After high school, Phyllis graduated from Whitworth College with a degree in History. She then went on to Long Beach State College, and later received her teaching credentials from California Lutheran University. In 1969 she earned her private pilot’s license.
Phyllis taught grades 3 through 9 for the Simi Valley, California, Unified School District for 10 years. She served two years as president of the local education association and served on the California Commission for Professional Competency.
After returning to Spokane, Phyllis began a career as an insurance agent and became very involved in local politics. She served several years as a Spokane City Council Member, as well as on the Spokane Regional Health District Board and the Spokane Regional Transportation Council Board. She also served on the Spokane Transit Authority Board, the Growth Management Steering Committee, the Spokane City Employees Pension Board, the Spokane Police Pension Board, the Displaced Homemakers Advisory Committee, and the Light Rail Steering Committee.