VOTE ON ELECTION DAY, NOVEMBER 6TH, 2018
My starting line in life felt like a challenge on some days, but never an insurmountable one. I was born a poor, black woman, a combination that at times conspired to keep things out of reach. However, I gained an early appreciation for working hard to achieve results. I always knew I had to be faster, smarter, work harder, smile more, speak less to receive fewer rewards than many of my peers. Happily, my mother's belief that anything was possible encouraged me to find a way to succeed when it seemed hopeless, work harder for the common good, and lead so others had no choice but to follow.
Sharing the spotlight, building consensus, and fighting for what I think is right always came naturally to me. Perhaps because my earliest days were spent sharing everything with my twin brother Stephen. I had to make room for myself, but he wasn't going anywhere so we had to learn to co-exist. I credit my older brother for teaching me that I can fight without destroying, stand up for my beliefs without fleeing, and remain friendly in the end.
I was one of those kids that liked learning and doing it all. In high school, I maintained an A average, belonged to 9 clubs, served as an officer in several, played Volleyball, held a job as assistant manager at the local ice cream parlor, and volunteered at the local hospital.
I put myself through college at New York University, often working full-time while going to school full time. After graduation, I was introduced to the not-for-profit sector and I knew right away that this would be the path I would follow. I went on to earn my master's degree from New School University in nonprofit management - the equivalent of an MBA for the public sector.
My entire life has led me to this point, at this time in our history.
As a fundraising and strategy consultant to non-profits for over twenty years, I have been tasked with coming up with creative solutions when other plans have failed. Armed with nothing but the oftentimes flawed hand I am dealt, little control over the key stakeholders, and no budget, I have to create a workable plan. Quickly. Effectively. To help organizations thrive for the long term.
In my work I have to build consensus and quickly cut through the politics of various stakeholders with differing priorities. I cannot make back room deals. I have to find common ground and win/win solutions that benefit the greater good while allowing all parties to retain their voice and place at the table.
As a small business owner, I understand what it takes to grow and maintain a successful enterprise. There are no shortcuts for hard work and fair dealing. There is no deficit budgeting. You stay nimble, you assess and reassess constantly, or you fail.
My work on boards and strategic planning committees has been valued because I am known as someone who does not rubber stamp. I do not go along to get along. I am not afraid to speak my mind, even if my opinion is not the popular one, or ask the difficult questions, or challenge the historical assumptions.
As a member of the electorate, usually seated on the other side of the podium, I've always believed that the type of person you've been your entire life is the best job qualification vs. anything that is simply verbalized. Some people are leaders, some people are successful in everything they take on - even when they fail. I believe that I am one of those people and I would like to lead our district and Connecticut to success for all.
Once in awhile, there is an event that gives me hope the American political system is not doomed.
The news that Stephanie Thomas is running for office is one of those rare, very bright moments.
I know Stephanie. Our orbits have crisscrossed and intersected for more than two decades, as we have served together on more nonprofit campaigns and committees than I can count. Without hesitation, I can say that she is one of the smartest women I’ve ever met. She is a no-nonsense, down-to-earth doer. And most importantly, she is a compassionate listener. She will serve her constituents and serve them well – with heart and passion and smarts that will dazzle.
CEO, Sanky Communications
I have worked for Stephanie's nonprofit consulting firm for almost four years. In that time I have come to know her as a compassionate leader who challenges me to be the best version of myself and encourages me by setting an example I look up to, to say the least. Stephanie approaches every situation with a "can-do" attitude, no matter how steep the climb. Luckily I have picked up a few skills from her - she has taught me how to prioritize, think outside the box, and work TIRELESSLY for the things that matter. I was thrilled to hear that Stephanie is running for office as I cannot imagine a more driven, smart, passionate, hard-working, principled, (and don't forget funny), candidate. I am proud to support her campaign.
Ali Kresch Levine
Mother, Event Consultant, PsyD Candidate
I have known Stephanie for nearly 20 years, as both a friend and colleague. Professionally, she is widely respected as an industry leader and consensus-builder. Personally, she is a thoughtful and compassionate friend who is always supportive and available to help or just listen. Stephanie is tactful, yet she tells it like it is. She is diplomatic, yet not afraid to speak up for what she believes in. She is generous, yet tough. There is no one I would trust more to represent CT citizens and their best interests.
Friend and Colleague
I have known Stephanie Thomas first as a colleague who helped nonprofits and now also as a friend. Stephanie exemplifies the qualities we need from all people in public office—intelligence, an innate ability to problem-solve real world problems, and integrity that can never be questioned. She brings passion, vision and commitment to her pursuit of public office. And we would all be safer and better served if she is elected.
Worldwide Nonprofit Agency
Stephanie is a true leader, consensus builder and an inspiration. I was lucky enough to watch her in action when she led a volunteer board of directors and I served as executive director. Stephanie is strategic, focused and fearless.
Association of Fundraising Professionals, NYC Chapter
Stephanie Thomas is an exceptional candidate and an ideal person to be running for public office. As a progressive woman of color who has risen up beyond many challenges in her life, Stephanie exemplifies exactly the attributes that the Connecticut State House of Representatives needs.
I was proud to attend the Women's March in Washington DC along with a group of friends that included Stephanie, who was the clear leader on our trip and march. She coined the phrase that we all sported on our custom-made hats that day -- 'Bigger Than Politics'. This pretty much sums up the essence of Stephanie for me. She is not a career politician however she is supremely qualified for the job because of the person she is, the principles she embodies and the multi-faceted experience that she has. Stephanie is a self-made woman with advanced degrees who has over twenty years consulting experience in the not-for-profit sector. She founded and runs a small business helping charitable organizations execute successful fundraising projects. Stephanie knows the power of a good education and will work to protect funding for quality public schools and affordable higher education. She will fight to ensure access to health care for all. She is an environmentalist who is concerned about pollution and the impact of human activity upon our climate and does her part for the planet. She is a natural leader who is compassionate, reliable, energetic, whip smart, articulate, fun to be around and highly personable. Stephanie has the right values and holds the right principles to make a real difference. I am proud to call her a friend. Connecticut is lucky to have her on the ballot!
Chair, City of Rye Sustainability Committee
I have known Stephanie for many years as a colleague and most recently in her role as Chair of the selection committee for the Nonprofit Excellence Awards. The qualities she has brought to that work make her ideally suited as a legislator. With grace and humor she has managed to bring consensus to a highly opinionated group of nonprofit experts during the selection process.
In her role as interviewer at our awards presentations, she has devoted countless hours to research and listening that enable her to create a smooth and engaging process that brings out the best of each finalist.
Board Coach, Strategies that work
Compassionate. Competent. Honest.
Those are the words that first come to mind when I think of my friend and professional colleague, Stephanie Thomas. I met Stephanie 15 years ago, when I moved from Texas to the Northeast, and we could not have been more different. We quickly discovered that although our backgrounds were worlds apart, we had more in common than not. Both of us having careers in the non-profit sector, we developed a fast friendship and occasionally worked together professionally. I witnessed Stephanie achieve goals I considered unattainable and go above and beyond for her clients, family, and friends. If Stephanie said she would, she did, while keeping her integrity intact. Although Stephanie and I sometimes see two different sides of an issue, I trust that Stephanie will always look at the bigger picture and the greater good. She listens. She wants to understand and she is always able to find common ground, even when I think there is none. Stephanie is passionate about her desire to contribute to her community and to society as a whole. I trust Stephanie to work hard to make this world a little better place for all, not just those with similar political beliefs. Trust Stephanie to work for you. I do.
Director, Children’s Nonprofit Agency