The women of Martha’s Vineyard were ablaze with enthusiasm as they gathered at the Old Whaling Church on the night of Tuesday, May 19, to hear a talk entitled: Seven Secrets of a Woman on Fire.

The Martha’s Vineyard Women’s Network year-end event welcomed life and executive coach Debbie Phillips to promote her national organization, Women on Fire, and to offer personal and career guidance to professional women of the Island.

“In my world, a woman on fire is someone who is living or attempting to live her authentic life,” said Ms. Phillips. Her journey to becoming such a woman, and to founding the organization that has helped others to do the same, began when a professional supervisor tried to discourage her from using kindness and support to meet her career goals. Ignoring his advice, she began to search for a different way to succeed. “I found the work that came from my heart. It wasn’t my head,” she said.

During her address, Ms. Phillips encouraged her audience to maintain a positive attitude as often as possible, to be supportive of other women, and to eagerly invest in one’s own potential. Following the speech, women were encouraged to form small groups to discuss their proudest accomplishments of the past year. The crowded room was filled with both laughter and tears. “The fact that [the speech] led to discussions that were so personal, in a supportive group, is exciting,” said women’s network president Margo Urbany-Joyce.

Ms. Phillips drew a crowd much larger than usual for a women’s network event. “We have over 112 people here tonight. A typical turnout is 35 people. For an organization that’s in its second year, that’s a big deal,” said Ms. Urbany-Joyce.

The Martha’s Vineyard Women’s Network was established in 2007 as a resource for professional Island women. “The mission of the group is to provide continuing business education as well as networking opportunities for the businesswomen of Martha’s Vineyard in order to promote economic development. So what we’re trying to do is help everybody’s businesses become stronger,” said Ms. Urbany-Joyce.

Copies of Ms. Phillips’ book, Women on Fire: 20 Inspiring Women Share their Life Secrets (and Save you Years of Struggle), were provided to all women’s network members present at the event. The lecture concluded with a book signing by the author.

For more information about the Martha’s Vineyard Women’s Network, visit their Web site at