Company: The Study Group
Location: New York, New York, United States
Franklin Thomas, Consultant at the Study Group, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Lawyers for dedication, achievements, and leadership in nonprofit work.
With more than 50 years of professional experience, Mr. Thomas has been a consultant with the Study Group since 2005. Prior to obtaining his current role, he was a consultant with the Ford Foundation from 1996 to 2005, having served as president of the organization since 1979. From 1967 to 1977, he was the president at chief executive officer of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, having been the deputy police commissioner for legal matter for the city of New York from 1965 to 1967 – the first African-American to hold that post. Earlier in his career, Mr. Thomas was an assistant United States Attorney for the US Department of Justice Southern District of New York from 1964 to 1965, and an attorney with the Federal Housing and Home Finance Agency (now HUD) from 1963 to 1964.
Mr. Thomas was inspired to pursue a career in the legal industry from an early age, having witnessed his mother get taken advantage while trying to obtain housing for her family. He felt powerless to help as a child, and decided that he would endeavor to never feel that way again, opting to go into the law so that he could not only take care of himself and his family, but also to know the law and help others experiencing similar setbacks.
Mr. Thomas began his career as a student at Columbia University, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in 1956. He then served four years in the United States Air Force as a navigator, returning to Columbia to earn a Juris Doctor in 1963. In addition, he holds honorary Doctor of Law degrees from Yale University, Fordham University, the Pratt Institute, Pace University, Columbia University, and the New School, and the University of Witwatersrand awarded him an honorary degree in 2018.
Throughout his career, Mr. Thomas has been recognized for his contributions, including having received the LBJ Foundation Award for Contribution to the Betterment of Urban Life. Columbia University has awarded him a Medal of Excellence, an Alexander Hamilton Award, and they named him to their International Scholar Athlete Hall of Fame and their Athletics Hall of Fame.
Mr. Thomas attributes much of his success to having had good mentors. His high school basketball coach cautioned him to not become reliant on an athletic scholarship because an injury could end it, so he kept his grades up and attended Columbia University instead without a scholarship with the encouragement of his mother. While at Columbia, he was still able to continue his athletics, becoming captain of the basketball team. Looking toward the future, Mr. Thomas continues to be grateful for each year, and he looks back on his career knowing that his conscience is satisfied with the work he has done throughout his life.
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