“Pioneer, thought leader and guru of managing diversity” is how family, friends and colleagues remembered Dr. Roosevelt Thomas Jr. who died unexpectedly. He was funeralized at Friendship Baptist church on May 24, which would have been his 69th birthday.
For the past 28 years, Thomas had been at the forefront of developing and implementing innovative concepts and strategies for maximizing organizational and individual potential through diversity management. At the time of his death, he was CEO of Roosevelt Thomas Consulting & Training, Inc.
He was the author of seven published books; his most recent, World Class Diversity Management: A Strategic Approach. Dr. Thomas consulted with numerous Fortune 500 companies, professional firms, government entities, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions. He was frequently asked to speak at national conferences and industry seminars.
Several community and business leaders mourned his passing.
“Atlanta has lost a champion in the struggle to ensure that our workplaces are as diverse as our great City,” Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall wrote in a condolence message.
Frank McCloskey, retired executive in charge of diversity at Georgia Power, wrote, “The highest tribute I personally can pay to Dr. Thomas and his family is to continually model and teach the meaningful lessons he taught me.”
Prior to establishing his pioneering American Institute for Managing Diversity in 1984, Thomas served as secretary of Morehouse College, dean of the Graduate School of Business Administration at Atlanta University, assistant professor at the Harvard Business School, and instructor at Morehouse College.
He had been recognized by The Wall Street Journal as one of the top ten diversity consultants in the country.
He was elected as a Fellow by the National Academy of Human Resources; cited by Human Resource Executive as one of HR’s Most Influential People; awarded the “Distinguished Contribution to Human Resources Development” Award by the American Society of Training and Development; honored with the “Trailblazers in Diversity” Award by Bennett College, and designated an Inaugural “Legends of Diversity” Honoree by the International Society of Diversity and Inclusion Professionals.
Thomas held a D.B.A. in Organizational Behavior from Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration; a M.B.A. in Finance from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business Administration; and a B.A. in Mathematics from Morehouse College.
He led a team of talented diversity consultants who worked in partnership with Fortune 500 companies, professional firms, government entities, non-profits and academic institutions.
Contributions in memory of Dr. Thomas may be made to “Save Our Students Academy” (SOS), a youth violence prevention/enrichment program and a 501 (c) (3) tax deductible organization, www.sosal.com. For more information, please call Program Director, Allen Johnson at (678) 901-9376.
Survivors are his wife, Ruby J. Thomas; sons, Shane Thomas and Jarred Thomas; daughter, April Thomas; grandson, Montre’ Thomas; brother, Robert Potts Thomas (Carol); nephews, Robert Potts Thomas, Jr. and Jason Thomas; cousins, Nola Potts and Marla Potts; a host of other nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.