Phyllis J. Washington named as a Kennedy Center Trustee

Star Staff
Wednesday, August 21, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald J. Trump announced Thursday, Aug. 15, the appointment of Phyllis J. Washington to the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Washington, chairperson of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, is one of two new appointees to this prestigious governing board, which has 36 presidentially appointed members. She will serve a six year term.

“I’m truly honored to be selected as a Kennedy Center trustee,” Washington said in a press release.“The Kennedy Center’s position as a worldwide leader in the performing arts community is unparalleled, and I am thrilled to be involved in the Center’s contribution to the human spirit. I look forward to working with the Kennedy Center to further outreach to rural communities and enhance arts in education promoting the development of the whole child.”

She was raised in Great Falls and received her bachelor of arts degree in education in 1964 from the University of Montana in Missoula, where she met her husband, Dennis. The Washingtons have been married 55 years and have two children and six grandchildren, according to a news release from the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation. Mrs. Washington taught elementary school in Missoula for several years, and later employed her talent as an interior decorator and antiquarian. For more than 20 years, Phyllis Washington Antiques/Maison Felice located in Palm Desert, California, has been well known across the country for its one-of-a-kind antiques. Her interest in education led to the popular Cultural Lecture Series held at Maison Felice.

Washington has had a long-time passion for education, as she and Dennis believe that access to a high-quality education is the single most important determinant to success in life. She has served several terms on the University of Montana Foundation Board of Trustees and chaired a record-setting UM capital campaign, a five-year effort for which she received UM’s 1999 Neil S. Bucklew Presidential Service Award. She was instrumental in construction of the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education at the University of Montana, designed to train educators in the latest technologies and methods. In 2009, Mrs. Washington was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Education from UM. In 2011, the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education at UM was renamed in recognition of her lifelong support for education. In addition to her commitment to education, as honorary co-chair of the Montana Special Olympics, She encourages and empowers individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Washington also serves on the national board of Young Life, a nondenominational Christian ministry that reaches out to middle school, high school and college-aged kids in all 50 states as well as more than 90 countries around the world. The Washingtons donated a 64,000-acre ranch in Oregon in 1997 that became the Young Life Washington Family Ranch, hosting thousands of youth each summer.

According to a press release, she is an active participant in Kennedy Center activities nationwide, including serving as the vice-chair for the National Committee for the Performing Arts. The NCPA was established in 1993 to support, enhance and advocate national arts education through the Kennedy Center. She was also instrumental in the creation of SPARK! Arts Missoula, a national partnership site for the Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child Initiative, a growing network of communities working to transform learning and ensure access to the arts for every public school student.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is America’s living memorial to President Kennedy and the nation’s busiest performing arts facility. For more information visit

The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation is the major philanthropic organization for The Washington Companies and the Washington family. The Washington Companies were founded by Montana industrialist Dennis Washington, and focus on core industries in seven primary sectors: rail transportation, marine transportation, mining, heavy equipment sales, aviation technology and environmental remediation. For more information visit