A better world is calling and it’s time that we answer.
After the desperation, chaos and negativity of the last year, many have been left searching for a rebirth in society: a rise from the ashes and a transition from what has been to what could be. It’s time for something new.
Tiffany Kelly and Laura Westcott share the sentiment. As co-founders of Phoenix Rising, a collaborative community of leaders, influencers and activists united in helping society step into positive femininity, they share a collective vision of a better world.
“We believe that now is the time to create a cultural change through the evolution of feminine consciousness,” says Kelly. “We also believe we need to create empowered, inclusive communities that are supportive, successful and unlock the potential of all humans. To do this we have created a truly unique network of people supporting each other to imagine, create and deliver environmental and social impact projects that make a difference in the world.”
Having worked for over 20 years in learning and development, Kelly shares her ethos towards creating a cultural movement. “What the world needs right now is femininity and love,” she says. “We need to own our individuality and truth.”
Phoenix Rising is committed to creating a more peaceful world – one led not by greed but by a better relationship with one another, says Kelly. “It is time for an evolution of consciousness towards balance and unity,” she says. “One in which leadership is not a job but an action that we all take towards creating an existence whereby we, and our future generations, can thrive.”
To bring the planet back into restoration and rejuvenation, Phoenix Rising calls for a symbiosis of the self between masculinity and femininity. “We are creating the world’s largest collaborative movement to liberate and illuminate femininity and find balance with masculinity so that we can all thrive on this planet. Phoenix Rising isn’t just about women, it is about all of us. It is about empowering both yin and yang leadership energy in everyone towards a more symbiotic and sustainable way of living.” And in making positive steps towards ‘yin and yang’ leadership, organisations like Phoenix Rising aim to nourish the foundations of society.
Painting The Blank Canvas
Laura Westcott co-created Phoenix Rising after her own challenging journey as a creative and entrepreneur. Whilst training to be an opera singer, a fear of performing as a solo artist led her down a path of insecurity, one marked by prescription medication which she used to suppress her anxiety. She moved into journalism and worked for The Times newspaper in London and New York whilst continuing to sing in the the London Philharmonic Choir and New York Choral Society. Yet her stage fright continued to stifle her.
“I was in the spotlight feeling out of flow,” she says. “I was having panic attacks on stage, and I didn’t realize they were due to me being on the wrong journey. When I understood this, I came off the antidepressants, and a huge weight lifted. I finally felt like I was free. This formative experience motivated me to create a non-profit called ‘Music for Mental Wealth’, designed to help empower musicians before they suffer from the same anxiety I did.”
Westcott and Kelly became instant friends upon meeting in London four years ago. Westcott went to see Kelly host a conference in Alexandra Palace, London.
“Tiffany was hosting an event for World Vegan Day, and I was intrigued to learn more. It was an amazing event that filled my heart with joy, and as they were packing up, I offered to find us a table for a catch up,” Westcott recalls. “The only place nearby was a restaurant called The Phoenix, so we reconvened there and celebrated the success of the event.”
However, when a woman asked her about her ‘Songs of War’ songwriting campaign, which she had founded to help the children’s charity War Child, Westcott burst into tears.
“One of Tiffany’s friends had been admiring the campaign and asked me whether I made a lot of money for the charity,” says Westcott. “I cried because I didn’t make as much as I had intended to and so I felt like a failure. Everyone around the table flocked around me offering help. It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced: unconditional love and support. But it was so natural for Tiffany that she stood back and observed the scene unfolding. In doing so, she noticed that there was a huge oil painting behind me of a phoenix rising from the ashes. It was at this moment that Phoenix Rising was born,” Westcott shares.
As the movement gained momentum, Westcott co-wrote an anthem for Phoenix Rising called ‘Time to Rise’, a call-to-action for change. After writing the lyrics, she commissioned both her school choir to sing the chorus and rising star Rebekah Fitch to write the music and record lead vocals. The result was an epic intertwining of uplifting vocals that embodied transformation..
