Co-founder and Board President of AJWI, Steve has worked more than 25 years as an education reformer, attorney and elected official.
Steve grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, where his mother was a public school teacher and his father was a physician. He attended Stanford University, where he majored in English and Afro-American Studies and was active in the student government, the Black Student Union, and the Free South Africa Movement. Steve helped build a coalition of students, faculty and staff that pushed Stanford to make major changes in innovations in multi-cultural curriculum and student services for students of color.
Along with Andrew Wong, Steve was a principal organizer of the 1987 March on Sacramento that drew 8,000 people to Sacramento to support expanded educational opportunities for students of color. The March on Sacramento was the largest post-Vietnam rally in the State Capitol.
Steve continued his public service after graduating from college, devoting his early professional and political life to the issue of education. For four years he worked for the public interest law firm Public Advocates, Inc. as the coordinator of an education reform project that linked low-performing schools with business and local community groups. In 1992, at the age of 28, Steve successfully ran for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Education, and he became the youngest elected official in the history of San Francisco.
Steve served on the School Board for eight years including one year as President of the Board. His accomplishments on the Board include saving the early childhood education program that serves 4,000 San Francisco children, reducing class sizes in grades K-2, and making San Francisco the first school district in the country to incorporate books by writers of color into the required literature curriculum.
Steve attended Hastings College of the Law, and, in 1997, he opened the Law Offices of Steve Phillips where he practiced civil rights and employment discrimination law. As an attorney, Steve successfully litigated against a broad number of entities ranging from municipalities to multi-million dollar corporations including two settlements for $525,000.
Steve has written nearly 100 columns and essays that have been published in newspapers across the country including the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Village Voice, the San Jose Mercury News, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He has appeared on the Today show, MSNBCís News with Brian Williams, Fox Newsís Hannity and Colmes, and KTVUís Mornings on Two. He has served as a commentator on BayTV and been a guest on KQEDís Forum as well as appearing on KGO Radio and BBC radio. Steve has also given presentations at colleges across the country including Stanford Law School, Baylor College of Medicine, and Tufts University.
Steveís work with non-profit organizations includes founding Justice Matters, an education reform and leadership development organization, and serving on the Board of Directors of Progressive Majority, the Democracy Alliance, and the American Conservatory Theater.
In 2003, Steve founded PowerPAC.org, a statewide social justice organization working to champion democracy and justice in California. PowerPAC has organized grassroots support in several state and local campaigns and helps to identify, support, and connect individuals and organizations with a passion for justice and a commitment to work together to build progressive political power. In 2007, Steve founded Vote Hope, a political action committee dedicated to supporting candidates that are committed to a social justice policy agenda.