Phalana Tiller
47,  Claremont, CA

What do you do for work?
I am the Director of Learning at the Drucker Institute, a university-based social enterprise. Our work is rooted in the ideas of management thinker Peter Drucker and is aimed at “strengthening organizations to strengthen society.” My role lets me drive learning through all of our cross-sector (corporate, social and public) work with senior executives and middle managers who value our Drucker-based consulting, and with a few university and high school groups that come to us for intensive management courses from around the world. 

Never before this position had I ever said, “I love my job.” I love that I get to contribute from a place of strength and that my weaknesses are rendered irrelevant. I get to tap into my previous careers in media production and as a classroom educator without apology. I work with a very small but incredibly diverse team that includes a Pulitzer Prize-winning editor, a dissertating Millennial historian, a former geologist now focused on human-centered design and a Harvard PhD who is as committed to learning new music for choir as to helping our clients resolve their hairiest challenges. I have a great deal of freedom to be entrepreneurial with my programs, and I find that the responsibility attached to those freedoms is just the right amount of pressure to keep me on my toes. 

I’ve also somehow never been able to let go of the hustler instincts that served me years ago as a struggling actor and freelance writer, so even with a fairly demanding career I still keep a tiny little side gig as a “resume doctor.”

Last google search?
Pente game rules.” I was trying to remember the rules to a strategy board game that I grew up playing and wanted to share with a young friend.

Greatest new discovery?
Les Mills Barre. It’s a ballet-based fitness class that, thankfully, requires little to no dance ability! It includes very light weights to add a strength component to the lengthening and low-impact cardio dance moves.

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
You may not be exactly right, but you’re definitely not wrong.

Tell us something surprising about yourself. 
I am a princess of the village of Ramotswa in Botswana (Southern Africa) where my mother’s sister is currently the first ever female chief. She reigns over a village about the size of SoHo in lower Manhattan. A few years ago, I paid a casual visit to the village where I was suddenly expected to turn up at a local wedding as part of the duties of a member of the royal family. I was drastically under-dressed and did all of the things incorrectly.

Goal for the next 12 months?
I’ve been studying Japanese very casually for a while, and have just started formal one-on-one classes. I’d like to get where I can hold good basic conversation in the next year. I’ve also let a budding VO career go fallow and I’d like to, minimally, get a new demo reel together and a new agent by a year from now.

Favorite recent movie or art exhibit?
The Burial of Kojo directed by Biltz the Ambassador is one of the most beautiful films I have seen in years. It’s set in Ghana and was shot on an impossibly small budget with a lot of first-time actors who are just incredible. It is poetic and lush and offers an African story that is not centered on familiar tropes.

What’s your vice?
Green tea, Kombucha, and India Pale Ale. The latter being my favorite! It is totally caloric and sooooo not figure-friendly, but I just love a juicy, stinky-armpity, grapefruity, hop-forward funky IPA.

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The Woolfer Newsletter Team
Stephanie Staal and Nina Collins have worked together and adored each other since 1994 when they were both babies in the world of book publishing. Stephanie is a lawyer, journalist, & author of READING WOMEN, and Nina is the founder of "What Would Virginia Woolf Do?" Hillary Richard is also a lawyer and co-host of the Raging Gracefully podcast. Sidney Morss is a recent NYU grad and the youngest member of our team.

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