Emerging victorious in the November 6, 2018 election, Vivian Thomas became the first African American and the first female to hold the office of Henry County Commissioner for District 4. Commissioner Thomas officially took office January 1, 2019. An accomplished entrepreneur, intuitive visionary, and empathetic yet effective leader, she also is widely known as one who is caring, committed and compassionate. These ascribed attributes have appropriately and affectionately caused many to refer to Madam Commissioner as Ms. Henry County. Her business tenacity and community servitude laid a solid foundation that has propelled her into her new role.
A native of Hawkinsville, Georgia, Vivian has never been a stranger to hard work, service to others, and the pursuit of excellence. As the oldest of eight children, her solid upbringing is a reflection of loving parents, Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Thomas, who instilled the values of faith, honesty, and integrity. “Do the right thing” and “treat others the way you want to be treated” were not merely clichés. They were standards; the guiding principles the Thomas family embraced.
A graduate from Georgia State University, entrepreneur, and community advocate. She went on to establish several successful businesses and became a trusted and resourceful advocate for many communities and civic organizations. The vigor Ms. Thomas brought to this position was accompanied with 20 years of experience as a corporate executive and an accomplished educator. She continues professional development training to ensure district four constituents of Henry County are well represented. Within her first year of service, Ms. Thomas earned the title of Certified County Commissioner. She is also the first in Henry County to earn NACo’s National High Performance Leadership Award and one of thirty selected to participate in NACo’s 2021 County Commissioners Leadership
Branding district four as the medical and professional hub of Henry County, was an essential building block in delivering quality economic development. Ms. Thomas initiated and used as a catalyst the branding process to build a strong evolving community. Vivian began meeting and building professional relationships to attract high quality developers and businessmen to invest in Henry County. Under her leadership as Commissioner of District four, Henry County celebrates the opening of Encompass Health
Rehabilitation Hospital and the following active projects: the expansion of Southern Crescent Traumatic Brain Injury Center, Jodeco One Medical Center (90,000sq/ft project), Publix and ACE Hardware retail complexes, two thousand-plus residential homes, two hundred thousand square feet independent living to progressive care living facility. Additionally, she has set aside a plus twenty million dollars for recreation and quality of life improvements. And, as Vivian stated, “I am just getting started.”
Wearing the hat of Commissioner Vivian Thomas did not overshadow her first love of service to the community. Commissioner Thomas is a purple survivor of domestic violence. Vivian continued her work as the founder and CEO of WISC, Women Igniting Social Change whose goal is eliminating domestic violence by empowering women. Her reach continued in the community with the establishment of GAME On, a Junior
Commissioner leadership and development program for students challenging them to be actively engaged in government.
Commissioner Thomas will be the first to confirm her public service assignment is not easy; but authentic leadership never is. As she stated “leadership is not equal to popularity”. When asked how did you get here? Her response was “with a team.” With the support of a community that believes in me, undergirded by Henry County Administrative Leadership and Staff and, experienced appointees placed in strategic positions who understands my vision and help bring it into reality.
Springing from very humble beginnings, Thomas could not be more elated to serve the people of Henry County’s District 4. “When I went to cast my ballot, I had to sit down and pause to reflect that moment in time,” states Vivian. “I told the poll worker (as I pointed to my name), ‘that’s me.’ For some, that may not be such a big deal. But for me: one, who picked cotton, pecans and butter beans; for me: one who drew water from a well and learned to cook on a wood burning iron stove; for me, this was monumental. I wanted to shout, “Daddy, we made it!”