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David A. Thomas

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Information about David A. Thomas

Profile image of David A. Thomas

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Business Professor
Economist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black
Favorite Food:
Barbecue (Ribs)
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Bermuda
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
9/26/1956
Birth Location:
Kansas City, Missouri

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Business Professor
Economist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black
Favorite Food:
Barbecue (Ribs)
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Bermuda
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
9/26/1956
Birth Location:
Kansas City
See how David A. Thomas is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Harvard Business School professor David Anthony Thomas was born September 26, 1956, in Kansas City, Missouri, to working-class parents, Jesse and Jewel Thomas. Thomas attended Henry C. Kumpf Elementary School and for a year attended Manual High School. Thomas was influenced by Al Winder of Job Opportunities for Youth and by an American Field Service trip to France in 1973. Thomas graduated from Paseo High School in 1974, and with the help of Glenn de Chabert, was admitted to Yale University. President of Black Student Alliance at Yale, Thomas earned his B.A. degree in administrative sciences in 1978.

After graduation, Thomas directed Operation Get Ahead, a youth program in Long Island, New York. Assisted by future Howard University business pioneer Leroy Wells, he earned his M.A. degree in organizational sciences from Columbia University in 1981, his M.S. degree in philosophy and organizational behavior from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in organizational behavior in 1986; his dissertation focused on mentorship.

Thomas served as an assistant professor of management and business administration at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania from 1986 to 1990. Thomas joined the Harvard Business School in 1990 as an assistant professor, and eventually went on hold the positions of the H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor, senior associate dean, and director of faculty recruiting; H. Naylor Fitzhugh was a Pepsi executive who earned the first black Harvard MBA in 1933.

Writing extensively on minority mentoring, career development and how organizations shape the racial dynamics of individuals and groups within, Thomas has been published in the Journal of Organized Behavior and the Administrative Science Quarterly among other periodicals. Having taught courses in self-assessment, career development and leadership, Thomas also lectures for the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Urban Superintendent Program and the Harvard Divinity School’s Leadership Development Institute.

In 2001, Thomas received the George E. Terry Award for outstanding management book for his 1999 publication of Breaking Through: The Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America. In his book, Thomas profiled minority executives to determine how people of color and the companies they work for can overcome barriers.

Thomas is professionally associated with the Academy of Management, the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations and National Training Laboratories.

Thomas married his high school sweetheart, with whom he lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They have two children.

See how David A. Thomas is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of David A. Thomas' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - David A. Thomas lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - David A. Thomas describes his mother's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - David A. Thomas describes his mother's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - David A. Thomas describes his mother's personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - David A. Thomas describes his mother's first marriage and move to Kansas City
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - David A. Thomas describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - David A. Thomas describes his father's service in the U.S. Navy
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - David A. Thomas describes how his parents met
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - David A. Thomas describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - David A. Thomas describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - David A. Thomas recalls growing up in the Oak Park neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - David A. Thomas describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - David A. Thomas talks about the Kansas City Chiefs and African American athletes
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - David A. Thomas recalls the significance of wearing an afro
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - David A. Thomas describes the segregation of schools in Kansas City, Missouri
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - David A. Thomas recalls his experience of discrimination at Henry C. Kumpf School, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - David A. Thomas recalls his experience of discrimination at Henry C. Kumpf School, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - David A. Thomas recalls his decision to study in France
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - David A. Thomas recalls how Arthur Bronson influenced him
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - David A. Thomas remembers his year abroad in France
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - David A. Thomas recalls his decision to attend Yale University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - David A. Thomas recalls being unprepared for Yale University's academic rigor
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - David A. Thomas recalls his courses at Yale University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - David A. Thomas describes his wife's family and education
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - David A. Thomas recalls his early mentors
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - David A. Thomas recalls his high school mentor, Al Winder
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - David A. Thomas remembers his college mentor, Glenn DeChabert
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - David A. Thomas describes his involvement in Black Student Alliance at Yale
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - David A. Thomas describes Yale University's African American community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - David A. Thomas describes his employment in New York City
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - David A. Thomas recalls his initial rejection from Yale University's Ph.D. program
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - David A. Thomas remembers his admission to Yale University's Ph.D. program
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - David A. Thomas describes his career goals and university degrees
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - David A. Thomas explains how he applied his education to the Black Student Alliance at Yale
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - David A. Thomas describes how he applied his education to Operation Get Ahead
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - David A. Thomas talks about the field of organizational behavior
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - David A. Thomas describes his experience as a Ph.D. student at Yale University
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - David A. Thomas talks about his dissertation
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - David A. Thomas talks about H. Naylor Fitzhugh, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - David A. Thomas talks about H. Naylor Fitzhugh, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - David A. Thomas recalls applying for positions at Harvard Business School and University of Michigan
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - David A. Thomas talks about his decision to teach at Harvard Business School
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - David A. Thomas talks about the focus of his published works
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - David A. Thomas describes his book, 'Breaking Through,' pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - David A. Thomas describes his book, 'Breaking Through,' pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - David A. Thomas talks about successful African American executives
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - David A. Thomas talks about the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - David A. Thomas reflects upon the changing role of organizational leaders
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - David A. Thomas describes his role at the Harvard Business School and its collaborations
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - David A. Thomas reflects upon his work at Harvard Business School
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - David A. Thomas describes his concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - David A. Thomas describes his hopes for the African American community
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - David A. Thomas reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - David A. Thomas reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - David A. Thomas talks about his wife and children
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - David A. Thomas reflects upon the success of different minority groups in business
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - David A. Thomas reflects upon the obstacles faced by people of color in business
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - David A. Thomas David A. Thomas reflects upon the progress of minority groups in business
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - David A. Thomas describes how he would like to be remembered