Social entrepreneur Charles Thomas Jr. has been named program director for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which in making the announcement credited him for a strong background in civic innovation.
“He has spent his career bringing to life ideas that benefit the community and engaging people around the city’s rich arts and cultural institutions,” said Alberto Ibargüen, Knight Foundation president.
Thomas will help the foundation identify and invest in projects that expand economic opportunities and create a culture of civic engagement.
The Duke University graduate is founding executive director of Queen City forward, where he worked since 2011. The nonprofit supports entrepreneurs who have business ideas addressing social needs.
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Queen City Forward has served more than 70 entrepreneurs as they worked to create solutions to challenges in health and wellness, education, workforce development, green energy solutions and technology.
Prior to leading Queen City Forward, Thomas was director of education for The Light Factory Contemporary Museum of Photography and Film, an organization that works to transform communities through creative arts. Thomas is also a photographer.
His work in those organizations is a close match with the goals of the Knight Foundation, which supports quality journalism, media innovation, community engagement and the arts.
Karen Sullivan: 704-358-5532, @Sullivan_kms
Charles Thomas Jr.
Education: Duke University, bachelor’s degree in economics.
Boards: Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library board of trustees; East Mecklenburg High School Foundation.
Publications: “Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists,” by Valaida Fullwood with photography by Thomas. The book won the 2012 Terry McAdam Book Award and inspired a traveling exhibition “Soul of Philanthropy: Reframed and Exhibited,” which is touring the country.
Family: wife, Micaila Milburn, and three sons.