Meet our 2020 Phoenix Fellows!

Written on March 31, 2020

Phoenix Fellows 2020

From left to right: Jessica Wilfore, Brianna Bolinger, Mary Garner Oden, Ashley Honea.

Jessica Wilfore - Development Fellow

From: Colorado Springs, CO

Fun Fact: I just had a baby (my first) in February!


What drew you to the Phoenix Society Fellowship?

I have an interest in support resources that are in the community as my work experience has always been directly related to the hospital. Providing outreach to families once they leave the hospital was what interested me most!

What do you hope to accomplish through this experience? 

I hope to learn more about supporting/fundraising with a community organization but also observing how the development team creates and sustains relationships with the giving partners.

Brianna Bolinger - Supportive Programming + Young Adult Fellow

FromOriginally from Markle, IN, and currently living in Kalamazoo, MI for school

Fun FactI was a competitive baton twirler for 18 years. I represented Team USA twice as well as being the collegiate Feature Twirler for Western Michigan University.


How do you think your background and experiences will help you during your fellowship?

Through being a nursing student and working within a trauma unit, I feel I have a great understanding of one's recovery process. It is an integrative time for the survivor as their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self is changed and transformed. Being able to understand and respect this provides an additional perspective when trying to improve survivor care and programs post-injury.


What are you most excited for during your fellowship?

I am the most excited to develop and attend the Young Adult Workshop at this year's Phoenix World Burn Congress. Last year was the first time I was able to serve and connect with other survivors my age through the workshop. I only hope that I am able to help grow these connection points for other young adult survivors.


Mary Garner Oden - Marketing + Communications Fellow

From: Wilmington, NC but now I live in Greensboro, NC

Fun factI just helped my family open a craft brewery!


What drew you to the Phoenix Society Fellowship? 

I was drawn to the Phoenix Society Fellowship for a number of reasons. As a burn survivor myself I have always felt a need to give back to organizations and communities that have done so much for me. I was burned when I was six years old and grew up attending camp for burn survivors and later volunteering at the same camp. It wasn’t until I graduated college and decided I wanted to be more involved in the burn survivor community that I learned about Phoenix Society. After attending my first Phoenix World Burn Congress and Young Adult Workshop, I knew I wanted to be more involved with Phoenix Society. 

What are you most excited for during your fellowship?

I’m excited to learn about how a nonprofit communicates and to raise awareness about Phoenix Society, Phoenix World Burn Congress, and the issues facing burn survivors everywhere. I had no idea Phoenix Society existed until a few years ago. Imagine how many other burn survivors, loved ones and first responders are also unaware that we exist!


Ashley Honea - Youth + Family Programming Fellow

FromOriginally from Flint, Michigan. Re-located to Phoenix, Arizona in December 2013.

Fun Fact: I have two Master's Degrees: Forensic Psychology and Social Work. I am a mom to two of the best puppies in the world: Lindy Lou + Hugo Eugene. I won first place in the Halloween contest last year with my co-workers as the Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus!


What drew you to the Phoenix Society Fellowship?

​I have been working with the Arizona Burn Foundation and as a Phoenix SOAR Peer Mentor for the last three years. Being a burn survivor, I wanted to become more involved with the burn community and continue to learn more from a medical and social work standpoint to better support survivors and their families as they begin their healing journey.


How do you think your background and experiences will help you during your fellowship?

​As a childhood burn survivor, my support system consisted primarily of my family. I wasn't aware of the Phoenix Society or any of the resources or supports available for burn survivors and their families at the time. I believe my experiences growing up - bullying and being teased by others, not knowing how to talk about my injury, and feelings of anger, frustration, guilt, and sadness - are what I have been able to utilize and apply in my role as the Youth and Family Programming Fellow. I want to be a part of something that allows youth and families to know they are not alone and there are resources, supports, and people out there who have shared and lived experiences, where a whole new network of support can be created. Additionally, being a recent graduate with my Master's in Social Work, as well as functioning as a part-time therapist at a local behavioral health hospital and being a Phoenix SOAR Peer Supporter, I have learned that there is less emphasis on the emotional and mental healing of burn survivors and their families, and strongly believe therapeutic resources and networking is needed to process the emotional piece of the injury long after the physical healing is over. The emotional healing from a burn injury is a marathon, not a race - and I hope to instill this as a foundation in the work being done for Youth and Family Programming. 


What do you hope to accomplish through this experience?

​I hope to accomplish building a network and community of support for youth and families, as well as myself. I am so eager to learn more about the availability of services and supports for burn survivors and their families. I hope to plant seeds along the way with everyone I interact with about the importance of access to behavioral health/mental health services or supports for youth and families.

Phoenix Fellows gain in-depth learning and hands-on experience while giving back to the burn community. Through an intentional educational curriculum, they build professional experience and gain a deep understanding of the community. 

Learn more here