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Advancement Project mourns the loss of long-time Board member, Attorney Sheila Thomas

“In addition to our close and personal relationship with Sheila, her work with Advancement Project helped us move the needle on our civil rights work, particularly as it related to voter protection. She was a staunch civil rights advocate who refused to sit on the sidelines, finding herself jumping into litigation with us on occasion and ultimately leaving our Board in order to jump back into full-time civil rights work after the 2016 election. She was a true freedom fighter,” said Advancement Project national office Executive Director Judith Browne Dianis. “She was my mentor, my colleague and my friend. She will be sorely missed.”

“Sheila never wavered in her commitment to civil rights. She was a dear friend and colleague who made a difference in the lives of so many people by always being an authentic voice in the fight for justice,” said Bill Lann Lee, Chair of Advancement Project Board of Directors.

“We will miss Sheila’s voice as an advocate for equal justice. She was a critical voice on Advancement Project’s Board, always committed to fighting for what was right,” said John Kim, Executive Director of Advancement Project, California.

The family of Sheila Thomas has created a fund in Sheila’s name, with proceeds supporting Advancement Project national office’s work to advance voting rights reforms around the country. You can make a contribution to the fund at the bottom of this page.

Sheila Thomas spent much of her legal career litigating both class and individual gender and race employment discrimination and wage and hour cases. However, her legal experience also includes litigating voting rights and other civil rights cases. Ms. Thomas clerked for the Honorable U.W. Clemmon in the U.S. District Court in Northern District of Alabama and was subsequently awarded a Skadden Fellowship to work at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in Washington, D.C. She later served as an associate at what was then known as Saperstein, Goldstein, Demchak and Baller, a plaintiff’s employment class action law firm in Oakland, California. As Director of Litigation at Equal Rights Advocates Inc., a San Francisco based legal women’s advocacy organization, Ms. Thomas litigated class action cases alleging employment discrimination against women. She served as counsel in Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., a nationwide gender discrimination class action against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and as Counsel to a class of women covered by a consent decree in Brown et al. v. Sacramento Regional Transit. She has appeared in cases in both federal and state courts across the country, including voting rights cases as counsel for Advancement Project. Most recently, Sheila served as Senior Counsel at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Ms. Thomas was also a licensed Practitioner at the Heart and Soul Center of Light in Oakland, CA, an affiliate of the Centers for Spiritual Living (formerly known as the United Church of Religious Science) in Golden, Colorado. She completed practitioner licensing in 2003 and facilitated spiritually focused workshops, classes and seminars for over ten years in the San Francisco Bay Area. She taught Science of Mind classes on Financial Freedom, Visioning and Practitioner Studies.

Ms. Thomas was a graduate of Yale University, Georgetown University Law Center and recently graduated from the Pacific School of Religion with a Master’s of Divinity degree. She was an active member of the American Bar Association and most recently served on the board of Advancement Project and the Impact Fund.

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