Phillips, who has lived on Longboat Key since 1998, is the assistant to the town manager, president of the Garden Club and is involved in various other Longboat organizations.
Susan Phillips arrived in Longboat Key on Jan. 22, 1998.
Since then, she has immersed herself in the island’s way of life and has become a familiar face at events ranging from town meetings to the Longboat Key Garden Club.
Now, those who don’t know Phillips have the chance to see her front and center at this year’s Freedom Fest parade on July 4. Phillips has been named this year’s parade grand marshal.
Phillips has worked for the town of Longboat Key since April 1998. Originally, she was in a part-time position, but within three months she transitioned to a full-time role. Since then, she has worked as the assistant to three town managers.
“I still love going to work every day, and a lot of people have jobs that are very predictable. Mine is not,” Phillips said. “Every time the phone rings, the direction of my day can change. The focus of what that person needs can sometimes shift it. Every time the phone rings, the person on the other end – that’s the most important thing I’m doing.”
Along with organizing agendas and art exhibits for Town Hall, Phillips also organizes the town manager’s office and coordinates with department directors. She said everything, from citizen questions to state and local items, comes through the town manager’s office.
“It changes every day,” she said. “It’s challenging, and I just love the energy and the pace in that office. It’s never boring.”
But, when Phillips isn’t working in Town Hall, she’s often found organizing events and meetings for the Longboat Key Garden Club, of which she is the president, and for the Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key, where she sits on the foundation board and chairs the scholarship committee.
She is also a Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce member, serves as the Longboat representative on the Coastal Advisory Committee and is on the steering committee for the future Arts, Culture and Education Center.
“It energizes me, and it helps us,” she said of being so involved. “Not me. I don’t do anything individually. The Garden Club is big. There are a lot of engaged members. (Through) Kiwanis Club, the good things that are built for this community are the scholarships and grants, the friends you make. It’s all important in the people’s interests and building a better community, and it’s fun.”
The Garden Club is working on its annual butterfly release as part of the Freedom Fest events by freshening up its butterfly garden in Bicentennial Park.
“A little elbow grease and sweat and it will be beautiful,” she said. “It’s work, but it’s a labor of love.”
As for Freedom Fest, Phillips said she encourages those who have never attended to do so.
“I love the small-town Americana,” Phillips said. “It is such a personal show of patriotism when you do it at a small local level. You know everyone in that community loves America.”