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Profiling Regena Thomas, Former Secretary of State of New Jersey

Regena Thomas

 

The Rev. Dr. Regena Lynn Thomas is a former politician who served as New Jersey’s secretary of state and is now the director of the American Federation of Teachers’ Human Rights and Community Relations Department. Thomas grew up in Clinton, Kentucky, and attended local schools before graduating from high school in 1975. She then went on to Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she earned a B.A. in universal studies in 1979.

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Thomas began her political career shortly after college, working for the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) under the Hon. Georgia Davis Powers, the first African American and the only woman to serve in the Kentucky State Senate at the time.

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She moved to Washington, D.C., and began working as a grassroots campaign organizer for Rev. Jesse Jackson and the National Rainbow Coalition during his 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns. During their political campaigns, Thomas also worked with District of Columbia Mayors Marion Barry and Sharon Platt. She stayed with Rev. Jackson for 12 years, working with the PUSH coalition and other commissions.

From 1997 through 2007, Thomas worked as a base vote director for the Democratic National Committee (DNC). She also worked as a political strategist for the Democratic Senatorial Committee, focusing on African American voter mobilization. Her outstanding work drew the attention of New Jersey Gov. James McGreevy, who appointed Thomas Secretary of State of New Jersey following his election in 2001. Thomas was in charge of cultural affairs, minority affairs, literacy, state history and record keeping, volunteerism, and state archive upkeep.

Thomas served as Secretary of State from 2002 to 2006 before accepting the call to the ministry. She subsequently attended New Brunswick Theological Seminary in New Brunswick, New Jersey, where she earned a master’s degree in divinity in 2008. She was ordained and began ministering at Grant Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Trenton, New Jersey. From 2008 to 2009, Thomas worked in politics as the National Education Association’s deputy campaign manager.

Thomas was promoted to Democratic National Committee director of community engagement in 2014, while continuing to serve as political department senior adviser. In 2015, Thomas received her doctorate in urban ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., and began working as the Women, Human, and Civil Rights Advocacy director for the American Federation of Teachers. She is the executive minister of Grant Chapel AME Church.

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Written by How Africa News

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