Amy Acton is the Chief Executive Officer for Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, where she has served the organization for over 20 years. Amy is a burn survivor, former burn nurse, and leading advocate for the burn community. She has dedicated her career to promoting the expansion of burn recovery services and resources for burn survivors and their loved ones.
Since 1998, Amy has served as a critical bridge to the communities of survivors and healthcare professionals alike, ensuring that both communities are seen and heard to help create positive outcomes for both. Amy began her career as a nurse and later nurse manager of the burn unit at Spectrum Health Regional Burn Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she herself was treated at the age of 18 for an electrical burn injury. Since becoming the CEO of Phoenix Society, Amy has played a critical role in building the organization to the leading national resource it is today.
In collaboration with Phoenix Society’s dedicated staff and volunteers, Amy worked to develop and expand several national programs that have greatly increased accessibility to long-term recovery resources for burn survivors and their loved ones. Her guidance helped establish the Phoenix SOAR (Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery) program in 2002, which has grown to more than 70 burn centers across the nation. Phoenix SOAR is the leading hospital-based program helping survivors and healthcare systems navigate the social and emotional impact of a burn journey, with trained peer supporters offering vital hope to new survivors.
Throughout her time with Phoenix Society, Amy has played an instrumental role in developing the Phoenix Society’s mission and core values, uniting survivors and community members so all feel seen and heard. Through this belief, Amy built strong relationships with corporate partners and hospital burn centers across the country, leading to the growth of Phoenix programs and burn awareness. Through these relationships, Phoenix Society has connected more people to make instrumental changes in the burn survivor journey from acute care to community reentry.
Amy is currently the Immediate Past Chair of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Board of Directors and also serves on the board of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition. She has participated on numerous American Burn Association (ABA) Committees and was the founding co-chair of the Phoenix Society and ABA joint committee on Aftercare and Reintegration (ARC). In 2018, she was a founding member of Face Equality International and continues to serve on their advisory board.
In 2019, Phoenix Society teamed up with NFPA for a Faces of Fire/Electrical campaign, which featured stories of people impacted by electrical incidents and demonstrated the need for continued education and awareness about electrical hazards both on the job and at home. Amy shared her personal journey in the campaign and continued to help build a safer world by teaching others and supporting the burn survivor community in advancing lifelong healing, optimal recovery, and burn injury prevention.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amy has helped Phoenix Society navigate the challenges of a virtual environment and has worked with the organization to support the future of the new era in burn-related healthcare. Amidst challenges and setbacks, Amy has worked with the dedicated staff at Phoenix Society in new and innovative ways to continue adding value and maintaining steady as the burn survivor's guiding voice. In a new era for the burn community, she led the organization to create greater connections across the nation, uniting survivors from all over the country with programs such as the digital Phoenix World Burn Congress (WBC) and creating greater support networks during a time where many hospitals had to go without. Under her leadership, Phoenix Society also developed best practice trainings for hospitals and burn support organizations offering virtual support for the first time.
Today, Amy is leading Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors to a new era of post-pandemic support. She is currently working with the organization to establish new resources, community networks, and a re-imagined version of the well-known Phoenix WBC. She is passionate about her work as a voice for her community to ensure the organization focuses on where it can provide the greatest impact to those that it serves. As a leading member of the burn community, Amy envisions uniting both the healthcare and survivor voice to ensure no survivor is ever alone.
Amy’s vision for the community is one in which healthcare providers, survivors, corporate partners, and allies alike unite to support a new era in the journey of the survivor. Whether the support is financial, advocacy, or allyship—she asks the community to work with Phoenix Society to create a movement with a voice stronger and greater than ever.
When asked about what motivates her in her role, Amy shares, “As a survivor, I feel a great sense of commitment and accountability to help lead the charge for the continued advancement of the services we need. For Phoenix Society, I aim to continue to be survivor-informed to improve the lives of survivors and their loved ones. I try to ask the hard questions about where we aren’t meeting the needs, then work creatively to find opportunities to fill the gap. I have a great sense of satisfaction and joy in seeing the advancement over time.”
Special Achievement Award – American Burn Association, 2022
Social Change Agent – West Michigan Women Brilliance Awards, 2019
Fire Sprinkler Advocate of the Year – American Fire Sprinkler Association, 2019
Curtis P. Artz Distinguished Service Award – American Burn Association, 2013
Burn Prevention Award – American Burn Association, 2002