September 16, 1953 – June 23, 2023
Phillip Boyle, husband, father and proselytizer for democracy and good governance, died on June 23, 2023, surrounded by his devoted wife of 30 years and three daughters. He was born in Cape May, New Jersey on September 16, 1953, and grew up with the love of his sisters, Diane and Cathy. Despite a somewhat nomadic childhood, Phillip graduated from Wildwood High School in 1971. He attended Monmouth University where he developed a love for basketball, saw Bruce Springsteen play at the Stone Pony, and graduated with a B.A. in Social Work.
Phil’s love of learning and mastering new sports continued throughout his life. He earned an M.S. in Social Policy Administration from Columbia University, and while in New York City, took up running. He went on to run the NYC Marathon in two hours and fifty-nine minutes. Upon completion of his Masters, Phillip relocated to Washington, D.C. as a Presidential Management Fellow with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In addition to long distance running and basketball, he became an avid cyclist and after-work volleyball player. He also served as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Personnel Administration and as Director of the Center for Management Excellence through which he brought many Presidential Management Fellows and other graduates into federal service.
It is also where he met his wife, Scottie Seawell. Phil proposed to Scottie by asking if she wanted to have children, to which she replied, “with you?” He must have said, “yes” as they left D.C. and moved to Denver, Colorado where they married on Valentine’s Day in 1993. That same year, he began graduate school at the University of Colorado at Denver, to obtain his Ph.D. in Public Administration. While in graduate school, Phil became the proud stay-at-home father to Erin and Rachel.
As an avid touring cyclist, Phil enjoyed many adventures including rides from the Washington, DC area to the Blue Ridge Mountains; across North Carolina to the Outer Banks with his dear friend, Sandy Brown; from Eureka, CA to Seattle, WA and Victoria, BC, with his wife, Scottie; and the San Juan Sky Loop in CO with Scottie, his nephew Nick Bradley, and his brother-in-law Joshua Seawell. He could also land an outside basketball shot from half court and enjoyed many pick-up games at community centers and parks in the various cities in which he lived.
In 1999, after completing his PhD, Phil was offered a position in the School of Government at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and his family relocated to NC where they welcomed a third daughter, Lauren. Phil served as an Associate Professor of Public Management and Government at UNC from 1999-2004. In 2004, he and Scottie co-founded Leading and Governing Associates, Inc., a public purpose consulting practice dedicated to strengthening representative government and democratic governance.
In 2011, Phil wrote Preserving the Public in Public Schools with Del Burns in which they advocate for finding common ground to public policy problems by grappling with others and using the public values of liberty, equality, community, and prosperity to do so. Phil believed these public values frame the common good and help public officials at all levels of our representative democracy govern more effectively. His efforts to preserve the public in public schools and guide others in finding integrative and collaborative public policy solutions live on through his writing.
In 2011, Phil also began an eight-year stint as a Public Service Associate with the Vinson Institute of Government, University of Georgia at Athens. He continued to present at national, state, and regional conferences including through the Council of State Governments’ Western Legislative Academy, a highlight of his year and for which he always tailored his slides with current public policy issues relevant to western state legislators. All of Phil’s workshops were designed to make participants think critically, work collectively, and laugh often using puns, cartoons, and the rule of three. His favorite review from a workshop participant stated, “I enjoyed the session, but I didn’t get all of the jokes.”
The brightest lights Phillip leaves behind are his three daughters of whom he was immensely proud and loved unconditionally. He is survived by his wife, Frances “Scottie” Seawell, daughters Erin Elizabeth Boyle, Rachel Skye Boyle, and Lauren Scott Boyle, his sisters Diane Boyle Bradley (Keith Bradley) and Catherine Boyle Cole (Gregory Cole) and many nieces and nephews.
Phillip was a human being who reveled in the antics of children and tolerated a menagerie of family pets. He enjoyed travel and time spent in nature (particularly the mountains of Colorado), and for whom the perfect was the enemy of the good. Phil struggled with mental health challenges in the last years of his life. A metaphor that resonates with his wife and daughters is turning arrows, such as Phil’s struggles, into flowers through learning about and supporting initiatives working to prevent suicide and compassionately address suicidal ideation as well as improving the lives of North Carolinians. Those wishing to join this effort may support one of the following “flowers:”
- UNC Suicide Prevention Institute (https://www.med.unc.edu/psych/research/unc-suicide-prevention-institute/)
- Carolina Across 100 (https://carolinaacross100.unc.edu/wellbeing/)
- Peaceful Schools NC (org)
- Triangle Land Conservancy (org)
- Paws4ever (org)
- Mental health crisis lines (https://www.med.unc.edu/psych/research/unc-suicide-prevention-institute/resources/)