves as the Wine Coach, a wine educator and a stand-up sommelier. Today she is the author of The Sipping Point: A Crash Course in Wine, a media expert you’ll frequently see on shows such as Dr. Oz, and she speaks and entertains audiences across the country.

Another member, Mary Lou Peters is a former elementary school teacher who taught nearly every subject (except art!) for 29 years. After retiring, with her husband’s encouragement, she blossomed as a professional watercolor artist and he ran the business side of her art. Sadly, he suddenly died; she stepped up and took on both jobs. Today, Mary Lou is a sought-after, popular watercolor teacher and artist who paints from many locations and has a thriving online and retail art business.

And then there is Rosi Amador, a singer, musician, and co-founder of Sol Y Canto, an award-winning Latin band. Mid-career, Rosi and her husband, the parents of twin daughters, wished for steadier income. So they developed and applied their exquisite voices to become voiceover actors! It opened up an entirely new, exciting, and profitable world for them. Today they enjoy the best of both worlds — as voiceover actors and performers with their band.

And the list goes on and on!

These women are all proof that turning your passion into a career is easier and more rewarding than trying to find a job that matches your passion.

And each of them has experienced many opportunities flowing their way!


Why did you launch the online community, Women on Fire? What need did you see and what were you hoping to accomplish?

I started Women on Fire because I wanted to uplift women and provide them with inspiration, strategies, and support to flourish in our complex world. My dream is that women live their dreams!

As one of the first trained life and executive coaches in the world, I saw how much talent was wasted when women do not know their gifts and strengths — or how to engage their passions.  I viewed Women on Fire as a forum for women to express the love they have to give to the world — and to connect to other women, celebrate what is unique and special in each other, and to cheer on each other’s success. I call it “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

Plus, we are all braver together than alone. So I was hoping to tap into the incredible amount of talent that will simply lie dormant in many instances unless women encourage and support each other to use and honor their gifts. And so far, it seems to be working out! We reach more than 100,000 women a day through our email list and social media—our Facebook page alone has over 90,000 likes!


At our most recent Women on Fire Retreat


How does membership to Women on Fire benefit women who are in midlife and beyond?

Isolation is the dream-killer, one of my mentors, Barbara Sher says, and being supported in this community solves that enormous issue of busy women attempting to “go it alone.”

At Women on Fire, we live by the African proverb: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

Women on Fire is both a virtual and in-person community where women know your dreams and desires as well as your struggles and challenges if you choose to share them.

It is a community that is with you no matter where you are in the world! We encompass the life cycle of a woman.

And midlife women face particular needs that often include: aging parents, struggling children, health issues and physical concerns, career upheavals and changes, the need to prepare financially for the future.  Many of our programs address those issues directly.

We have members in every stage and experience of life to tap into. It is part of the power of the Women on Fire community. Someone has almost always been through what you’re going through — and can provide inspiration, strategies, and support to help you navigate your journey.

Specifically, the Women on Fire monthly membership program includes:

  • An audio interview and transcript each month with a guest expert and powerful role model. The interview is mailed to your home or downloaded to your inbox. Interviewees who’ve shared their wisdom include Gloria Steinem, Judy Blume, Vanessa Williams, Sheri Salata, Liz Lange, Julia Cameron, Lisa Fischer, Barbara Sher, and many others.
  • Live Chat video master class once a month with a topic important to midlife women
  • Quick tips sheet each month to live your best life
  • Self-guided coaching questions to keep yourself on track with your goals and dreams
  • A welcome package featuring the Women on Fire signature journal and other motivating tools to inspire and uplift you
  • Private Women on Fire members-only page on Facebook for inspiration, connection, and support 24/7
  • Discounts to annual retreats and programs
  • And, most important of all, the friendship, connection, and support of other like-hearted women from all walks of life joining forces to cheer each other on!

With our annual retreat keynote speaker, Beth Nielsen Chapman, two-time Grammy Award nominee and Women on Fire member


What resources do you recommend for women in midlife and later?


The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

The Voice That Calls You Home: Inspiration for Life’s Journeys by Andrea Raynor

The Mysterious Mind: How to Use Ancient Wisdom and Modern Science to Heal Your Headaches and Reclaim Your Health by Dr. Trupti Gokani













Comfort Talk® 

Head Space: Meditation and Mindfulness techniques

Pocket Yoga


Tea and gathering in New York City


Contact Debbie Phillips at Debbie@womenonfire.com


Women on Fire: 20 Inspiring Women Share Their Life Secrets (and Save You Years of Struggle!)

Women on Fire Volume 2: 21 Inspiring Women Share Their Life Secrets (and Save You Years of Struggle!)

Facebook personal page

Facebook Women on Fire

Twitter: @WomanOnFire

Instagram: BeAWomanOnFire


Women on Fire Book Cover

Debbie Phillips is the inspiring founder of Women on Fire® and a pioneer in the field of executive and life coaching. She is known for her work in transforming women’s lives. Her gift is her ability to see and nurture the strengths, gifts, and talents of the women she works with. She is also an author, speaker, and producer.

Her credits include the award-winning book  Women on Fire: 20 Inspiring Women Share Their Life Secrets (and Save You Years of Struggle!) and Women on Fire Volume 2: 21 Inspiring Women Share Their Life Secrets (and Save You Years of Struggle!).

Debbie, one of the first trained executive and life coaches in the world, launched her practice in 1995. Her work focused on coaching and helping women leaders to achieve their goals and experience success on their own terms.

In 2003 she founded Women on Fire®. This international membership community for women features monthly coaching, gatherings, and retreats to provide key and critical inspiration, strategies, and support for their joy and success. Today, Women on Fire regularly touches the lives of more than 100,000 women.

Debbie also created and co-developed Vision Day®, a strategic planning day that has helped thousands of people live the lives they’ve dreamed of.

Prior to becoming a coach, she was a reporter for the Columbus (Ohio) Citizen-Journal; a deputy press secretary to former U.S. Senator John Glenn during his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination; press secretary to former Ohio Governor Richard F. Celeste; and executive-in-charge of U.S. Health Productions Company, which featured the nationally and internationally syndicated television health and lifestyle show “Life Choices.”

Debbie has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and a master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School at Harvard University.

She considers, however, her greatest education to be the pain, joy, and growth from the ups and downs of life, love, and loss. She and her husband and business partner, Rob Berkley, live with their big white cat, Wilber, on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., and in Naples, Fla.


HeleneTStelian Musing
I’m Hélène Stelian, the Midlife Mentor with a passion for facilitating personal development in women 40+. Through my THRIVE Courses, I help introspective, curious, action-oriented women 40+ deepen their journeys of self-discovery and growth—and create their next chapter with courage and intention.



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  1. Jennifer

    Thanks for sharing. I never heard of Women on Fire before. Worth checking out.

    • Hélène

      I know, I learned so much about this great community by interviewing Debbie. Thanks for checking it out!

    • Debbie Phillips

      Thanks so much, Jennifer!
      We hope you will check us out and tell us all about you. xo

  2. Karen Dodd

    Great interview, Helene!

    As a Woman on Fire member of 3 years, and in middle age myself, I can really attest to the wonderful “hand on your back” philosophy that Debbie Phillips has fostered for women from all walks and several countries. I love that our members are so down to earth, compassionate and supportive.

    • Hélène

      It’s so great to get your firsthand perspective Karen. Thanks for sharing!

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    • Debbie Phillips

      It is women like you, Karen, that make Women on Fire so awesomely special! Thank you for your sweet words.


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