A High Point native, he attended Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Ct and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Phillips is a longtime furniture and textiles executive, active for more than 30 years in factoring, building furniture market showrooms and textile manufacturing. Phillips has served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Phillips Industries, Inc. and as a partner in High Point’s Market Square Partnership. Mr. Phillips has served on numerous boards at Duke University, Wake Forest University Medical Center and the Smithsonian Institute. In North Carolina, Phillips served as Chairman of the Development Board, and was a Member of the Board of the of Transportation. In 1999, Phillips chaired the World Games of the Special Olympics in America. He has organized trade missions and led a trip to India where he met the Dalai Lama. Phillips served as North Carolinas Commerce Secretary from 1993-1997, organizing missions to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, meeting leaders. He was a hand- picked member of the trade panel at President Bush’s August 2002 “Economic Forum” in Waco and was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Estonia on April 16, 2007.