Actress and activist Joanna Lumley became a fan. She shares: “It was wonderful seeing the Phoenix Rising movement grow and flourish. Listening to their beautiful call-to-action anthem ‘Time To Rise’ felt like a gift. I truly believe their vision of elevating femininity within our society in both men and women can benefit all and I am cheering them on every step of the way.”
A Powerful Feminine Community
Today the pair are committed to helping people step into their authentic selves and become empowered leaders.
“I’ve always been passionate about focusing our energy on what you want to change rather than what we don’t want to see,” says Kelly. “While I was setting up multiple projects across Asia at just 27 years old, it became readily apparent to me just how masculine the world is.”
“Women rarely hold executive roles in Asia, and I made it my mission to change that. I got drawn into a space where it was all about getting women to step into leadership. A lot of that work is happening in places like Tokyo because this is where women find it especially difficult to break through preconceived roles of subservience.”
Kelly maintains that if the leaders of today made decisions from a place of femininity, the world would be a place of unity, not division. She claims that the route cause of this issue lies with the manner in which society perceives gender as a whole.
“Women are taught to be exclusively feminine and men are taught the inverse, never to waver in their masculinity,” she says. “As a result, women feel less comfortable making demands, negotiating more for themselves, and securing roles of higher authority. Men, on the other hand, find it difficult to show emotional vulnerability.”
Each of us need a balance between the masculine and the feminine to thrive, she adds. “As humans, we want to be part of a tribe. And through communication, collaboration, and community, finding that balance is within reach when we do so together.”
Building a Renewed Society
Covid and the isolation it has caused has provided renewed energy for change, says Kelly. “Even when speaking with men in our community, they share that they feel desperate to see their friends,” she says.
“Many men are slowly opening up and identifying with their emotions instead of closing them down,” she adds. ”It’s important to recognize that the events of the past year have heightened emotions across the board, and both men and women alike would do well not to ignore the way they feel as a result.”
Having long been a proponent of cultural change, Kelly created Flourish – a program designed for organizations to increase empowerment and leadership. Catching the attention of even the UK prime minister, Kelly brought together people from three generations and all genders and asked the question: ‘What do we need to do to make the world change?’
As she explains: “This has been my mission. I co-founded a management consultancy called RoundTable Global in 2015, and it has since spanned 30 different countries. I’ve been incredibly fortunate, and I believe a part of that is because I broadcast the idea that efficacy with one another is one of the highest values. I’ve experienced this time and time again. If you give unconditionally, it always comes back. Because with true collaboration, we’re stronger together than we are apart.”
“Witnessing Laura’s sadness on that very first night and then watching my friends spring immediately into action to help her made me realize the world needs more than just balance – it needs movement. People must understand that modern empowerment is not just about women; it’s about humanity.”
Inspiring Tomorrow’s Generation
Kelly’s message of growth is about progression beyond the old normal. Rather it is about becoming better at embracing the prospect of a society united by positive influence. She believes that this change starts with the children of today, who will tomorrow go on to become the entrepreneurs of society.
“We live in a selfish world, one in which we’re constantly looking to protect ourselves. But instead of conforming, we should be looking out for our communities and our environments to help the world thrive for future generations.”
Phoenix Rising has a mission to reach one billion people by 2030, and it is well on its way to do so. Shoulder communities like the Legacy Project and the Global Youth Awards, which Kelly established in 2012, have worked to help young people step up and seek empowerment, education and a positive impact on the environment. Many of the graduates have gone on to find success and influence in a variety of fields.
“The young people we engage with develop an open mind,” says Kelly, “and they’re hungry to learn in different ways. We could all learn something from these children. As a society, stepping into inspiration and empowerment is not only about understanding who you are, but understanding who you could be. Our personal growth is not limited by our gender, our masculinity, or our femininity. It’s cultivated through encouragement, support, and community. And with Phoenix Rising, our growth is limitless.”