Jamila Thomas, Hunt Institute Fellow

Jamila Thomas, is a Hunt Institute Fellow, a motivational speaker, author, and entrepreneur. Ms. Thomas is the Senior Vice President for Big Brother Big Sister Lone Star, Founder and President of Women Divine, and the former Director of Racial Equity for the Dallas Independent School District. As a result of her commitment to excellence in all endeavors, Jamila Thomas was named a 2019 Presidential Leadership Scholar appointed by the Presidential Centers of William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson.

She has always been emphatically involved in organizations and activities that uplift the world community. She has traveled to West Africa, Germany, Austria, England, Jamaica, Bahamas, and Italy. She spoke in Washington, D.C. on the steps of the United States Capitol on behalf of 400 youth delegates to garner support for the mission and vision of Mother’s Against Drunk Drivers.

In 2009, Ms. Thomas founded a 501c3 organization called Women Divine in Chicago, Illinois. The mission is to effectively impact the lives of young women through academic enhancement, leadership development, financial literacy, and cultural enrichment. The vision is to educate, inspire, and empower young women to strive for excellence in all areas of their lives. In this capacity, she serves as the President of the Board of Directors. As of 2017, Women Divine serves young women currently residing in juvenile detention centers in Dallas, Texas.

In 2018, at the direction of Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees, Jamila created and established the Racial Equity Office for Dallas ISD. In this capacity, she was responsible for developing culturally responsive policies and programs designed to close the achievement gap and simultaneously build culturally intelligent practices for all faculty and staff. Before serving as the Director of Racial Equity, Ms. Thomas served as Coordinator for Dallas ISD African American Success Initiative for two years. There, she exposed students to a variety of culturally relevant academic-focused opportunities. Prior to her current role with Dallas ISD, she served as the Pastor of Outreach for St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church, where she was responsible for serving ministries that included social services and prison ministry.

Ms. Thomas has continued her commitment to serving the community in various organizations. She was appointed a Board Member of the Friends of the Dallas Public Library in 2016, and a member of the 2015 Leadership Dallas ISD class. She is also a 2017 Boone Family Foundation Public Voices Fellow, under the auspices of The OpEd Project. In addition, Ms. Thomas was invited to the White House in Washington, D.C. to collaborate with a number of individuals from across the nation to discuss opportunities that engage minority youth in STEM career fields. As a result of her commitment to her community, she won the 2015 Woman of the Year award from the South Central Dallas Business and Professional Women’s Club. In 2019, she was honored with the NAAACP Unsung Hero Award.

Ms. Thomas speaks to her motivation regarding impact work, “I have learned that I am a humanitarian and empathy is what drives me to be a collaborator and consensus builder. Social impact work that focuses on ensuring equitable advances and opportunities for communities that traditionally have been negatively impacted by historical legislative actions is what inspires and motivates me.”

Thomas currently lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, Brandon, their son Braylon, and daughter Jaidence. She is a native of Dallas, Texas, and a graduate of Florida A&M University, located in Tallahassee, Florida. She received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration and a graduate degree, Masters of Business of Administration (MBA). She also has a Master of Arts degree in Divinity from The University of Chicago Divinity School.

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