Director of Workforce Development and Education

Rashida Thomas

As Director of Workforce Development and Education, Rashida Thomas is responsible for the education and job training programs that provide sustainable career pathways in the areas of advanced manufacturing, engineering, and information technology. With a passion for positive social impact, Thomas is committed to providing equitable opportunities for the constituents served.

Thomas joined the Focus: HOPE leadership team in 2012 to implement a quality program and to manage special projects. She assumed her new role in mid-2013 and had worked previously at Focus: HOPE as manager of Fast Track, the highly regarded program to help adult students upgrade their math and reading skills.

A native Detroiter, Thomas managed the math and reading enrichment program 2009–2011. She left Focus: HOPE to become the People Engagement Manager for Bright Automotive in Rochester Hills where she was responsible for defining and building a collaborative and innovative organization committed to the company’s cultural and strategic priorities. Thomas also worked on Mayor Bing’s Turnaround Team as Project Manager in 2009, and had worked for 11 years for Chrysler LLC in engineering, product strategy, technical planning, and external affairs and public policy.

Over the last 20 years, she has gained professional experience in a wide range of fields, across automotive engineering, executive management, organizational development and workforce training positions. Thomas has demonstrated her ability to successfully establish objectives, execute plans, manage and motivate multi-functional teams, and gain commitment to collaboratively achieve project goals. She is recognized for her inspiring leadership approach, strategic business acumen, and ability to effectively conduct business to enhance organizational outcomes and culture.

Thomas serves as Board Secretary for Grand River Academy National Charter School and is an alum of Detroit Regional Chamber Leadership Detroit Class XXXV. She holds a Master of Business Administration from Wayne State University, Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Oakland University, a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State University and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt from Lawrence Technological University Professional Development Center.