Donna Phillips is the labor council chair of the Alaska Nurses Association, leading the organization’s labor program as a tireless advocate for nurses and patients across the Last Frontier.
Phillips began her nursing career in 1979 after she graduated from Kishwaukee College in Malta, Ill., with her associate’s degree in nursing. She then went on to earn her bachelor’s degree of science in nursing from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1984, with her first nursing job at Loyola University Hospital in Maywood, Ill. She then worked on a burn unit at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas, before finding her passion, critical care nursing, while working at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. For six years, Phillips worked as a travel nurse, taking assignments across the country before landing in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1994 and beginning as a staff nurse in the adult critical care unit at Providence Alaska Medical Center.
Phillips played an instrumental role on the first Providence Registered Nurses negotiations team, serving as a leader in the effort to secure a fair first contract for the nurses working at the hospital after their successful strike.
Phillips also plays an active role on AaNA’s legislative committee, working diligently for more than six years for the 2010 passage of the “No Mandatory Overtime for Nurses” bill, spending countless hours meeting legislators and educating politicians, the public and fellow nurses on the risks to both patients and medical staff due to mandatory overtime. In 2018, Phillips helped to champion the passage of a bill addressing workplace violence in healthcare settings, protecting nurses and healthcare professionals across Alaska.
She has served in many leadership positions within both her local bargaining unit, Providence Registered Nurses, and the Alaska Nurses Association, serving as the labor council chair for a total of 18 years thus far, beginning in 2002. Phillips also currently serves as treasurer of Providence Registered Nurses, a position she has held for more than 20 years total. Over the years, she has also held the positions of health and safety officer for Providence Registered Nurses and treasurer of the AaNA board of directors, and has served on the Anchorage Central Labor Council and as a vice president of the Alaska AFL-CIO.
In 2015, Phillips facilitated AaNA’s successful affiliation with the American Federation of Teachers. Since then, she has served in her appointment by AFT President Randi Weingarten on the AFT Nurses and Health Professionals program and policy council.
In 2020, Phillips led her union’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic—getting masks and face shields into the hands of AaNA union members, negotiating for fair wages and working conditions for nurses on the frontlines of the pandemic, and advocating for pandemic relief funding and Occupational Safety and Health Administration infectious disease protections for workers.