Karen Phillips MBE DL

Born in Manchester in 1951 and educated at Stand Grammar School, Karen has worked and volunteered in Manchester all her life.

She began volunteering at the age of 17, helping to feed residents in the “Old Age Home” on Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester.

Her professional life commenced in the early 70’s, running 2 schemes for the Chest, Heart and Stroke Association - managing clubs for people recovering from strokes in Trafford and South Manchester and recruiting home-based volunteers to work with stroke victims who had speech problems

Becoming a single parent in the mid-80’s, she combined bringing up her 3 lively young daughters with a period of study, training via Home Office secondment as a Probation Officer. She worked in Salford for 5 years specialising in both Adult and Young Offender support.

In 1992, having decided to take a sabbatical from her career in Probation, she opted to work in her own community. She took up a position as Social Work Manager at Manchester Jewish Social Services (MJSS), at that point a small, although significant, local Jewish charity which supported people living in poverty or in need of social care support.

In her later roles of Director and then CEO of MJSS, she anticipated the need to embrace the Community Care contract culture and encouraged a period of restructure and professionalisation. Developing into a substantial charity, via partnerships and mergers with other charities, Manchester Jewish Federation (MJF), came to enjoy Local Authority funding, with expanded service delivery to people in need across much of the Greater Manchester area.

Karen places great importance on having a community-wide perspective with regard to social care delivery. She believes in using her role to cross communal boundaries, bring about greater collaboration and rationalisation of resources between organisations where this is for the communal good: in December 2009, she led the amalgamation of MJF with Heathlands Village to become the Federation of Jewish Services (The Fed), in respect of which Karen is CEO.

Since merger, Karen has led the organisation through a multi million pound refurbishment, creating a modern bright and intergenerational concept of care at Heathlands Village.

Karen is committed to recruiting and integrating volunteers into as many areas of The Fed’s work as possible.  In addition to a large paid workforce of almost 400 staff, The Fed has developed a volunteer base of over 450 people, aged from 16 upwards, who provide support to people in need, of all ages, living in the Greater Manchester Jewish and wider community, including isolated elderly, people with physical, learning or mental health difficulties and the family members who care for them. 

Karen works long days at The Fed and shares her experience as CEO through mentoring of CEOs in other charities.  She is involved with the National Care Forum, National Association of Jewish Housing Organisations, and Jewish Care’s President’s Forum.

Karen also chairs the Greater Manchester Critical Care Patients’ and Carers’ Forum, and is a member of the Critical Care Management and Rehabilitation Forum.