Barry Thomas is the Director of Equity and Diversity for Omaha Public Schools in Nebraska. He also is an adjunct professor in the Black Studies Department at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Recently Barry started his own consulting firm, Thomas Business Services, LLC. Since he obtained his social science education degree from Wayne State College in 2002, he has served OPS as social studies teacher on the middle and high school level as well as Supervisor of Social Studies. Additionally, Barry has two master’s degrees in Educational Leadership and Curriculum and Instruction from Doane College.
During his time in the Social Studies community Barry Thomas has been extremely active. Mr. Thomas has testified at the Unicameral in opposition to bills that would create barriers for graduation for students in Omaha Public Schools. His insights and counsel were regularly sought after by state senators and Nebraska School Board members for issues related to Social Studies. He’s twice been a lead member of a select group of educators that worked on revising and updating the state standards for Social Studies. He served as president for the Nebraska State Council for Social Studies, a member of the Nebraska Advisory Council for National Geographic Society, and board member of the National Social Studies Supervisor Association (NSSSA). Mr. Thomas has presented at the National Council for Economic Education Conference as and the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Conference. Barry served as co-Chair for the African-American Educators Community and the Government/Public Relations Committee as well for NCSS. As a result of his commitment to Social Studies awarded the Distinguished Support for Geography Education award by the National Council for Geographic Education, the 2018 Leadership Award from Geographic Educators of Nebraska, the Nebraska Council on Economic Education 2019 Mary Lynn Reiser Award for Leadership, Paul Beck Outstanding Social Studies Educator Award, and the Urban League of Nebraska Outstanding Educator Award.
Though new to his role as Director of Equity and Diversity, Barry has wasted no time asserting policies, practices, and staff development to raise awareness of biases and discriminatory conduct in his school district. He has led community conversations about the legacy of racism in Omaha with the newly assembled Omaha Community Council for Racial Justice and Reconciliation. Barry served on the Great Plains Black History Museum board and is also a member of the Empowerment Network’s Redefine the Game Institute and the Inclusive Community’s Lead Diversity inaugural cohorts. Mr. Thomas also serves on multiple Diversity and Inclusion advisory boards such as UNMC Nursing Community Advisory Council for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, the Omaha Chamber of Commerce CODE Conference Planning Committee, NDE’s Equity Leaders, the Nebraska State Board of Education Teacher Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and Nebraska’s Diverse and Learner Ready Teacher initiative. Barry also has been selected to serve on the Legislative Racial Equity Advisory Committee for Opensky Policy Institute. Through all these avenues of service in education, Barry Thomas was honored to be recognized with the 2020 Outstanding Alumni Award from the Wayne State College School of Education and Counseling.
In the Omaha community, He is on the advisory board for the New Leadership Council as well as the African American Empowerment Network Leaders and recently accepted a role on the Board of Directors for Heartland Family Services. Barry is also an Executive Board member of the Omaha Branch of the NAACP. Barry proudly assists with the Tri-Faith Initiative’s South Omaha COVID Faith Task Force. Mr. Thomas was president and Social Action Chair of the Omaha chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Recently he was awarded the Superior Service award (2017) by his state and district of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. as well as Omega Man of the Year (2018) for his work in multiple mentoring organizations, blood drive efforts with the American Red Cross, and his efforts to increase voter registration. He has served as a panelist for topics around race, diversity, and inclusion. He has led a media campaign to help educate North Omaha voters about important issues around the mid-term election. He has submitted articles and is a contributing journalist for NSSSA’s The Social Studies Leader, Omega Psi Phi’s PolitiQue, The Association for the Study of African American Life and History’s Black History Bulletin, and Civic Nebraska’s Writers Group. Barry was recently awarded the 2020 Young Black and Influential Award for Advocacy. In 2021, Barry was asked to serve as a member of the Board of Directors for both the Urban League of Nebraska as well as Heartland Family Services.
A proud husband of 16 years to Sherie, a lieutenant in the Omaha Police Department, and father of three young women, he still coaches his youngest daughter’s 7th grade girls basketball team for Express United, can be seen officiating youth basketball games from time to time, and has served as a ministry lead for Eagle’s Nest Worship Center’s CROWN young men’s ministry and transportation ministry.